Central Press Supervision Authority Collection at the Security Services Archive
The Central Press Supervision Authority files, stored at the Security Services Archive in Prague, contain materials documenting the control of press and newly issued publications in Czechoslovakia from 1953 to 1968. Examples of censorship with extensive transcriptions from ‘defective’ literary works are very valuable as they include unknown information on the ways authors and editors negotiated with the censors, reveal the origins of the works, provide information on the alterations that were imposed and the existence of text variants, and they even cover prominent authors’ previously unknown works.
Na Struze 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Central Press Supervision Authority
Provenance and cultural activities
The Central Press Supervision Authority (HSTD) was a Soviet-style censorship authority, overseeing the circulation of information in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s. The institution was set up in 1953 by a secret government order. At first it was subordinated directly to the presidency of the Czechoslovak government, however, after several months it was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior. The main aim of the HSTD was to ensure that materials containing secret or sensitive information were not published or disseminated to the public. In 1967, the HSTD was renamed the Central Publication Authority, and the following year, in 1968, this provisional censorship office was abolished.
As the Central Press Supervision Authority came under the Ministry of the Interior, after the abolition of censorship in June 1968, material created by this office (e.g. documentation on book censorship, employees’ personal documents; materials from the Czechoslovak Communist Party Central Committee ) was first of all administered by the Central State Archive, where it was transferred to on 9 July 1969. However, the extensive Central Press Supervision Authority files were transferred in 1970 to the Czechoslovak Federal Ministry of the Interior and very quickly processed (as early as 1970–1971), as the Ministry of the Interior staff wished to utilize censored material from the 1960s in order to gather information on the activities of intellectuals during the Prague Spring. The Central Press Supervision Authority files subsequently made up part of what was known as the Ministry of the Interior Study Institute, where particularly important information and material on State Security activities was being gathered. The original Central Press Supervision Authority files inventory from 1971 is currently available online. When Act No. 181/2007 was passed on the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and the Security Services Archive, and these institutes were subsequently established, all of the Central Press Supervision Authority files became part of the Security Services Archive.
After some of the archives containing material from the Ministry of the Interior, including the Central Press Supervision Authority Collection, were opened up to professionals in 1990, the first history books were written which described the emergence and operation of the censorship authority, and in particular its influence on the press and film industry. Therefore, the collection is widely used by researchers.
Description of content
The Central Press Supervision Authority files contain comprehensive documentation on the ways that censorship staff examined the press and the ways publishers negotiated with them with regard to newly published books. Censorship often entailed extensive transcriptions of ‘defective’ literary works, which the censors usually commented on in detail, explaining why they considered the passage in question or the work as a whole to be unacceptable, and it is these reports that are of value to the literary historian, as they include unknown information on the ways authors and editors negotiated with the censors, they show the origins of works, provide information on alterations that were imposed and the existence of text variants, and they even cover prominent authors’ previously unknown works.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Tomášek, Dušan. 1994. Pozor cenzurováno! aneb ze života soudružky cenzury. Praha: Vydavatelství a nakladatelství MV ČR.
Author(s) of this page
- Šámal, Petr
Bárta, Milan. 2003. „Nelze zveřejnit v tisku, rozhlasu a televizi (Cenzura v Československu v letech 1953–1968)." Securitas Imperii 10: 6–58.
Security Services Archive, Prague, Documentation on the collection 318 – Hlavní správa tiskového dohledu (Central Press Supervision Authority).
Matějovič, Pavel, ed. 2015. Zakázané prózy. Bratislava: Literárne informačné centrum.
"Preliminary inventory of the Collection 318 Hlavní správa tiskového dohledu (Central Press Supervision Authority)." https://www.abscr.cz/data/pdf/abs/inventar-318.pdf. Accessed October 28, 2017.
Frolík, Jan. 1998. "Osud fondů Studijního ústavu MV." Archivní časopis 48, No. 1: 4-17.
Tomášek, Dušan, and Karel Kaplan. 1994. O cenzuře v Československu v letech 1945–1956. Prague: Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR.