Russian Archives under COVID

Russia’s archives have begun to reopen after being closed for COVID-19.

Most of those that have reopened are currently operating under special regimes. These often include alterations to the number of files (delo) that may be requested as well as special scheduling practices to limit the number of people in the reading room at any given time. In many, the price of photocopies or scans has risen.

On the plus side, many have opened online services to schedule reading room time and to request documents in advance, which can make the process more efficient. However, new prices mean that the process is often more expensive. Copies must generally be retrieved in person. Those unable to travel to Russia can contact SRAS for remote archive services.

Each archive has developed its own operational regime. Specific changes made since reopening have been listed below for each. All archives have notices posted that masks and gloves must be worn while inside.

 

AVPRI and AVP

The Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation and The Foreign Policy Archive of the Imperial Russia both remain closed and will likely remain so until mid-September or October.

 

GARF

Our full GARF guide can be found here. Below are recent changes to the archive’s functioning.

  1. Maximum number of delo: 10 (with an additional maximum of 750 sheets of management documentation or 250 sheets from personal archives)
  2. Scheduling practices: appointments must be made in advance via the GARF website. Reference numbers of the delo must be given when applying for a time slot.
  3. Ease of getting in: The number of slots is extremely limited. One might go to the GARF website for a few days in a row and see no slots, and then, if lucky, get a slot for a date three weeks later.
  4. Photography practices / copies, etc.: Visitors are not allowed to take photos of the documents. The price for ordering copies is either 48 rubles/frame “without improvement of quality” or 72 rubles/frame “with improvement of quality.”
  5. Special working hours: GARF is working in “shifts,” with one in the morning, followed by a “disinfection hour,” followed by a second shift. Time slots are contained within these shifts.

Current hours are as follows:

Monday, Wednesday: 11:00 – 14:00 and 15:00-18:00
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10:00 – 13:00 and 14:00-17:00
Friday: 10:00 – 16:00.
Closed on Saturday and Sunday and the last working day of each month (sanitarny den).

 

RGASPI

Our full RGASPI guide can be found here. Below are recent changes to the archive’s functioning.

  1. Number of delo: No restrictions
  2. Scheduling practices: To visit the RGASPI main reading room at Bolshaya Dmitrovka 15, you must come with an ID and a letter from university/research organization. To visit the reading room at Profsoyuznaya Street 52, a researcher must make an appointment by calling (495) 718-69-85
  3. Ease of getting slots: RGASPI main reading room at Bolshaya Dmitrovka 15 is generally open to all who come. We have not tested the room at Profsoyuznaya yet. If you have, let us know how your experience went by sending us an email.
  4. Photography practices / copies, etc: Visitors are allowed to take photos of the documents on a paid basis, after signing an official agreement with RGASPI. The price for photographing one page is 47 rubles for documents older than 1931 and 40 rubles per page for documents from 1931 and later. The price for scanning one page is 156 rubles for documents older than 1931 and 130 rubles for documents from 1931 and later.

 

RGALI

Our full RGALI guide can be found here. Below are recent changes to the archive’s functioning.

  1. Number of delo: No restrictions
  2. Scheduling practices: To visit RGALI reading room for microfilm, make an appointment by calling 8(499)156-69-52), to visit RGALI reading room for manuscripts, make an appointment by calling 8(499)159-75-13
  3. Ease of getting slots: Access to the microfilm room is usually available within a few days; appointments for the RGALI reading room for manuscripts are available about 10 days after calling for an appointment.
  4. Photography practices / copies, etc.:

Microfilm: Visitors are allowed to take photos only of the documents on microfilms, on a paid basis, after signing an official agreement with RGALI. The price for photographing one page from microfilm is 43 rubles for documents from before the 17th century, 34 rubles for documents from the 17th century to 1941, and 14 rubles for documents after 1941. Photographing paintings and graphics is more expensive – up to 391 rubles per page.

Hardcopy: For hardcopy documents, photocopying must be done by an RGALI employee. The price per page is 53 rubles for documents from the 17th and 18th centuries, 47 rubles for documents from the 19th century to 1930 and 40 rubles for documents later than 1930.

  1. Special working hours: RGALI is working in “shifts,” with one in the morning, followed by a “disinfection hour,” followed by a second shift. Time slots are contained within these shifts. Current hours are as follows:

Monday, Tuesday: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-19:00,
Wednesday, Thursday: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00,
Friday: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-15:00,
First working day of each month – closed (sanitarny den).

 

The Russian State Library

Our full State Library guide can be found here. Below are recent changes to the archive’s functioning.

  1. Number of delo: 3-7 documents (the permitted amount varies by department)
  2. Scheduling practices: Documents must be ordered in advance either via an online form or by calling +7 (499) 557-04-70 доб. 23-56. No paper requests for documents are accepted, as it was before when a researcher ordered documents after coming to the library and filled out paper request forms.
  3. Ease of getting in: One can come to the library any day without problem, after ordering the documents beforehand
  4. Photography practices / copies, etc.: Photographing documents is free, but the librarian must first grant you permission. Photocopies, if preferred, can be made starting from 7 rubles per page.

 

Those unable to travel to Russia can contact SRAS for remote archive services.

About the Author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life, Worldpress.org, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the "real Russia" which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an MA from St. Petersburg State in International Relations. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource. He additionally helps coordinate activities for our students in Moscow.

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad and Challenge Grant scholarship writing programs.