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The history of the Geological map of Italy : Documents

In spite of a distinguished heritage and a strong comeback at international level, the complex history of Italian geology is a vastly neglected field. A handful of young historians are doing much to recover the significant past of a discipline Italy had contributed to establish, from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century.

The relative neglect for the history of Italian geology turns into oblivion as far as the history of the Italian geological map is concerned, from the official inception of the project, in December 1861, up to very recent polemic surrounding the partial withdrawal of the State from its historic surveying mission. This is partly due to the haphazard preservation of official papers concerning the Italian Geological survey. Recent recovery and reordering by the Archivio Centrale dello Stato in Rome of an important and voluminous collection of folders monitoring the daily life of the difficult and often unhappy relationship between the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce and the Geological Service, will undoubtedly favour much needed research. The State Archive papers should however be complemented with records once kept at the Headoffice of the Ufficio Geologico in Rome. However, a series of reorganizations, architectural restructuring and lack of finances have much reduced the survival rate of documents relating to an essential chapter in the history of contemporary Italy.

Important sections of the Ufficio Geologico archives have been photocopied by Pietro Corsi during the mid 1990s. The original documents are at present unavailable. This is the reason why we have chosen to open this website by making available an online reconstruction of the archive as it stood between 1992 and 1994. Important archival material will be added, including newly discovered correspondence between key protagonists of Italian geology and of the geological map project.

One first, important result is already achieved: the team lead by professor Luigi Carmignani at the University of Siena has made available all the historic geological maps of the country, from the early nineteenth century to today. These can be consulted at the address http://www.egeo.unisi.it/.

In the space of some months, it will be possible to acquire all the archival information available on most of these historical maps, their authors and their editorial vicissitudes.

Pietro Corsi, Director of the CRHST, UMR 2139 CNRS/CSI, Paris, France.
July 2004.

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Editeur/editor : Pietro CORSI, pietro.corsi@history.ox.ac.uk - Le site internet est hébergé sur la grille de services de la TGIR Huma-Num.