The Russian Archival

Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Research in Russian archives often feels like trying to walk blindfolded.

 

    First, in Russia with its all-permeating governmentalization of all public spheres, there is no such thing as a ‘national archive’: all major archives (and as well major libraries) are “gosudarstvennye,” that is belong to the Russian state, which means an exceptionally high level of government discretion in granting access to records. To make matters worse, in October 2004, the rather liberal archival regulation law from 1993 was superseded by a new law, which has tightened the government grip. Russia does not have anything like FOIA or anything like an “open records” notion: any declassification is entirely in the government domain. Despite a huge number of records declassified after 1991, many records from 1920s-1940s, not to say of the Cold War period, remain off-limit. To make matters worse, recent laws have severely limited access to investigative files from the Stalin era and to any kind of personal records (under the pretext of ‘privacy.’) Still, the declassification process continued in 2000s, with many important collections introduced into public domain.

 

    Second, Russian archival structure is rather complicated, with records dispersed among many archival depositories, which too often means the need of simultaneous research at several archival depositories.

 

    The third impediment is that there is no such thing as same day delivery of requested files: at best, the files are delivered on the next work day of the archive.

 

    The fourth factor, which slows the research process, are rather short reading room hours without any ‘late hours’ or Saturday research option; moreover, some of the archives are closed on one or more week days.

 

    Here is a list of the most frequently requested archives, their whereabouts, and their hours of operation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Rules

 

    Most archives (and all of the above listed) prohibit use of any equipment (scanner, photo and video cameras), except a laptop. The Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation prohibits even the use of a laptop.

 

    In the Russian archives, there is no such thing as a photocopy machine in the reading room (or anywhere within a researcher’s access): photocopies are made by the archival staff upon filing a request) with the standard waiting time from 10 days to a month (some archives, like RGASPI) provide express copies at higher rates. Some archives have higher rates for Russian researchers; AVP RF has stopped making paid copies, providing, instead, 25 pages per project free of charge (this plus a total ban on laptops means that researchers need to make handwritten notes, sometimes verbatim, which adds to research time.)

 

    Svetlana Chervonnaya chervonnaya.s@gmail.com

Archive-research.com

Archive-research.com

Archive-research.com

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Archive-research.com

State Archive of the Russian Federation (Государственный архив Российской Федерации commonly known as GARF = ГАРФ):

 

 

Reading Room No. 1 (history of the Russian Empire, 19th to 1917, history of the USSR and the Russian Federation):

 

Monday, Wednesday     12 PM – 8 PM

Tuesday, Thursday        10 AM – 6 PM

Friday                            10 AM – 4 PM

 

Reading room closed on the first week day of every month

 

Reading Room No. 2 (history of the RSFSR, Soviet Union’s largest republic):

 

Monday, Wednesday     10 AM – 5 PM

Tuesday, Thursday         1 PM – 8 PM

Friday                            10 AM – 4 PM

 

Reading room closed on the first week day of every month.

 

The number of files released on a single research day is limited to 10.

 

 

Russian Government Archive of Economic History (Российский государственный архив экономики known as RGAE = РГАЭ, housed in the same building with GARF – actually, in a part of the same reading room):

 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday   10 AM – 5 PM

Friday                                      10 AM – 4 PM

 

On any government holiday eve the reading room closes at 2 PM.

 

The number of files released on a single research day is limited.

 

 

Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (Российский государственный архив социально-политической истории also known as RGASPI = РГАСПИ):

 

Monday             12 PM –    8 PM (actually, 7:30 PM)

Wednesday       10 PM –    5:30 PM

Friday                9:30 PM  – 4 PM

 

On any government holiday eve the reading room closes at 2 PM.

 

The number of files released on a single research day is very limited.

 

 

Russian Government State Archive of Contemporary History (Российский государственный архив новейшей истории also known as RGANI = РГАНИ):

 

Tuesday – Thursday   9:30 AM – 5 PM

 

On any government holiday eve the reading room closes at 2 PM.

 

Since the archive is in the building complex of the Presidential Administration, it takes research permission, usually granted in a couple of weeks.

 

 

Russian State Military Archive (Российский государственный военный архив also known as RGVA = РГВА):

 

Monday – Thursday  10 AM – 5 PM

Friday                        10 AM – 4 PM

 

On any government holiday eve the reading room closes at 2 PM.

 

The archive is not centrally located as the previous.

 

 

Russian State Archive of Film and Photo Documents (Российского государственного архива кинофотодокументов also known as the RGAKFD = РГАКФД):

 

Monday – Thursday    9 AM – 5 PM

Friday                          9 AM – 4 PM

 

This archive is located in Krasnogorsk, a town to the north from Moscow, with an hour or more travel time.

 

 

Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (АРХИВ ВНЕШНЕЙ ПОЛИТИКИ РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ also known as the AVP RF = АВП РФ):

 

Monday – Thursday    10 AM – 5 PM

Friday                          10 AM – 2 PM

 

On any government holiday eve the reading room closes at 2 PM.

 

This archive is part of the Ministry of Foreign Policy of RF and requires research permit granted by one of the assistant ministers (the waiting period after filing an application is averagely a month.

 

The files from the central depository are usually brought to the reading room only once a week; files from the collections located in the same building with the reading room are released more expeditiously.