Archival and Documentation Collections of the National Institute of Folk Culture

Already from its foundation, the Institute collected high quantities of documents, whereby the largest part included documents relating to the Strážnice Festival, and photos. In the course of the 1960s, in direct bound to the transformation of the centre into an expert institution, the materials were divided into several groups based on subject content despite its forms and character of the items.

While administrating and registrating the documentation funds, the NULK employees follow legal rules. The systematic approach alongside proper recording substituted random collecting of materials. Since that time, independent funds have consisted of the ethnographic collection, the library and the archival and documentation funds.

Virtual research room:

Documentary Archives

Materials in the documentary archives are systematically classified and stored in accordance with records and shredding plan, which is an integral part of the recording and shredding rules of the National Institute of Folk Culture. The administration of archival deposits as well as the loans of archival materials are anchored in internal regulations and research rules of the National Institute of Folk Culture.

The documentary archives major part captures the activity of the National Institute of Folk Culture from its foundation 1956 - beginning with the formation, statute, and foundation chart to the economic and statistic documents. The complete documentation of the International Folklore Festival in Strážnice from its first year in 1946 to date is an important part of the documentary archive. Other significant sections include for example a large catalogue of folk ensembles and groups, festival, shows, and other folklore activities – for this reason, this is an important resource of information about musical and dance folklore and folklorism not only in the Czech Republic.

The archive also contains estates of three significant persons; those documents were placed there as they are associated with the activity of the National Institute of Folk Culture. These are materials of and about PhDr. Vítězslav Volavý, the first director of the Institute, from 1956 – 1983, and materials of and about PhDr. Josef Tomeš, head of the ethnographic department, from 1962 – 1978. Zdenka Jelínková, who cooperated with the Institute for many years as an ethno-choreologist, collector, methodologist and author of Festival performances, is the third person the estate of whom is stored at the Institute.

Sound Archives

It contains many sound folklore records since the 1940s to date, almost on all types of usual amateur and professional tapes, standard shellac or vinyl discs, cassette tapes, digital cassettes and CDs.

One of the largest sections includes recordings from the Strážnice Festival and other regional festivals, as well as tapes capturing research work.

The genres are various – e.g. cimbalom music bands, brass music bands, men and women´s choirs, country music. As to the archives´ content, there are recordings of separate compositions, different performances and concerts, fieldwork, festival performances, radio programmes etc.

In 1994, the National Institute of Folk Culture concluded agreement on long-term cooperation with regional studios of the Czech Radio in Brno, Ostrava and Pilsen; the agreements concerned depositing and transcript of valuable folklore recordings. The variety, quality and high number of audio recordings at the sound archives encouraged the National Institute of Folk Culture to publish several own titles.

Film Archives

The film collection consists of several layers. It was acquired over time, by purchasing materials from external suppliers as methodological and documentation material, by collecting materials within the own research, by transfer of the original film archives from the Centre of Folk Art Production – about 100 items, i.e. nearly one half of the collection, and as donations from private donators. The movies are captured on 8 mm and 16 mm films.

Video Archives

The video archives is much larger than the film archives. Its major part consists of materials created within the NULK´s (former ULK´s) activity, when folk culture and Strážnice Festival were documented, and as part of the projects “Folk Dances from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia” and “Folk Handicrafts and Folk Art Production in the Czech Republic”. Another significant part includes records acquired both through transfer of the original film archives from the Centre for Folk Art Production and through the exchange with FoS (Folklore Association of the Czech Republic). Several records were received as donations from state-funded organizations and clubs, or they were bought as interesting in terms of folklore from the commercial network. Materials resulting from monitoring of Czech televisions´ programmes and those received as long-term loans of transcribed movies from the National Film Archives.

The collections include amateur (VHS) and semi-professional (S-VHS) media, cassettes from various types of camcorders, and professional materials (V8, Hi8, D8, D3, U-MATIC, BETACAM, MiniDV, DVCAM) as well as currently standard DVDs.

Photo Archives

The photo archives of the National Institute of Folk Culture owns a large collection of photos of different formats, black-and-white and colour negatives, transparencies, and digital photos. Sets of photos as well as individual pieces have been accepted by the Institute since its foundation.

The ensemble is very diverse as to its content, it includes documentaries on a wide spectrum of folk culture expressions – vernacular architecture, clothing, customs, ceremonies and habits, folklore festivals and festivities, music, dance, landscape, portraits, handicrafts etc. As to the volume of the acquired materials, festivals and themes resulting from the research activity of the Institute are most largely present. Many photos are part of a separate and quite important set that documents Carnival processions in the Uherský Brod and Uherské Hradiště areas. The set was acquired in the 1970s.

The collection is currently extended mostly by digital photos. These are registered in the BACH system and the analogy photo material is re-registered in a similar way.

Poster, Postcard and Calendar Archives

Collecting of posters, postcards and calendar and their temporary storage encouraged the foundation of archives which exemplify the phenomena of traditional folk culture in the Czech Republic and former Czechoslovakia with the emphasis on the documentation of folklore activities.

The archive includes more than 2500 graphic and text posters. These are classified and stored in a system that makes it possible to create chronological series of several groups of posters: the Strážnice Festival, other folklore festivals and festivities, exhibitions, events etc.


The collection of clippings is not large, but as to its content it is important. It focuses on the monitoring of periodicals dealing with folklore and folklorism (mainly folklore festivals, traditional annual customs etc.), other phenomena of traditional folk culture and the NULK´s activity. The oldest reports come from 1939.

Until 1993, the articles were processed by an external supplier; in this way, texts with corresponding key words (folklore, festivity etc.) in almost all domestic dailies and weekly and monthly magazines were captured. These days, the periodicals are monitored to a limited extent at own expenses (mainly dailies, such as Rovnost, Slovácko, Slovácké noviny).