The FS Foundation’s Audio- visual Archive is a vault-like structure which houses the photographs and films that narrate the history of the Italian railways through images and sounds. To make this unique and interesting historical material available to all, the FS Foundation has implemented an ambitious project of digitalization where all those documents which have already been switched over are freely available on the archive portal.
The Archive houses some 350,000 analogue images (ranging from glass plates to film reels), 170 print albums and an ever-growing number of digital images which currently stands at around 500,000. The images span the entire history of the Italian railways from 1930 to the present day. The main bulk of images cover the post WWII years through to the 1980s, years in which the then State Railway Company had a dedicated team tasked with documenting life and changes within the company.
The archive is also home to the footage filmed by the State Railways and comprises some 3000 reels and about 3500 cassettes, all of which have been digitized. The earliest films, shot in 1948/49, were initially for propaganda purposes but later became more informative in intent. The material generally falls into three main categories: the newsreels were to inform and update staff across the country, the historical footage was to chronical the stories of the railway to the general public and the clips were to document important events.