Historical evidence is most often preserved, and history written, by those in power. As a neutral,
independent institution, the International Institute of Social History (IISH) preserves the vulnerable historical heritage of people who were not in power and who have struggled for emancipation in one way or another.
The IISH is one of the world's largest documentation and research centres, specialising in social and economic history. Since its establishment in 1935, the Institute has been dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available the heritage of social movements all over the world. The Institute is independent and as a consequence a natural repository for the cultural heritage of labour movements and other emancipationist groups and movements, which are frequently in jeopardy.
The Institute's research department is active in global history of labour relations and organises international projects in this field. The collection comprises 3,200 archives, over one million books and visual materials (including over 116,000 posters), together spanning over 50km of shelf space. The IISH is an Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
The establishment tends to be well represented in many archives and libraries. The IISH preserves precisely those materials from groups that resist the established order. Examples include the legacy of the Spanish anarchists from 1936 and the Iranian opposition and diaspora after 1979.
The Institute is interested primarily in all aspects relating to labour. In addition, the Institute preserves the heritage of social movements, such as Utopists, environmental movements, Provos, squatters, and vegetarians.
The Institute collects worldwide and has local offices in Ethiopia, Thailand, Bolivia, Russia, India, and Turkey. Original collected material or digital copies are made available for research in Amsterdam.
For Summer of Love, the Institute is presenting a series of posters from its extensive collection, depicting key moments in social and political activism, as well as culture, from 1967. These make references to some of the burning issues of the day, from the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement in the U.S., to the Palestinian cause, apartheid in South Africa, and the Provo movement in the Netherlands.
Collection International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.