As long ago as 1911-12, the Minister General, Pacificus of Seggiano, had the intention of making the Friary of Frascati into a house for scholars, equipped with a printing press and the necessary scientific equipment, but the attempt failed.
It was Minister General Melchiorre of Benisa who, on 23rd July 1926, officially announced to the Order the purchase of the Sperelli building in Assisi, at via S. Francesco 23. This building was to become the residence of a group of scholars working on studies related to the Order. It comprised a library and the Franciscan Museum and published a scientific periodical. Four years later, on 14th November 1930, the same Minister General signed the decree establishing the "College of St Lawrence of Brindisi in Assisi", which was the original name of the Historical Institute.
In order to facilitate the use of archives and libraries in Rome, the "College of Assisi" sought and obtained permission to transfer to Rome, at via Sicilia 159. Between 4th and 10th November 1940 it was precariously housed in the premises of the General Hospice, in the via Romagna wing. Temporarily, it also remained without a library and without a Franciscan Museum. In order to avoid confusion with the name of the International College of St. Lawrence, the "College of Assisi" changed its name to the Capuchin Historical Institute.
With the transfer of the General Curia from Via Boncompagni to its present site at Via Piemonte 70, the Historical Institute was set up in the summer of 1953 in some of the rooms of the former Curia, on the third floor of Via Boncompagni. During the months of July and August 1968 it moved to its present site on the Circumferential highway around Rome (GRA) (Grande Raccordo Anulare km 65).
The Historical Institute is an international fraternity, immediately dependent on the General Minister, and as such is regulated by the Constitutions and by its own Statute. According to the Statute (1995), its aim is two-fold:
- To engage in scientific research and publications in the Franciscan field, especially relating to the Capuchin Order;
- To promote, within its possibilities, cultural initiatives relating to the life of the Capuchin Order