sisr Società Italiana di Storia della Ragioneria


Accountancy has ancient roots dating back to the dawns of civilisation, from the moment in which man was able to appreciate the value of goods and consequently the significance of exchange and commerce.

Nonetheless, its culture actually belongs more appropriately to the world of businesses with whose history it is closely linked, having constantly followed the evolutionary process.

Accountancy, between art and science, has represented a vast universe of developing knowledge, which has always stimulated the scholar’s eagerness for learning and research as well as a desire to be able to hand down an extraordinary cultural wealth for posterity.

In its precious casket the admirable Summa dei Paciolo, published in Venice in 1494, symbolically encapsulates the indelible mark left in the history of Accounting by the celebrated “Tractatus”.

Five centuries have passed and even before our knowledge the imagination takes us back in time to the wonderful events of the Renaissance.

Since then the development of accountancy studies has continued to benefit increasingly from the contribution of the many renowned masters who have followed and loved this discipline, enriching it with their own science and reaching new heights of knowledge since the last century.

It is of note that the progress made in accounting has always kept pace with that of civilisation and intuitively contributed to foreseeing its destiny by exploring the future of companies which play a big part in both social and economic life.

Nevertheless, the history of accounting has undeniably always held great appeal for scholars, and certainly represents the most stimulating key to interpreting the past, which although remote still seems alive, pulsating and a harbinger of new ideas without any solution for continuity.

The Italian culture of Accounting therefore has a well-established tradition consolidated by early eighteenth-century Academies, the most prestigious of which was the logismofili founded in 1813 in Bologna, now the Italian Academy of Business Economics.

This century has seen our learning about the world of business economics expand enormously, encompassing in a broad multidisciplinary field the most diverse and advanced knowledge, yet always bound to a common original culture by the same historical matrix.

The Italian Society of Accounting History, founded in Pisa in 1984 under the patronage of the international scientific community gathered there to celebrate the legendary figure of Fibonacci, has taken up the legacy of Italy’s great accounting tradition with the intent of ensuring scientific continuity for historical studies.

A decade after its founding, the Italian Society of Accounting History today intends to act upon this Manifesto, bringing the mission to the attention of scholars, in order that they broadly direct their academic, scientific and cultural work towards it.

This mission is organised at various levels yet all of them are key to the ultimate purpose of promoting, developing and disseminating Accounting History.

The Society believes that its institutional task firstly cannot disregard historical research, which can avail itself of a high potential of intellectual resources, both within the academy itself and in university research centres and secondary schools.

Promoting historical research means further developing the vast wealth of knowledge through the investigation of a number of unique materials yet to be discovered or published or to be re-interpreted from a different point of view.

This means facilitating the process of interdisciplinary harmonisation by reinforcing principles which are safeguarded by business-economics faculties. The dissemination of Accounting History as an introductory subject in Italian universities for the study of business disciplines could greatly benefit this aim.

The young could therefore gain an understanding of the ideal values inherent in the culture and “noble” profession of the accountant.

One of the best qualified aspects of the proposed mission certainly consists in the transposition from documented historical research to business history research due to the semiological value that may derive from this.

The history of businesses seen through the eyes of accounting yet analysed and interpreted with a sense of today’s culture can contribute enormously to the development of knowledge about the evolutionary mechanisms which have interfered with the life of businesses in the process of transformation and adjustment to the changing environmental conditions.

The Italian Society of Accounting History ultimately has a strong commitment to re-discovering the original values of its own culture from which to draw the life-blood to regenerate new and more-advanced processes of scientific knowledge on the evolution and tendencies within business economics studies.