The Russian State Archive of Literature and Art: A Guide

RGALI - image is a screen shot from a news report about the archive shown on Telekanal Kultura in Russia. Click here to watch the full report.

The Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (Российский государственный архив литературы и искусства) is Russia’s largest repository of materials on the history of Russian literature, music, theater, cinema, visual arts, and architecture. Founded in 1941 as the Central State Literary Archive, specialized fonds were transferred from the State Literary Museum, Central State Archive of the October Revolution, The State Historical Museum, The Central State Archive of Ancient Records, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and other archives.

RGALI, as it is often known even in English, has files on Russian culture and the various stages of the development of Russian literature, art, social thought, as well as on cross-cultural contacts between Russians and foreigners. Fonds include those from the central government in the field of culture as well as from theaters, film studios, specialized educational institutions, publishing houses, public organizations. Also available are personal fonds of writers, critics, artists, composers, theater and film workers and other collections of documents.

Overall Experience

Researchers report that RGALI has some of the most efficient administration of all Moscow archives. The reading room supervisor is helpful, including over email.

Prep Beforehand

RGALI has an on-line database with extensive information on its holdings.

To order materials from RGALI in advance, a scholar should send an email a week prior to his/her arrival, and attach official letter from institution to the email. The email should be as follows:

Здравствуйте, уважаемые специалисты Российского государственного архива литературы и искусства.

К Вам обращается (NAME, POSITION).

Я провожу исследование (NAME OF RESEARCH, PURPOSE).

В рамках этой работы я планирую приехать в Москву и заниматься исследованием документов в РГАЛИ (DATE) этого года.

Прилагаю официальное письмо от моего университета.

Обращаюсь с просьбой предоставить к моему приезду (ARRIVAL DATE) и приходу в РГАЛИ мне следующие документы:

Р5673 1: Name of file. Date of file

С уважением,

Getting a Propusk

Documents needed: Passport. A letter from the researcher’s institution. A passport photo.
Time: 10 minutes

RGALI has two reading rooms. Reading room number 1 is in the “main” building (not visible from the street, behind the building that houses the military archive), propusk should be obtained in reading room number 1; reading room number 2 is in the older of the military archive’s two buildings.

Institution letter template (should be on official letterhead):


Директору Российского государственного архива литературы и искусства Ольге Александровне Шашковой

Уважаемая Ольга Александровна,

Прошу Вашего разрешения на ознакомление с материалами архива (RESEARCHER’S NAME, TITLE, POSITION), в рамках темы (ее/его) исследования (RESEARCH NAME, PURPOSE (DISSERTATION, BOOK, ETC)).

С уважением,


Working the Archive

Working days between requesting delo and receipt: 3
Maximum delo that can be requested at one time: 5
Price for making photocopies: 30-40 rubles per page.
Copy from microfilm: 79 roubles per page
You may photograph documents with your phone (without flash!) for free.

Problems: if you hear of any, let us know.


Address: Vyborgskaya Street 3 korp. 2 (Vodny Stadion metro station).
Phone: (499) 159 76 85, (499) 159 73 81
Website: click here

Working hours:
Monday, Tuesday: 9:00-19:00,
Wednesday, Thursday: 9:00-17:00,
Friday: 9:00-15:00,
1st working day of each month – closed (sanitarny den).

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