Aleksandar Stipčević Censorship Collection
The personal papers of Aleksandar Stipčević (1930-2015) deposited with the Croatian State Archives contain materials exclusively connected to the history of censorship not only in socialist Yugoslavia, but also worldwide. Stipčević used these compiled materials as reference for several books.
Zagreb Trg Marka Marulića 21, Croatia 10000
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Name of collection
- Aleksandar Stipčević Personal Papers
Provenance and cultural activities
The period after the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia saw the rise of censorship studies in the former republics, which was prompted by the fall of the communist regime. A social historian of books, Aleksandar Stipčević (1930–2015) was among very few Croatian scholars who approached the topic of censorship from the scholarly standpoint. He wrote several books about it, both theoretical-historical as well as biographical, in which he related his own experience of censorship during the Yugoslav socialist period (e.g. Censorship in Libraries, 1992; On the Perfect Censor, 1994; The Story of the Croatian Biographical Lexicon, 1997).
His personal collection, consisting of 66 archival boxes when handed over by his widow to the Croatian State Archives in 2015, , reflects this interest, because the materials in 17 boxes are devoted to the topic of the “general history of censorship.” Stipčević initially began to study library sciences because his job was at the Library of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and later at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science in 1989. As a librarian, he became particularly interested in different forms of censorship, and, as a hobby, began taking clippings from different types of journals and periodicals, both national and international. Eventually, this passion for collecting information enabled him to write several books on the topic of censorship: "The collected materials kept piling up and he put it in file folders, organising their contents. When a file folder was big enough, he would write a book. Topics just imposed themselves," Mrs Stipčević said (Interview with Stipčević, Anđelka).
This collection is still significant to the general public especially in an educational sense, since its content sheds light on the almost invisible channels of thought control under the communist regime. Although Yugoslav laws did contain formal censorship provisions, the material from this collection shows that the opposite was true. Moreover, in Stipčević's view, the period of communist censorship was the worst in the Croatian history: "The end of the war and the establishment of the communist regime meant the beginning of a new and, undoubtedly, the worst phase in the whole history of censorship in the Croatian lands. All censorship procedures that had been implemented in the Croatian lands in past centuries found their place in communist censorship, but not necessarily in the laws that had been enacted during their rule. Some procedures were not codified on purpose in order to more smoothly apply "ideological" criteria for the assessment of the degree of the threat posed by somebody's writings..." (Stipčević 2008, 503).
The collection is completely accessible for research.
Description of content
The legacy of Aleksandar Stipčević consists of 244 file folders (7 meters), out of which 61 file folders in 14 boxes contain materials exclusively connected to the social history of censorship.
The file folder “Censorship 1945-1990” (box 1) contains general observations about censorship, its legislation, and the particularity of Yugoslav self-management socialism, i.e., printers as censors in Croatia in 1945-1990, with different case studies placed in chronological order, wherein printers decided for themselves what was detrimental to the social order.
The file folder “Samizdats” (box 7) is especially significant to the comparative history of cultural opposition, because it presents collected case studies from the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, China, Lithuania and Yugoslavia.
The file folder “Subversiveness through the export of books” (box 9) contains a large quantity of press clippings about the ban on the import of “hostile publications” to Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1990 and the judicial treatment of violations of the law on hostile propaganda.
The file folder “Confrontations with writers” (box 11) is significant since it contains materials about different methods used by the regime to deal with dissident writers, such as, e.g., placing them in mental (psychiatric) institutions.
The entire box 12 is dedicated to the topic of “Book purges”, with a list of banned books and publications (and one motion picture) placed in paper jackets in chronological order from 1945 to 1990.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 100-499
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Shek Brnardić, Teodora
Stipčević, Aleksandar. Priča o hrvatskom biografskom leksikonu [The Story on the Croatian Biographical Lexicon] (Zagreb: Matica hrvatska, 1997).
Bukvić, Nenad, interview by Shek Brnardić, Teodora , May 10, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Stipčević, Anđelka, interview by Shek Brnardić, Teodora , May 04, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection