Archives of HUN-REN RCH Institute of Ethnology

The Archives, founded in 1970, collect primarily the manuscripts of the researchers of the Institute of Ethnology of the HUN-REN Research Centre for the Humanities, the results of their fieldwork and archival research, materials of projects carried out at the Institute, and documents related to the Institute’s operation and history. It also manages a number of research legacies and special collections bequeathed to the Institute. The bulk of the material in the Archives dates from the second half of the 20th century, but certain collections also include older documents. The Archives are continuously expanding with material from the researchers of the Institute and donations from other researchers as well as bequests.


On-site and online research

For information on how to use the Archives, please see the downloadable research policy. Research is free of charge for all, but subject to a research permit (or a one-time declaration for researchers of the Institute). Archival material may be reproduced under the terms set out in the research policy and after submitting the relevant request form. Any use of copies for non-research purposes requires a publication permit.

Catalogues and indices are listed below, with the descriptions of the various fonds. The continuously expanding digital database of selected archival materials can be browsed by clicking here. (The publication and re-use of material available online is subject to the same rules as copies made during on-site research!)



1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán utca 4., Bldg. B, Floor 8, Room 14
Head of the Archives: János Bednárik (+36 20/548-6724; e-mail: ); Anna Szakál (+36 30/3510828; e-mail: )
Staff members: István Boldog-Bernád, Sára Kónya, Andrea Szabó.


Collection Structure

I. Operational documents of the Institute of Ethnology and its predecessors

The Archives store the operational documents of the Institute of Ethnology of the HUN-REN Research Centre for the Humanities, as well as its predecessor, the Institute of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), dating from 1961 to the mid-2010s. (The Hungarian Academy of Sciences established a research team at the Department of Folklore Studies of Eötvös Loránd University lead by Gyula Ortutay in 1963. In 1967 the Research Team of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was founded, which research team in 1991 became the Insitute of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.) The document collection comprise minutes of board meetings, various reports, plans, memoranda, documents of international and domestic scientific relations, conferences, and research organization, as well as personnel and financial documents. Its volume is about 10 running meters.

II. Manuscript Collection

Available manuals:

Starting in 1970, the Manuscript Collection acquired the collections of researchers working for the Research Team of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (mostly transcripts of tape recordings), other documents generated during research (correspondence with informants or other researchers, collectors’ journals, original manuscripts collected on-site, notes, etc.), as well as the manuscripts of volumes, research articles, reviews, peer reviews, and proceedings of conferences organized by the research group, and later the Institute of Ethnology. The Manuscript Collection also includes professional correspondence, collections submitted by others, and many other types of documents.

III. Photograph and Slide Collection

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The backbone of the Photograph and Slide Collection are field photographs taken by the researchers of the Institute  and, to a lesser extent, other researchers and individuals. The Slide Collection also consists of a significant number of photographs and reproductions of artworks, and both collections acquired images through purchase and bequest. The development of the Photo Collection began when the Institute was founded (1967); the inventory books and index cards comprise data on nearly 52,000 items. Around 10,000 images have been added to the slide inventory since the mid-1970s. The collection of digital photos has also begun in recent years.

IV. Audio Collection

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This collection consists primarily of field collections by the researchers of the Institute, but also includes recordings of institutional events, conferences, and copies of documents. From the early 1970s to 2010, 816 audio recordings were added to the inventory book and index cards. The tapes, cassettes, and discs sometimes contain several recordings; these have been digitized and are currently being processed. Through donations and research bequests, new audio recordings continue to be added to the collection, and the collection of digital recordings has also begun.

V. Video and Film Collection

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The plan for this collection was included in the original policies of the Archives, but it was not actually established until 1989. In the following decades, the development of the Video Collection continued at a slow pace. The revison of inventoried films is in progress, as is the digitization of recordings made by the researchers of the Institute and the retrospective collection of professional videos and films created in a digital format.

VI. Special Collections

VI.1. Archive of Hungarian Folk Belief and Vernacular Religion

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Per the concept initiated by Éva Pócs in the 1960s and later modified under the influence of Vilmos Diószegi, the Archives of Hungarian Folk Belief collected all published data of Hungarian folk beliefs, hidden in archives and recorded from oral tradition, with the aim of being comprehensive. Data collection and processing has intensified in recent years, and the subject matter has been broadened to include vernacular religion. The archive currently comprises around 150,000 index cards. By the end of 2023, almost the entire material has been entered into a publicly accessible online database. The documents and correspondence related to the Archive of Folk Belief have been assigned to this collection of the Archives. This is also where the material of two thematically related initiatives (Topography of Hungarian Folk Belief and Archives of Folk Belief in Northwestern Transdanubia) is kept.

VI.2. Archive of Folk Medicine

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The Archive of Folk Medicine was established through the collaborative efforts of Vilmos Diószegi and Éva Pócs in the early 1960s. The idea was to gather all historical, published, and recently collected data on folk medicine and systematize them by disease and remedy. From the second half of the 1970s, the work was directed by Mihály Hoppál. Following the Institute’s relocation in 2017, the material, which was in a state of complete disarray, was restored in 2021, systematized by disease, and is once again searchable.

VI.3. Atlas of Hungarian Folk Culture

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The documents connected to the Atlas of Hungarian Folk Culture span nearly four decades (from the second half of the 1950s to 1992), and comprise documents related to the design and preparation of the Atlas, the complete documentation of the processes of collecting and mapping, as well as documents related to the publication and translation of the Atlas. The material is currently being systematized and the collectors’ journals and map sheets entered into an online database, therefore the collection is of limited researchability.

VI.4. Encyclopaedia of Hungarian Ethnography

A collection of materials (manuscripts, images, graphics, administrative documents, correspondence, etc.) related to the Encyclopaedia of Hungarian Ethnography, mostly created by the researchers of the Research Team of Ethnology (later Institute of Ethnology) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The material is of limited researchability until systematized.

VI.5. Hungarian Ethnography

A collection of materials (manuscripts, images, graphics, administrative documents, correspondence, etc.) related to the volumes of Hungarian Ethnography, a decades-long undertaking of the Research Team of Ethnology (later Institute of Ethnology) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The material is of limited researchability until systematized.

VI.6. Catalogue of Hungarian Folktales

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The special collection consists of descriptions of plots of folktales and related notes, compiled from various volumes and archives, generated in the course of the production of the Catalogue of Hungarian Folktales (1987–2001). The systematized but only partially checked sujets for each type of folktale are accessible in the typological order, while the remaining material has not been systematized and is therefore of limited researchability.

VI.7. Archive of Legends

In the course of a project, which began in the 1960s under the leadership of Ilona Dobos, the manuscript and published Hungarian legends available in public collections had been compiled and typed onto cards. There is no index to help navigate the material, therefore this special collection is of limited researchability.

VI.8. Press Monitoring Archive

Between 1982 and 1989, the Research Team of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences used the press monitoring services of MAHIR (Hungarian Advertiser). The press materials on folk culture were arranged thematically by Zsuzsanna Tátrai. The material has not been indexed but is researchable.

VI.9. A Little Hungarian Ethnography

The manuscripts of lectures for “A Little Hungarian Ethnography,” a long-running series on Hungarian Radio. The material has not been systematized and is of limited researchability.

VII. Personal fonds

VII.1. The legacy of Gyula Ortutay

Available manuals:

  • index (correspondence of Gyula Ortutay; correspondence and operational documents of the ELTE Institute of Ethnography, Collection of Offprints) 

The legacy of Gyula Ortutay (Subotica, 1910 – Budapest, 1978), the founding director of the Research Team of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences consists of his correspondence, and other material (folklore collections, manuscripts of lectures and conference papers, research articles, etc.) that remained at the Institute after his death or was acquired by the Institute. To date, Ortutay's correspondence and collection of offprints and ephemera have been systematized. The rest of the legacy is of limited researchability.

VII.2. The Legacy of Tibor Bodrogi

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After the death of Tibor Bodrogi (Újpest, 1924 – Budapest, 1986), six boxes (about 1.5 running meters) of his research material were donated to the Archives. Most of it consists of notes on source material and bibliography, predominantly on the peoples of Oceania (and Africa), tribal art, beliefs, folklore, and the history of ethnology. There are also numerous photographs (mostly reproductions, museum artifact photos), drawings, graphics, some correspondence, and other documents. Furthermore, the legacy also includes a collection of ethnological bibliographic cards comprising thousands of items.

VII.3. The Legacy of Vilmos Diószegi

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The legacy of Vilmos Diószegi (Budapest, 1923 – Budapest, 1972), scholar of folk belief consists of the collections, translations, lectures and conference papers, glossaries, a few personal documents, and photographs from Hungary and the Soviet Union. Some of the material was acquired by the Institute after the researcher’s death, an itemized catalogue of which was compiled by Éva Schmidt. The rest of the legacy was donated to the Archives in 2021 by Judit Morvay's daughters, Katalin Szolnoki and Anna Szolnoki. The entire legacy is in need of comprehensive reorganization, so its researchability is limited until the revision is completed.

VII.4. The Legacy of Judit Morvay

Available manuals:

  • index
  • description

The legacy of Judit Morvay (Budapest, 1923 – Szentendre, 2002), donated to the Archives by her daughters Katalin Szolnoki and Anna Szolnoki in 2021. It includes the researcher's correspondence, family and professional photographs, manuscripts of research articles, and some documents related to the family of her first husband, Lajos Szolnoki.

VII.5. The Legacy of Éva Schmidt

The legacy of Éva Schmidt (Budapest, 1948 – Khanty-Mansiysk, 2002) consists of her collections, journals, correspondence, notations, reports, transcripts, other notes, and some film footage. That is, the documents left in her office upon her death, in addition to the material submitted to the Manuscript Collection throughout her lifetime. The material was sealed until August 2022; since then, in the framework of the Éva Schmidt Archive project, the processing of this material, together with her scholarly legacy preserved elsewhere, has also begun.

VII.6. The Legacy of Béla Gunda

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Numerous manuscripts and photographs of Béla Gunda (Temesfüzes, 1911 – Debrecen, 1994) had been added to the Archives in his lifetime, and after his death, his scholarly legacy expanded by some 12 running meters. The collection of documents covers almost all areas of Gunda's long and diverse research career.

VII.7. The Legacy of Tekla Dömötör

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The legacy of folklorist Tekla Dömötör (Budapest, 1914 – Budapest, 1987) consists of personal and professional documents, correspondence, collections, and photographs found in her apartment after her death, which were acquired by Éva Pócs at the family's request and donated to our Archives in 1988.

VII.8. The Legacy of Ágnes Kovács

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The legacy of Ágnes Kovács (Cluj-Napoca, 1919 – Budapest, 1990), folklorist, researcher of folktales, comprises documents produced in the course of her work at the Institute, as well as items acquired from her family. The material, with a volume of some 5.5 running meters, includes her extensive correspondence, manuscripts of research articles and lectures and conference papers, various professional notes and transcripts of collections, as well as some personal documents and numerous photographs.

VII.9. The Legacy of Melinda Égető

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The research legacy of Melinda Égető (Budapest, 1941 – Budapest, 2011) consists of four units. The largest of these is the Archive of Vineyard Statutes, with more than 200 items, including the rules and regulations of the vineyard communities of historic Hungary.

VII.10. The Legacy of Miklós Szilágyi

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The legacy of ethnographer Miklós Szilágyi (Tiszafüred, 1939 – Budapest, 2019) consists partly of material found in his office at the Institute and partly of documents entrusted to the Archives by his family. The legacy provides not only a cross-section of Szilágyi’s scholarly and cultural activities but also an insight into his personal relationships.


The Legacy of Zsuzsanna Erdélyi

Available manuals

The legacy comprises the materials that folklorist Zsuzsanna Erdélyi (Komárom, 1921 – Budapest, 2015) produced between 1964 and 1998. The majority of the manuscripts are transcripts of her collections recorded on audio tapes. Most of the original audio material can be found in the Audio Collection. 90% of the transcribed folklore texts are archaic folk prayers within the category of religious folklore.