Russian State Archive of Contemporary History
- Location and Contact Details
Address: 103132, Moscow, ul. Il’inka, 12, pod’ezd 8
This entrance is often closed. If it is the case at the time of your visit, don’t panic: go to the next entrance (the one to the ‘Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation’) and you will be able to reach the reading room through a passage between the two building (you will be guided by the archive personnel – see below for entry procedure). The entrances change roughly every week (i.e. one week it’s pod'ezd 8, the next one it's pod'ezd 6).
Metro: Kitai Gorod/ Ploshchad' Revoliutsii/ Lubyanka (If exiting at Kitai Gorod make sure you take the Il'inka exit, otherwise it's a long walk through Staraia ploshchad')
Phone: (499) 606-50-30
Archive director: Natalya Georgevna Tomilina
Deputy Director: Mikhail Yurevich Prozumenshchikov He is the best person to ask about obtaining a permit or for any other query. He speaks very good English and even replies to emails! Just write to the email@example.com address and address your message to him.
Chief Archivist: Larisa Aleksandrovna Firsova A very nice woman, she will generally be helpful about everything.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 0930-1700
(If you arrive at 0930 sharp the people in the archive are not likely to be extremely happy about it. At about 1630 they will start throwing you out of the building.)
- How to Register
You need to apply in advance in order to get a pass. Since the procedure can be long, we strongly advice applying well before you actually get to Moscow (one month in advance). You will have to provide a letter from your department with all your data and a rough description of what you would like to research, with as many official looking stamps and university logos as possible. The letter must be signed by somebody from your department. This should preferably be in Russian, although writing in English is possible but will probably result in massive delays in getting you authorised. You can send the letter by post (absolutely not recommended), by fax (the classic way) or even scanned copied by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ideally, give the archive a call to make sure you have been authorised before travelling. Once you reach whichever entrance is open on that particular day, you will have to call the reading room using a telephone situated in the lobby. The number to dial should be 8 495. In case this has changed, there should be a piece of paper somewhere near the telephone that lists all the internal numbers in the building, including the one for RGANI reading room. If this is not the case, try asking the guard at the entrance. When you call somebody from the reading room will answer and you have to tell them your name, and that you are waiting in the lobby. After a few minutes, somebody from the archive will come pick you up. At this point, the guard at the entrance will check your passport, check that your name is actually in the list of people authorised to enter the building, and will let you pass under the metal detector. No laptops, cameras, or any other electronic device (expect mobile phones) are allowed. The person from the archive will then lead you to the reading room.
- How to Order Material
Opisi arrive immediately on request. Order all files on the same trebovanie. When stating the name of the file, you need to give a specific description of what you are interested in, otherwise it won't be accepted. For example: "Spravka on the creation of new newspapers in Iaroslavl'" is fine, but "Spravki, letters, reports, and other documentation to the Central Committee of the Communist Party" is not. Look for what you would like in the opisi, and then fill the request form in and hand it in to Larisa Aleksandrovna or whoever else is at the desk. You will have to list on a register the files you have seen and sign. The average wait is two working days. You order on Tuesday and get the files on Thursday, order on Thursday (or Wednesday) and get it the next Tuesday. The maximum order is 5 dela. Although most of the materials in the archive are on roliki (microfilm), some are in hard-copy. However, you must remember that "roliki i dela nel'zia!", which means that you can't order both at the same time because it would blow everyone's mind.
- Reading Room Practices, General Hints and Tips
Most of the documents are on microfilm. The machines are old and manual, but they work well. No laptops are allowed. Buy a good notebook. No photographs are allowed. Buy a good pen. The reading room is generally comfortable. There is a very nice and cheap stolovaia in the building (ask the people in the reading room for directions). Just outside the building there is a Kofe Khaus, which is poor quality and expensive. Most of the very interesting collections have been re-classified. Even in the declassified collections some documents are still not accessible. This can be annoying as if one file in the rolik (the microfilm roll) is classified, you won't be able to request it, even if you couldn't care less about that particular file and you were interested in seeing something else in that rolik. Moreover, if you are interested in seeing a classified delo, you can try to order another delo on the same rolik that is not classified. If you are lucky, you will receive the rolik and you will able to see whatever you like on it. Obviously don't write on the register that you have looked at classified files. There is a guide to RGANI on LSE's 'archives made easy' website.
The archive is housed in building of the Party Central Committee. In the reading room, there are massive portraits of Marx and Lenin, and an elaborately painted ceiling. It's a great place to work. After you've finished work at the archive, why not top off a great day by doing some work at the Historical Library, which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the archive?
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