Fondazione Vera Nocentini

Update on its activities

The "Vera Nocentini" Cultural Foundation ( was set up in Turin in 1978 by a group of union leaders - some coming from the inside, some from the outside of the Turin Cisl (Confederation of Italian Trade Unions) - and by some university professors. It carries out research studies of the workers' and trade-union movement and has archives containing material about the history of trade unions as well as a library, a newspaper library, photographic archives, archives of posters and placards and also a bank of oral testimonies. The foundation is open to the public every day at the Cisl headquarters in Turin.

Trade Unionism and Laity: The paradox of CISL, Milan: Franco Angeli, 2000, 141 pages, Lit. 20.000, edited by the "Vera Nocentini" Foundation

This publication came out on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Cisl (Confederation of Italian Trade Unions). It was meant as a contribution to the debate that started within this Confederation as a result of a proposal made by the then general secretary Sergio D'Antoni. He proposed to create a "Forum about welfare work" together with the associations and movements that were "inspired by Christian principles", a kind of constellation of the associations belonging to the Christian sphere. His idea was to strengthen the Cisl from a political viewpoint, especially after the failure of the project aiming at the creation of a unity with the other two major italian trade unions confederations Cgil and Uil.
In the wake of the controversies and contrasts that emerged later on, the "Vera Nocentini" Foundation carried out a study-in-depth of the subject. It then published a book which contains various analyses as well as testimonies of people having different cultural backgrounds and beliefs, some of them belonging to Cisl, some others close to the Cisl area or at least with a very good knowledge of it. The aim of this book is to help people go beyond the mere controversies and acquire a better knowledge of this lay, independent and pluralist trade union.

Course on systems for the arrangement of current archives

In October 2000 the "Vera Nocentini" Foundation organised a two-day course, together with the Archivio di Stato (Record Office), the Soprintendenza ai Beni Archivistici (Archives Office) and the Assessorato Regionale ai Beni Culturali (Regional Council Department for the Arts) that gave their scientific support.
Prior to the course, a study was carried out in the field of current registration and the use of special technologies in the various local and sector-related structures of the Cisl. The course, addressed to union leaders and operators, aimed at creating an archive culture. The participants could thus reflect on the importance of registering the documentation in order to highlight the value of the history of trade unions and hence of historical archives.
After the presentation of some experiences, there was a debate about the need to throw some light on the use of new technologies and to organise the behaviours. In fact, it is essential that the registration of the current documentation be consistent with the methodologies used in the historical archives of the same trade union.

A research study and a meeting: An image and its fortune. "The fourth Estate" by Pellizza da Volpedo between politics and culture

The "Vera Nocentini" Foundation, together with the Istituto Studi Storici "Gaetano Salvemini" (the G. Salvemini Institute for Historical Studies), promoted a research study and a meeting entitled An image and its fortune. "The fourth Estate" by Pellizza da Volpedo between politics and culture. This initiative was part of a biennial project involving various cultural associations, theatrical, music and photography groups working in Piedmont. It was launched on the occasion of the celebrations for the hundredth anniversary of the creation of the famous picture The fourth Estate, painted by the Piedmontese artist Pellizza da Volpedo between 1898 and 1901.
The research study, which tackles a new topic in the survey of Italian culture, has been entrusted to qualified scholars and consists of three main areas. 1) A biographical profile of Pellizza, with special reference to the culture of the period. 2) The recreation of the influence exerted by "The fourth Estate" on the iconography of the workers' and trade-union movement between the beginning of the century and the seventies. 3) The female image in "The fourth Estate", how it was perceived and used by the women's movements and organisations in the twentieth century.
"The fourth Estate" is, indeed, the work, which mostly represents the system of values that the workers' and socialist movement in Italy historically adopted as its own. It is the most famous painting of that artistic period, which reflected the tensions linked to the so-called "social problem". In time, it also became the most widely known, reproduced and used image in the political and union iconography. As a matter of fact, it sums up, in an emblematic way, a whole series of themes that are highly representative of the nature and objectives of an entire historical movement.
The results of the research study will be reported in a book, which is now in course of publication.

Posted: 23 January 2001