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 mission], 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 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.
Working with Scientific Archives
How can archivists best collaborate with scientists to capture material for long-term preservation? The EMBL Archivist collaborates with archivists internationally 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.
Building the EMBL Archive
The idea to start the EMBL Archive first came from the Alumni Association Board in 2009. The initiative was launched at the EMBL Staff-Alumni Reunion in 2010 and reported in EMBLetc in October 2010. 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 Trust in London also provided support and advice from the start of this initiative, 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 and the EMBL Directorate.
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.
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”.