AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXI, No. 2, Fall 1999


Work of the "Cooperation on the Archives of Science in Europe" (CASE) Group
by Peter Harper

"Quelle coopération européenne pour les archives scientifiques contemporaines?" That was the title of a seminar hosted in Paris in February 1997 by Odile Welfelé, Conservatrice en chef du Patrimoine at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. European members of the International Council on Archives' Universities and Research Institutions Section attended from Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and readily agreed on the necessity of creating a working group at the European level on contemporary scientific archives. The acronym CASE, which in its expanded form works equally well in English and French, was adopted for the proposed collaboration, and it was agreed to seek contact with other European colleagues willing to work cooperatively on scientific archives. A symposium on contemporary scientific archives held at the XXth International Congress of History of Science in Liège, July 1997 provided the occasion for the public launch of CASE. Over two years have now elapsed, so we may appropriately ask again: "What kind of European cooperation in contemporary scientific archives?". In the1997 Paris meeting there was a double focus on making available information about institutional, regional, national and discipline-based scientific archives projects in Europe, including surveys and finding aids, and on participating in projects of archival (documentation) research in contemporary science at the European level. In practice, because of time and funding constraints it has been easier to pursue the exchange of information than to further the undertaking of research.

At the Paris meeting, I offered to host a CASE Web site in association with that of my own organization, the UK National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (NCUACS) at the University of Bath. This site has developed to give access to the work of the group and its members and to provide links with other European sites, and has become an important gateway to scientific archives resources in Europe. Denmark and The Netherlands have now joined the original five European countries represented in CASE. It remains, however, an informal grouping of colleagues, often meeting on the back of other international meetings. For those of us in the UK the development of the Eurostar train service through the Channel Tunnel is a great boon to personal contact and European cooperation!

As the Web site is the most evident sign of CASE activity, a few details might be helpful. It is intended that it remain focused on archives of science and technology and not develop into another history of science site. At present it contains information about aims and objectives of CASE (in English and French), current membership, links to scientific archives sites in 10 European countries as well as Europe-wide sites (CERN and the Historical Archives of the European Communities), and the first three issues of a Web-mounted CASE Newsletter. The Newsletters serve the information exchange function of CASE and have already provided reports (to mention only those of physics-related interest) on the Hannes Alfvén project at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, the work of the Niels Bohr Archive in Copenhagen, current Web-based Italian scientific archives projects and the archives on the history of electricity in Italy, as well as providing French, Italian and British science archives bibliographies.

The Web site may be found at Inquiries about CASE are very welcome; address Peter Harper, Director, NCUACS, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK; phone: +44 (0)1225 323522, e-mail:

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