Let me begin by noting my limits:
I am not a professional reference librarian or archive specialist, but a historian of modern Russia. In other words, my knowledge is very much a practitioner’s knowledge – i.e. there is much that a reference librarian may know that I don’t. So be sure, in doing your research to consult with reference staff. Keep in mind that it is very easy to get out of date.
There are many new electronic sources such as the Arkhivy Rossii website. This site also has regular news of changes in the archives. One piece of advice: when you are working in the archives talk to the sotrudnitsy.
My purpose in this discussion is to provide some of the basic bibliographic information you need to do archival work (or advise on archival research). Then once you have a topic of research, you will be able to identify the repositories where relevant archival materials might be housed.
First, a few points on the organization of archival holdings. There are a few key terms related to archival organization that the scholar must know. It is important to note that some institutions, such as the Gorky archive, use other citation systems.
e.g. GARF (or GA RF) (former TsGAOR SSSR and TS GA RSFSR)
(from the French) – integral group of records from one source
- closest English equivalents “record group” or “archive group”
- usually, institution or individual
e.g. GARF f. 1235. All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK)
- closest English equivalent “series” or “subgroup”
- often arranged by date or subinstitution
e.g. GARF f.1235, op.1, II sozyv–October 1917
op.2, 3rd Congress of Soviets
op. 140 (former f.1235 s.ch [sekretnaia chast’] – a collection declassified after 1991
By the way, the term opisi is also used to describe the “inventories” or “registers” that list and often describe the files in a fond — enormously valuable (once “for service use only” – and still restricted in some archives).
This will be described more fully below.
(or file designation- especially edinitsy khraneniia or ed. khr.)
These are the actual files (folders or boxes) that contain the LISTY (often filed this way at origin — by dates or themes).
e.g. several dela in op.140 were designated “anti-Soviet letters from the population”
A full citation would be, for instance:
GARF, f. 1235, op.1, d. [or ed. khr.] 16, ll. 5-7ob. (if not obvious from the text, include descriptive details or the title of the document)
NOTE: Some archives use other citation systems – e.g. a typical cite from the Gorky archive would be:
“Arkhiv A. M. Gorkogo, KG-NP/A, 22-4:1-2”
Be sure to ask about citation systems!
Two general comments on citing in your work:
- determine the standard in the field.
- include substantive information (not just numbers, since these change).
First, a general but important point: prepare fully before you go.
- No Russian library has as complete and accessible a selection of guides as libraries like U of I
- Investigate all relevant guides (see below)
- Don’t overlook electronic resources. It has been difficult to obtain internet access in Russia, although conditions are improving.
So what should you do to prepare? How to identify the archives in which you will find relevant materials?
First, be aware that there is a wide variety of different types of archives that might contain materials you need:
Central State (federative level) archives (under Rosarkhiv – the Russian Archival Service) – mostly in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF) [State Archive of the Russian Federation] – Main state archive for pre-Revolutionary society and for the Soviet state. URL: http://www.statearchive.ru
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov (RGADA) [Russian State Archive of Early Acts] – Early Russian state and society. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgada
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (RGIA in St. Petersburg) [Russian State Historical Archive] – Imperial state. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgia
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv ekonomiki (RGAE) [Russian State Archive of the Economy] – Economics. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgae
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv nauchno-tekhnicheskoi dokumentatsii (RGANTD) [Russian State Archive of Scientific-Technical Documentation] – URL: http://rgantd.ru/
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv kinofotodokumentov (RGAKFD) [Russian State Archive of Documentary Films and Photographs] – Documentary films and photographs. URL: http://rgakfd.ru/
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv fonodokumentov (RGAFD) [Russian State Archive of Sound Recordings] – Sound recordings. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgafd
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva (RGALI) [Russian State Archive of Literature and Art]- Literature and art. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgali
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (RGVA) [Russian State Military Archive]- Former Red Army Archive. Tsentr khraneniia istoriko-dokumental’nykh kollektsii (TsKhIDK) [Center for Preservation of Historico-Documentary Collections] now part of RGVA. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgva
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voenno-istoricheskii arkhiv (RGVIA) [Russian State Military History Archive] – URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgvia
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Voenno-Morskogo Flota (RGAVMF) [Russian State Archive of the Navy] – URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgavmf
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) [Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History] – Former Rossiiskii tsentr khraneniia i izucheniia dokumentov noveishei istorii (RTsKhIDNI) [Russian Center for Preservation and Study of Records of Modern History]. Former Tsentr khraneniia dokumentov molodezhnykh organizatsii (TsKhDMO)[Center for Preservation of Records of Youth Organizations] now part of RGASPI. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgaspi
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveishei istorii (RGANI) [Russian State Archive of Contemporary History] – Former Tsentr khraneniia sovremennoi dokumentatsii (TsKhSD) [Center for Preservation of Contemporary Documentation], Central Committee archive, 1952-1991. URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgani
- Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv Dal’nego Vostoka (RGIA DV) [Russian State Historical Archive for the Far East] – URL: http://www.rusarchives.ru/federal/rgiadv
Archives under other federal agencies
- Arkhiv Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii (APRF) – Presidential
- Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii (AVPRI) – Foreign Policy
- Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii (AVPRF) – Foreign Policy
- Tsentral’nyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF (TsAMO RF) – Post-1941 Military
- Tsentral’nyi arkhiv Federal’noi sluzhby bezopasnosti RF (TsA FSB) – Security agency, holds archival records for former Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, and KGB.
- Tsentral’nyi arkhiv Ministerstva vnutrennikh del RF (TsA MVD Rossii) – Security agency, holds archival records for former Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, and KGB.
- Gosudarstvennyi fond kinofil’mov Rossiiskoi Federatsii (Gosfil’mofond; GFF)
- Gosudarstvennyi fond televizionnykh i radiprogramm (Gosteleradiofond)
- Tsentral’nyi voenno-morskoi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF (TsVMA)
- Operativnyi arkhiv Sluzhby vneshnei razvedki RF (Arkhiv SVR Rossii)
Archives under other federal-level institutions
- Universities and academic institutions
- The Academy of Sciences and its institutes
- Film studios
- Artistic unions, etc.
City and Regional Archives
They often possess very rich collections (including local archives for Moscow and St. Petersburg)
Archives now in other states
(e.g. Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asian republics and Baltic states)
They often include excellent manuscript divisions in major libraries
They often hold good manuscript, rare book, and photo collections
- City history museums
- Other historical museums
- Museums dedicated to individuals (e.g. Tolstoy or Mayakovsky or Dostoevsky)
- Ethnographic museums
- Art museums
- Theater museums
- Education museum (Makarenko)
- Factory museums
- even a Circus museum (St. Petersburg)
(many Russian materials in the United States at Hoover, Columbia, Harvard, U of I and Western Europe)
Second, to find your way amidst all these choices, you need to consult a variety of different types of reference sources. Most are here and more accessible in this country than in Russia. There are a few exceptions to this. Occasionally you will find a few new or rare titles only available in Russia. It is also very useful to make inquiries when you arrive in Russia. You can also try to contact an archive by fax or via e-mail before you leave.
Types of Reference Sources
Scholarly works in the field
Both Russian and English language sources are available. However, it is important for the researcher to be aware of:
- changing names of archives. This is an issue not only since the collapse of the Soviet Union but throughout the Soviet period and then again, recently. (e.g.. 1999- RTsKhIDNI became RGASPI
- moving materials from one archive to another (usually the archive has record of transfers, however)
- changing fond, opis’, dela, and list numbers. Pay attention to subject and origin of document.
Publications of archival documents.
These can be very useful both as guides and in saving valuable research time. Many have recently been issued and more are being planned. There are a variety of places to look for such publications
What follows is a list of some of the most important journal publications containing reprints of archival documents. e.g. Istoricheskii arkhiv, Otechestvennye arkhivy, Istochnik, Rodina, Literaturnoe nasledstvo, Izvestiia TsK KPSS, etc.
- Krasnyi Arkhiv: istoricheskii zhurnal. Moskva, 1922-1941. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 905 KR. Note: v. 1-106 Index held at International and Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic). U of I Library Call Number: 905 KR
- Izvestiia TsK KPSS. Moscow, 1989-1991. Publication of Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This journal published many important declassified documents from Communist Party archives and history of Perestroika while underway. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 324.24707505 IZ
- Rodina. Moscow, 1989-. Monthly. See also Istochnik, which appears as a supplement. A wide-circulation magazine with considerable coverage of archival materials and historical sources. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks Q. 947.005 RO. Note: Recent issues in International and Area Studies Library, Current Periodicals.
- *Istoricheskii arkhiv. Moscow, 1992-. Bimonthly. Published by Rosarkhiv. Continues the earlier series by the same name (1955-1962).U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 947.7005 IST (1992- ); Main Stacks 905 ISTA (1955-1962)
- SUPPLEMENT (Prilozhenie): Arkhivno-informatsionnyi biulleten’, Ser. 1: Spravochno-informatsionnye materialy: Arkhivy Kremlia i Staroi ploshchadi, M. 1993-. See: http://www.nlr.ru/rlin/fullcard_layers.php?numer=223710&database=Periodika_rl_OPAC.
- Otechestvennye arkhivy. Moscow. Published by Rosarkhiv. This title continues the Soviet publication Sovetskie Arkhivy. A listing of the contents for current issues are available at http://www.rusarchives.ru/izdaniya-i-publikacii/otraslevye-smi/zhurnal-otechestvennye-arhivy/soderzhanie-nomerov. OCLC Accession Number: 28455457. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 025.17105 SO1
- Istochnik. Moscow, 1993-. Bimonthly. Supplement to Rodina. A wide-circulation supplement to Rodina for the publication of archival documents. Starting in 1995, a “journal with the journal” has started for documentary publications from the Archive of the President RF. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks Q. 947.005 ROsup. (1993-)
- Bulletin / Cold War International History Project. Washington DC, 1992-. Plus many other Soviet and post-Soviet journals: e.g. Voprosy istorii, Istorii SSSR–now Otechestvennaia istoriia, Voprosy filosofii, Literaturnoe nasledstvo, and others. Also, especially in early 1990s, numerous articles in newspapers. The EastView Universal Database of Russian Newspapers is very useful in identifying these materials and is available while you are visiting campus. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 327.17 B874 (1992-)
Collections, series and individual volumes
- Rossiia XX vek. ed. A. N. Iakovlev, 1997-.
- Neizvestnaia Rossiia: XX vek. Moscow, 1992-93. 4 volumes. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 947.084 N319
- Dokumenty vneshnei politiki. Published by Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Rossiiskoi federatsii. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 327.47 R923d
- Annals of Communism. Yale University Press, 1994-. This series presents selected documents concerning the history of Soviet and international communism from Russian state and party archives. Each book contains documents selected by teams of Western and Russian editors which are published with scholarly commentary, annotation, and interpretation in both an English-language edition for Western audiences and a Russian-language edition for distribution in Russia. Documents are selected not for their support of any single predetermined interpretation, but for their historical significance or their value in deepening understanding and facilitating discussion. U of I Library Call Number: For call numbers of the individual volumes see the U of I online catalog.
- Revelations from the Russian archives: documents in English translation. ed. Diane P. Koenker (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1997). U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks Government Document DOC. LC1.2:R32; Oak Street Facility CD1711 .R4881997
- Stalinskoe Politburo v 30-e gody: Sbornik dokumentov. ed. O. V. Khlevniuk et al, M. 1995. U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 335.43 ST165
- Golos naroda: Pis’ma i otkliki sovetskikh grazhdan o sobytiiakh 1918-1932 gg. ed. A. K. Sokolov, et. al. (M. 1998). OCLC Accession Number: 39283263.
Also be aware of publications issued by the archives themselves ( for example those by GARF and RGASPI).
Microfilm, Cd-Rom, and Electronic Sources
- Smolensk Archives. The oldest such resource is the Smolensk Party Archive, held by most major libraries in the United States. The guide to the archive is shelved in the Slavic Library, call number 025.1714094762 UN4G. U of I Library Call Number: History, Philosophy & Newspaper FILM 947.6 K83s
- Chadwyck-Healey/Hoover: Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet State. This was one of the most controversial projects undertaken, but also one of the most important. There are two finding aids available. That available through the Stanford University website is slightly easier to use and is accessible by clicking on the image above. The project is described in broad terms as follows: “The State Archival Service of the Russian Federation” (Rosarkhiv), at Stanford University, and Chadwyck-Healey concluded an agreement in April 1992 to microfilm the records and opisi (finding aids) of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union, as well as other selected holdings of the State Archives.” URL: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf1q2n9845
- Chadwyck-Healey. Leaders of the Russian Revolution. This microfilm set reproduces the records of nine major figures of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet State and covers the period 1878-1952. “The documents reproduced come from the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Most Recent History (RTsKhIDNI), known until 1991 as the Central Party Archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Until August 1991 this Institute was under the control of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and was a research centre for Party members. Its archives, whose holdings were until recently restricted to the Institute’s staff and highly placed members of the Soviet Communist Party, contain material on people active in the world Communist movement from its beginnings to 1952.” All nine units are available at U of I as follows:
- Martov, L. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies MFICHE 947.0841092 M367M
- Zasulich, V. I. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies MFICHE 947.0841092 Z19Z
- Zhdanov, A. A. U of I Library Call Number: History, Philosophy & Newspaper FILM 947.0841092 Z61Z
- Kirov, S. M. U of I Library Call Number: History, Philosophy & Newspaper FILM 947.0841092 K638K
- Molotov, V. M. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies MFICHE 947.0841092 M738M
- Aksel’rod, P. B. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies MFICHE 947.0841092 AK76A
- Ordzhonikidze, G. K. U of I Library Call Number: History, Philosophy & Newspaper FILM 947.0841092 OR2
- Trotsky, L. D. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies MFICHE 947.0841092 T756
- Kalinin, M. I. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies FILM 947.0841092 K124
- Primary Source Media. Russian Archives project. Primary Source Microfilm was granted permission to reproduce a number of collections in the Russian archives. New units are being added to the collection on film. Since these units are being sold individually, it is often the case that libraries will purchase only selected sections of the project. URL: http://microformguides.gale.com/GuideLst.html. The titles include:
- Association of Workers of Revolutionary Cinematography
- The Cold War and the Central Committee
- Institute of Economics of the Communist Academy, 1921-1937
- Intercepted Police Correspondence of the Russian Revolutionaries from the Special Department of Police
- Meyerhold Theater, 1920-1938
- Military Papers of Leon Trotsky
- Mosfilm, 1938-1945
- The Napoleonic Wars, 1805-1815
- The Papers of Prince Gregory Potemkin
- The Papers of the Red Army: Political and Internal Intelligence Reports, 1918-1921
- The Papers of the White Army, 1918-1921
- Russian Peasantry on the Eve of Collectivization: The Dynamic (Cluster) Censuses of Peasant Farms in the 1920s
- Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905: From the Military Science Archive at the Russian State Military History Archive
- Soviet Censuses of 1937 and 1939
- Soviet Genetics
- Voice of the People Under Soviet Rule: From the People’s Archive of Moscow
- IDC Comintern Archive – congresses and plenums. The project is described by IDC as follows: “The Comintern archive collection comprises the thousands of documents of the seven congresses of the Comintern and the thirteen plenums of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI), together with materials from the associated preparatory and working commissions. They include transcripts and minutes of meetings, with individual presentations and general discussions and debate, materials presented by the leadership and those arising from the floor, theses, lists of delegates, mandates (credentials), questionnaires filled out by delegates, appeals, open letters, and a wealth of other documents.” The company makes note of the fact that while there are published versions of the records of the congresses, they were heavily censored, making the microfilm a uniquely valuable resource. URL: http://www.brill.com/comintern-archives
- Library of Congress Soviet Archives Exhibit. This exhibit represented the new openness in the Soviet Union. It was one of the first display of what had been secret internal records. Here these records are reproduced in digital form and accompanying translated copy. There is also a published source edited by Diane Koenker entitled Revelations from the Russian archives: documents in English translation. U of I Library Call Number: DOC.LC1.2:R32. The book is shelved with the documents collection. URL: http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/soviet.archive.html
Multi-archive directories and guides (“interarchival directories”).
Starting point for this category of material are the general guides to multiple archives (“interarchival directories”). The single most important body of work of this sort is that of Pat Grimsted. Grimsted is working in close collaboration with the Russian archives and Rosarkhiv. Keep in mind that her newer works do not entirely supercede the older volumes.
- Archives of Russia: A Directory and Bibliographic Guide to Holdings in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, English Language Edition (Armonk: Sharpe Publishers, 2000). 2 vols. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.00254731 Ar481, v. 1-2
- Arkhivy Rossii: Moskva i Sankt-Peterburg. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, (Moscow 1997) – the older Russian edition. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.00254731 Ar48. Note: Copy 2: 027.00254731 AR48.
This brief entry from the table of contents gives some idea of the subject organization in Professor Grimsted’s guide. The section shown above describes the contents of a part of the first section of the guide which is devoted to general bibliographic resources to the literature on archives and manuscripts. A typical entry for this section is show below. This entry was taken from the section on “Sources on the history of education” (highlighted above).
These volumes are based on Grimsted’s database, ArcheoBiblioBase, which is partially available online, in English at www.iisg.nl/~abb/.
The entry on GARF, available at the online site as well as in the published volumes, will provide the user with a variety of information such as name changes, access to materials, working conditions, library facilities and finding aids. There is also a brief history of the archive and its collection. The image below is reproduced from the database to give the scholar and idea of what kind of information can be found at this site.
Some older works that still are especially important are those that covered the rest of the former USSR:
- Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the USSR: Moscow and Leningrad. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972. SUPPLEMENT 1: Bibliographical Addenda. Zug, Switzerland: IDC, 1976. 203 p. “Bibliotheca Slavica,”9. [IDC-R-11,333]. Now significantly outdated, especially as regards the new names for many institutions, but still useful for basic notes on holdings and comprehensive bibliography of earlier published specialized finding aids. The 1976 Supplement extends the bibliographic coverage and provides a correlation table for the IDC microfiche editions of all of the finding aids listed in both volumes. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 025.171 G88a. Note: Multiple Copies.
- Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the USSR: Estonia, Latvia,Lithuania, and Belorussia. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981. Now significantly outdated, especially with the new names for many institutions, but still useful for basic data on the history and holdings and for comprehensive bibliography of earlier published general literature and specialized finding aids. This is an important resource for basic information such as archival terminology, and legal history of the archives. The entry shown below gives some idea of the content of this source. However, it is a short entry and many if not most of the entries are far more extensive than the one shown here. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Baltic Reference (Slavic) 025.171 G88ar. Note: Multiple Copies.
- Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the USSR: Ukraine and Moldavia. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, Book 1: General Bibliography and Institutional Directory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Now outdated by the new names for many institutions and extensive declassification, but still provides basic data on the history and holdings and a comprehensive bibliography of earlier reference literature, including general reference aids. The appendixes in this volume as in all of Grimsted’s works hold a wealth of information on archival organization, terminology, access, finding aids. The example below gives some small notion of the information that can be gleaned from this source but it is one of the briefest entries. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Ukraine/Belarus Reference (Slavic) 016.94771 G884a. Note: Copy 2: Oak Street Facility.
- Handbook for Archival Research in the USSR. Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy, Washington, DC, 1989 (IREX). This source includes references to guides for many of the regional archives. It is also very helpful to identify updates for the Ukrainian, Moldovan and Baltic publications. It is one of the few sources of information on regional archives and their finding aids. This guide was written to meet the needs of researchers working during the Soviet period but it is still valuable. There is a great deal of information on the nature of archival research with a special section devoted to archival research in libraries. The entry below is taken from the section on “State Archives of the Non-Russian Union Republics and their Published Guides”. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.047G884h
Grimsted’s works also list guides to archival materials on particular themes. The indexes to her published guides can be helpful in identifying materials on particular subjects. For example, in her Arkhivy Rossii (Moscow, 1997), a detailed thematic table of contents serves this purpose. The detailed information in the bibliographic entries in this source, as in all her publications, are also very helpful in guiding the researcher.
In addition to Grimsted’s works – which I still recommend as the starting place – there are a number of Russian multi-archive guides and directories (typically called spravochniki) and some, largely new, online sites. Most of the published works are listed in Grimsted’s guides.
- Arkhivnye dokumenty v bibliotekakh i muzeiakh Rossiiskoi Federatsii. Spravochnik. Vserossiiskii Nauchno-issledovatel’skii Institut Dokumentovedeniia i Arkhivnogo Dela.Moscow: “Zvenia”. 2003. This guide is part of the broader program of the Russian Federal Archival Administration to produce guides to the major archives of the country. The archives of 374 museums and 55 libraries under the Ministry of Culture are described in this volume. The material is organized alphabetically by administrative-territorial units of the Russian Federation. Each section begins with a description of the the regional library, followed by descriptions of the various museums collections. Library and museum collections that are not administered by the Ministry of Culture are not included in this volume.As can be seen from the entry below, the guide provides a brief history of the archive, an overview of the collection and highlights important materials in the collection. Each entry also includes essential contact information, including the location of the archive and the telephone numbers. The size of the archival collection is also listed. Entries for museum collections include citations to published finding aids. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.047 Ar486.
- Dokumenty GAF (Gosudarstvennogo arkhivnogo fonda) SSSR v muzeiakh, bibliotekakh i nauchno-otraslevykh arkhivakh: Spravochnik. Moscow: “Mysl’”, 1991. When looking for those sources that fall outside the federal archives and beyond the confines of Moscow or Petersburg, this can be a useful source. While Grimsted’s Handbook is essential for identifying the regional federal sources, this guide will help the scholar trying to identify the specialized resources of the smaller archives. Entries include contact information which will obviously be out of date. There is also a historical overview of the archive. In those cases where published guides are available, they have been cited. The image below is one of the shorter entries but will give some idea of the type of information to be found in this guide. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.047 D685.
- Gosudarstvennye arkhivy SSSR. Spravochnik. Moscow: “Mysl”, 1989. v.1-2. While out of date, this is still a useful source for an overview on the regional archives and their published guides. The entries on each of the archives is extensive with detail on the collection and the historical changes to the archive up to the date of publication. The guide is organized into sections. The Central State Archives of the USSR, state archives of the RSFSR, and state archives of the Ukraine are all in the first volume. The second volume has sections devoted to the archives of Belarus, the Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Georgian SSR, Azeri SSR, Lithuanian SSR, Latvian SSR, Kirziz SSR, Moldovan SSR, Tadzhik SSR, Armenian SSR, Turkmen SSR, and Estonian SSR. The second volume includes a list of “interarchival” guides for the USSR. The image below shows the type of introductory information provided for each archive. The full entries for each item are often many pages with detailed information on the archives holdings. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.047 G699.
- Gosudarstvennye arkhivy RSFSR. Spravochnik putevoditel’. Moscow: “Sovetskaia Rossiia”, 1980. One of the older guides to the state archives in the RSFSR. The descriptions are very detailed, including bibliographies of the published guides. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 947 G699 1986. Note: Copy 2: Oak Street Facility.
- The Russian Empire and Soviet Union. A guide to manuscripts and archival materials in the United States. Grant, Steven A. and John H. Brown, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co.. 1981. This is the only general source for collections of Russian materials in the United States. Thus, although it is dated it can be very valuable and should not be overlooked. The guide is organized by state and then institution. There is a general index and an index of repositories to assist in access. The descriptions are brief but helpful in determining the extent of information available at any one institution. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 016.025167120947 G767R. This resource is also available as a fully-searchable electronic database: The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States. Note: Multiple copies.
- Spravochnik nauchnogo rabotnika: Arkhivy, dokumenty, issledovatel’. IU. M. Grossman and V. N. Kutik, L’vov: Izd-vo pri L’vovskom gos. universitete izdatel’skogo ob”edineniia “Vyshcha shkola”, 1983. Grossman’s guide provides a good outline of the Soviet archival structure. The guide is divided into sections by type of archive: major archives, library archives, manuscript division of museums, foreign archives, and a general discussion on the organization and preparation for archival research. The bibliography listing archival guides is included at the end of the volume. This makes the volume slightly difficult to manage. In the entry pictured below the numbers in the square brackets refer to guides listed in the bibliography. U of I Library Call Number: Oak Street Facility Q.947 G9148S1989.
- Fedaralnye arkhivy Rossii i ikh nauchnyi-spravochnyi apparat: Kratkii spravochnik. V. Kozlov, ed., Moscow, 1994. This brief guide describes just the federal depositories. The entry below will give the scholar some idea of the information that can be found in this guide. U of I Library Call Number: History, Philosophy & Newspaper Film 027.0947 N499f.
Federal’nye arkhivy Rossii i ikh nauchno-spravochnyi apparat. pp. 122-123
- Tsentral’nye arkhivy Moskvy. Putevoditel’ po fondam. V.1-5. Moskovskoe Gorodskoe Ob’edinenie Arkhivov, Moscow: “Mosgorarkhiv”, 1999-. This is an excellent guide to the archives of Moscow and includes materials in the following archives: Tsentral’nyi arkhiv dokumental’nykh kollektsii Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi arkhiv nauchno-tekhnicheskoi documentatsii Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi arkhiv obshchestvennykh dvizhenii Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv g. Moskvy, Tsentral”nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv kinofotodokumentov g. Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii i sotsialisticheskogo stroitel’stva g. Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi gosudarstvennyi istoicheskii arkhiv g. Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi istoricheskii arkhiv g. Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi Moskovskii arkhiv dokumentov na spetsial’nykh nositeliakh, Tsentral’nyi munitsipal’nyi arkhiv Moskvy. Each volume is devoted to a broad set of topics. The first volume covered city administration and governmental organs. Volume two focused on statistics, finance and other economic issues. The third volume covers social issues such as public health, education, sports, culture, social security. Volume four is devoted to topics on transportation, communication, construction. Volumes five and six will cover social organizations and industry, respectively. The entry below will give some idea of the information available in this source. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.04731 T787.
- Arkhivy Rossii – While somewhat difficult to navigate, there is an enormous amount of information on Russian archives at this site. It is a good idea to begin with the site map to familiarize yourself with the resources here and the structure of the site.
The screen shot above indicates just a few of the categories of material that can be found at this site. Besides the general archival information that is available here there are full texts of archival guides.
Sample entry from the guide to the Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Sotsiol’no-Politicheskoi Istorii.
- State Archive Committee of Ukraine – Each entry under the heading “Arkhivy v Ukrainy” has a section on the history, collections, organization and literature on the archive. The list of published sources is extremely thorough and helps to update Grimsted’s earlier published guide on the region.
- Archives of Belarus – Clicking on “Arkhivy” will bring the researcher to a list of archives in this region. Profiles are provided for each with descriptions of holdings of such categories of material as personal archives, the history of the archive, and all contact information. Internal finding aids are also described. However, published finding aids are not mentioned. Thus, for the Belaruski Dziarzhauny Arkhiu-Muzei Litaratury i Mastatsva, the 1997 published guide is not listed on the website.
- Museums of Russia – For current information on hours, addresses, phone/fax numbers, email addresses and website addresses, this is a very helpful site. The information on the archival holdings is quite sparse but can provide clues in cases where materials are especially difficult to locate.
Guides to personal fondy
Thematic/subject guides- new publications of this type are coming out all the time. Again, Grimsted’s guides can be the best guide to this material.
Katalog lichnykh arkhivnykh fondov otechestvennykh istorikov. Afiani, V. IU., Moskva : Editorial URSS, 2001-. Entries in this catalog are arranged alphabetically. Most of the entries are quite extensive with detailed biographical and bibliographical data included. The personal archival holdings are listed for each archive. A name index is included at the end of the volume to assist the scholar in locating information. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 016.9470099 Af41k.
Katalog lichnykh arkhivnykh fondov otechestvennykh istorikov. pp. 64-65
Lichnye arkhivnye fondy v gosudarstvennykh khranilishchakh SSSR. Moscow: 1962-63, 1980. V.1-3. This is one of the older general guides to personal archives, but still a good starting point when you are trying to identify all possible archival holdings. It must be used in conjunction with Grimsted’s later books to obtain current information on the archives name and any significant changes that might have taken place in the archives holdings. The entries in the catalog are brief with basic biographical data supplied and archival citations as can be seen in the citation on the left. U of I Library Call Number: Oak Street 025.171 R969L. Note: Multiple copies.
- Admiraly i generaly voenno-morskogo flota SSSR v period velikoi otechestvennoi i sovetsko-iaponskoi voin (1941-1945). Lur’e, V. M., Spb.:”BLITS”. 2001. This biographical guide is an excellent source for archival holdings on military figures of the second world war and the Soviet-Japanese war. The alphabetically arranged guide lists some 378 individuals who reached the rank of general between 1940 and 1945. The names listed here were drawn from the ranks of military figures, military judges, counterespionage operatives, doctors and others appointed during the war.The entries are lengthy. The one shown at the left is one of the shorter biographies in the source. An outline of the person’s career and accomplishments figures prominently in the guide. There is also information on the activities of the individual after the war. Each entry inlcudes a reference to obituaries, published sources and archival materials. The archival sources are very detailed. This is typical of the bio-biliographical sources produced in recent years that can serve as an interarchival guide on a specific topic.The guide includes a number of special features. A number of supplementary sections are of interest. The first is a chronological listing of the awarding of military titles to those individuals listed in the volume. The next lists the “Heroes of the Soviet Union” and “Heroes of the Socialist Struggle”. The third provides information on academic titles of various military figures. Professors in the sciences and technology are included in a fourth supplement. Cavalry and naval officers are organized by division in the fifth supplement, while winners of the Lennin and Stalin prizes are listed in the final supplement.The guide was compiled with the resources of the Tsentral’nyi Voenno-Morskoi Arkhiv. It is an excellent example of how a biographical source can be used to identify archival materials. This type of source is becoming more prevalent. The researcher seeking archival sources may find this type of resource will assist in the location of materials, when current or comprehensive archival guides are lacking. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) Q.940.545947 L966a.
Putevoditel’ po fondam i kollektsiam lichnogo proiskhozhdeniia. Moscow: Rossiiskii tsentr khraneniia i izucheniia dokumentov noveishei istorii. 1996. This is an example of one of the more recent guides to personal archives. This guide only includes documents from one archive The entries include very detailed information on the contents of the archives. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.147 P982.
Putevoditel’ po fondam Otdela rukopisei Instituta mirovoi literatury RAN. Vyp.I Lichnye fondy. Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk, Institut mirovoi literatury im . A. M. Gorkogo. Moscow: IMLI RAN “Nasledie.” 2000. This guide contains descriptions for the personal archives of 527 literary figures. Obviously, the individuals included here are of siginificance primarily for those in literature. The volume includes some quite detailed descriptions of the fondy and a lengthy index of names. The name index makes the guide very useful when tracking obscure materials, assisting in the location of materials that are not the central part of a collection but are contained in the fondy of another individual. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 091.094731 In7P.
Russkie pisateli 1800-1917: Biograficheskii slovar. v. 1 – 5. Moscow, 1989-. This is an excellent resource for anyone working on the nineteenth century. As can be seen from the entry below, there is extensive biographical and bibliographical information in the entries along with the archival data. Each entry ends with archival information as can be seen in the example below. The encyclopedia is limited to literary figures and those in the publishing arena. There are no separate entries for journals, for example, although they are often listed under the editors names. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 891.70922 R921. Note: Additional Copy in Main Stacks.
Russkie Pisateli 1800-1917: biograficheskii slovar. V. 1., p. 291
Gosudarstvennye deiateli Rossiiskoi Imperii. 1802-1917 Biobibliograficheskii spravochnik. Shilov, D. N., S.-Peterburg: “Dmitrii Bulanin”, 2001. This is an excellent example of the type of source that is easily overlooked when one is looking for archival material. There is no indication in the title that archival resources are to be found in this source and yet nearly every entry will include citations to archival resources, not listed separately, but included in the list of literature. This is the second edition of this resource and it points out the need to be aware of the variety of resources that can be of use to the researcher when seeking archival holdings. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 947.0099 Sh62g.
Tsentral’nye arkhivy Moskvy. Putevoditel’ po fondam lichnogo proiskhozhdeniia. Moscow: “Mosgorarkhiv,” 1998. This guide complements the multi-volume set Tsentral’nye arkhivy Moskvy putevoditel’ po fondam. It includes the personal archival materials from the Tsentralnyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv Moskvy, Tsentral’nyi Arkhiv Dokumental’nykh Kollektsii Moskvy and the Tsentral’nyi Arkhiv Obshchestvennykh Dvizhenii Moskvy. The guide is organized by archive. Within the sections on the archives the entries are organized alphabetically. Each entry includes a summary of archival holdings, brief biographical data and a description of the archival holdings. The guide also includes a list of the documents in each of the archives by fond number (see above). A geographic and personal name index are also included. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.14731 T7878.
- Vospominaniia i dnevniki XVIII-XX vv. Ukazatel’ rukopisei. Moscow: Izd. “Kniga.” 1976. This one volume work compliments Zaionchkovskii’s multi-volume collection of published sources of memoir and diary literature. This guide lists the holdings of memoir and diary resources in the archive of the Russian State Library. The entires are arranged alphabetically by the name of the subject of the memoir or diary. Entries often include multiple entries for an individual.Each entry begins with a brief biographical note on the individual under discussion. This is followed by a fairly detailed description of the source. Along with all information identifying the document in the collection (i.e., the fond number and delo) the description of the source briefly describes the kind of material in the memoir or diary, the period it spans, significant events that are described, illustrations included in the archive, and the number of pages in the source.The guide is extremely easy to use as it includes a subject index, index of periodical publications, geographic index and indes of memoirs by period (e.g., prerevolutionary, period, Soviet period) and an index organized by profession. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 016.920047 M85v.
- Lichnye arkhivnye fondy: spravochnik. Kachalina, G. I., Spb.: Gosudarstvennyi Ermitazh, 1992. This guide continues the description of the personal archives of the Hermitage begun in 1988. In that intial publication, the descriptions of personal archives at the Hermitage were limited to those materials concerned with the history of the Hermitage. This guide, although very brief focuses on those artists, historians, archeologists and art historians whose activities were connected with the development of the museum.The entries provide information on the careers of the scholars as well as describing in brief the archives holdings. (Click on the image at the left to see a sample entry.) The sample entry here appears on p.7 of the guide it includes information on holdings in other archives on these individuals, thus serving as a multi-archive directory for the limited number of individuals listed here. It is included here as an example of the type of publication museums are issuing that can be of great importance for researchers. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 708.4753 L617.
Encyclopedias or other reference works with archival sources.
The list below is meant to give some selective examples of this type of source and is in no way comprehensive. A wide variety of new resources have been published recently, many organized by subject. A number of these are “interarchival” resources as they will lead the scholar to materials in a number of repositories. The Muzykal’nyi Peterburg. Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ XVIII veka is a good example of such a source.
Istoriia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v dokumentakh regional’nykh arkhivov Rossii. Moscow: Izd. Novospasskogo Monastyria. 1993. Organized by archive, this guide is one of several that have appeared recently on religious topics. It is somewhat difficult to use as it lacks a general index. It does include a list of the “bishoprics” (eparkhii) of the Russian Orthodox Church as of 1912. Under each entry are a list of the fondy in the archive on the eparkhii with a description of the contents as can be seen in the example below. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 281.947 IS73.
Muzykal’nyi Peterburg. Entsiklopedicheskii Slovar’. Sankt-Peterburg: Izd. “Kompozitor.” 1996. This encyclopedia is one of the scholarly encyclopedias focusing on particular subjects. The entries in these volumes are all signed with bibliographies and archival listings. The encyclopedia includes entries on vocal music, educational institutions, ballet, or in general, any topic or individual of interest to those researching music in St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 780.94721 M988.
- Politicheskie partii Rossii konets XIX – pervaia tret’ XX veka. Entsiklopediia. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1996.This is an extremely valuable reference source for its historical information on this important period in Russian history. There are entries for individuals, political organizations, political parties, and their publications. Each entry is signed, includes a bibliography and archival reference. The entry shown below is one of the briefer entries.The encyclopedia is organized along traditional lines with an general alphabetical arrangement for entries. The volume includes a summary chart with basic information on all political parties and organizations of the period. There are also charts listing the leading figures in some of the more significant organizations of the time. A final section of supplementary material lists the periodical publications of the of the political parties of Russia in 1917.The volume is also illustrated with numerous photographs of some of the more important figures of the time. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 324.24703 P759.
Putevoditel’ po nauchnym obshchestvam Rossii. Komarova, I. I., New York: Norman Ross Publishing. 2000. This is a truly remarkably resource. This volume is the life’s work of one Russian scholar who has created an invaluable guide to the scholarly societies of pre-Revolutionary Russia. Each entry includes basic information on the publications of the society, its stated goal, its major activities, the leaders of the society, a bibliography of literature and references to all archival resources. The guide is arranged alphabetically by the names of the societies. The compiler has included a number of indexes: chronological, typological, geographic, name and periodical publications. There is also a substantial bibliography at the end of the volume. For anyone researching the pre-Revolutionary period this source contains a wealth of information on the intellectual and social activities of the time. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) Q. 067 P982.
Spravochnye izdaniia eparkhii Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi 1861-1915. Svodnyi katalog i ukazatel’ soderzhaniia. Razdorskii, A. I., S-Peterburg: “Dmitrii Bulanin,” 2002. This is a guide to the reference publications of the bishoprics of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is enormously useful as an index to the contents of these publications. It also guides the scholar to archival repositories with materials on the regional bishoprics. The guide is arranged by eparkhiia. It includes numerous indexes to aid the researcher: name index, title index, article title index, index of illustrations, portraits and maps, geographical index, index of monasteries, index of publishers, index of typographers, list of archives and libraries cited and consulted. There is also a list of statistical sources on the eparkhiia. The index of archives cited is interesting for locating archival resources on a topic for the citations are quite detailed as can be seen in the example below. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 016.281947 R219s.
Putevoditeli (guides) to individual archives
These are, perhaps, the most essential resources once you have used the general guides and identified the likely archives. You will be able to find the titles of the individual guides in the general resources listed above, especially Grimsted’s books. Be aware that the Putevoditeli are increasingly available online.
These guides are not always easy to obtain. They tend to be housed in the larger library collections. The University of Illinois has one of the best collections. Many older guides are available on microfilm through the IDC project. Directories are also important in identifying the appropriate Putevoditeli.
Some guides are only available in Russia especially those with small print runs, previously secret or new. There are many new publications and some very interesting collaborative projects. The “Russian Archive Series” is one of the most important of the new series. This series was published by the University of Pittsburgh in cooperation with the archives in Russia, GARF, RGAE, TsGADA, RTsKhIDNI. Another category of special publications is the “osobye papki.”
For lists of individual guides please refer to Grimsted’s works and the website Arkhivy Rossii. The materials in this section are provided to introduce the scholar to the types of information available in this type of archival resource or to other types of finding aids that assist in the identification of individual guides.
Note: Very often older publications will still be needed as guides to the archives today. It is very important to keep in mind all name changes when using these sources.
The main information you will find in the Putevoditeli include:
- Major fond numbers
- General descriptions of material in fond (years; provenance; subject matter; number of dela)
Microfiche collections of published finding aids and reference literature:
- Archives and Manuscript Collections in the USSR: Finding Aids on Microfiche. These are annotated catalogues listing microfiche reprint editions of archival guides, catalogues, and other reference aids, coordinated with listings in the Grimsted directories.
- Series 1: Moscow and Leningrad, ed. P. K. Grimsted (Zug, Switzerland: IDC, 1976)
- Series 2: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belorussia, ed. Grimsted (Zug, Switzerland: IDC, 1981)
- Series 3: Soviet Ukraine and Moldavia, ed. Grimsted (Leiden; IDC, 1989)
- Putevoditel’. Tom 1-5. Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii. Moscow: Izd. “Blagovest”. Sample entries are given below to demonstrate the type of information available in these guides. This is one in the series issued through the Russian Archives Project. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 016.947 G6992p.
Putevoditel’. Tom I. Fondy Gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Rossisskoi Federatsii po istorii Rossii XIX-nachala XX vv., p. 278-279.
- Tsentral’nyi Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Sankt-Peterburga. Putevoditel’ v dvukh tomakh. Dering, N. I., T. S. Koniukhova, O. IU. Nezhdanova. Moscow: “Zven’ia.” 2002. This detailed guide is an excellent resource for those interested in the Soviet period in St. Petersburg. The two volume set is organized by topic beginning with government, economics, socio-cultural materials, administrative-political organizations, law, personal archives, collections and a list of unannotated fondy. Each entry begins with a brief history of the organization or institution involved. In the section on personal archives each description begins with a short biography. The annotation then continues with a fairly detailed description of the contents of the archive. Each entry also includes information ont he size of the fond, the number of documents. Some of the entries can be very lengthy. The entry shown below from volume two (p. 486) is very brief.The guide also includes a number of supplementary articles beginning with a list of fondy acquired in the archive from 1998-2001. There is also a brief history of the city and administration from 1917-2001. Also included are a guide to the history of the government, a list of the heads of the city’s executive committee and the regional executive committee during the Soviet Period. A list of all the fondy in the archive, a name index and a bibliography conclude the volume. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.04721 T787.
- Peterburg v epokhu Petra I. Dokumenty v fondakh i kollektsiiakh Nauchno-istoricheskogo arkhiva Sankt-Peterburgskogo instituta istorii. Katalog. Ch. I. Spb.:Nauka. 2003. Pictured below is an entry from a recent guide to the St. Petersburg Institute of History Archive. The materials described in this guide form a picture of life in the early years of the city’s formation, during the first quarter of the 18th century. The materials included in the guide describe all facets of life in the city from the manners of the time to the architecture of the newly constructed city, from its industry to its social life. Arranged chronologically, the descriptions of the documents are also accessible through the name, geographic and thematic indexes included in the volume. In all, some 3,952 documents from 18 fondy and 32 collections are described in the guide. Each entry begins with the date of the materials in the fond, a description of the document and the names of the individuals who either created the document or are of importance for its subject matter. Notes on the document follow. In the example below it is noted that the documents are copies of the originals from the end of the 19th century. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 947.21 P442 V.1
Peterburg v epokhu Petra I. Ch. I, p. 252
- Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Novosibirskoi oblasti: putevoditel’. Vyshatko, N. N.; O. K. Kavtsevich; R. K. Sukhanova. Moscow: “Zven’ia”. 2002. Another in the series entitled Arkhivy Rossii. Putevoditeli This volume continues the detailed descriptions of the archive that can be found in other titles in this series. The guide to the Novosibirsk archive is divided into a brief pre-revolutionary section, a section on the fondy of the Soviet period and a section devoted to materials on the Communist Party and the Komsomol. The guide also contains a list of photographic materials available in the archive. The supplementary materials include a list of the first secretaries of the Novosibirsk communist party and a guide to the history of the administrative and political history of the region from the 18th century to the end of the 20th century. One of the most useful indexes in the guide is a list of the fondy that have been transferred to other archives and their present locations. There is also a list of materials acquired between 1999 and 2001. A name index is also included. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.0573 G699.
- Spravochnik po fondam Tsentral’nogo gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Moskovskoi oblasti. Moscow: TSGAMO. 2004. This guide is organized as many of the traditional guides to the Russian/Soviet archives have been in the past. The fondy are arranged topically. A listing of personal archives is reserved for the final section of the volume. An index of societies, organizations and institutions is included. The entry below is typical of the information found in this guide. The name of the fond, its number and size of the depository initiate the entries. A brief description of the contents follows. U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 027.47312 Sp762.
Spravochnik po fondam Tsentral’nogo gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Moskovskoi Oblasti. p. 291
Opisi (registers or inventories)
Finally we come to the very important opisi (registers or inventories) — lower-level divisions of archival materials. These contain an enormous amount of information on the contents of the archives. Most opisi will have to be used in the archives. Even when you are in Russia these can only be used once you have registered to work in a particular archive
Before 1991, these resources were not available at all. Some archives still maintain restrictions on the use of opisi. Others don’t have such resources. In any case, they were never designed for public use. There have been a number of recent projects to make the opisi available in the West. The most notable of these are:
- Chadwyck-Healy/Hoover Project – filming all the fondy in the following archives:
- State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)
- Centre for the Preservation of Contemporary Documentation (TsKhSD/RGANI)
Rosarkhiv announced in 1992 its intention to produce films of opisi and catalogs.
Hoover’s Russian Collections are an excellent example of the extensive archival resources available outside of Russia. Their website includes a very good guide to the contents of the collection.
The material below is intended to introduce the scholar to the kind of information they can expect to find in the opisi. It is taken from the microfilm copy of the opisi of the Communist Party Archives housed in the Slavic Library at the University of Illinois.
There are numerous guides that describe archival materials at the opis level. Here we will list a few of the more recent publications, electronic and traditional in this category.
- Otdel kultury TSK KPSS. 1953-1966: Spravochnik (Annotirovannye opisi). M.: “Rossiiskaia politicheskaia entsiklopediia”(ROSSPEN), 2004. 296p. This guide describes the opisi of the Communist Party that related to discussions of culture in the years 1953-1966, immediately following Stalin’s death. It is traditionally organized, i.e., it is arranged by opis number. There are name, geographic and organizational indexes to assist the scholar. There is also an index of literary and artistic works. Thus the scholar can search under “Odin den’ Ivana Denisovicha” and find references such as the one pictured below. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 026.947 Ot2.
- Communist International (Comintern) Archives Project. URL: http://www.loc.gov/rr/european/comintern/comintern-home.html
- Hoover Institution Archives. Hoover does supply some excellent finding aids at its website. The image below is an example of the type of information in the finding aids one can expect to find at this site. URL: http://www.hoover.org/library-archives/about/news/finding-aids
- Popechitel’nyi Komitet ob inostrannykh poselenthakh IUzhnogo kraia Rossii 1799-1876: Annotirovannaia opis del… V.1- . Konovalova, O. V., Odessa: OKFA; izdatel’stvo “TES”. 1998-. This multi-volume set describes the opisi in fondy of the Odessa Regional Government Archive that relate to the settlement of emigres in the southern regions of Russia. These materials will be of interest to those studying the Imperial government’s policies on immigration as well as those interested in the history of the region and individuals trying to identify genealogical information. . The detailed entries include the date, or as near to it as possible, that the material was created. Information on the numerical identification given the opis and list are included along with the title of the document and a description of its contents. Included in this description is the name or names of the documents author. Any variants of the family name available are also included. The annotation shown below gives a good idea of the kind of information the researcher can obtain from this source. Each volume includes supplementary data, primarily statistical and a name and ethno-geographic index. U of I Library Call Number: International and Area Studies Russian Reference (Slavic) 947.7 P812 V.1-5.
Popechitel’nyi Komitet ob inostrannykh poselentsakh IUzhnogo kraia Rossii 1799-1876. T. 5, p. 260
A final note on finding aids. There are a number of unpublished sources available only in Russia, often as part of an archive’s reference facilities. For example, in GARF there was for many years a very important unpublished guide to recently declassified fondy. This is only available in the archive and is not mentioned by Grimsted. In RGALI, there is a very useful cross-reference catalog in the basement of the archive. RGANI is beginning to digitize many of its documents, a trend that is becoming more and more widespread. Many archives are now working on electronic opisi. At present there is only one important guide to such materials: V. Kozlov (ed.) Federalnye arkhivy Rossii i ikh nauchnyi spravochnyi apparat: Kratkii spravochnik.(Moscow, 1994). This work describes the internal reference facilities in the archives, including unpublished finding aids. Many of these unpublished sources are now listed at Arkhivy Rossii under the individual archives.
A. A few conceptual issues first.
There are vast quantities of archival materials touching on virtually any topic. Unlike in the past, most of these are now accessible. While that means that archives are truly a treasure-house, they can also be a labyrinth and a swamp. For the researcher, this means two things:
You must be judicious in what you actually look at. Use finding aids to determine what is most valuable and sample selected dela to determine the worth of the material.
Don’t be seduced by the idea of archives. Published primary sources can be an equally rich source. This is especially true now that spetskhrany have been opened. Of special value are newspapers, magazines and journals which are often available in the West.
B. A few final practical issues.
a) Access. Grimsted’s guides and the Arkhivy Rossii website are good starting points to find out if an archive is open to foreigners. The situation is still in flux especially with regard to security archives and the archives of the Comintern. A related problem to keep in mind: archives are often closed for technical reasons. It is important to be aware of any such closures when planning a research trip.
b) You need permission to work in a chosen archive. Some funding programs will provide you with both visas and permissions. More commonly, you have to obtain affiliation with a Russian academic institution, which will provide you with a letter (pis’mo otnoshenii, addressed to the director of the archive). It is also possible, though not preferable, to use a letter from an American institution. Such a letter must be on the institution’s letterhead and in Russian. Sample letter requesting access to the archives:
NOTE: In any case, be sure to have a passport and visa. Photocopies of these documents are generally acceptable and essential to have along during your time of registration.
c) How to communicate with the archive. Letters can be tried, however, they are rarely received and never answered. E-mail or fax are better options. Even these are rarely answered. E-mail and fax numbers for individual archives can be found in Grimsted and at Arkhivy Rossii.
d) Before arriving at the archive it is useful to have certain pieces of information. You will need directions to the archive (available in Grimsted, on web sites or you can call the reading room of the archive). The scheduled hours that the archive operates is clearly essential and can be obtained from Grimsted. However, these change frequently and will need to be checked. Find out if there are any scheduled closings for holidays or sanitarnye dni by calling the archive. There are August holidays that you will need to keep in mind. Try to identify any general closures (e.g., RGIA).
e) Once in the archive, you will need to get direct permission from the archive to work there. In the larger state archives you will need a propusk. This will require your visa, passport and a letter of permission. In the smaller, less formal archives you will still need a letter to the director.
f) When you get to the archive’s reading room, get the basic information on the reading room’s operation from the sodtrudntsa/zaveduiushchii.
- Where are the opisi and how can you order them?
- How do you order dela? Are there limitations on their use? How long does it take for them to be delivered?
- What reference aids are available? After looking at those not available in the United States, find out if any newly published sources are available.
g) Start looking at opisi.
h) Even before you are finished, you may want to start ordering a first batch of dela. This will prevent any time wasted in delays in receiving material and limits on the number of dela per patron.
i) Lastly, a few words on getting help in the archives. Generally, in Russia, if you don’t ask the right question you won’t get the answer you need. Rarely, if ever, will anyone offer you help or advice. So be sure to ask. Many archive professionals are highly knowledgeable and very helpful people (if asked). After you have spent a little time getting oriented and familiar with the types of materials available, ask for a consultation on your topic with a sotrudnik or sotrudnitsa in a certain area. Many of them are trained historians. They will often recommend fondy that you might not have thought of or which are still not listed in guides. This may also help you find your way into khranilishche (storage): seek consultation with the person in charge of storage of documents in the section you are using. Be sure to ask when you encounter problems finding materials, e.g. if an item is listed as “v pereplete” be sure to ask for it!
j) Be prepared!!
- Know how to find the documents you need.
- Know the reference sources.
- Know past researches on the topic.
- Archivists expect you to be able to demonstrate your knowledge of a topic. Be sensitive to their fears of “scandalous uses of the archives” (Kozlov’s words).
Be prepared to interpret the documents you find. Be familiar with published writings on the topic.
Perhaps most basic of all: be able to read relevant handwriting. One excellent source is O. E. Glagoleva, Working with Russian archival documents: a guide to modern handwriting, document forms, language patterns, and other related topic. Toronto: Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto. Some samples of handwriting: