The Archive gives a complete picture of the competences taken by Opera throughout the centuries.
The first centuries of activity are traceable only through secondary sources and the preserved
documents date from the beginning of the sixteen century.
The role of the mediator between the Government laws and the requests of the friars and of the
citizens has always distributed Opera’s commitment to different directions: small or big repair
works on the building, restoration works, embellishment of the church and other parts and of
the Friary, permission to add tombs, rooms usage authorization to religious groups and friars,
information about the changes of the structure of Santa Croce during the last two centuries
(the transformation into the Pantheon – a burial place of great people - and into the present shape).
As a memory of this uninterrupted activity, this Archive give us the chance to retrace the evolution
of culture, art trends, artistic sensitivity, religious and civic participation that involved this
Franciscan complex and to find in the papers the memory of artists, religious men, rich families and
people who worked, lived here, or were just remembered.
The collection is organized into two categories:
I. Operating documents
This section houses about 800 texts which can be divided up in four Funds.
The main Fund is the one preserving the documents which have been produced and collected by the
Opera of Santa Croce from the beginning of the 1500s to the half of 1900s.
It is subdivided into two periods that mark the Institutional history of the association and
the two different methods with whom the documents have been organized.
The most ancient text is a register (Quaderno di Comessione) with the names of Opera’s Debtors
and Creditors from 1517 to 1530.
Among the most important series are “Partiti e deliberazioni” and “Giustificazioni e negozi” of
the Superintendent, the series relating to the accounting department and the nineteenth century
collection of documents entitled “Affari”.
The Archive preserves, other than the “Libri dei morti”, that is the cahiers where day by day
the names of people buried in Santa Croce were recorded.
A copy of the “Sepoltuari” (1439 and 1596) produced in the eighteen century is essential
documentation for the arrangement of the church during the years when the texts were written
and for dating of the tombs.
The other three Funds preserved in this archive belong to religious communities not linked to Santa Croce.
They are the archives of the Franciscan Friaries in Fucecchio and Certomondo – both of them closed
in 1863 – whose properties were given to Opera as an aid to maintain Santa Croce.
II. Drawings and plans
Integral part of the Historical Archive are the drawings and the plans produced as the apparatus of
a wide range of of projects that this institution dealt with, during its activity.
There are about 250 drawings which date back to the 1800s and 1900s, except for the few exemplars
referred to the previous centuries.
Plans, sketches and water-color maps testify the constant activity of maintenance and restoration
of the church and friary and sometimes give us the description of locations which are no longer existent.
As precious and rich of information are the nineteenth century drawings of projects for new elements or
complete architectonic and ornamental parts, fruit of the important new set up and restoration works
carried out during that century and not always achieved. Moreover, there are numerous sketches and
drawings of tombs and memorials that increased in the course of the 1800s because of the transformation
of this church into a Pantheon dedicated to illustrious Italians: some of them, thought and planned for
renowned personalities or private citizens, are signed by great committed and esteemed sculptors.
The Historical Archive is the heart of a larger patrimony constituted of documents produced and collected
through the centuries by this institution that still today accomplishes its original purpose.
In fact, this patrimony has continued and continues to grow rich thanks to continuous repair and
restoration works and to an intense activity in the last years to increase the value of religious,
artistic and civic aspects that typified both past and present times of Santa Croce Franciscan complex.