Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives

Author(s): Katalin Cseh-Varga (2016),
Arnošt Štanzel (2018) – last update: 2018-09-28.

The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA) at Central European University (CEU) actively collects, preserves, and makes openly accessible documents related to recent history and human rights. It offers one of the world’s largest repositories of Cold War, Radio Free Europe and samizdat holdings. OSA’s archival holdings comprise over 9,000 linear meters of textual documents, images and ephemera; over 11,000 hours of audio/visual materials; and over 12 terabytes of digital data. Their materials are in over 40 languages and come from over 40 donors. They also experiment with new ways to contextualize primary sources, developing innovative tools to explore, represent or bridge traditional archival collections in a digital environment.


Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA)
Central European University (CEU)
Arany János utca 32
1051 Budapest

Archival information: tel. +36-1-327-3250
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 – 17:45


How to find the Archive sites

The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA) are located at the Goldberger House in Budapest’s city district V that is the heart of the Hungarian capital. The closest  metro station is “Arany János utca”. Information about the Goldberger House is given on the archive’s website.

How to plan and to prepare a visit

Please, check the OSA’s website for basic information on the materials stored in the archives.

Non-EU citizens need to check the respective Schengen-area visa requirements.


There is no need to register in advance; it is however wise to send an email explaining your research project and to ask for advise and further information.

On your first visit, you will have to register in-person at the archives.

Reading Room rules and regulations

  • Before entering the reading room, visitors are asked to leave their coat, bags, etc. in the lockers in the cloakroom. Every visitor is allowed to take a notepad, laptop (without bag), a camera (without bag), pencils, pens, mobile phone (silent mode), and a camera into the reading room.
  • OSA’s holdings are freely researchable to both Hungarian and foreign citizens on the basis of open access. However, access to certain collections and materials may be subject to restrictions. OSA’s access policy aims to balance the researcher’s need for access with respect for the confidentiality of information on individuals and organizations contained in the materials. Please, see the archive’s website for further information on this matter.
  • You may only have 5 containers of archival material at a time.
  • Please use only one box and one folder at a time. In the case of manuscripts, please leave all materials flat on the table. Gloves are required when handling photographs, film, slides or metal objects.
  • You may only have up to 20 microfiches or 5 microfilm reels at a time.
  • You may request up to 10 VHS cassettes, audio tapes, and DVDs at a time. The reference services staff will demonstrate how to use the technical equipment if necessary.
  • Copies of textual and audio/visual materials are provided for a fee solely for research and educational purposes. There may be further legal or donor-defined restrictions on specific materials. Once you have selected the materials you wish to be reproduced, please complete the textual or audio/visual reproduction request form and send it to the Research Room staff.

Archive databases & Online finding aids

  • Please consult the OSA Fonds.
  • The archive’s Digital Repository offers access to over 117,000 digitized items from our physical collections and subcollections.
  • The archive also provides access to unprocessed materials: collections with preliminary inventories compiled on acquisition. The list of Unprocessed Collections has been screened for privacy and confidentiality.
  • To assist researchers in locating the relevant materials, the archives have prepared a number of thematic guides on popular topics.

Practical advice

  • Many countries do not require a visa for entry into Hungary, permitted to stay up to 90 days. (Click here to see the list of coutnries with visa-free access.) If you require advice on how to attain a visa into Hungary, please visit the Tourist Schengen Visa page, which lists the general entry requirements.
  • The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives works in English.
  • There is wifi free of charge and there are power sockets in the reading room.
  • You can bring your lunch and eat in front of the reading room. There is also a cafeteria in the building (ground floor) and there are several possibilities for having lunch in the surrounding area.
  • As mentioned above, the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives Library consists of reference books related to the Cold War, human rights and the archival/library profession.
  • The Central European University (CEU), and its library, is just a five-minute walk away.
  • Taking pictures of archival documents is for free. Additionally, there is tripod equipment available for mounting your camera. Thus it makes sense to bring a decent SLR-camera for making high quality pictures of the documents.

Citation Suggestion

Cseh-Varga, Katalin and Arnošt Štanzel: Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, in: ESE Archives Guide: A Web Guide to East and Southeast European Archives, 2016 (updated 2018-09-28),

The original article was written by Katalin Cseh-Varga in 2016 and was amended by Arnošt Štanzel in 2018.

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