The Biblioteca di storia moderna e contemporanea was established quite recently and was intended by the Italian parliament as resource for all documents pertaining to the unification process. The first collection of books, journals and documents on the Unitarian process was made at the Vittorio Emanuele II Rome National Library and was called the “Risorgimento Section”. In 1906 the Minister of Education, Paolo Boselli, proposed a project to create an Institute - a library and museum – to act as an archive of the Risorgimento, bringing the collection to the Vittorio Emanuele II monument. The project was approved and at the same time the National Committee for Risorgimento history was created, with the goal of improving bibliographic and document collection. Its activities and initiatives were fundamental for the enrichment of the new library sections. With the outbreak of the First World War, the Committee also started to collect bibliographic material and documents concerning the war, which at that time was considered the end of the Risorgimento period. In 1917 the library took the name of Risorgimento Library, Museum and Archive and become directly dependent on the Committee. In 1921 it was transferred to Palazzetto Venezia.
In 1935, following the restructuring of historical institutes, the Committee was disbanded and Boselli caused two institutes to be created, each of which became custodian of diverse materials: the archive and documentary section was entrusted to the Historical Institute for the Italian Risorgimento, to form the Central Museum and Archive of the Risorgimento; the bibliographic section was annexed to the Italian Institute of Modern and Contemporary History and became later the Biblioteca di storia moderna e contemporanea, which was located since 1939 in Palazzo Mattei di Giove. In 1945 the library passed to the Ministero della pubblica istruzione and later, together with all other public libraries, passed to the Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali. The BSMC documents Italian, European and world histroy, in particular conecrning the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
The library edits its own collection catalogues and exhibition catalogues.
The series Fonti e ricerche publishes critical editions of manuscripts and rare books, bibliographies and critical essays on Italian and European political, social and cultural history.
The series Novecento periodico publishes catalogues and critical essays based on the collection of periodicals as a source of historical research.
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