State Archive of the Russian Federation: A Guide

The "Little GARF" location of the 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 (with an additional maximum of 750 sheets of management documentation or 250 sheets from personal archives)

Microfilm Copies:
Photos from the microfilm projector may be made, with permission, for free. Paper copies will run from 37-72 rubles per copy, depending on the age and type of material.

Document Copies:
Prices vary according to the age and type of document. Photos may be taken, with permission, for 14-56 rubles each. Photocopies can be ordered for 22-44 rubles each and may take up to a month to process. Scans can run from 44-186 rubles each and generally take less time to process in addition to being of higher quality. Some very old documents may be available for only scans.

Since reopening after its COVID-closure appointments must be made in advance via the GARF website. Reference numbers of the delo must be given when applying for time slot. 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.

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.

What’s it like to work in Russia’s Archives? What’s it like to work with SRAS’ custom Research Abroad Services? Find out more in the video below.


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

Working hours: Since reopening, 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).

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.

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Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

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