Using Archives & Libraries in the Former Soviet Union

This guide contains essential information on some of the main archives and specialist library collections in the former Soviet Union. The information is correct as of 2013 for many of the institutions listed (other entries were correct as of 2010), and has been compiled by researchers who have recently worked in these institutions. However, the reader should bear in mind that procedures and opening hours can change with little notice or anything approaching logic. 

We have included basic information for each institution such as website addresses, contact numbers and locations; we have also included more personal "insider" information, such as how to order documents and fill in forms, and where to have lunch. Issues peculiar (in both senses) to each archive are also covered at length to help you get to grips with each archive's idiosyncrasies.

There follows information on using archives and libraries: useful vocabulary and information about how former Soviet archives are organised. We have also included a sample letter, which you may wish to use when you register, and finally, notes on applying for a visa to study in Russia.

Samantha Sherry, Jonathan Waterlow, and Andy Willimott                                                


Information on Archives

  • Russian Archives Online offers information on most Russian archives
  • Archives in Russia
  • Researching Russian Roots has a list of Russian archives with addresses and telephone numbers as well as links to sites of archives
  • Архивы России is the official website Федеральной архивной службы России (Росархива) при поддержке Института "Открытое общество" ("Фонд Сороса") и Министерства Российской Федерации по делам печати, телерадиовещания и средств массовых коммуникаций 
  • HANDBOOK: M.J.Berry & M.J.Ilic, Using Russian Archives: An Informal Guide for Beginners , Univ. of Birmingham


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