The Russian State Historical Archive: A Guide

RGIA Russian State Historical Archive Guide AssistanceRGIA: Russian State Historical Archive

The Russian State Historical Archive (RGIA; Российский государственный исторический архив) is the largest archive in Europe and one of the largest in the world, with some seven million items in storage. Its main focus is the history of the Russian Empire. RGIA is recognized by both the Russian state and UNESCO as a site of especial value to the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation.

Overall Experience

RGIA has several spacious reading rooms and Scientific Research Library at a convenient location near the Ladozhskaya Metro Station in the eastern part of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Russian State Historical Archive reading rooms offer individual places for working with archival originals, special tables for viewing graphic materials and large-format documents, modern computers to access the archive’s electronic catalog and for viewing scanned documents, and devices for working with microcopies. There is a separate small reading room for working with especially old and valuable documents.

There are about seven hundred freely accessible reference books: thematic lists, reviews of documents by departments, prefaces to inventories and reviews of documentary materials on funds, guidebooks to the funds of the RGIA and other state archives. Archive employees are available to assist with searches as well.

Prep Beforehand

RGIA Putevoditel is available on-line.

Procedures have been modified recently for safety in the current conditions of COVID-19.

  1. To access the reading room and the scientific reference library, a personal account must be set up on the archive site. Appointments for specific times are then made using this account. Appointments must be made on weekdays and no more than three appointments may be made per week.
  2. Users must wear a mask and gloves while on the archive premises. Antiseptic handwashing stations are available. Social distancing of at least 1.5 meters must be maintained in the archive. Open access books are issued only by the NSB staff.
  3. Temperatures are taken of all people entering the archive. Anyone with elevated body temperature or signs of an infectious disease is denied access.
  4. No rush copies of documents is allowed, temporarily.
  5. Unauthorized movement of users outside the reading rooms is prohibited and contact between users and archive employees is limited.
  6. Eating in all rooms and halls of the archive is prohibited. The RGIA canteen is temporarily closed.
  7. Used masks and gloves must be left in a special receptacle when leaving the archive to ensure their subsequent disposal.

To order materials from RGIA you need to provide an official letter from a supporting institution. The official letter should be as follows:

Директору Российского государственного исторического архива Штуковой Светлане Викторовне

Уважаемая Светлана Викторовна!

К Вам обращается (NAME, POSITION).

Я провожу исследование (NAME OF RESEARCH, PURPOSE).

В рамках этой работы я планирую заниматься исследованием документов в РГИА (DATE) этого года.

Прилагаю официальное письмо от моего института.

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

Ф. (No.) Оп. (No.)  Д. (1): (Name of file, Date of file can be specified as well, but not mandatory)

С уважением,



Getting a Propusk

Documents needed: Passport (w/registration); color photo 3×4 cm; letter from your university. A zayavleniye must be filled out upon arrival.

Time: 15 minutes.

Zayavleniye template:

Директору РГИА Штуковой С.В.

From (Last name, first name, address, tel, e-mail, passport)


Прошу разрешить пользоваться фондами РГИА для работы по теме:_____

Хронологические рамки исследования ___

Подпись, Дата

Otnoshenie (Institution letter template (should be on official letterhead):

Директору Российского государственного исторического архива Штуковой Светлане Викторовне

Уважаемая Светлана Викторовна!

Прошу предоставить возможность для работы с фондами РГИА сотруднику                                               (RESEARCHER’S NAME, TITLE, POSITION) работающему по теме (TOPIC, TIME FRAMES).

С уважением,


Working the Archive

Working days between requesting materials and receipt: 30 days
Maximum delo that can be requested at one time: 20

Photos/Photocopies/Scans: Copies and scans vary in cost based on age and type of document. Photocopies from hardcopy documents run 27-40 rubles per page. Wait time between ordering and receipt is about one month. Scans are generally ready faster than photocopies, but cost 44-207 rubles per page. Photos taken from a smartphone will cost 14-55 rubles per page photographed.


Address: Zanevsky pr. 36 (Ladozhskaya metro station)
Phone:  +7 (812) 438-55-54

Website: click here


Requests from individuals and organizations:

  • send requests to:
  • Follow up by calling: + 7 (812) 438-55-57

Working hours:

Mon – Thu 10:00-17:15
Fri – 10:00-16:15
Closed Sat and Sun, every last Fri of a month

More Guides

For more guides, see the archvial guide main page.

About the Author

Community Maintained Information

Community Maintained Articles are updated by our staff, partners, the researchers we assist, and great folks like you. If you see something missing, outdated, or wanting in the above resource, please write to our editors.

View all posts by: Community Maintained Information