The Institute of Contemporary History is the central scientific institution in the Republic of Slovenia that studies the contemporary or modern history of Slovenians since the 19th century
The Institute of Contemporary History was established in the summer of 1959. Initially it was called the Institute for the History of the Workers' Movement, in line with the political understanding of contemporary history at the time. At the time of its establishment, a question was raised whether the Institute should study the whole of the national history during the period that counts as the modern era, or whether it should only focus on one of the ideologically and politically defined segments: the history of the workers' movement. Initially, the Institute was tasked with conducting scientific research predominantly in the field of the workers' movement since its beginnings in the Slovenian territory in the second half of the 19th century and its development after World War II. However, due to the nature of the research, the focus gradually extended to studying the whole of the Slovenian history since the 19th century. Already after the first ten years of activities, the research topics started expanding from the rather narrowly-specialised history of the workers' movement to the rest of the Slovenian national history. However, the Institute's name would only reflect this as late as in 1989, when its name was changed to the Institute of Contemporary History. Until 1992, an archive also operated under the auspices of the Institute. It mostly kept materials from the time of World War II. The Institute's Archive, which used to be among the most extensive archives of the World War II period in Europe, kept the materials produced by the occupation authorities as well as by the Slovenian resistance movement (the Partisans). These materials have later been moved to the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. As an expression of the harmony between its research and archival efforts, the Institute would also publish historical sources and documents about the political efforts and military operations of the Slovenian resistance movement during World War II, complete with explanations.
At the beginning of the 1970s, the Institute's researchers prepared – after a decade of development – research projects to explore three historical periods: the period before World War I; the interwar period and the time of World War II (the period of the First Yugoslavia); and the time after World War II (the period of the Second Yugoslavia). The Institute undertook a systematic analysis of all the aspects of the recent Slovenian history, from the political to economic and social history. By conducting research in the context of these three periods, the Institute became a scientific or research institution with a well-developed archive department. The researchers would systematically and independently select the topics of their research. Most of the research (and published works) focused on the period of World War II. The research was organised in this manner until the organisational change of the research activities in Slovenia at the turn of the millennium, when the principle of two research programmes, separate in terms of contents and yet supplementing each other, was implemented instead of the chronological research emphasis: one of the programmes focuses on the political and ideational history, while the other explores the economic and social history. The Institute also includes an infrastructure group, leading the Slovenian efforts in the field of digital humanities.