Soros Foundation–Hungary Yearbooks Accessible Online in Both English and Hungarian

Soros Foundation–Hungary Yearbooks Accessible Online

Now available in our online catalog, the Soros Foundation–Hungary yearbooks detail the grants, awarded between 1984 and 2003 in Hungary, amounting to more than 170 billion forints in today’s value. The yearbooks provide the most authentic publicly available source for researching the indispensable activities carried out by the Foundation during and after the regime change in Hungary. Funding, networking, and knowledge sharing filled gaps in fields such as education, healthcare, social care, culture, media, and advocacy. The 19 volumes have been digitized and OCR-ed, allowing both browsing and searching the documents in the Archivum’s online catalog.


We have digitized the Hungarian and English yearbooks of the Soros Foundation–Hungary, and made them accessible and searchable online. The 19 volumes covering the years 1984 to 2003 constitute the most authentic publicly available source of information concerning the grants awarded initially by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Soros Foundation Committee and later by the independent Soros Foundation–Hungary. English editions will be accessible soon.

The founder, George Soros, elaborated on the aims of his initiative in prefaces to the yearbooks, also capturing the Hungarian transition period. “The objective of the Foundation is to support the evolution of Hungarian society. As a foreigner I am not qualified to determine what shape that society should take, but I have a strong conviction that it ought to be many-faceted and rich in opportunity,” Soros wrote in the first yearbook. Then in 1990, after the 1989 regime change, he noted: “In the Communist regime, one single concept prevailed, while in an open society, participants have to develop their own concepts. This skill to act autonomously is not yet sufficiently evolved in Hungary, especially in the economic field. From now on, we strive to bolster that mindset.”

At first, through a cooperation with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Foundation announced an open competition in which “it has not prescribed what people should apply for; the Committee formulates its program on the basis of the applications received” (Yearbook 1984–1985). Recurring programs in the early period, such as the “Travel Grants,” the “Management Training,” or the “Copying Machine Program,” proved indispensable during the Hungarian democratic transition. Thanks to the reformed legal environment with the regime change, the independent Soros Foundation–Hungary was established, and the Soros Foundation Board replaced the cooperation with the Academy. From then on, applications were expected and evaluated according to “categories individually defined and published by the Foundation” (Yearbook 1990). The framework comprised main areas such as “Public Education” and “Higher Education,” “Health and Social Programs,” “Civil Society,” “Environment,” “Culture and Arts,” or “Information and Media Programs.” Established by the Foundation, the professional network enabling knowledge transfer proved to be as needed for these fields, as financial support did. The Foundation defined sub-programs within the main areas, for which applications could be submitted. These included the “School Milk Campaign,” the “Program for Women,” the “Library Support Program,” the “Media and Independent Publications” and the “Roma Rights Program.”

According to the yearbooks, the Soros Foundation supported Hungary’s healthcare, education, culture, and society between 1984 and 2003 with a total of more than 120 billion forints and close to 130 million dollars (another 50 billion forints), in today’s value.

There are multiple ways to use the yearbooks. Orientation within a given year is assisted by the table of contents, which is organized according to supported main areas and their programs. At the same time, thanks to text recognition, individual documents can also be searched. Each yearbook contains the brief descriptions and total budgets of the announced areas and their programs, as well as the names of the supported organizations and individuals, descriptive titles of their proposals, and the grants awarded to them. It is important to point out that the preestablished grant amount did not necessarily correspond to the sum actually paid in the end. The yearbooks also contain the founding document of the Soros Foundation–Hungary, as well as lists of Board members and staff.