The Observatory of Padova was instituted with the Decree of the Senate of the Republic of Venice in 1761. Even though it is one of the oldest observatories on Italian soil, the records in its archives, dating back to the 18th
century, are almost nonexistent and large gaps are present in the documentation of the successive periods. This is due not only to the complicated vicissitudes which hit Padova after the fall of the Republic of Venice (May 1797), but, also, to the dramatic events as recent as World War I. These occurrences can be considered the primary cause for the dispersion, if not destruction, of part of the complete documentary holdings. For instance, almost all the documents and letters relating to the first two directors of the Observatory, Giuseppe Toaldo and, after his death, his nephew Vincenzo Chiminello, are either lost or kept at the Library of the Episcopal Seminary of Padova. The only records left at the Observatory from that period are the logbooks of astronomical and meteorological observations, which were considered part of the astronomers'institutional duties. The archives also holds the meteorological observation records acquired by Toaldo: those made by Giovanni Poleni, Giambattista Morgagni, Jacopo Bartolomeo Beccari and those made by the correspondents of the meteorological network set up by Toaldo himself. Very sparse are also the records concerning Antonio Maria Antoniazzi's directorship (1872-1925), which took place during the dramatic years of World War I.
The reorganization of the archives, included in the Specola 2000 project, began with the surveying of the documents after 1923, the year in which, by Royal Decree, the Astronomical Observatories became administratively autonomous from the Universities.
The two institutions - the Astronomical Observatory and the Institute (later the Department) of Astronomy of the University - although, legally distinct, were headed by the same director and this symbiosis, which has matured through time until recently, has created a mingling of the documents, making their sorting an urgent matter.
The initial phase of the project focused on the records relating to the directorships of Giovanni Silva and Leonida Rosino (1926-1985). The second phase consisted of reorganizing and inventorying the registers of the astronomical observations, the 19th century documents and the records belonging to Santini's fond. In the third and last phase, the work dealt with the central core of documents relating to meteorological observations, various types of observations, thermographs and barographs, bookeeping (19th-20th century ), charge and discharge inventory registers. Documents found at a later stage have been inserted into previously inventoried series.