State Archive of the Russian Federation: A Guide

State Archive of the Russian Federation - Photo from Wikimapia user wwwProk under Creative Commons. Image altered slightly by GeoHistory for use on this page.

The State Archive of the Russian Federation (Государственный архив Российской Федерации) is the legal successor of the Central State Archive of the October Revolution and the Central State Archive of the RSFSR. It is Russia’s largest federal archive and stores about 7 million files covering the history of Russia from XIX-XXI centuries. It remains the state archive, accepting files from Russia’s highest bodies of state power.

Overall Experience

Researchers report that this archive is easy to get into and easy to work with. All information needed to work the archive is freely available and the employees are generally professional and effecient.

Prep Beforehand

GARF’s putivoditel are available at many libraries and are usually for sale rather affordably at the RGASPI bookstore. It is recommend you locate and browse it beforehand.

GARF has an on-line database that includes many fondi (but not all), with descriptions of the holdings down to the opis level. If you’re creative, you can search GARF’s database using keywords.

To order materials from GARF 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 Государственного архива Российской Федерации.

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 ГАРФ (DATE) этого года.

Прилагаю официальное письмо от моего института.

Обращаюсь с просьбой предоставить к моему приезду (ARRIVAL DATE) и приходу в ГАРФ 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 is desirable, but not obligatory.
Time: 20 minutes to get a day pass, a permanent pass until the end of the year is issued on the next day.

Institution letter template (should be on official letterhead):


Директору Государственного архива Российской Федерации
Ларисе Александровне Роговой

Уважаемая Лариса 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: 10
Price for making photocopies of documents: 30-40 rubles per page.
Price for making photos from microfilm or documents: Free (no flash allowed!)

Problems: GARF gets busy at times and it is not unusual when very busy for seats to run out quickly. During those times (especially in July), it is best to be there within 5 minutes of its opening. Sometimes it takes over one month to have photocopies prepared, due to high demand. The main GARF building has a stolovaya and cafe on site. The “little GARF” location (at Berezhkovka) has a dedicated room for eating lunches you bring with you. Speaking on the phone in the reading room is strictly prohibited.


Address: Bolshaya Pirogovskaya street 17 (Frunzenskaya metro station).
Phone: (495) 580-88-61
Website: click here

Working hours:
Monday, Wednesday: 12.00 – 20.00
Tuesday, Thursday: 10.00 – 17.00
Friday: 10.00 – 16.00.
Closed on Saturday and Sunday and 1st working day of each month (sanitarny den).

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