The Papyrogical Institute (website) draws its origins from the "Società Italiana per la ricerca dei Papiri greci e latini in Egitto" (Italian Society for the Search of Greek and Latin Papyri in Egypt), a non-profit entity financed through the contribution of its members, founded in Florence on June 1st 1908, on the initiative of Girolamo Vitelli, full professor of Greek Literature. The "Società Italiana" was dissolved in 1927 in order to form the "Istituto Papirologico", which became a part of the University of Florence, with G. Vitelli appointed as the first Director. In 1939 the Institute adopted its present name to pay honor to the memory of Vitelli.
Since its foundation the Institute supported excavation campaigns and the purchase of papyrus material in Egypt: now it organizes excavations on the site of the ancient Antinoopolis. It owns one of the biggest collections of papyri, mostly written in Greek, but also in Latin, in the Egyptian language (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, coptic), in Arabic, including also one rare example in Syriac.
The results of the research (excavations and the edition of papyrus) are all published in the "Edizioni dell'Istituto Papirologico «G. Vitelli»", in two series, «Papiri della Società Italiana (PSI)» and «Scavi e materiali».
The library, whose core of around 6,000 volumes was made up of the personal library of Girolamo Vitelli, has been constantly expanded over the years: it is now one of the top and most specialized collections in Italy and abroad.