Corporate historical archives preserve traces of a nation’s industrial past and precious information to help us write history in the manner in which we experienced it.
This is why the students from the Corporate History department of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore chose to spend an entire afternoon at the Pirelli Foundation and to listen to those who dedicate their time and energy every day to protecting this vital documentation as they spoke of what it means to manage an organisation’s archives.
The history of the Pirelli historical archives, how it became what it is today, and what it contains were a few of the topics discussed. The students were given the opportunity to actually touch the documents and other materials that they so often read about in their textbooks: minutes of company board meetings, financial statements, technical product documentation, house organs, and employee registers.
These documents are crucial to reconstructing history and are rich with valuable information regarding the social and human aspects of a company and its financial, technical and scientific development.
The employee register was of particular interest to the students in that it offered traces of life at the factory more than 100 years ago – the young age of the people hired, their responsibilities, the reasons they left the company, and any disciplinary action required.
A great many questions were asked, particularly about the job of an archivist, dealing with the organisation, and managing such an immense wealth of documentation as that of the Pirelli group.