In the mid 1950s, journalist and politician Konstantinos A. Vovolinis began collecting material and compiling biographies of economists as well as politicians and scientists. Later, his brother, the editor and director of the Magazine Βιομηχανική Επιθεώρησις (Viomichaniki Epitheorissis) Spyros A. Vovolinis, undertook the promotion of these biographies by publishing the Great Greek Biographical Dictionary (MEBL) through his 85-year-old magazine (since 1995, its name has changed to Οικονομική Επιθεώρηση/Oikonomiki Epitheorissis). The much valued Greek Biographical Dictionary consists of 5 volumes (3.336 pages) and contains 400 biographies in total. The families that have been biographed include Aiginitis, Varvakis, Eutaxias, Zappa, Papastratou and other people of importance. In addition, an "Oral History Archive" has been compiled, comprising interviews with entrepreneurs and company executives, politicians and scientists, with an aim to document and salvage valuable information about Greece's economic, political and social life. Among those interviewed are the architect and academician Pavlos Mylonas (1915-2005), the businessmen (also chairmen of the Hellenic Federation of Enterpises-formerly Federation of Greek Industries) Dimitris Marinopoulos, Theodoros Papalexopoulos, Iason Stratos, Stelios Argyros, Andreas Kanellopoulos, the entrepreneur Kitty Kyriacopoulos etc. It is a fact that a wealth of information is provided today by the Dictionary for individuals, organizations, institutions, businesses, and the State and this is the reason why it still offers so much to the contemporary scientific community. Furthemore, due to the fact that there was a lack of systematic literature and archive material concerning the economic history of Greece and its evolution, this was a pioneering business and publishing initiative as there had to been a lack of sources and material. It is worth mentioning that the effort for the publication of the MEBL was carried out without the financial support of other bodies. Konstantinos Vovolinis' lifetime work was in circulation from 1958 to 1962, when it was interrupted due to the economic crisis. However, K. Vovolinis continued collecting data for several years, thus enriching the Archive. He was hoping to be able to re-circulate the MEBL at a favorable time. He then continued writing and collecting archival material until 1968, which however remained unused and dispersed in storage for many years mainly due to the sudden death of K. Vovolini in 1970.
In 1994, the first data of the Archive were identified and began to be recorded and classified. Since 1997 (the first list of the Archive was published by Margarita Dritsa, Professor -then- of Humanities at the Hellenic Open University, as well as the historian Georgia M. Panselina), these rare archives were available for scientific research. However, the material detection and the ensuing procedure of archival work was continued for over a decade by G. Pansellina, compiling the complete online catalog of more than 2,500 envelopes and documenting approximately 10,000 words.
A significant event in the history of the Archive was the transfer of the series of Great Greek Biographical Dictionary (MEBL), Konstantinos Vovolinis’ Αrchive, on February 1, 2012, to the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies. The purpose of this decision was the greater development of this valued material at an international level, at a time when Greece and the Greek economy were part of the global and European economic crisis, signaling new adjustments in the field of culture and of scientific research.
The folders of the MEBL archive located in the Gennadius Library are accessible and available to researchers. University lecturers, teachers, archivists, philologists, historians, PhD students, journalists, writers, architects and other researchers have consulted this archive for the writing of monographs, articles, doctoral theses, personal research, banking affairs and papers. Today, with this wealth of information, the MEBL Archive is considered to be one of the most important sources of biographical data in Greece. The 2,656 envelopes of the MEBL include material related to personalities of the economic, political and scientific life of Greece - material gathered for the writing of biographies, which would reflect their activity on a public stage. Some envelopes contain smaller or larger biographies / monographs for individual important figures or entire families, written either in a draft form or in more processed texts, missing only the final editing before the final form of the manuscript. The envelopes relate to great personalities such as G. M. Vizinos, I. Dragoumis, K.P. Cavafy, G. Kavvadia, K. Kanaris, I. Kapodistrias, F. Kontoglou, A. Korais and others. In conclusion, as Mrs. Dritsa says, the data and the genre of information that was collected were not limited to the central personalities, but extended to the historical familial background as well as the horizontal dimension of the families, their relatives, friendships and acquaintances. The information contained in these records or biographies is more valid and accurate than those published in the press, and this is because of the fact that Mr. K. Vovolinis was being involved in politics in Piraeus at the time of his research, allowing him to amass further details about the entrepreneurs of the city that until then had been unknown and often inaccurate.
In addition to the folders, the archive material also consists of documents, ranging from rather careless to better edited notes, letters, press clippings, publications, photographs, drawings, brochures and more. In addition, in the MEBL series (DICAP C) and the standardized archival description (EAD) have been integrated, cataloged and codified for all the archive material of the Dictionary: notes, rough logos, suggestions for the typographical correction and the casement up to the drafts of the advertising campaign, reviews of Mr. K. Vovolini, his sources, the personal contacts he made, the libraries he visited, correspondence with criticisms related to him, and also outgoing material for the promotion of MEBL, results of a documentation and processing of data, and all the research tools. In the Subcategories of the MEBL series are included correspondence with various comments and criticisms such as correspondence for the 30th anniversary of the magazine in 1964 and the award by the Academy of Athens.
In October 2018 the rest collections of Vovolini Archives were catalogued and classified by the Associate Professor of Economic and Social History at the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Ioannina Leda Papastefanaki and her team. The team members were Giannis Gonatidis, PhD candidate in History, University of Crete as head of the team, Christos Chryssanthopoulos, PhD candidate in History, University of Patras and Vassilis Georgakis, postgraduate student in History, University of Ioannina. You can find the contents of the catalogue here.
The Archives' classification follows the professional and public activities of the Vovolini Brothers.
The Library, a fundamental part of the Archives, employs the ABEKT 5.5 classification system (the Library Automation Software) developed by the National Documentation Centre, contains a large number of older as well as contemporary publications with a particular focus on history, finance and economics.
The Vovolini Archives supports scientific publications and research programmes providing documentation and illustration material. It also organizes and participates in exhibitions and other events. More precisely, the Archives' activities have included:
-Organization and/or participation in exhibitions and other events:
1. Exhibition on Greek business in the 20th century: People and Activities, in cooperation with ELIA, the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive (in the City of Athens Technopolis Park, 15-22 November November 1999 and in Thessaloniki, within the framework of the 1999 edition of Money Show in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 11-12 December 1999.
2. Three-day festival in the port city of Piraeus, within the framework of the celebration of the European Days of Cultural Heritage (at the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 21-23 September 2001), in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Local History and the History of Entreprises (IMTIIE), the Zenon Field Club, the Historical Archive of the Municipality of Piraeus, the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA)-Nostos Programme-Nostos Rehabilitation Community, the Piraikos Society etc.
3. Exhibition on "Reporting on Shipping: Exhibition of the Greek specialized Shipping Press", in cooperation with the Botsis Foundation for the Promotion of Journalism (at the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 18-21 November 2002)
4. Presentation of the Vovolini Archives at the Meeting of the Directors of the Archives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the member-states of the European Union and of its Institutions, within the framework of the 2003 Greek EU Presidency (Ermoupolis, Syros, 15-16 May 2003)
5. Exhibition on "The foundation of the European Economic Community and Greece's European course 1946-1981", in cooperation with the Service of Diplomatic and Historical Archives of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (at the premises of Kerkyra Publications, June 2003)
6. Participation in the development and implementation of a research programme on "Historic Mines in the Aegean Sea, 19th-20th century", in cooperation with the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. The programme included the recording, assessment and inquiry on re-use of historic mining installations and complexes in the Aegean, the organization of a scientific conference (Milos Conference Center-George Eliopoulos, island of Milos, 3-5 October 2003) and the production of a documentary, directed by Nikos Ellinikakis. The documentary "The ages of minerals in the Aegean" was presentd in a special screening organized by the Vovolini Archives and the Urban Environment Laboratory of the School of Architecture of the NTUA (at the premises of Kerkyra Publications, 16 June 2004)
7. Exhibition on "Business and Tradition: Historical Continuity and Anniversary Celebrations", organized within the framework of the 70th anniversary celebration of the magazine Viomichaniki Epitheorisis (and on the occasion of its renaming to Economiki Epitheorisi), as well as the 10th anniversary of the Panhellenic Student Contest (at the premises of Kerkyra Publications, 9 December 2001-31 May 2004; Dais Cultural Center, 22-24 November 2004).
8. Exhibition on "Rallou Manou-Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas. Hydra: common locus", organized by the Greek Chorodrama in cooperation with the Historical Archive and Museum of Hydra and with the support of the Vovolini Archives (at the premises of the Historical Srchive and Museum of Hydra, island of Hydra, July 2006).
-Documentation and illustrations in kerkyra Publications-Economia Publishing books:
1. Greek businesses from the 20th to the 21st century: People and activities [in Greek]
2. Federation of Greek Industries (1907-2007) [in Greek]
3. The history of the food industry [in Greek]
4. Maritime capital on land [in Greek]
5. Alexandrian Families: Choremis-Benakis-Salvagos [in Greek]
6. Birth pains: Restructuring the Greek Banking System (1927-1929) [in Greek]
7. The economy of Northern Greece through the pages of Viomichaniki Epitheorisis vol. 1: 1934-1954 [in Greek]
8. The economy of Northern Greece through the pages of Viomichaniki Epitheorisis vol. 2: 1955-1984 [in Greek]
9. Grande Bretagne: a symbol of a hotel [in Greek]
10. The Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens [in English]
11. The Konstantinos A. Vovolinis Archive, Vol. 1 [in Greek]
1. 2009: 53 entrepreneurs in Parliament [in Greek]
2. 2008: Greek women in business [in Greek]
3. 2007: Greek entrepreneurs in action [in Greek]
4. 2006: Businesses lasting 100 years..more or less [bilingual, in English and Greek]
5. 2005: Viomichaniki Epitheorisis 1966-1985: Advertising comes of age [bilingual, in English and Greek]
6. 2004: The world of advertising in Viomichaniki Epitheorisis 1956-1965 [bilingual, in English and Greek]
7. 2003: Advertising in Viomichaniki Epitheorisis 1934-1955 [in Greek]
-Contribution of documentation and illustration material for third-party publications (selected titles):
1. Dritsa Margarita, Emporiki Bank 1907-2007, Emporiki Bank, Athens 2008
2. Maistrou E.-Mavrocordatou D.-Machairas G.-Belavilas N.-Papastefanaki L.-Polyzos G., Hellenic Company of Chemical Products and Fertilizers (1909-1993),
3. Melios N.-Bafouni E., Papastratos: 75 Years (1931-2006), Papastratos S.A., Athens 2006
4. Kostelenos G.-Melios N.-Bafouni E.-Papadopoulos A., Shell Hellas: 80 Years (1926-2000), Institute for the Study of Regional History and History of Enterprises, Athens 2007
5. Kolonas Vassilis, The Building of the Armed Forces Mutual Fund, Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, Athens 2006
6. Titan: 100 Years, Titan S.A.-Institute for the Study of the Regional History and History of Enterprises, Athens 2002
7. Melios N.-Bafouni E.-Steinhauer G., Commerce and Banks in Piraeus, Institute for the Study of Regional History and History of Enterprises, Piraeus 2002