Karolinska fears archives lost forever

More than half of the old archives at the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm are missing. Now the university fears that a significant part of its history is lost.

The scale of the loss is far greater than was originally thought and the institute is, to put it mildly, rather worried.

“We have perhaps lost for ever a great part of the source material of KI’s history, and as far as KI is concerned that’s a big problem,” wrote the head registrar, Theresa Tham, in an email to the National Archive which was seen by the news agency TT.

The National Archives has investigated the archiving at all of Sweden’s universities and colleges.

In the report which KI submitted it transpired that more than 110 of roughly 200 old archives are missing. And nobody at KI has the faintest idea where they are.

At the beginning of August the Karolinska Institute was strongly criticised by the National Archives, which demanded clarification about the missing files.

KI’s administrative director Bengt Norrving said that the archives mostly contained administrative material of limited value.

But TT’s own analysis of the archive catalogues shows that the missing archives held confidential documents, such as records of the donation of bodies. Unique letters and documents produced at historical scientific institutes are also missing.

Bengt Norrving conceded that part of the research material could be among the vanished archives. Nevertheless, he pointed out that in many cases there are copies elsewhere in KI.

The only possible explanation so far from KI for the disappearance of the archives is that it was mislaid during a reorganisation at the beginning of the 90s.

TT/The Local