Since 1980, the Italian astronomical observatories have given attention to the problem of adequately conserving, reordering and inventorying their archives. The increasing interest in the history of science has highlighted the importance of maintaining sources hitherto unknown but of great potential interest.
The first observatory to establish a program of preservation and valorization of its historical archives was the Observatory of Brera in Milano, starting in 1983.
Other pioneers, undertaking operations for sorting out and inventorying archival fonds or cataloguing scientific correspondences, are the observatories of Torino, Bologna and Firenze (Arcetri).
In 2000, as a result of the collaboration between Consorzio Nazionale per l'Astronomia e l'Astrofisica, the Ministero per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali - Ufficio Centrale per i Beni Archivistici, and the Società Astronomica Italiana, the project, Specola 2000, was set up to rearrange, catalogue and valorize the documents held in the archives of the twelve INAF astronomical observatories. Following the initial survey of the records, preliminary lists of holdings were drawn up and, eventually, proper inventories were made.
Completion of the rearrangement phase and the computerized inventories of the various archival fonds will allow the retrieval of extraordinarily important documental sources, crucial to the understanding of the evolution of scientific thinking and the reconstruction of the Italian "scientific politics" starting from the 18th century.