Fondazione Ansaldo

Fondazione Ansaldo

The Film Library and its Heritage

With the 1980 inauguration in Genoa of the Ansaldo Historic Archive (which in 2000 became the current Ansaldo Foundation), for the first time in Italy an industrial company, Ansaldo, had made a commitment to safeguarding its documentation which was no longer required for production purposes.

Documentation which did not need to be kept even for legal, contractual or tax purposes, but which today we recognise as important for economic, historic and social analysis, was to be stored, inventoried and made available to the scientific community. This archival project was also particularly original because it was not limited to the more traditional hardcopy and photographic documentation, but it immediately included new types of documents such as cinematographic and audiovisual materials produced over time by the company to illustrate or promote its activities. These are documentary sources which require specific organisational tools due to the particular conservation and management methods they require. This led to the founding of the Film Library, whose responsibility it is to protect and exploit the film and audiovisual documents relating to the world of business and labour. Since 1987, with the convention between Ansaldo SpA, the Region of Liguria and the University of Genoa, the Film Library is also involved in acquiring, safeguarding and promoting films and audiovisual materials concerning Genoa and Liguria.

Located in the Ansaldo Foundation headquarters in Villa Cattaneo dell’Olmo, the Film Library boasts advanced equipment and instrumentation, including:
climate -controlled rooms for film storage; IT systems for document inventories; non-linear audio and visual editing systems; DVD and CB recorders; video conversion software for all file extensions; 16 and 35 mm editing booths; screens and monitors for viewing and analysing the films.

To date, the Film Library has collected 5,299 items (3,805 films, 1,457 original video cassettes and 37 type C films), dating back to the very early 20th-century; these films represent accounts of major Italian companies as well as the very different aspects of the local economic, social and cultural life, heritage made ever greater and richer by continuous acquisitions and donations and which generates continual interest from a wider user base compared to normal archives, as it is made up of not just scientific researchers but also of film-makers, cultural players, public bodies and a wide range of institutions, television networks, teachers and students of every type and even individual citizens.

The film library to date has collected 1,457  original videocassettes and 2,998 films, divided into 58 archives and collections, which it makes available to the community.  
Among the main archives are those acquired from large companies such as Ansaldo (industrial activity in Italy and abroad of Ansaldo and associate companies, 1910 – 2010); Compagnia Generale di Elettricità C.G.E. (company events and, above all, production activities of the C.G.E. plant in Milan, circa 1945 – circa 1960), Costa (cruise line and oil activities, circa 1955 – circa 1991), Dufour (advertisements, circa 1960), Fincantieri (mainly activities of the Muggiano shipyard, 1955 – 1995), Finmare (transatlantic voyages of the Lloyd Triestino and Adriatica, circa 1955 – 1969), Ilva (various industrial activities in Italy and abroad of the group's companies, circa 1912 – 1991), Italia di Navigazione (shipbuilding and Naval engineering, transatlantic navigation, advertising, circa 1920 – 1972).
Still in the area of enterprise and labour, the following archives are also worthy of mention: Ancifap (circa 1950 – circa 1970), Becchi (circa 1925 – 1936), Bergami (circa 1948 – 1979), C.G.I.L. (1965 – 2010), Centro Sociale Interaziendale Ansaldo (1958 – 1959), Cinestabilimento Donato (circa 1920 – 1966), Gaslini SA (1938 – 1940), Elettra Film (circa 1960 – 1990), Italimpianti SpA (1973-1976), Lamanna (circa 1940 – circa 1983), Linea Messina (1957 – 2000).

Going beyond the world strictly related to the economy and labour we also find newsreels, promotional films, amateur productions and current affairs documentaries showing the urban transformation of the area, tourism and free time, culture and events, such as emigration, the war and various political and labour demonstrations, which have marked the history of Italy. Of the 325 archival units made available to date, worth a mention are the Castellani – Setti archives (cities of Genoa and New York, 1929 – 1936), the Cavo archive (above all the life of craftsmen and the post-war period in Liguria and Piedmont, 1920 – 1970), the Mazzoli archive (documentaries on various social, urban and working aspects of Genoa, 1964 – 1968), the Padovano archive (cultural, sporting, political events in Liguria and Piedmont, circa 1925 –
1981), the Pattini archive (various events in Genoa, Milan and Venice and films by Charles Urban, 1908 – circa 1960), the Bergami-Bartolozzi archive (documentaries and  political propaganda in Italy and around the world, 1925 – 1984).

Annalaura Burlando


Archives and Collections

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