The Institute of Contemporary History is the main scientific institution in Slovenia for the study of the recent and contemporary history of the Slovenes, from the middle of the 19th century onwards. It was established by the Slovene government in 1959 as an institute of the history of the workers' movement, and it received its current title in 1989.
At the beginning the working agenda of the institution was circumscribed by the historical period in which it found itself: essentially it was intended to research the history of the workers' movement, of the incumbent Communist Party and of the building of Socialism, but already within the first decade since its foundation the research had extended beyond this narrow thematic field to embrace contemporary history in its entirety. To begin with the Institute comprised, along with the research department and library, the Museum of the National Liberation of Slovenia and the archive department with its comprehensive records from the last century of Slovene history. However, by 1962 the museum had already become independent (today it has been renamed the Museum of Contemporary History of Ljubljana), and in 1992 the archive department was combined with the archive of the Slovene republic.
Since its relatively heterogeneous beginnings, the Institute has gradually developed into a purely scientific institution. When it was founded it counted some eighty permanent staff along with a number of associated colleagues, but it was rare to find among them appropriately educated or qualified people, and there were no Masters or Doctors of Science whatsoever. Since those early days, to hold adequate scientific qualifications has become compulsory for research staff, as has the election of collaborators to teaching or research posts from outside the Institute, from the various faculties of the University of Ljubljana. For several decades now, individual researchers at either or both of the Slovene universities (of Ljubljana and Maribor) and have collaborated to an increasing extent in the supervision of postgraduate study.
Outwith the museum and archive departments, the institute has established itself today as an institution for purely scientific research with a very high level of qualification among its staff: out of 24 employees, 16 are doctors of science and there are also a handful who are completing postgraduate studies at the University of Ljubljana.
During the first years of the Institute's existence the research activity was restricted to a limited examination of contemporary history in accordance with the published directives that were laid down at its foundation, but it was not long before the scope became broader to embrace at first the wider issues of politics and economics, and more recently cultural and social history as well.
The findings of these research projects are made accessible to the public in a number of ways: in the form of scientific monographs; through compilations of source material; in educational publications and other independent publications by associates of the Institute. In addition, research work finds further outlets in the major historical and other humanistic and sociological journals of Slovenia; they contribute to thematic journals; they write keywords for different lexicons and the Slovene Encyclopaedia; and they also participate in a number of domestic and international meetings and symposia. The Institute, either alone or as co-publisher has issued several editions that compile source materials, as well as journals and scientific work in the field of contemporary history. The majority of the monographs written by collaborators of the Institute are issued by a number of different Slovene publishers.
The best information about the activity of the Institute of Contemporary History and its collaborators can be found in the Institute's own journal which is called 'Contributions to Contemporary History', which means that every year sees the publication of either one or two complete editions. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Institute a complete bibliography of all collaborators of the Institute was issued, and bibliographies have also been catalogued in the computer base COBISS.
Along with the basic scientific discussion which covers the entire spectrum of research work being undertaken at the time, the journal also reports on a yearly basis on the activity of the Institute and contains a bibliography of work achieved in the previous year. The journal 'Contributions to Contemporary History' has affirmed itself as the main Slovene publication in the field of contemporary history and it is accessible in 33 associated institutions in 40 European states and in the USA.