The database containing documents stored in the so-called “Piattoli Archive” in the Polish Academy of Sciences, Scientific Centre in Rome (Accademia Polacca di Roma) was established as part of the project titled Studying, digitizing and sharing of the special collections of the “Library J. Michałowski” in Rome, financed by the Polish National Program for the Development of Humanities.
The collected documentation covers many areas of European intellectual history from the turn of the 19th century, including legal history (treatises on death sentence and penalties/fines; remarks on the history of adultery and its punishment; a comprehensive record of the judicial process; tables showing legal and administrative organization), medical history (on breast-feeding; comments on funerals/burials; documents regarding legislation in the healthcare and the institutionalization of surgery), history of social life in the Duchy of Modena and Reggio (rules of the working of the orphanage, admittance of the sick and disabled), history of education (documents on education in Prussia and Russia, on organization of lectures in theology and literature; reflections on the new elementary textbooks for schools in Modena).
In addition, the archive contains, among other items , the notes to lectures given by Piattoli, his extensive bibliographical annotations and lists of volumes he owned, as well as documents relating to the history of sciences, natural history, or history of literature and language. It also incorporates an extensive range of Scipione Piattoli’s personal documents, including notes bearing some characteristics of a narrative memoir, notes on projects of social and political reforms, and drafts and copies of letters to and from Piattoli in Italian, French and German languages. These documents relate primarily to the years before and after his stay in Poland.
Moreover, the collection also contains annotations and other research material by Alessandro D'Ancona (1835-1914), a distinguished Italian philologist and author of Piattoli’s biography (Scipione Piattoli e la Polonia. Con un'appendice di documenti, Firenze, Barbera, 1915), who had studied his legacy. Two of the original manuscripts of the book can be found in the archive. This part of the archive has not be digitalized.
It should be explained that “Piattoli Archive” included in the database was probably created quite accidentally, and in all likelihood contains mostly documents gathered by Alessandro D'Ancona during the few decades of researching the above-mentioned monograph. It is difficult to say anything definite on this matter and, above all, to assess the degree of completeness (or rather incompleteness) of the collection. It is also difficult to link it to any coherent method of classification. At the same time not much is known of the date and the circumstances of the acquisition of the archive by Józef Michałowski, erudite and bibliophile, founder of the Polish scientific centre in Rome initially operating under the aegis of the Polish Academy of Learning (PAU), and later the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). If this event happened in 1932, as suggested by Bronisław Biliński, it is still uncertain whether it was a donation to the PAU centre or personally to Józef Michałowski. If the donation was made before 1927, when Michałowski donated his private library to the centre, the question arises as to whether “Piattoli Archive” was also given to the Academy. Furthermore, the situation remains enigmatic , since part of the documentation which was originally included in the collection, ended up later – in in circumstances that are now difficult to establish – in private hands, and remains inaccessible to researchers.