OSA Acquires Documents from Hungary’s Democratic Transition

Human pathologist and university professor Istvan Bartok (1929-2007) was an avid follower and chronicler of changes in both the urban and political landscape of post-Communist Budapest and Hungary in general. Following his retirement in 1990, he relentlessly photographed the various districts, blocks, buildings, facades, memorial plaques, shop windows and street advertisements of Budapest.

At the same time, he was profoundly interested in the development of Hungary’s newly established political system. He collected political propaganda materials (photos, articles, statements, and ads) from the local and national media on virtually all of the free and democratic elections after 1989. Bartok also kept each and every flyer and poster dropped in his mailbox by various political activists. He added his own photographs on political rallies and electoral campaign signs and posters in the public space to this collection, creating a unique national political kaleidoscope of the Third Hungarian Republic.

When he was not wandering the streets of Budapest with his camera, Bartok tirelessly arranged and cataloged his photos and press clippings in over 30 large albums. Having an eye for the detail, he produced two inventories for the albums and provided his materials with exact references. On occasion, he also added succinct personal comments, which reveal his critical stand on certain political issues and his sour sense of humor.