The Historical Memory Documentary Centre was created by Royal Decree 697/2007 to bring together documentary holdings relating to the 1936 - 1978 period. The core of the collection is the Spanish Civil War Archive, created by Royal Decree 426/1999 to conserve its documentary holdings and make them available for research, culture and information.
Its creation took into account the essential fact that the Spanish Civil War constituted one of Spain's most significant historical periods, as it influenced everything that took place after it. Therefore, the most important task of this archive would be to gather together the highest number of documents on the war and its consequences.
Contrary to what its name would seem to indicate, this is not an archive created solely for the intellectual interest in favouring the erudition of a period and an event, the Spanish Civil War, but it is also the direct result of this event and, therefore, one of the most important centres for its study.
Its location is Salamanca is due to the fact that during the first years of the conflict, the Headquarters of Franco were installed in this city. Here many different institutions came into being, entrusted with searching and gathering information on the enemy, and were the seed of what is now the archive. In 1937, the Office for Research and Anti-Communist Propaganda (OIPA) was created by an Order dated 20 April and the National Office on Special Affairs, by another dated 29 May. The first one had clear counter-propraganda objectives, and the second centred its activities in affairs related to secret sects. The aim was to gather information to create an archive that would allow to "discover, expose and sanction the enemies of the Country".
Some months afterwards, in June and after Bilbao was occupied, the "recovery of documents" was organised by appointing a requisition officer, and setting up, on the 14 July, a service to recover the documents that belonged to the enemy, which acted in the regions being successively occupied by the Nationalist Army. This office was given administrative status when, under Decree dated 26 April 1938, the National Office for Document Recovery was created.
This Office and that of Special Affairs, created in a short period of time with similar functions, tended to merge together, sometimes "de facto" and others by legal provisions. They were both governed by the same person, Marcelino de Ulibarri y Eguilaz, who would also take charge of the institution under which, in 1944, they were formally joined together within the Government Presidency Office, the National Office for Documentary Services. Its purpose would remain the same: supply the national government bodies with the requested records on the people who appeared in the documents of its archive, as well as collecting and dealing with the documents confiscated in republican territory with the aim of carrying out counter-propaganda and information assignments, related to the repression of dissidents against the regime imposed after the war.
When Franco died, a new period of transition towards a democratic system began, during which a great number of entities and administrative institutions disappeared, as was the case of the documentary services, as they were of no further use. Therefore, in 1977, with the reorganisation of the Government Presidency Office, its archive passed to the recently created Ministry of Culture. In 1979 an independent section of the National Historical Archive was created, what was later called "Civil War Section".
This new name, used to integrate this Archive in the national network, has produced certain confusion on what it actually safeguards, as in a way it hides the fact that the core of what now exists is the archive of one of the information services created by Franco's regime to control and repress; and which included another extensive collection from another institution within the repression chain, that of the Special Tribunal for the Repression of Masonry and Communism. Subsequently, applying only subject criteria, the Ministry of Culture has transferred or acquired document collections relating to the war period and its consequences, particularly the exile, and included them in these archives.
In 1979 the history of the collections that the Archive now safeguards underwent an important change; from that date on its documents were mainly used for historical research and for administrative procedures related to the compensation to those who took part in the war.