The material which is preserved in the State Archives of Zadar is of first class importance for the history of Dalmatia from the 10th century to 1918. Already in 1883 the Archives housed materials of the Venetian administration (1409-1797), the first Austrian administration (1797-1805), the French administration (1806-1813) and the Second Austrian administration (1813-1918). The material from these Archives offers great possibilities for studying social, political and economic situations in Dalmatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro and Albania from the Middle Ages until today. The archival material for the period between 1918 and 1943, although poorly preserved, gives important information about Italian politics in Zadar and Dalmatia, as the areas annexed to Italy according to the Rapallo Treaty in 1920. The material created after 1944, that is after the return of these areas to the mother country of Croatia, is important for studying the past of the region for which the Archives are territorially in authority in the new organisation of the archival instititions established after 1945.
The oldest material created from 918 to 1409 was written in Latin, and of the scripts the prevalent is italicised Gothic script, Beneventan and Caroline script, were also present.
The material, up to the collapse of the Venetian Republic in 1797, was written in Gothic script and humanities in Latin, but also in the idiomatic expression of the Venetian administration. There are also documents in the Ottoman Turkish language written in Arabic script. From 1797 to 1918 the material was predominantly written in Italian, but French, German and Croatian were also particularly present. The documents of the Italian administration (1918-1943) were composed exclusively in Italian and since 1945 to date, in Croatian. Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths were written either in Latin, Croatian or Italian and the scripts were Latin, Glagolitic and Croatian Cyrillic script (bosančica).
A comprehensive overview of archival holdings and collections is given in The Guide to the State Archives in Zadar (Vodič DAZD).
The Archival Library has about 50.000 volumes of books and brochures, journals, newspapers, manuscripts and dissertations. Among them, worth mentioning, are two incunabulas from the 16th and 17th century, the first print of the Statues of Dalmatian towns, travelogues across Dalmatia, overviews of Dalmatian history, publications of the Dalmatian Institute, numerous works printed in Zadar and other Dalmatian towns as well as several atlases. The importance of the Library for Dalmatian history can be seen in the richly presented literature for administrative history, short-hand notes of the Imperial Council, Mansion House and Dalmatian Assembly as well as in the publications of the statistical commission and Vienna Academy as well as periodicals in Dalmatia from the 19th and 20th century.