Pirelli turned seventy in 1942, a few years before the end of the Second World War. This was an important moment and the company's management decided to retrace the history of the Group.
Mario Luzzatto, a long-time Pirelli director, was given the task of selecting the most significant documents from the company archives to illustrate how the company had developed into what was now a major international group. Together with his assistant Gaetano Sermattei, Luzzatto examined all the dossiers in the archive and, where the original documents were missing, as in the case of the processes and technologies, he collected personal testimonials and had typewritten copies made of the documents. Due to the increasingly frequent bombing raids on parts of Milan, in many cases Luzzatto took photos of the papers, so that he could work at leisure on the reproductions at his home on Lake Baveno, where he had moved with his family: this is why there are so many photographic copies of original documents in the collection. His work came to a tragic end in September 1943, when Luzzatto and his family were arrested by the SS.
The collection was complete up to 1920. Sermattei continued his work, gathering documents up to the 1940s, based on the notes left by Luzzatto. In the post-war period, the Historical Archive, as it was at the time, was entrusted to the staff of the Post and Archive Department, which continued collection year after year. Here they limited their scope to documents printed for internal and external use, such as financial statements, price lists and catalogues, information brochures, printed advertisements, circulars, and notices.
In the early 1970s, the Pirelli Historical Archive was placed under the protection of the Italian State for its "considerable historical interest" and, after this declaration, the material was reorganised: the individual units, generically referred to as "documents", which consisted indifferently of single papers, dossiers, brochures, and photographs, were numbered in chronological order up to number 3000 and listed in a "Register of historical documents".
Considering the particular nature of how this miscellany was originally formed, it was decided to keep both the order and the numbering as it was, with the exception of advertising materials produced by the "Propaganda Department", which was included in the miscellany at the end of each year, starting from 1950. These were brought together with the copies that were already in the "Collection of advertisements", created by the Propaganda Department and which can now be found in the "Drawings and posters" section of the online archive.