Czechoslovak Dissidents and Exiles, 1968–1989: Working for an Open Society – the Archive Collections of the “Czechoslovak Documentation Centre”

The aim of the project is to catalogue, over the course of time, the contents of the Archive Collections of the ČSDS 1948–1989 that were deposited in the Archive of the National Museum in autumn 2003. The Foundation to Promote Open Society in New York (FPOS) provided a grant of US$ 50,000 towards the first phase of this project, i.e., to 30 June 2017.

In the first phase of this project –1 January 2016 – 30 June 2017 – the ČSDS and the Archive of the National Museum with the financial support of the FPOS focused on the following tasks:  

Reorganisation and reclassification of all the sub-funds of the Archive Collections of the ČSDS: 

  1.  Association of Social Democrats – Rudolf Battěk (1989–1993)
  2.  Czechoslovak Social Democrats in exile (1948–1995)
  3.  Czechoslovak Documentation Centre for Independent Literature (1976–1994)     
  4.  Democratic Initiative (1987–1989)
  5.  Document Collection for 1968 (1968–1972) 
  6.  Document Collection for 1989 (1989–1990)
  7.  Agneša Kalinová Papers – human rights in RFE programmes (1983)  
  8.  Document Collection for The Black Book (1968)
  9.  H. Gordon Skilling Papers (1937–2001)  
  10.  Jan Čep Papers (1953–1963)
  11.  Jan Vladislav Papers (1968–1998)  
  12.  Jiří Lederer Papers (1966–1970)
  13.  Jiří Pelikán Papers (1969–1985)   
  14.  Jiřina Šiklová Papers (1976–2004)
  15.  Ladislav Ján Kalina Papers (1972–1990)  
  16.  Ota Šik Papers (1948–1986)
  17.  Pavel Tigrid Papers (1970–1995)  
  18.  Stanislav Brzobohatý-Berton Papers (1986–1988)
  19. Václav Havel Papers (1964–2011)
  20.  Dominik Tatarka Papers (1972–1976)
  21.  Edice Expedice (1975)
  22.  Edice Petlice (1972)
  23.  Free Press Agency – Zbyněk Čeřovský and Libuše Čeřovská (1978–1993)  
  24.  Help and Action – Ivana Tigridová (1974–1989)
  25.  Movement for Civic Freedom (1988–1989)
  26.  Hubert Ripka Papers (1945–1957)
  27.  Charter 77 (1977–1990)  
  28.  Ivan Medek Papers (1978–1993)
  29.  Jan Rychlík Papers (1985–2005)  
  30.  Committee of Free Czechoslovaks in the Netherlands (1959–1968)
  31.  Vilém Prečan Correspondence (1976–1989)  
  32.  Circle of Independent Intellectuals (1989)
  33.  Milan Šimečka Papers (1950–1991)  
  34.  Charter 77 Foundation, Stockholm  (1977–1994)
  35.  Palach Press (1979–1988)  
  36.  Proměny – exile periodical (1982–1992)
  37.  Přemysl Janýr Papers (1950–1998)  
  38.  The Council of Free Czechoslovakia (1977–1990)
  39.  Radio Free Europe (1951–1993)  
  40.  Rozmluvy – exile publishing house (1980–1990)
  41.  Association of Free Czechoslovaks in Southern Sweden (1968–1992)  
  42.  Symposia Opus bonum in Franken (1981–1989)
  43.  Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS, 1978–1989)  
  44.  East European Information Agency (VIA, 1988–1989)

Inventory of three sub-funds of the Archive Collection: 

  • ČSDS (1986–89), with the pre-history of the Centre (1976–1985)

This collection, consisting of 25 boxes, has two main sections: the “home operation” (1976–1986) and the period of operation under the name Czechoslovak Documentation Centre for Independent Literature (1986–1994), when it existed as an independent institution with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and other sponsors. A provisional list allows for rapid orientation and use for eventual study.

  • Vilém Prečan’s “secret correspondence” with correspondents in Czechoslovakia (1976–1989)

The cataloguing of this correspondence is exceptionally demanding, since it is necessary to decode the pseudonyms of the addressees and parts of the texts written in a way that would not threaten the safety of people or of the operations undertaken by the dissidents. The correspondence is sorted into 12 boxes in chronological order according to addressee, and provided with a list that serves as a temporary aid for the researcher.

  • Charter 77 Collection (1977–1992)

This collection is organised chronologically according to the following thematic areas and subject matter:

  1. Individual documents 1977-1989 (preserved versions, circumstances of the creation of the documents, their dissemination).
  2. Inner life of Charter 77 (discussions and debates, “forums” held on various topics by Charter signatories 1987-1989).
  3. Statements, protests, etc. by Charter signatories (as groups and as individuals).
  4. Charter 77’s cooperation with other civic initiatives in Czechoslovakia.
  5. The bulletin Informace o Chartě 77 (Infoch, 1978 – February 1990).
  6. International solidarity with Charter 77 (the Paris-based International Committee for the Support of Charter 77, statements by Western politicians and by governmental and public institutions).
  7. Charter 77’s international contacts
  8. Persecution by the state administration.
  9. Response to Charter 77 in the foreign media.
  10. Decisions taken and analyses concerning Charter 77 carried out by bodies of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.


  • Právo lidu, quarterly of the Social Democrats in exile, 1978–89
  • Obsah, samizdat periodical, 1981–1989
  • some of the “secret correspondence” (after it has been catalogued)

Cataloguing of part of the ČSDS library 

Project team

Archive of the National Museum: Veronika Doll (Kořínková)

ČSDS, o.p.s.: Jan Bílek, Helena Kašová, Lucie Rajlová, Lucie Špinková, Ondřej Valtus

The guarantor of the realisation of the project with regard to FPOS is Vilém Prečan. The response of the FPOS to the report on the realisation of the project during the first nine months was very positive.