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An archive is a collection of documents produced by a person, family, company or organisation, during the course of their life or business. It can contain parchments, paper and iconographic documents, photographs, books, useful or artistic objects etc.. Its principal characteristic is to be of documentary value with regard to the history and context of reference.

The ACTA company was founded in Biella in 1936 and in 1941 moved its headquarters to Milan. The collection preserves the accounts, correspondence, circulars of the Wool Board regarding the distribution of purchases of raw material before the autarchic period during the fascist regime, and the circulars of the Fascist Union of Traders of raw textile materials of the province of Vercelli.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1936 – 1944
Contents: 14 bundles

The collection preserves the papers relative to the Andreoni and D’Ovidio families, collected in the following reference series.

The Carte Andreoni-D’Ovidio series contains the personal papers connected with the studies and professional life of Maria Antonietta (Maretta) Andreoni D’Ovidio (1918-1995). Maria Antonietta graduated in Jurisprudence in 1943 with a thesis on Antonio Rosmini and specialised in English language and literature, which she later taught in high schools. She    also assisted professor Borgognone at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Turin where she taught English to the students.
The Carte famiglia D’Ovidio series includes a group of documents concerning professor Enrico d’Ovidio, rector of the Polytechnic of Turin.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details:  1872 – 1994
Contents: 12 bundles

The collection preserves the archive of the first entrepreneurial association in Italy, promoted by Alessandro Rossi with the support of Quintino Sella and Luigi Luzzatti.

It was founded in Biella on 14 January 1877 and from 1887 published the periodical “Bollettino della Industria Laniera Italiana”, the official organ of the Association. In the Giolitti period the wool industry experienced considerable growth and numerous firms joined the Association.

The First World War represented a turning point in the history of the organisation: unusually, the Government delegated to the Association the task of managing the contracts for military supplies. In the years immediately after the war, the Italian wool industry was counted among the major wool industries in the world and the Association was one of the founders of the International Wool Federation.

However, during the years after the war a crisis was brewing: faced with a fragile political situation and economic difficulties, the Board of Directors was paralyzed by indecision. The obstacles to sales on foreign markets jeopardized the positions previously attained and the only proposal put forward by a group of firms was to reduce costs by cutting workers’ pay. This led to the foundation of the Fascist Trade Union of the Wool Industry in 1926. Its sphere of action extended beyond the limits of a trade union and in 1934 organisational reform gave the Federation full representation of the sector. The Association went into liquidation: it was not suppressed thanks to Raimondo Targetti who approved a new statute under the terms of which the Association became a secondary institute of the Federation. However, within a few years the situation was overturned as a result of the autarchic policy of the Government which introduced the curtailment of imports of raw wool imposing an obligation to use at least 20% of home-produced fibres in products for the domestic market. The outbreak of war heightened concerns for the future within the industry. The collapse of the regime and the German occupation of industrial plants in Northern Italy further aggravated the situation.

After the conflict the Wool Association regained its dynamism and worked for the reconstitution of the supplies of raw material of the associated firms.

In the Fifties the interests of the association were wide-ranging, but in particular it was involved with the project to create the European Common Market. The consolidation of sovereign powers was strengthened by agreements leading to the constitution in 1961 of Interlaine, an association that united the wool industries of the countries in the Community. Towards the end of the century the process of globalisation led to the creation of a single association of Italian textile industries and the Wool Association, whose main headquarters had been in Milan since 1984, closed its doors.

The collection is organised in 39 series: Foundation, Statute, Managing bodies; Members and capital shares; Letters received; Letter books; Records of Correspondence; Circulars; European Recovery Program (E.R.P.); United Relief and Rehabilitation Administrator (U.N.R.R.A.); Europeaan Organisation of Economic Cooperation (O.E.C.E.); Accounts; International Wool Federation; Legal and fiscal; Military supplies; Rugs and carpets Group; Customs and customs tariffs; Exhibitions, fairs, promotion; Technical Commission; Various Commissions; Foreign trade; Conditioning; Wools; C.E.E.- European Common Market; Rome office; Important papers; Federtessile; Comitato Intertessile; Interlaine; International Wool Secretariat; International Wool Study Group; Ente Moda Italiano; Publishing; Personnel; Usages and Customs; Labour and the wool trade union; Biella office; trademarks and patents ; Education; Photography; Various.

The library preserves the complete collection of the Bollettino della Laniera (1887-1984), its Supplemento Commerciale Settimanale (1926-1985), which later became Notiziario and was published until 1996, as well as numerous other Italian and foreign publications on the subject of wool.

The collection includes two important sub-series:
1 – Editoriale Laniera Società Anonima (E. L. S. A.)
The sub-series preserves the papers from 1934, the year in which the Wool Association became an independent publisher, to 1984.
The documents relate to accounting, advertisers and publicity.
One series contains the drafts and manuscripts of the articles and studies carried out by the E.L.S.A. and a copy of approximately 170 works on the subject of wool published during its operation.

The papers are divided into the following series: Foundation, minutes; Balances, accounts, book-keeping; Records of correspondence; Letters received; Letter book registers; Offices, personnel, collaborators; Publications; Subscriptions; “Small Ads” section; Wool quotation graphs; Advertisers and advertising; Sales invoices and advertiser payments.

2 – Federazione Nazionale dell’Industria Laniera Italiana

Just after the war the Association of the Italian Wool Industry was severely affected by the difficult socio-economic problems of the time. In an attempt to combat the decrease in exports, a group of entrepreneurs decided to cut the costs of manufacturing by reducing workers’ pay and in 1926 founded the Trade Union Federation (National from 1934) of the Italian Wool Industry.
This soon became the representative organ of the entire wool sector.
The Federation was dissolved by the Government in 1945.
The sub-series preserves papers from 1925 to 1945 relative to the stipulation of contracts with the fascist trade unions of the wool industry and papers connected with the management of the distribution both of raw material on account of the curtailment imposed by the government in 1934, and of military supplies during the Second World War.

The papers are organised in the following series: Statute, minutes books, capital shares; Letters; Letter books and records of correspondence; Circulars; Important papers; Trade Union; Curtailment; Military supplies; Foreign trade; Book-keeping; Personnel.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1876 – 1993
Contents: 3040 bundles

The collection, originating from engineer Giovanni Bertoglio (1900-1979) at the end of the Seventies, preserves the material he used in order to print the monthly magazine of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) of which he was editor from 1953 to 1976.
Bertoglio was also chairman of the National Library of the CAI.
The pictures by the various photographers are organised according to the geographic regions and mountain ranges photographed.

Photographic archive

Chronological details: 1950 – 1975
Contents: 3000 original prints

The collection preserves a series of pictures taken by Vittorio Besso (1828-1895) illustrating the recently united Italian territory, first with photographs taken in the regions of the old Savoy Kingdom, Piedmont and Aosta Valley, then with landscapes from Lombardy, Tuscany and Lazio. Particularly important are the series connected with Sardinia, one devoted to the island’s mines and the new plants for the extraction of coal, and the other documenting the construction of the railways and stations by Secondary Sardinian Railways.
Vittorio Besso was the first photographer to open a studio in Biella in 1859. 

Photographic archive 

Chronological details:  1859 – 1895
Contents: 700 original prints

Biographical information: Vittorio Besso

The collection preserves the papers of the Biancheri family of Ventimiglia, who were regarded as one of the most distinguished families in the city. The documents consist mainly of personal and patrimonial papers, concerning both their business of the cultivation of citrus fruits and olives and their trade in olive oil.

The papers which belonged to Giovanni Battista (1820-1906), Emanuele detto Secondo (1831-1910) and Giuseppe Biancheri (1821-1908), deputy and President of the Chamber are also preserved.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1740 – 1942
Contents: 1 bundle, 5 boxes

The collection preserves the papers of Delfina Sella, daughter of Maurizio and Rosa Sella, and her descendants, organised in the following reference series: Delfina Sella, Sofia Ravelli née Geniani, Ester Ravelli Bickley, Henry Rowlatt Bickley and Olga Bickley.

Delfina Sella (1817-1901) married Luigi Geniani (1805-1862), director of mechanics at the Maurizio Sella Wool Mill and Sofia was born from their union (1843-1931). Sofia married Paolo Ravelli, born in Vercelli, and had a daughter Ester (1869-1954) who married engineer Henry Rowlatt Bickley (1865-1933), director of the Gas Works in Vercelli. From their union was born Olga (1896-1979) who became a university professor in Oxford. The Henry Rowlatt Bickley series contains papers relative to his work as an engineer at the gas works in Genoa Sanpierdarena, Volterra and other Italian cities. 

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1860 – 1976
Contents: 25 bundles

Photographic archive 

Chronological details: 1850 circa – 1965
Contents: 1000 negatives and original prints

The collection preserves the papers, as well as various parchments from the XIV century, of this ancient Anglo-Norman family and collected by J. Jasper Boswell, author of History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswells published in London in 1906. 

The archive includes the Jasper John Boswell series, the Gertrude Boswell series with papers relative to Gertrude, Gaudenzio Sella’s wife, the Jessie Boswell series with papers relative to Jessie, Gertrude’s sister and a painter who belonged to the “Group of Six Painters of Turin”. Also important are various pictures of the family, both in England and in Italy, as well as the recent photographic reproduction of Jessie’s paintings.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details:  sec. XIV – 1956
Contents: 26 bundles

The collection preserves the documentation produced by the company during its operation, in particular documents connected with administration and book-keeping, letter books, over two hundred lithographic stones and advertising material, collected in various reference series: Production: “Modellings” and lists ,registers; Workers; Book-keeping: credits, registers; Letters received; Letter books; Factory trademarks; Advertising material: posters; Instruments and tools and Books and brochures.

The factory opened in Sagliano Micca in 1862 and by the Thirties was exporting its products to America and Africa. In spite of low labour costs and the excellent quality of the product, the factory did not survive the crisis in the sector and in 1981 the business closed, transferring the trademark to the Cappellificio Cervo, still in operation today.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1882 – 1977
Contents: 42 bundles

The collection, donated by Sergio Ferrarotti (1922-1998) in 1990, preserves about 300 pictures taken by him and an interesting reportage on Paris, the city where Ferrarotti spent several months in 1979, in order to conclude his “futurist” survey of the French capital.

Photographic archive 

Chronological details: 1939 – 1989
Contents: 300 original prints

Biographical information: Sergio Ferrarotti

The collection preserves the papers of the Frola family, counts of Montanaro, and are organised in the following reference series: Frola Family, Secondo Frola, Giuseppe Frola, Francesco Frola.

Worthy of note in the Secondo Frola series are the papers related to the professional work of the Turin lawyer Secondo Frola and those connected with his political career. First he was councillor of the District of Montanaro-San Benigno Canavese-Volpiano, then, from 1882 to 1900, he was a parliamentary deputy, before being appointed Senator of the Realm in 1900. From 1905 to 1909 he was mayor of Turin. In 1911 he held the office of Chairman of the International Exhibition of Turin.

His son Francesco, a member of the Socialist Party, was elected deputy immediately after the war. In 1925, with the establishment of the fascist dictatorship, he emigrated from Italy and lived in various countries: France, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, where he spread strong antifascist propaganda by means of articles and other writings, the manuscripts of which are preserved in this series.

Of particular interest are the papers of Giuseppe Frola. From his university years he was attracted by historical research and was involved with the enterprises of the Subalpine Historical Society. He was committed to the valorisation of artistic and archaeological patrimony. He was a member of the Piedmontese Committee for the Universal Exhibition of Rome in 1911 where he was one of the most active organisers.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: XIX (con docc. dal sec. X – XX
Contents: 9 bundles

The collection preserves about 200 colour photgraphs created by Giuseppe Gallino (1879-1964) after 1911, when Auguste Lumière arrived in Turin to demonstrate the new technique “Autochrome Lumière” patented in 1903 and launched on the market a few years later by the Lumière Society

Giuseppe Gallino was an amateur photographer and mountaineer, practically unknown to the press of the day and co-founder of CAI UGET in Turin.

Photographic archive

Chronological details: prima metà del 1900

Contents: 1000 original negatives

Biographical information: Giuseppe Gallino

The collection preserves the personal papers, projects and professional documents of the Biellese architects Silvio and Quinto Grupallo, father and son, who worked in Biella between the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century; of particular interest are the files concerning their designs for public and private works.

There are also some photographs of properties, volumes and periodicals connected with their professional work.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: XIX – XX sec.

Contents: 2085 drawings, 120 boxes

The archive preserves family papers, letters received, letter books, and documents concerning administration, accounts, and production.

The manufacturing of textiles by the Negri family dates back to the XVII century. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Giovanni Matteo Negri set up the company which bore his name. Thanks to his accumulated earnings Eugenio Negri was among the first to undersign the deed of incorporation of FIAT in 1889.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: XVII sec. – 1956

Contents: 558 letter books, 264 drawings, 14 factory books (accounts, letter books, …), 7 bundles

Numerous series are contained in this collection: Gio. Domenico Sella, where the oldest papers of the Sella family dating back to the XVII century are preserved, Maurizio Sella, Maurizio Sella’s company in Mosso, Giuseppe Venanzio Sella, Carlo Sella, Inventories and balance sheets, many of which include entries and notes written by Quintino Sella, Book-keeping , Various deeds in Biella, Various deeds in Tollegno, Production, Factory Personnel, Brochures and quotations for textile machinery, Important papers, Sample books, Letters received  between 1763 and 1960, Letter books, don Carlo Antonio Sella, don Pietro Antonio Sella.
The papers in the collection include the sub-series Maurizio Sella Hydro-electric company, where papers are preserved from 1934 al 1964 relating to the administration and projects connected with the hydro-electric plants and the distribution of electric energy transmitted to Biella from the power station in Balma.

The Maurizio Sella Wool Mill was situated in Biella on the left bank of the river Cervo. In 1835 Maurizio Sella, who was born in the Upper Valley Mosso, bought from the Congregation of the Sanctuary of Oropa the property existing in loco – a silk spinning mill with an annexed wool mill and a House of Virtue, constructed in 1695, to provide employment for disadvantaged girls -together with the rights to use the water from the river Cervo. Maurizio Sella’s objective was to have at his disposal, after the arrival of the machinery of the Industrial Revolution, both a property where the manufacturing of wool cloth could take place and the possibility of accessing the quantity of water necessary to operate the first mechanical spinners. He designed a full cycle wool mill, a project which was furthered by his sons with the purchase of the neighbouring former Mondella paper mill.

After his death the firm passed to the four sons Gaudenzio, Francesco, Giuseppe Venanzio and Quintino, consolidated in 1860 with Giuseppe Venanzio and Quintino Sella and finally their descendants.

It was Giuseppe Venanzio who introduced the most up-to-date innovations to the manufacturing and dyeing of wools. In 1865 he constructed above the existing buildings a multi- storey building in “Manchester” style to accommodate the new weaving departments   and here he installed the first mechanical looms. These looms, after the strikes of 1878 which originated from the Maurizio Sella Wool Mill, eventually replaced the hand looms entirely.

In those years the factory provided employment for over 400 workers. After the death of Giuseppe Venanzio Sella in 1876, his son Carlo took over the management of the company, expanding it onto the right bank of the river Cervo. Between 1867 and 1869 the wool mill acquired a mill in Tollegno and a hemp treadmill with relative water rights and moved some of the production departments there. These were later extended and transformed into one of the first combed spinning plants. The Sella family still held the majority of capital in this factory but with the addition of new partners, it became the S. A. Spinning Mill of Tollegno in 1900.
In the early years of the 1900’s, when electric energy began to be used instead of hydraulic, Carlo Sella decided to furnish the wool mill with its own power plant. After the First World War he had a hydro -electric power station constructed in La Balma. In 1934 the plants were hived off and the Maurizio Sella Hydro – Electric company was formed, whose business was transferred to ENEL in 1962, following the nationalisation of the sector.
In 1928, after the division of the property of the Wool Mill in 1909 among the descendants of Giuseppe Venanzio and Quintino Sella,  the shares of the S.A.P.I.T. (Società Anonima Prodotti Industriali Tessili) were bought and divided up among the Sella brothers and cousins in order  to improve the management of the production and commercial activities of the Wool Mill. Textile production was abandoned at the beginning of the Sixties and the Company was transformed into the Maurizio Sella Property Company.

In 1988 the complex of buildings of the “Lanificio Maurizio Sella” was declared by the Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Heritage to be “of outstanding interest” in accordance with law n. 1089 of June 1st 1939 concerning the safeguarding of places of artistic and historic interest.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details:  1641 – 1964

Contents: 130 letter books, 1900 factory books (accounts, letter books, …), 349 maps, plans and drawings, 2420 bundles

The archive preserves the documentation produced by the company during its operation. In 1903 “Trabaldo, Lora & C.” was established by Giovanni Trabaldo Lena, Luigi Lora Marzè and Giovanni Loro Piana; over the years the company changed its title several times and in 1956 became the “Lanificio Trabaldo Giovanni Paletta”.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1893 – 1975

Contents: 4 bundles

The archive preserves the various typologies of documents produced by the company during its operation starting from its foundation in 1923; they are mainly papers connected with administration, book-keeping and other documents. The firm closed down in the Fifties.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1923 – 1964

Contents: 17 bundles

The archive preserves the family papers belonging to Federico Maggia’s great-grandfather (1902-2002), Giovanni Battista, to the grandfather, Gaspare, the father Salvatore, and the uncles. The heterogeneous material consists of architectural drawings acquired from the Beltramo studio (including some by Juvarra, Guarini, Vittone and the Beltramo themselves), and of drawings done by Gaspare and his father, Salvatore. The largest group consists of tracings and the professional papers of Federico, projects created for private individuals, public organisations and industries in the Biellese, in Italy and in some foreign countries (Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Israel). The collection also contains private papers of the family. The newspaper and periodical library is substantial, as well as the archive library, with magazines and specialised books.

Particularly rich is the photographic series, containing over 3.000 phototypes, including negatives and positives, divided into two chronologically separate groups, the first covering the period from 1912 to 1930, the second from 1961 to 1985.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: fine 1700-1985

Photographic archive

Chronological details: 1912 -1985

Biographical information: Federico Maggia

The archive contains the following series: Factory inventories; the Special papers series, which includes the family papers and those of the company; Machinery and textile accessories brochures; Factory books with daybooks and various newspapers; A. Cartotto & C. Spinning Mill, containing the papers relating to the partnership between Aldo Cartotto and Francesco Maggia; Letters and Circulars.

IThe archive preserves the papers connected with the administration and production of the knitting factory situated in Pettinengo. In 1916 Francesco Maggia bought the company “Pietro and F.llo Vigna” of Occhieppo Superiore, founded in 1870. In 1923 Francesco Maggia and his son Eusebio changed the company title to “Francesco Maggia and Son” and established the limited partnership “Maglificio di Occhieppo di Eusebio Maggia & C.” which merged with the “Maglificio A. Boglietti” of Biella in 1930.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1859-1937

Contents: 132 copy letters, 54 bundles, 30 registers

The collection, donated by the Biellese journalist Pietro Minoli (1926-1996), preserves photographic images of reportage and the complete collection of news articles that he wrote  for various local newspapers and the daily newspaper “Corriere della Sera” for which he was a correspondent.
Besides the photographs the archive preserves the lenses, the cameras and the enlarger    used by Pietro Minoli during his work.

Photographic archive 

Chronological details: 1958-1994

Contents: 500 negatives and original stamps

The archive preserves the personal and patrimonial papers of the Negrotto family, divided into the following reference series: Paolo Negrotto; Michele Pericle; Beatrice Biancheri; Enzo Negrotto and Miscellaneous. The Paolo Negrotto series contains papers connected with his military career.

Worthy of interest are the papers in the series Michele Pericle Negrotto, Paolo’s son. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and in the early years of the XX century, he played an important role in the field of politics, helping to spread nationalistic and irredentist ideas by means of conferences and writings. Moreover, he was a key figure in the return to Biella from the Crimea of the remains of Alessandro La Marmora, founder of the Bersaglieri Corps.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1837-1962

Contents: 26 bundles, 1 portfolio

The archive preserves the papers relative to the professional work of the architect Franco Nosengo from Bergamo, who worked in Biella, in the Biellese area and in Piedmont in general from the Nineteen Fifties.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: seconda metà del XX sec.

Contents: 9 boxes

The archive preserves the papers of the descendants of the noble family Orengo from the city of Ventimiglia, organised in the following series: Famiglia Orengo, Malvina Sella née Orengo, Paolo Orengo, Orazio Orengo and Beatrice Orengo née Biancheri.

The Famiglia Orengo series contains the oldest papers of the family.

Malvina Sella (1849-1935), daughter of Gaudenzio Sella and Ottavia Sella, married the Marquess Paolo Orengo; this series contains personal and patrimonial papers and letters addressed to her.

Paolo Orengo (1828 – 1921) naval officer, took part in all the campaigns of the war between 1848 and 1866, attaining the rank of rear admiral in 1855, and in 1896 he was appointed senator.

Orazio Orengo (1873-1961), son of Paolo and Malvina Sella and a civil engineer, married Beatrice Biancheri, widow of Negrotto; this series preserves personal and patrimonial papers including those connected with the villa in the village of Latte di Ventimiglia and letters received.

Beatrice Biancheri (1876-1965) daughter of Andrea Stefano and Ida Sella, first married Michele Pericle Negrotto, secondly Orazio Orengo. This series preserves personal and patrimonial papers starting from the second marriage.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1406-1955

Contents: 59 bundles, 1 portfolio

The collection preserves the deeds drawn up by the lawyer Antonio Strobino during his work at Mosso in the period between 1558 and 1561.
The collection contains 39 volumes from 1758 to 1760 with sentences of the Pedemontano Senate from the XVII to the middle of the XVIII century. This is a collection of sentences compiled by the lawyer Pietro Carlo Antonio Vincenzo Ormezzano Strobino of Mosso and transcribed by him; it also includes printed sentences.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1558-1760

Contents: 1 bundles, 39 volumes

The archive preserves the papers of the Pozzo family of Candelo which have been organised in the following series: Giuseppe Antonio Pozzo, Pietro Pozzo, Severino Pozzo and Massimino Pozzo. 
Giuseppe Antonio Pozzo (1757-1840) was a lawyer in Candelo, secretary and vice-judge of the judicature of that community; his son Pietro (1791-1878), who began work as a notary in 1831, was a volunteer in the Napoleonic army and held various public offices including that of secretary of the community of Candelo. Severino (1824-1882), third son of Pietro, was ordained a priest in 1850; in the field of public instruction he worked as a school inspector in the Biellese and as a local historian he wrote numerous books.
Massimino (end of XIX century), fourth son of Pietro, graduated in medicine and worked as a doctor in Candelo.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: XVII – XX

Contents: 31 bundles

The archive preserves an album with 250 images of pictorialist photography, as well as about forty loose ones on similar subjects and 150 modern contact reproductions produced by the Turinese photographer Guido Rey (1860-1935). He is regarded as the most important representative of pictorialist photography in Italy but was also well known abroad, especially in London where his pictures were published in the magazine “The Studio” and in Paris in the magazine “La Revue de photographie”.

Guido Rey was the only Italian photographer who published two of his pictures in the prestigious New York magazine “Camera Work” edited by Alfred Stieglitz.
The archive also preserves an issue illustrated entirely with his photographs and published as a supplement to the magazine “L’illustrazione italiana” in order to promote the achievements and activities of the Italian Red Cross during the First World War.

Photographic archive

Chronological details: 1885 – 1930

Contents: 450 original stamps

Biographical information: Guido Rey

The archive preserves the papers collected by researchers and coordinated by professor Valerio Castrono as part of the project “Biellesi nel mondo”, promoted by the Banca Sella – Fondazione Sella. The project reconstructed the history of Biellese emigration throughout the world from the early decades of the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth. As well as the catalogue of the documentary and iconographic exhibition “Sapere la Strada”, 10 volumes were published by Electa.

The archive contains various documents, not all original, which were produced during the research, photographs and some spoken testimony, partly transcribed and saved on audio cassette.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: XIX – XX

Contents: 25 boxes

Photographic archive

Chronological details:  1880 – 1940

Contents: 6000 reproductions of prints

Biographical information: Cesare Sella

The archive preserves the papers of Clementina Mosca Riatel (1835-1920), wife of Giuseppe Venanzio Sella and daughter of Giovanni Battista and Marianna Rosazza Pistolet.
The documents are organised in the following reference series: Personal papers, Patrimonial papers, Correspondence and Special papers.

 The Personal papers series contains the bills and and receipts relative to the administration of the house and Clementina’s personal documents.

The Patrimonial papers series preserves the bills of the “Maurizio Sella” company from 1876 to 1908.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1849 – 1920

Contents: 38 bundles

The archive preserves the papers of the entrepreneur Antonio Sella (1853-1931), born in Zumaglia, and his descendants, and organised in the following series: Papers of Sella Antonio, Papers of Sella Andrea di Antonio, Papers of Sella Alfonso di Antonio, Papers of Sella Francesco di Alfonso, Papers of Sella Domenico di Alfonso and Papers of Sella Piero di Alfonso

The series relative to Sella Antonio also contains various documents on the hydro – therapy spa in Andorno and on the hotel in Cap d’Antibes, which he managed and administered for many years.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1757 – 1980

Contents: 1 mazzo

Biographical information: Antonio Sella

The archive preserves the papers relative to Carlo Sella (1855-1936), son of Giuseppe Venanzio and Clementina Mosca Riatel. The papers are organised in the following reference series: Personal papers, Letter books, Agriculture, Correspondence, Business and Important papers, patrimonial papers ,Carlo Sella Company.

The Business series contains the balance sheets and inventories of the “Carlo Sella” company from 1921 to 1931, the cash-books of the firm and those of the “Maurizio Sella” firm, with production and balance figures.

On account of the sudden death of his father, Carlo interrupted his studies in 1876 and took over the management of the Wool Mill which he managed continuously until the Nineteen Thirties. In the early years he was assisted by his uncle Quintino Sella, who had considerable influence over him as well as over Giuseppe Venanzio’s other sons: Carlo accompanied him on several mountain climbs and was advised by him on the occasion of the weavers’ strikes at the Wool Mill in 1878. From 1880 he was in charge of the construction of the Lanificio Maurizio Sella factory in Tollegno, where in 1898 he installed a combed spinnning mill which became autonomous in 1900 under the company title “Società Anonima Filatura di Tollegno”,  with the Sella family still the major shareholder. In 1886 he co – founded with his brothers and cousins the “Gaudenzio Sella & C.” bank. He was chairman and then councillor of the “Società Anonima Idroelettrica Italiana” based in the Valtellina from which he took example, becoming promoter of the hydro – electric power stations of La Balma and Tollegno.

Documentary archive

Chronological details:  1850 – 1934

Contents: 104 letter books, 156 bundles, 70 registers, 5 boxes

Biographical information: Carlo Sella

The archive preserves the papers relative to various members of the Sella family, collaterals and descendants of Quintino: Clotilde Rey, wife of Quintino Sella, Alfonso, Alessandro and Corradino Sella sons of Quintino, Gino and Luigi Sella sons of Alessandro, Andrea Sella son of Corradino, Maria Biancheri, wife of Corradino Sella.

Worthy of note are the papers of Clotilde Rey, with letters from Quintino to his wife, and some of Clotilde’s diaries. Of equal interest are the papers of Alfonso Sella who, after graduating in Natural and Physical Mathematical Sciences, from 1889 directed by proxy the Physics Institute of the university in Rome where he was professor. He published various memoirs with results of his studies and research. In 1902 he discovered radioactivity in water.

Also important are the papers of Corradino Sella, mayor of Biella from 1893 to 1899 and from 1901 to 1919, deputy at the Chamber from 1890 to 1892 and from 1897 to 1900, and chairman of the Association of the Italian Wool Industry from 1897 to 1910. Besides various papers connected with his work, those concerning the celebrations for the centenary of the birth of Quintino in 1927 are also of interest. 

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1859 – 1932

Contents: 28 bundles, 3 registers

The archive preserves the papers of Erminio Sella (1865-1984), son of Giuseppe Venanzio and Clementina Mosca Riatel, engineer. They are organised in the following reference series : Personal papers, Travels, Patrimonial papers, Letter books and Letters received.
The Patrimonial papers series contains documents relative to the “Sella & Mosca” company,  which he founded 1899 with his cousin Edgardo Mosca, with the reclamation of the area “I  Piani” and the removal of blocks of sandstone, trachyte and limestone. 
The Viaggi series includes the documentation relative to Erminio’s climbs and expeditions in Alaska, Caucasus, Sikkim, India, Jamaica and Trinidad.

The archive also contains photographs, especially concerning Erminio’s travels to the United States in 1898, to India in 1899 and Central America to Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela, in 1902.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1874 – 1939

Contents: 63 mazzi, 3 scatole

The archive preserves the papers of Francesco Sella (1819-1895), of Maurizio and Rosa Sella and his descendants. The collection contains the deeds of purchase of lands in Cossato effected by Giovanni Domenico Sella, by Maurizio Sella, by don Carlo Antonio Sella and by don Pietro Antonio Sella. There are also older papers relative to the mills and the Molinaria stream in Cossato. The archive also contains documents connected with his son Maurizio, industrialist and podestà of the town of Cossato.

He worked with his father in the management of the wool mill of Biella and on the death of his father took over the management of manufacturing. In 1854 he left the wool mill and, in exchange for his own quota, acquired agricultural land in Cossato where he settled and devoted himself to agriculture. In 1867 he purchased a forge in Cossato with access to water   where he established the “Francesco Sella” mechanical cotton mill, his son Maurizio later joining him in the business.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1762 (con docc. dal 1416) – 1930

Contents: 15 bundles

The archive preserves the papers of Gaudenzio Sella (1860-1934) of Giuseppe Venanzio and Clementina Mosca Riatel. The collection is divided into the following series: Personal papers, Family papers, Mountaineering, Patrimonial papers, Agriculture, Letters received, Letter books, Companies and organisations of which he was administrator or consultant.

After graduating in civil engineering in Turin and being summoned to Rome by his uncle Quintino, he attended a course in pure maths. In his youth and following the example of Quintino Sella, he was a keen mountaineer and with his brothers and cousins was one of the pioneers of winter mountaineering in Italy. In 1892/93 he organised and personally directed   for the Club Alpino Italiano, the construction of the Observatory Hut “Regina Margherita” on the Gnifetti peak of Monte Rosa. In 1886, with the assistance of his brothers and cousins, he founded the “Gaudenzio Sella & C.” bank which he managed until his death. He supported   and was the key mover in the foundation of the S.A. “Filatura di Tollegno”. He managed the agricultural lands he owned together with his brothers in the Biellese, especially those in Lessona, Villa del Bosco and Roasio where he developed and improved the production of wine.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1861 – 1934

Contents: 150 bundles

The archive preserves papers and letter books relative to the family and the firm, lawsuits   concerning the water rights of lands purchased, papers relative to purchases and sales, papers connected with the farming and entrepreneurial business of the Sella family of Vinzaglio and accountancy documents. There are also drawings and plans of lands and estates, and designs of machinery.

The collection contains the following series: Properties of Sella family ancestors containing the papers obtained by the Sella family in 1826, the year when the land in Vinzaglio was acquired; Correspondence and Letter booksLawsuits; Patrimonial assets with papers relative to the purchases and sales of family assets; Production: cultivations and farms; Book-keeping. Finally the Pozzi series preserves the documents which merged with those of the Sella family of Vinzaglio after the marriage of Ugo Sella and Giuseppina Pozzi.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1825 (con docc.dal 1609) – 1943

Contents: 60 bundles, 2 portfolio

The archive preserves about 50 photographs taken by Giuseppe Venanzio Sella (1823-1876).
They are mainly portraits and pictures of historic buildings, monuments and industrial establishments, located not only in the Biellese, but also in Turin, Racconigi and Paris.

Photographic archive

Chronological details: 1849 – 1870

Contents: 50 negatives and original stamps

Biographical information: Giuseppe Venanzio Sella

The archive preserves the papers of the third branch of the Sella family with particular reference to the “Lanificio Giovanni Giacomo Sella”, later “Giovanni Giacomo” and from 1837 Fratelli Sella” and finally “Fratelli Sella”. The main series into which they are divided are: Ascendant and collateral papers of Gregorio Sella; Beater – Wool mill – Company titles; Papers of the community of the valleys of Mosso; Descendant papers and heirs of Gregorio Sella; Family papers of Bertolazzo and Bella-Fabar; Estate management papers; Patrimony management papers; Papers of Gregorio Sella; Papers of Gregorio Sella – “Legitimate” controversy; Legal-judiciary papers (lawsuits, etc..); Papers of Pietro Sella; Second branch Sella family papers; Third branch Sella family papers. Of particular interest are the papers relative to Pietro Sella and to the organisation of the new factory (former Serramoglia paper mill in Crocemosso) where in 1817 the mule-jennys of the Industrial Revolution were brought from Belgium and installed. The archive preserves administrative documents, accounts, factory inventories, contracts of worker-managers of the wool mill, papers relative to the previous transfers of property of the Serramoglia papermill.

Of particular interest is a series relative to Gregorio Sella (1815-1862). From 1832 he managed the dyeing department of his father’s company of which he became the sole owner. Under his management the firm, among the biggest in the Biellese, experienced a further period of great expansion. Gregorio Sella devoted himself to the study of chemical dyeing, of political economics and agronomy about which he wrote extensively. He was also active on a social and political level, working hard for the Society for the Advancement of the Arts, Trades, and Agriculture of Biella and the province, acting as councillor and then vice- chairman. He was a deputy at the Chamber for the College of Bioglio in 1849 and in 1853,  resigned in 1854 but was re-elected in 1860. As a parliamentarian he expressed his ideas against the economic policy of free enterprise.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1668 – 1910

Contents: 46 maps, plans and drawings , 150 bundles, 36 registers

The archive preserves the papers of Massimo Sella (1886-1959), son of Carlo and Clara Pozzo. The papers are organised in the following reference series: Personal papers, Correspondence, Patrimonial papers, Institute of Marine Biology in Rovigno d’Istria, Scientific Studies, Diplomas and Miscellaneous.


The most important documentation refers particularly to Massimo Sella’s scientific work. The collection also contains about a hundred pictures of a scientific nature, used to illustrate his publications. 

After graduating in Natural Sciences at the University of Rome he attended a course of Oceanography at the School of Bergen. He was a student of Comparative Anatomy and then assistant to professor Grassi, discoverer of the cycle of transmission of malaria. He then devoted himself to ichthyology and thalassography, carrying out important research into tuna  and the fishing of sponges. He took part in the fight against malaria in the Rome countryside   and became director of the malarial division of the League of societies of the Red Cross with headquarters in Paris. Continuing the fight against malaria, in 1921 he introduced from the USA to Italy, and in particular to the karst region, the gambusia, (the mosquito fish) capable of destroying the larva of the insect. He was professor of Comparative Anatomy at the University of Rome, then director for the Italian section of the Italo-Germanic Institute of Marine Biology of Rovigno d’Istria from 1925, where he devoted himself to various studies, including botany, micology and the karst rivers.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1886 – 1959

Contents: 41 bundles

Photographic archive 

Chronological details: 1910 – 1930

Contents: 100 original negatives

The archive preserves the papers of Pietro Sella (1882-1971), son of Alessandro and Giannina Giacomelli.  Having graduated in Jurisprudence, he dedicated himself to palaeography at the Vatican Library and with Emilio Anderloni directed the work “Corpus Statutorum Italicorum“.

The collection contains Pietro Sella’s personal papers, his correspondence in connection with    the above-mentioned work and the documentation relative to his studies and the scientific projects he promoted.

Documentary archive

Chronological details
:
1884 – 1972

Contents: 3 bundles

The archive preserves the papers relative to the versatile figure of Quintino Sella (1827-1884) who was a statesman, scientist and cultural promoter. The documentation is divided into various series: the Scientific Work series containing his studies on mineralogy, crystallography and paleography; the series Politics, Letters received, Private correspondence Finance Ministry 1864/1865, Private correspondence Finance Ministry 1869/1873, Commissioner of the King in Udine nel 1866The series Academy of the Lincei, the cultural institution of which he was chairman from 1874 until his death, contains papers referring to his work as cultural promoter. There is also a variety of documents including numerous letters from scientists and members of the Academy which are organised in chronological and alphabetical order.

The Originaria series preserves various parchments from 1228 to 1566 – collected by Quintino Sella, or donated to him by experts for them to be deposited at the Historic Archive of the Biellese which was being set up at the time, a project that was interrupted by his death – as well as diplomas and honours conferred on him. 

Documentary archive 

Chronological details: 1839 – 1884

Contents: 206 bundles

Biographical information: Quintino Sella

The archive preserves the papers of the branch of Benedetto Sella, those of Padre Gioachino Sella, of doctor Alessandro Sella and their descendants.

There are documents and maps relative to the agricultural properties and the wine growing business in Castellengo, with the diplomas obtained at various agricultural exhibitions

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1744 – 1935

Contents: 8 maps, plans and drawing, 4 bundles

The archive preserves the papers of doctor Bartolomeo Sella (1776-1861), son of Giovanni Antonio and Anna Maria Giletti. The documentation is largely clinical and medical with a substantial amount of correspondence, including some letters from the scientist Amedeo Avogadro of Quaregna.

 Also of interest are the papers of his brother, senator Giovanni Battista Sella (1788-1878), founder of the wool mill called ” the new machine”. He extended the field of industrial experience with the selective breeding of merino sheep, and displayed a considerable interest in social politics: he was one of the promoters of the Society for the Advancement of the Arts, Trades and Agriculture of Biella, he founded the nursery school and the Sella girls’ school in Mosso. In 1848 he was elected to the Subalpine Parliament and in 1853 he became senator

The manuscripts of Silvio Sella, who compiled the first family tree, are also of importance. He was an exceptional character: sent by his father to pursue an ecclesiastical career he became a Bachelor in Theology. Later, unknown to his family. he went to Pavia where he graduated in Medicine. When the Napoleonic troops arrived he was chairman of the assembly of the canton of Mosso, a position he held from 1807 to 1811 and later. After the Restoration, he began his work as a benefactor doctor, taking treatments and medicines to the people of the valleys of Mosso and Coggiola. Under the terms of a secret will he left his patrimony to the inhabitants of the district of Mosso so that medicines could be distributed free to the poor and to workers and small owners in times of crisis and famine.

Documentary archive

Chronological details: 1680 – 1909

Contents:  53 bundles

The archive preserves the papers and photographic work of Vittorio Sella (1859-1943). The collections are organised in the following series: Mountaineering, which documents his expeditions and contains his correspondence with various mountaineers and Alpine Clubs; the Patrimonial Papers series is relative both to his agricultural business – in particular the cultivation of vines in the Bramaterra area and the “Sella & Mosca” winery, founded in Sardinia in 1902 with his brother Erminio and cousin Edgardo Mosca – and to the “Gaudenzio Sella & C.” bank of which he was co-founder; the Diplomas, honours and acknowledgements series contains the many tributes he received between 1883 and 1937; the Photographic series, which includes a chronological list of the printed catalogues of his photographs from 1881 to 1909 and other papers connected with his work as a photographer. The Special series preserves his correspondence from 1890 to 1933 with Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi, and with his wife Linda Mosca Riatel; other series are entitled Correspondence, Personal papers, Letter books, Various.

He acquired his passion for photography from his father Giuseppe Venanzio’s interest in the subject and his love of mountaineering from his uncle Quintino. During his winter mountaineering exploits, first with his brothers and cousins, later by himself, he achieved several remarkable ascents, reports of which are published in the Bulletins of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI). He opened up alpine exploration of the Caucasus with three successive expeditions (1889, 1890, 1896) and brought back substantial photographic documentation. He accompanied Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi, on his most important mountaineering expeditions: Mount Saint Elia in Alaska (1897), Ruwenzori in Africa (1906), Karakorum in the Himalayas (1909), after having participated in 1899 with his brother Erminio in an expedition led by Douglas Freshfield in the same region.

Besides the documentary patrimony, the archive preserves Vittorio Sella’s photographic corpus. This consists of 10,000 negatives and about 12,000 prints organised in several series. These include pictures connected with photographic projects produced by other photographers who were friends of his and with whom he would exchange photographs. Worthy of note among the photos taken by other photographers are those of: Umberto  Balestrieri, documenting the reconnaisance trip to Karakorum in 1928 and the 1929 expedition led by Aimone of Savoy, Duke of Spoleto; Jules Beck, concerning a reconnaissance trip to Etna and the Alps; Elizabeth Burnaby Main Le Brun  which documents the mountain valleys of Switzerland, in particular those of the Upper Engardine; International Competition of Alpine Winter Photography, organised in Biella by the Italian Touring Club and by the Biella section of the CAI which preserves the material sent in by the participants (including Arlaud, Allegra, Franco Bogge, Luigi Borsetti, Capitani, Cibrario, De Cessole, Adolfo Hess and many others). The Mör Von Déchy series describes his travels in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Carpathians; the Emilio Gallo series documents the Alps; the Mario Piacenza series is on the subject of the first ascent of the Matterhorn by the Furggen crest, his trip to Persia in 1910 and the first ascent of a 7,000, the Nun Kun in 1913; the Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi series documents exploratory trips to the North Pole in 1899 and in 1900 and the expedition to Somalia (Uebi-Scebeli) in 1928-1929; finally the Cesare Sella, son of Vittorio series documents events and landscapes of the First World War along the Friuli front.

Documentary archive 

Chronological details:  1882 – 1953

Contents: 77 bundles, 10 boxes

Photographic archive

Chronological details:  1860 – 1960

Contents: 31200 negatives and original prints

Biographical information:  Vittorio Sella

The archive preserves the plates of the Rossetti Photographic Studio, operative in Biella from   1881 to 1983 with a branch in Vallemosso, only open at the weekend, from 1887 – the year when the studio won a prize at the International Exhibition of Florence – to 1955.
The studio was opened on the initiative of Simone Rossetti, and later the business was carried on by his sons Oreste and Alfredo until 1968. The studio remained operative until the beginning of the Eighties thanks to Rosalba, Alfredo’s daughter.

As it was a professional laboratory, the studio only worked on commission but was not limited to the portrait genre: through its pictures it testifies the history of a century of life in the town and Biellese area.

As well as negatives, plates and films of varying size there are also the laboratory registers where the names of customers were recorded and the date when each photograph was taken
The archive also preserves a considerable quantity of the equipment used by the studio over the years.

Photographic archive

Chronological details: 1881 – 1980

Contents: 450000 original negatives