The collection of documents, journals, objects and whatever else can be seen today are the result of Paolo Cresci's patient and meticulous research and accumulation work, which began from the affairs of his wife Silvana's relatives, a native of Fosciandora (Lucca).
Paolo Cresci later established relationships with antiquarians, frequenting flea markets, antique bookstores, abandoned houses, Garfagnana municipal administrations, as well as the returning emigrants themselves or their relatives. Much of the material concerns, in fact, the Garfagnana and Lucca areas, but there is no shortage of documents from other regions. The collection is therefore characterized by heterogeneity, being composed of epistolary letters, postcards, original and non-original photographs, magazines, newspapers, books and various personal objects, evidence of a multiplicity of people who left Italy in search of fortune between the 19th and 20th centuries.
The priority objective of the Paolo Cresci Foundation is aimed at the systematic valorization of the collection, so as to make the material in the archives accessible to everyone, technical and non-technical, with an eye especially to the uninitiated; this is to allow those who visit it an immediate and complete understanding, making them participants in a history that is probably also that of their ancestors and, by extension, their own. Any intervention concerning the archives presupposed a systematic cataloguing of the documentary material; in fact, the work of reorganizing the collection, carried out on computer support, is now complete.
Paolo Cresci had undertaken an outline cataloguing, using, however, criteria responding more to personal needs than to universally shared principles of systematicity and scientificity. On the other hand, this is understandable, for someone who, like him, was fought, on the one hand, by an ardent passion that drove him to accumulate, sometimes almost maniacally, an immense variety of inhomogeneous material, and on the other hand, however, he also felt the need for an organic arrangement, which was difficult to implement precisely because of the sheer volume of the pieces collected.
In order to preserve Cresci's imprint on the collection, it was decided to follow the order he himself adopted, but using uniform and analytical principles with respect to the new needs that have arisen regarding the dissemination and immediacy of the usability of the entire collection. The work of filing does not pretend to be exhaustive and definitive, but is only intended to provide a map of the real qualitative and quantitative value of the collection.
To this end, a database has been prepared, where each individual piece has been filed according to precise categories and can be continuously retrieved and viewed through special program functions.