The EMBL Archive is the custodian of the Laboratory’s history. It preserves and shares archival holdings from across the Laboratory’s sites and activities in analogue and digital formats. As a whole, these holdings seek to capture the history of EMBL and European molecular biology, and the stories of those involved in the Laboratory’s ongoing scientific and institutional work.
Vision for and mission of the EMBL Archive
[In alignment with EMBL's missions], the EMBL Archive’s vision is to provide a resource that supports and documents European research, instrumentation and training in the field of molecular biology. It will do so by capturing, processing and making accessible EMBL’s scientific records and archives, and institutional documentary heritage of enduring historical value created (naturally or necessarily) or received by EMBL as a product of its activities at any of its current and future sites. This specifically includes material from persons (e.g. current or former staff), and can include material from organizations closely associated to EMBL and/or the life sciences.
§2 of the EMBL Archive - Terms of Reference (2018)
The EMBL Archivist is committed to working with staff from across the Laboratory and its sites to best capture, preserve and share the Laboratory’s scientific and institutional heritage.
You can consult the EMBL Archive catalogue on its dedicated website: archive.embl.org.
The EMBL Archive has established an Oral Histories programme. This programme gathers interviews that, together, capture the development, history and ongoing missions and achievements of EMBL, its people and the European molecular biology landscape.
Science and Archives
How can archivists best collaborate with scientists to capture material for long-term preservation? The EMBL Archivist is part of an international network of archivists, the Committee on the Archives of Science and Technology that works to hone best practices for working with scientists and scientific archives so that creators, users and institutions continue to have access to original material that bears witness to scientific advances.
The EMBL Archive is part of a local group, the Notfallverbund Archive Rhein-Neckar e.V. (NARN) to help ensure that, should any local archive be damaged in an emergency, as much as possible of its holdings will be salvaged.
Managing Personal Information
Archivists are trained to manage personal data in such ways that both respect individuals’ right to privacy and societies’ need to record their own activities. The EMBL Archive necessarily contains personal data, which is managed by the EMBL Archivist according to professional standards and EMBL's data protection framework. Together with EMBL Legal Services, the EMBL Archivist prepared this document to explain why and how the EMBL Archive uses and processes personal data. Please feel free to contact the EMBL Archivist with your questions.
Building the EMBL Archive
The idea to start the EMBL Archive first came from the Alumni Association Board in 2009 and was launched at the EMBL Staff-Alumni Reunion in 2010 (see in EMBLetc in October 2010, p. i). Thanks to the efforts and vision of a dedicated group of alumni, facilitated by EMBL Alumni Relations, the idea garnered enthusiasm throughout the EMBL community and developed into a Laboratory-wide initiative. The Wellcome Collection in London provided support and advice early on, and continues to do so. In January 2015, the first EMBL Archivist began working to formally establish the EMBL Archive, under the guidance of the EMBL Director General. In July 2018, the EMBL Archive was formally inaugurated. You can read about the inauguration here and watch a recording of the ceremony here.
Heidelberg, 21 November 2018 Communities building collections In 2015, several boxes and many digital files greeted Anne-Flore Laloë on her first day at EMBL as the newly instated Archivist. Three years on, the EMBL Archive – now located in EMBL Heidelberg’s Building 14 – houses even more boxes, stacked neatly in a temperature-controlled room. Among their contents are an original drawing from a graphic novel featuring one of EMBL’s founders, Leo Szilard, and placards collected at Heidelberg’s March for Science in 2017. There’s also a box of dissecting instruments that belonged to former Director General Fotis Kafatos. Decorated in his handwriting, the fierce warning cautions others not to borrow the forceps “under any conditions”.