The creation of the Archives is related to one of the most important historical events in the history of the Serbian nation of the modern period, the Great Migration of the Serbs of 1690, led by the Patriarch Arsenije III Carnojevic. That is when a part of the Serbian hierarchy and people brought some books, sacral inventory, Charters of the Serbian medieval rulers, sindjelijas (orders), berats (Sultan’s Charters) and other documents from the Balkan part of the Ottoman Empire to the Habsburg Monarchy.
This documentation core was further extended by the correspondence that Patriarch Arsenije III and his successors had with secular, ecclesiastic and military institutions and individuals in the Habsburg Monarchy, Serbia, Russia and other countries, as representatives of state, church and school autonomy, or as private individuals. During the Second World War, the Archives were closed by German and Ustasha authorities and partly damaged. At the request of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, Holy Sinod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church gave ,, the Metropolinates and Consistory in Sremski Karlovci for keeping and definite organizing”, for their use for scholarly purposes on 4 July, 1949. The Academy procured financial means, staff and fulfilled the conditions for making this possible. It also secured the return of the 81st Charter from Vienna and placed the documents of the Archives of the Magistrate of Karlovci and Karlovci Grammar School, which were kept in inadequate and insecure places, in the Archives of Karlovci. It received some of the documents and sources as gifts from the citizens, it bought some and it microfilmed most of the documents of the Dalmatian Eparchy found in the Historic Archives of Zadar.
The archival sources gathered in such manner in the Archives of Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Karlovci chronologically date back from the mid sixteenth century until the seventies of the twentieth century, with references to farther past. They were written by people of different professions, in Serbian (and its different variants), German, Latin, Russian-Slovene, Hungarian, Italian, Greek, Romanian and other European languages. Regarding the content, these are petitions, appeals, reports, memoranda, protocols, contracts, testaments, correspondence, censuses etc. The documents are still being sorted out, put into protective boxes, preserved and restored from moist and other damages. For the time being, it is classified into forty-four funds and ten minor collections. The Archives has almost three million documents today. For most of them there are original or afterwards made registries, regestas, card files of individuals or summary catalogues. All in all, these documents are exceptional sources for political, cultural and economic history of the Serbian people in the Habsburg Monarchy, especially regarding church and religious life; schools, education, literature, art and various relations of Serbs with different Euro-Asian people. Ilarion and Dimitrije Ruvarac, Radoslav M. Grujuc, Mita Kostic, Dejan Medakovic, Vasilije Krestic, Slavko Gavrilovic, Nikola Gavrilovic – are some of the great researchers who wrote their books, studies and articles based on the sources of the Archives or who published it in magazines and thematic collections of papers.
The Archives of Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Sremski Karlovci is the first archives organized in a modern way in modern Serbian history. The first known inventory dates back to 1719. The Archives also has a library with over 2500 books in it.
Text taken from www.sanu.ac.rs