The Roman Archive of the Society of Jesus is the archive of the central government for the worldwide Society of Jesus. In this sense, it doesn’t collect local archives but mainly only the documents of the General Curia (central government of the Society).
Netherless, ARSI is a valuable source of information for local history, but in the way this was linked to the central governament (for example relations sent to the Father General and so on)
Execept few cases, ARSI doesn’t preserve personal fond of famous Jesuits, but only the ones of the Gerenal Fathers of the New Society.
Even the letters preserved are the corrispondence beetwen Jesuits and Fathers General. Instead, for example, the corrispondece between a Jesuit and a Father Provincial should be seached in the archives of the provinces, not here.
If you are aiming to consult the documentations held by ARSI, please write a request of reservation.
For a general presentation of the main fonds that you can find in ARSI see this article of Fr. Danieluk SJ.
To understand some of the type of documents cited in that article, see also the Gramatowski glossary in the section general repertories.
If you are a research from Nord America, please note that the University of St. Louis has a copy of part of documentations of ARSI in microfilm
The fond “Antica Compagnia” (old Society)
mainly includes the documentations sent by Assistences and Provinces before the suppresion of 1773. You can download a summary inventory which explains the geographical structure of the archive and list the title of each volumes for each Province.
The fond “Nuova Compagnia” (new Society)
is more or less the same of the previous, but related to the documentations arrived after the Restabilishment of 1814 (it includes also the period 1774-1814 where the Society survived in Alba Russia).
Even in that case, the main part of the documentations is the materials sent by Assistences and Provinces (see this summary inventory). In this case, it could be important to take a look at the evolution of the provinces during the time, see the Data Chronologica in the section of the reperories for places.
Please take in mind that there are other many fonds related to the New Society that could be interesting (for i.e. the fond of Tacchi Venturi or the personal fonds of Fathers General, in photo Fr. Roothaan).
ARSI will try to upload as soon as possible new finding aids even for that resources.
The “Fondo Gesuitico” (Jesuitic Fond)
It’s the third main block of documents preserved by ARSI.
It’s the archive of the old Procuratorr and so it includes mainly administrative or giuridic documents related to the different houses, colleges or residences of the Society.
But it includes also differnt materials such as documents related to the missions or the Indipetae (letters sent by jesuits asking to be sent in mission).
For this fond, you can download a summary inventory, but many section (such as Indipetae or the serie Collegia) have a more detailed finding aids (currently available only in the reading room).