Since 1 January 2007, the Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IHCAS) has held the status of public research institution. It carries out basic research in the fields of Czech, Czechoslovak, and general history and is a leading research centre that systematically examines the past of the Czech and Czechoslovak state in the full scope of its historical existence, from the Early Middle Ages to its modern and contemporary history. The institute’s original focus on history up to 1945 and/or 1948 has steadily shifted to encompass the history of communist Czechoslovakia.
The Institute of History conducts its activities in Prague as well as at branches in Brno and České Budějovice, and it also administers the Czech Historical Institute in Rome. Its multiple facilities are staffed by outstanding experts who not only expand the boundaries of knowledge in their respective specializations but also contribute to the formation of the next generation of historians and experts in other fields by teaching at the institute and various universities. By organizing events in the domain of international research and holding seats on a number of boards, they promote the internationalization of Czech research and the transfer of its findings abroad.
The Institute of History and its researchers play a key role in the area of popularization. Scholarly reflection on the past and the role of historical science in the preservation of the national memory and formation of the national identity and culture in the broadest multicultural sense constitutes an essential part of a civilized society, contributes to the development of positive values and norms, and through analytical and critical discourse provides scholars and the general public with valuable feedback. Of equal importance are the institute’s other roles, which, in addition to the implementation of research findings in practice, primarily involve the provision of a vast infrastructure through the publication of complete series of source editions and related series of editions covering the period from the Middle Ages to modern history (Regesta diplomatica nec non epistolaria Bohemiae et Moraviae, Documenta res gestas Bohemicas saeculorum XVI.–XVIII. illustrantia, Documents of Czechoslovak Foreign Policy, Programmes of Political Parties, etc.) used by a broad spectrum of scholars, the publication of specialized journals on medieval history, the early modern period, modern history, historical geography, and area studies on Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, the compilation and administration of a continuous bibliography in the form of a unique comprehensive database (IHCAS is the only establishment in the Czech Republic to undertake such an endeavour), the preservation, modern treatment, and publication of valuable collections (the August Sedláček Estate, etc.) for use by scholars and the general public, and the expansion of the libraries of various departments (a combined total of more than 265,000 volumes), which are open to the public and see extensive use.