In the sixteenth century, Russia underwent a process of unification from a collection of city-states into a centralized power with an increasingly advanced bureaucratic structure. Over the next three and a half centuries, as the nation expanded and evolved, archives and the archival profession followed suit, drawing on the general European experience. By the nineteenth century, a growth in nationalism, the development of the historical profession, and an interest in the past prompted calls for archival preservation and open access. Previously ignored personal papers and regional archives started to receive greater attention. Archival advocates openly debated the questions of reform at national congresses, which lead to attempts at creating a national archives and triggered some of the same issues and tensions as contemporaneous archival reformers faced in the United States. Failing to achieve centralization, Russian archivists nevertheless managed to advance their profession and enter the wider European milieu. This underexplored period of archival development in Russia demonstrates some of the shared roots of the archival profession and provides important lessons still applicable for today's archivists.

“He bore it with unflinching fortitude; then took the rusty-looking document and handed it to some great officer or other, to be filed away among the archives of Russia—in the stove.”

—Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

In 1547, sixteen-year-old Ivan Vasylyevich was crowned in Moscow as Ivan IV, Tsar of All Russias, becoming the first Grand Prince of Muscovy to permanently assume that title. The young monarch would soon earn the moniker by which he is still widely known today—Ivan the Terrible. Ivan's reign saw a nation recently unified from a collection of city-states transform itself into a rapidly expanding polity with an increasingly centralized bureaucratic system. This increased bureaucracy and a need for better management of both internal and external affairs led to the development of an early type of governmental department called a prikaz (literally “an order”), one of the most import of which was a precursor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Posol'skii (Ambassadorial) Prikaz.1 Ivan IV transferred a large portion of the records kept in his treasury, the Tsar's Archives, into the jurisdiction of this new institution, creating a large archival repository. The man put in charge of the Prikaz and its archives, Ivan Viskovatov, is today regarded as the first archivist of note and a pioneer of the Russian archival profession.2

Viskovatov, a veritable renaissance man, was required to wear many hats throughout his career. As a diplomat, he met with foreign dignitaries and ambassadors both at home and abroad; as a minister, he advised the monarch and was trusted to be the keeper of the seal; as a scholar, he assisted in the creation of the Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible, the largest illuminated manuscript to come out of medieval Russia. Surviving sources indicate that while extremely busy, he nevertheless took an active role as head of the archives, personally working to organize and describe its contents.3

Viskovatov's star dimmed slightly in 1553 when he challenged the authority of the church, which led to a sharp rebuke. However, the tsar continued to trust and utilize the archivist's services, even as he grew to distrust other officials around him, engaging in mass purges and repressions of perceived enemies. The contents of the archives under Viskovatov's management were sometimes used as evidence to persecute the tsar's enemies, leading some contemporaries to style its head as the tyrant's secretary and executioner.4 However, by the late 1560s, Viskovatov had fallen out of favor, and the tsar started to keep him at an arm's length. In 1570, Viskovatov's brother was executed in another set of purges, leading the archivist to speak out. He pleaded with the tsar, begging the monarch to stop exterminating his loyal subjects before he was left with no one to serve him. Ivan the Terrible's purported reply foreboded the fate of his once close confidant: “I have not yet exterminated all of you, I have only just begun, but I will try to pull you out by the roots, so that not even a memory will remain.”5 The end came swiftly; Viskovatov was accused of treason, charged with attempting to betray the country to the king of Poland and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He was quickly found guilty and sentenced to die. On July 25, 1570, he was led to the market square, in the shadows of the Kremlin, to face execution; part of another purge, he was just one of over a hundred people to die that day. In the presence of the tsar and a large crowd of onlookers, Viskovatov was tortured to extract a confession and to force him to beg for forgiveness. Refusing to do so, he was crucified and quartered.6

In the following three and a half centuries, from the rule of Ivan IV to the beginning of World War I, archives and the archival profession in Russia underwent a process of transformation and maturation, drawing on the wider European experience all around them. Highly restricted institutions that granted no access to outsiders, the doors of archival repositories started to slowly come ajar. New user groups began clamoring for better preservation and greater access to the national heritage, which the burgeoning print culture was increasingly exposing and exploring. Career bureaucrats who had initially made up the workforce of archival repositories began to be replaced by enthusiastic professionals who lobbied for change, meeting more and more with their colleagues on local and national levels to share experiences.

Nevertheless, by the second half of the nineteenth century, Russian archivists found themselves lagging behind most of their European counterparts, in much the same position as their colleagues in the United States. Archival reformers of both far-flung nations had to contend with similar challenges and tensions during this period: governmental vs. private records, professionals vs. dilettantes working in the field, and the creation of a national archives. Both increasingly turned to the examples of Western European archival experience, visiting the same repositories, attending the same professional conferences, consulting the same archival literature, and, at times, using the same arguments when advocating for reform. This underexplored period of archival development in Russia demonstrates the continuity and shared roots of the archival profession as well as provides important lessons that still apply for today's archivists.7

Archives in medieval Russia were a valuable resource to both secular and religious authorities who created and kept records in treasuries and vaults, together with other objects of value. Well-preserved and organized archives were necessary for princes to control their subjects and for the laity and clergy to defend their property and legal rights. For instance, in the second half of the fifteenth century, the prince of Yaroslavl, a principality Moscow had recently annexed, attempted to seize a piece of land claimed by a local monastery. The attempt failed when the monastery was able to produce records that confirmed it as the proper owner.8 Individuals working with records had a variety of names that included scribe, treasurer, psalmist, and casket keeper. Starting in the fourteenth century, individuals who dealt with records on a professional level were styled as d'iaks, a position equivalent to that of a chief clerk or secretary; an assistant working under a d'iak was termed a pod'iak.9 The main requirements for the job were literacy, trustworthiness and, for higher d'iak posts, connections; candidates came mostly from the petty nobility, the clergy, and sometimes the lower classes. Parchment was the primary medium for official recordkeeping, with cheaper, readily available materials like birch bark utilized for informal purposes, mostly by the citizenry.10

The consolidation of the country in the sixteenth century led to increased interaction with the West, the resulting trade bringing Italian, French, German, and Dutch paper in large quantities to support the expansion of records creation necessary to govern a large state. For instance, the Muscovy Company, a trading entity formed after England established diplomatic relations with Ivan IV, delivered almost 200,000 sheets of paper to Russia in 1585, a number that grew to over 4,000,000 sheets in 1635.11 To accommodate the increasing number of records, a new documentary format emerged called a column scroll (stolbets). Each of the documents that made up a file (organized by subject, chronologically, or alphabetically) was glued together, creating a scroll that would at times stretch hundreds of feet.12 Only one side of a scroll was used, allowing it to be rolled up for easy storage. Scrolls, single-sheet documents, and other records were kept in chests, caskets, and boxes, with more valuable or fragile items housed in fur-lined bags and smaller containers. D'iaks and pod'iaks working in these archives constantly updated guides that contained descriptions of the contents of each box.13

Early on, the government introduced basic archival regulations, requiring that buildings housing records needed iron doors with bolts and iron bars on their windows. The records themselves were to be kept under guard and could not be taken out of a repository. When it came to staff, the consensus was to avoid hiring young men because they were considered careless, impatient, and untrustworthy. This caution was not without reason as young clerks sometimes played chess when they were supposed to be working or engaged in such destructive behavior as throwing records at each other. In one documented case, a scroll fell out of an open window during an exchange, landing in the dirt below. As punishment, those involved were beaten with rods.14

Although no set deaccessioning policies existed at that time, invasions and fires constantly threatened archives. In 1571, the army of the Crimean Khan raided the country as far as Moscow, burning a large part of the city and its archives. A Polish-Lithuanian invasion a few decades later led to widespread destruction, though the more important archival records were removed to Poland. Accidental fires occurred frequently at a time when many repository buildings were made of wood. A fire in 1626 was so destructive that afterward, when organizing their collections, archivists divided them into those that existed prior to 1626 and those that came later. Even if the records survived these external threats, once they had lost their primary value, the paper and parchment were often reused for other purposes.

When Peter the Great ascended the throne in the second half of the seventeenth century, he embarked on a modernization of the Russian state. Traveling widely throughout Europe, Peter realized how far Russia lagged behind, and his mission became the country's complete transformation to better imitate the progress that he saw all around him. Under his rule, the old prikaz system was mostly retired, replaced by twelve collegia, or “colleges,” another form of governmental department intended to centralize and eliminate previously overlapping functions. In 1720, he codified the new changes in the General Regulation, a specific set of policies and procedures to guide the activities of all governmental entities. The Regulation also gave birth officially to the archival profession in Russia by introducing the term “archives” into the lexicon. Chapter 44 of the General Regulation introduced records management into each department by making it mandatory for papers that had lost their usefulness to be transferred to archives after a period of three years. The date when Peter signed the General Regulation into law, March 10 (February 28 according to the old calendar), is today celebrated as Archives and Archivists Day in Russia.15 Peter's Regulation also called for making archives into their own independent entities, leading to the formation of the first historical archives. The mission of these new institutions was to collect records that had lost their original practical purpose but still retained historical value. The first such archives, the Moscow Archive of the Collegia of Foreign Acts (MAKID), nicknamed the grandfather of Russian archives, was established in 1724.

The same year, as part of his plan to foster art, science, and technology, Peter founded the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Russia's first center of higher learning and scientific research, which would become a major archival repository in its own right. To staff this and other newly created institutions throughout the country, Peter invited foreign intellectuals and professionals to come to Russia, leading to large-scale immigration from all over Europe. Among the individuals to make the trek was Gerhard Friedrich Muller, a German historian from the state of Westphalia, who was appointed to a position in the academy. Muller became one of the academics to participate in the Great Northern Expedition, a scientific and exploratory endeavor that resulted in the charting of the previously unexplored regions of Russia's far east and the northwestern coast of North America. As a participant in the effort, Muller traveled throughout Russia's far east, visiting many of the archival repositories located in the area and collecting whatever records of interest he could find, bringing them back to Europe, and publishing an extensive history of Siberia. Muller's literary accomplishments also included the editorship of the first history journal in Russia, Collection of Russian History (Sbornik russkoi istorii), which was published in German. Eventually, he was made the head of MAKID, the first historical archives, becoming the first professional historian in Russia to lead an archives.16 Muller would head the archives until his death in 1783, starting the process of describing and organizing its various collections. To ensure that his efforts would not end when he died, he trained a set of assistants (an early internship program of sorts) who were able to continue his work; some of them became well-known archivists in their own rights.

The instructions of the General Regulation envisioned that records creators themselves would organize their collections, transferring them to the archives with detailed registers, which in turn would minimize the time needed for archivists to describe and to organize them; however the reality differed. The various departments frequently did not transfer their records in a timely manner, and, when the records arrived, they lacked adequate registrars and were often disorganized. Audits showed a constant backlog across most archives. To solve these problems, archives would at times receive a large influx of staff from other departments who would then engage in large-scale processing. For instance, in 1787, the Senatorial Archives, a repository that contained the records of some of the dissolved prikazs and of the Senate itself, increased its staff temporarily from eight to seventeen and was given four years to deal with the backlog.17

Archival users were typically members of the government who used records in their everyday functions, landholders who needed to obtain proof of land ownership, or nobles doing genealogical research to prove their families' nobility to receive patronage from the state. However, the disorganized state of archives sometimes made it difficult to find these materials, even when the request came from the most important user of all—the monarch. For instance, in 1746, Empress Elizabeth decided to raise the Shuvalovs, a noble family, to the rank of counts. To do so required a detailed record of their ancestry. However, the Ryazryadnoi Archives, a repository that contained biographical information on those who performed military service, failed to yield the required information. Not satisfied with this answer, the empress ordered the archives to be put under guard until it produced the required records, in effect locking the archival staff in the building until they could find the needed materials.18

Cataclysmic events in the country sometimes tended to produce more work for archives. During Pugachev's Rebellion (1773–1775), the largest peasant revolt in Russian history, the rebels burned records seized from large estates and captured cities. Dispossessed landholders and nobles then had to restore their ownership rights and privileges via records housed in various archives. A single repository, the Archives of the Land Office, handled more than 10,000 such requests between 1775 and 1781.19

A minimal number of users did academic research; those who did had either a very close relationship with the government or had received prior approval. Even after such a request was granted, finding the necessary materials when descriptions of archival contents were either nonexistent or well-guarded secrets was a difficult process. Prior to starting his research project, the historian Mikhail Shcherbatov wrote to an archival employee of MAKID:

Of course I know that you are unable to provide me with access without special permission, which I hope to receive when I shall need it. For now all I ask is for a small favor which I don't believe is a secret, namely, tell me from what year do your records begin, so that I don't end up asking for something that does not exist.20

No set standards for deaccessioning of records existed yet; neglect and bad conditions in repositories destroyed more records than direct action. There were some exceptions to this. When, in late 1741, Empress Elizabeth was put on the throne through a coup d'etat, all records of the infant Tsar Ivan VI, who ruled for slightly more than one year, were ordered destroyed to eliminate any memory of his short reign. The records of enemies of the state were also specifically slated for destruction. Pugachev's Rebellion had presented such great danger to the government of Catherine the Great that she ordered that most records seized from the rebels be destroyed, not without reason, for she feared that someone else would try to use their contents in the future. Less than four decades later, when the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Moscow, the French emperor considered republishing Pugachev's declarations, but, after questioning one of the archivists still left in the city, he discovered that the records were not readily available.21

As a rule, career bureaucrats occupied many of the archives posts; various departments frequently transferred some of their least efficient workers to these repositories. Nevertheless, authorities in some archives tried to make do with what they had, attempting to create a more professional workforce. For instance the Pomestno-Votchinoi Archives, a repository with land-related records, promulgated a code of professionalism that required its employees to wear proper clothing and shoes, comb their hair, pay attention to their work, and treat individuals looking for information politely.22 Recommendations continually emphasized that those accepted into the field needed to be “of sober living and beyond reproach in vice and other addictions.”23 Since archives were not considered a promising post for ambitious bureaucrats, usually those with very few options ended up working there. However, important governmental archives could usually count on greater resources and thus could potentially attract a better quality of worker.

At the end of the eighteenth century, Tsar Paul I ended the practice whereby noble families could enroll their young sons in the army, which had allowed them to rise in rank by the time they became adults. Severely limited in their early career paths, the scions of noble families began to be enrolled as “archival boys” or “archival youths” in the Moscow Archives of the Collegia of Foreign Acts. Boys as young as six were put on the payroll of this prestigious venue, where they had potential for quick advancement. Older archival boys coalesced into a visible social group in high society and were frequently seen at balls and other fashionable locales. Filipp Vigel, a young nobleman born in 1786, was a typical case. Shuttled between various French, German, and Russian tutors during his youth, he was able to obtain a position in the archives in 1800 through the assistance of a family friend. The young man could not conceal his pride in finally entering service. As a worker in the archives, he was entitled to wear a special uniform, enter the ranking system created by Peter the Great, and be addressed as “your wellborn” (vashe blagorodie) when spoken to. His enthusiasm was soon dampened when he showed up for his first day of work:

On a gloomy September day I made my appearance at a gloomy edifice in front of a gloomy old man who was always angry and full of concern. He called over some slim, ugly person who had a hanging, tumid lower lip covered in abscesses, and pointed me out to him. He sat me down in the room opposite the grumbling supervisor and for some reason disappeared. Before his return, I briefly became a point of curiosity to my new comrades. Soon the ugly person returned, dragging a notebook of blank paper and a giant bunch of half-decayed scrolls filled with dead letters [of the alphabet], which meant nothing to me. The scrolls were wrapped in clean covers with numbers and inscriptions of their contents. I was told to copy those into the notebook. Not a difficult task, but to do this day in and day out, after seeing what I have already seen, was more than I could bear.24

Boys like Vigel took frequent time off, and, in spite of their dubious enthusiasm for the job, their visibility in society brought the profession of archivist into the popular consciousness. Alexander Pushkin, the great Russian poet, was friends with many of the archival boys and immortalized them in a stanza of Eugene Onegin, his novel in verse, describing them as a fashionable crowd of men who make comments on the recently arrived Tanya, the love interest of the main character of the novel:

A crowd of Archival Boys
Are ceremoniously eying Tanya
And gossiping amongst themselves
Judgmentally discuss her.25

Other writers were soon putting archivists into their stories and novels; in 1837, a vaudeville play called The Archivist received high marks from an influential critic.26 Decades later, in his thoroughly researched magnum opus, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy referenced the prevalence of archival boys by having Count Rostov, patriarch of one of the noble families in the novel, complain that his son, Nicholas, decided to join the army, even though “. . . there was a place all ready for him in the archives department, and all.”27

A greater exposure of the archival profession coincided with a wide set of changes and reforms taking place throughout the country. In 1802, Tsar Alexander I replaced the collegia system with ministries, further transforming the government and leading to the creation of additional archives. At the same time, the defeat of Napoleon served as a catalyst for the development of nationalism within Russia and other European nations, which were increasingly looking back, promoting and analyzing their origins as a source of unity in an ever-more hectic world. Newly established universities began creating history departments where the still nascent historical profession was starting to churn out adherents of the national past and to develop new schools of thought. As more and more researchers clamored to use the archives, some repositories took the unprecedented step of creating reading rooms where qualified researchers could conduct research for three or four hours a day under the watchful eyes of the archival staff.28

Access, however, remained uneven, some researchers having greater privilege than others. Connections with the royal family or high government officials helped to open doors. The historian Sergey Solovyov, who had initially experienced great difficulty gaining access to some of the files needed for his research, suddenly found all gates wide open when he became tutor to the future Tsar Alexander II.29 Those with a greater level of access were frequently allowed to take archival records home to work at their leisure, sometimes keeping the records for years at a time.30 Those lacking connections frequently experienced barriers in the form of archival managers who ruled their repositories like their own personal domains. For instance, the historian I. E. Zabelin complained that the head of the Moscow Palace Archives refused to grant him access to materials for a book on which he was working, wanting to use the same records for his own academic pursuits.31

Interest in previously neglected regional and local archives was also on the rise. In 1828, Pavel Stroyev, an academic and paleographer, convinced the Academy of Sciences to sponsor an Archaeographic Expedition that would travel around Russia visiting regional archives, libraries, and monasteries to uncover valuable archival records.32 The expedition left at the beginning of 1829 and lasted until December of 1834, visiting more than two hundred repositories and collecting more than three thousand documents. The resulting Archaeographical Commission of 1834 then went on to publish volumes of discovered documents, further promoting the effort and helping launch other expeditions.

Although archaeographical expeditions exposed valuable primary sources to a wider audience, these efforts were of limited benefit to regional repositories. While their precious, if neglected, records were removed to larger, better-funded repositories elsewhere, their own conditions seldom improved. Possessing few resources and wooden housing still being the norm, these regional archives remained under constant threat of destruction. A lack of room would sometimes prompt local authorities to rent space in private houses, frequently relying on the assistance of locals in their evacuation if a fire broke out. In Chuvashia, a region in the European part of Russia, one regional archives was able to secure additional funding by arguing that during a potential fire, highly restricted records could be exposed to individuals who had no right to see them. However, since the allocated funds were inadequate to construct a proper repository, archival officials had to convince a private individual to build a quality archival building that the government could rent with the available funds.33 In sparsely populated regions of Siberia, archives had to deal with even fewer resources. In Yakutia, a region in the far east with some of the coldest recorded temperatures in the world, the governor found that the archives were typically kept in barns, next to flour and salt, leading to their eventual destruction from mice and the elements. At times, work during winter ground to a halt due to the inappropriate housing. For instance, in 1829, the archivist at a regional archives set a precedent by getting permission from the administration to take records home, where he could continue working, since it was impossible to do so at the repository itself.34

Interested individuals discussed and debated these problems and began to coalesce into regional historical societies all over the country. These societies met at local and regional levels to discuss how best to tackle the preservation of national heritage; however, the need for a national dialogue grew. In 1869, the Moscow Archaeological Society (MAO), one of the more influential of the newly founded societies, organized the first in a series of Archaeological Congresses. These national gatherings brought archivists, academics, historians, archaeologists, and general enthusiasts together to share experiences, find out about the latest historical discoveries, and tackle some of the more pressing issues the field was facing. Much like contemporary archival conferences, each meeting typically took place in a different city and involved presentations, lectures, discussions, and field trips to local historical sites. Using its organizational capabilities, MAO coordinated with local representatives of the historical profession, who engaged in large-scale research and publication projects to present and distribute at the congress. To make these events a success, members of local government, landholders, and clergy were invited to sit on the organizational committees or attend the congresses themselves, leading to financial or legislative support from regional movers and shakers. MAO's efforts led to mobilization of the local scholarly community, who managed to make long-term connections with their far-flung colleagues throughout the nation, bringing a greater number of people into the fold and further interconnecting the profession.35 Sometimes the popularity of these congresses led to the creation of additional historical societies, archival repositories, and museums on site. For instance, the Fourth Archaeological Congress held at the city of Kazan resulted in the creation of the Society of Archaeology, History and Ethnology at Kazan University.36

The ability to air their concerns highlighted the difficulties individual archivists and their repositories faced, including lack of a qualified workforce, large backlogs, and inadequate description methods.37 During one such discussion, an obviously frustrated archivist is purported to have uttered, “The archive is as vast as the sea and as helpless as an infant.”38 In addition to general meetings, individuals solely concerned with the archival field were able to meet on the sidelines and discuss issues not addressed in the main sessions.39

The widespread destruction of records that had begun throughout the country was a major issue for discussion. By the mid-nineteenth century, regulations mandating the disposal of records began to appear, allowing local authorities to dispose of their records. The reforms of the 1860s and 1870s overwhelmed many repositories with a flood of records from recently eliminated departments. As a result, regional governmental commissions were formed to appraise and dispose of all records that had lost their primary use and that lacked sufficient historical value. Typically made up of bureaucrats who had little notion of the value of the records they were appraising, the commissions more often than not chose to discard most of the records. The contents of one repository were disposed of in a river, echoing the sentiments of a prominent Iowa legislator who had stated, “The greater portion of the documents are ‘junk’ and should be dumped into the river.”40 Profit was a more frequent motive for deaccessioning voluminous sets of records as tons of paper could be auctioned off to local merchants for scrap.

To stem this wanton destruction, a united front, headed by effective and enthusiastic leaders, was necessary. Dedicated individuals began finding their way into the profession in the second half of the nineteenth century. These historians believed in the importance of the archival mission and were willing to devote their careers to the task of reform. Chief among this group was Nikolai Kalachov. Born in 1819 into a wealthy landholding family, he attended law school and later worked as a librarian, a senator, and a professor. Appointed head of the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Justice, he began to mold it into a showcase institution that would serve as a guide for other repositories.

To attract a higher quality workforce, he raised salaries by trimming the number of employees. These new workers were encouraged to do research and publicize their findings through a very active publications program, which attracted individuals with an interest in history. An ideal archivist, Kalachov thought, should love archival work, possess a university education, and be distinguished by honesty.41 Kalachov was able to tackle the issue of proper housing when the archives had to move in 1875. Rather than refurbishing a previously constructed building to make it archives friendly, he decided it would be more economical to build an archival structure from scratch. Contributing his own funds to the task, he was actively involved throughout the entire process, discussing its various features with architects and builders. When the building opened, it attracted a great deal of attention and many requests for tours.42

At the first Archaeological Congress, Kalachov advocated, to no avail, for creating centralized regional historical archives, halting the widespread destruction of records, and providing more access to researchers. The second congress was more successful, and his recommendation for the creation of a commission on archives was adopted. The commission began working in 1873, approaching its task systematically, sending representatives to examine European archives for good examples, and undertaking a large-scale study of Russian archival institutions. Unable to dispatch representatives to all of the repositories throughout the country, the commission sent out in-depth questionnaires to gauge the various issues they faced. However enthusiastic the members of the commission were, local repositories were less so in their responses. For instance, to the question, “What measures and means are necessary for the betterment of the archive?,” the frequent response was “nothing.”43 Without active support from the government, the commission faded by the mid-1870s. However, Kalachov did not give up, embarking on the organization of the first educational institution for the training of archivists.

Kalachov established the Petersburg Archaeological Institute (PAI) in 1877 with the mission of preparing specialists in Russian antiquity to work in governmental, social, and private archives throughout the country. The government begrudgingly gave its approval for its establishment, refusing to provide any financial assistance and allowing the institute to function on an experimental basis, liable to be shut down at any time. For the first few years after it opened in 1878, the school met in Kalachov's apartment, existing on donations from those interested in the experiment. However, Kalachov had great expectations for the school. Having visited the École des Chartres in Paris (the first archival school in Europe, established in 1821) and seeing that its enrollment did not exceed thirty students, he felt that his own effort would in time more than match its progress.44

By 1886, the situation was drastically improved when Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, brother of Emperor Alexander III, became patron of the institute, which led to funding from the government and to putting the institution on a more solid ground. Students with university educations were matriculated, while those without higher education could sit in as listeners. Twelve subjects were taught at the institute, including Slavic-Russian paleography, ancient geography, diplomatics, archival studies, and numismatic studies.45 The number of students enrolled increased considerably after 1895 when the institute began offering its classes in the evening. Matriculating students could graduate after two years of study. Although only men were enrolled in the school, individuals of both sexes who contributed a large sum of money or performed a valuable service for the institute could be made honorary members. A long list of members including royalty, clergy, and politicians testified to the appeal of that option.46

Kalachov planned to create a second school, based in Moscow, under the aegis of the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Justice, which he headed. He envisioned a large-scale internship program where students would be able to utilize his collections during their studies and, after graduation, would spend an additional two years working there before leaving for greener pastures. However, his death in 1885 put a halt to that plan.47

Failing to achieve reform with assistance from the national government, Kalachov decided that the task should be taken on by local historical societies that would counter the destructive work of local governmental commissions, which led to the birth of the Provincial Scientific Archival Commissions (GUAKs).48 The plan was to attract local enthusiasts to be led by professional archivists whose tasks would be to reappraise governmental records already slated for destruction and then to accession, store, and organize those records in local repositories. The experiment began in 1884, branching out to dozens of regions over the next three decades.49 The commissions labored under a nebulous legal status and jurisdiction, as well as a lack of financial resources and adequate space for their repositories, often receiving no governmental assistance and having to rely on volunteers and personal donations. Sometimes a commission was responsible for records of more than one province if no GUAK was present there, stretching its resources even further. If local authorities were supportive or receptive to its mission, they provided financing and even repository space where the newly rescued records could be kept.

Membership on these commissions sometimes reached as many as three hundred people; however, when it came to serious involvement, the numbers were always smaller. Nevertheless, many members gave of their time considering the task a noble one. The writer Vladimir Korolenko, an active member of the commission in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, wrote that the aim of these organizations was not so much to uncover documents of great popular interest, but to save the little pieces of history that in their aggregate would create a picture of long-vanished life.50 GUAKs established relations with each other, exchanging their publications and meeting on the sidelines of Archaeological Congresses. In provinces lacking universities, GUAKs became important cultural centers: organizing archaeological digs, establishing libraries and museums, as well as holding public lectures and readings. Because GUAKs attracted individuals with a high interest in history into their ranks, members were frequently large-scale record collectors in their own right, sometimes donating their personal collections and libraries to their respective organizations. This had the effect of turning GUAKs into local historical societies with much broader collecting scopes than just governmental records.

Reformers like Kalachov gave the majority of their attention to governmental archives, leaving other historically conscious groups and individuals to take up the slack when it came to private and other nongovernmental records. Libraries and museums began to appear and to actively collect and make available primary sources for research. For instance, Nikolai Rumyanstsev, the former foreign minister and archival advocate, left an endowment for the first public museum that opened in 1862, his personal records becoming the foundation of its manuscript collection. The museum continued to collect papers of prominent individuals, including writers Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Gogol. The Polytechnic Museum (1872) and the Russian History Museum (1883), which followed it, collected records related to Russian scientists and history respectively. These new repositories were more open than governmental archives, leading to greater use and exposure of their contents. There were restrictions here as well: the family of Alexander Pushkin requested that access to his journal be closed to research for fifty years.51

The clergy became an important ally in the preservation process; its membership encompassed a large segment of literate and educated Russians. Its members were found throughout the entire country—in small and large cities, towns, and villages—creating a wide interconnected network that could be tapped for information. The church's involvement in birth, death, marriage, and other facets of everyday community life made priests its recordkeepers and, in effect, local historians. Members of the clergy increasingly took an active part in the academic life of the country, contributing to scholarly publications, joining historical societies, and collecting records of interest. The Russian Orthodox Church itself started to realize the importance and potential of its history and took steps to inventory its records in the 1850s. By the late 1880s, the church began creating its own centralized repositories, fifty-nine in all.52 These research centers collected local records with a particular emphasis on those that related to the church or could be used to encourage the spiritual enlightenment of its flock. As part of their mission, these institutions engaged in active publishing endeavors in church-sponsored scholarly publications and contributed to the work of other academic publications of the day.53

Genealogists who engaged in research as a hobby, rather than a requisite for obtaining favorable positions, were also becoming increasingly active and forming their own societies; the Russian Genealogical Society (1897) in St. Petersburg and the Moscow Historical-Genealogical Society (1904) became the most prominent. Genealogical societies typically established their own libraries and archives, and produced their own publications to highlight their research and the documents previously locked up in their own personal collections. As part of their mission, societies like the Moscow Historical-Genealogical Society aided other societies and individuals in saving family archives from destruction. The Moscow society's reputation was such that others tried to imitate its example. For instance, in 1911, the genealogical society of Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine) sent its archivist to Moscow to learn how to properly keep its own archives.54 The interest in family records led members of great noble families who had preserved their archives to make their contributions known to a wider public. As a result, they actively engaged in a series of editorial projects, selectively publishing some of the records housed in their collections.55

The military was another group that increasingly came to see the importance and use of archives, especially in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when every battalion, brigade, and regiment desired to celebrate its anniversaries and highlight its battlefield accomplishments.56 For example, in 1886, the soldiers of the 65th Moscow Infantry Regiment decided to give their commander a silver cigarette case engraved with the battles in which their regiment had distinguished itself. However, no one still serving knew the particulars of the regiment's history, leading one of the lieutenants to research and publish a detailed history of the regiment in 1890.57 More and more military units began to appoint historians from their own ranks, sometimes hiring professional outsiders to compile their histories, a task that entailed intense archival research, first with whatever records they possessed and then at various repositories that contained military records. This naturally led to greater interest and care for the history of their units, and, in addition to publishing monographs, these efforts contributed to the creation of regimental museums and archives. The authorities, who wished to raise the esprit de corps of the army, generously encouraged these endeavors, giving officers leaves to conduct research. Military historians were soon interacting and sharing their experiences by creating research guides for their colleagues. These efforts contributed to the creation of the Russian Imperial Military History Society in 1907.

After the death of Kolachov, Dmitriy Samokvasov, another influential head of the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Justice, became a champion for reform. Wanting to gauge the progress achieved since the time of Kolachov, Samokvasov distributed another set of questionnaires asking for information on archival employees, housing, quantity of documents, and available finding aids. Few archives responded, but the responses of those that did made it clear that they were all experiencing difficulties, which led Samokvasov to embark on a thorough investigative tour of Europe, visiting major repositories of sixteen countries and collecting their policies, procedures, and archival legislations. The result was a manuscript: Centralization of Governmental Archives of Western Europe in Connection with Archival Reform in Russia in which he encouraged his colleagues to follow the Western European example he observed during his travels. He imported the concept of a fond and a belief that organization by provenance was best.58 His efforts led to another attempt at reform at the Eleventh Archaeological Congress in 1899, where he suggested the creation of a National Archives, construction of centralized archives in the provinces, and open access to all historical records for research. Under his lead, archivists petitioned the national government for aid in ceasing the large-scale destructions still happening throughout the country, which led the Ministry of Internal Affairs to issue a circular listing the types of archival records that should never be slated for destruction and indicating that all records needed to be kept for ten years after their usefulness had expired to allow members of various GUAKs more time to appraise and save more of the extant record.59 In 1903, the expense that Samokvasov's project entailed led the government to shelve it permanently.

Samokvasov was far from unique in looking to Europe for guidance. More and more individuals were making trips to Europe, examining its archives, its libraries, and its museums; interacting with their European colleagues when looking for answers. Russian historians were represented at many of the major historical gatherings of the early twentieth century, including the Fifteenth Archaeological Congress in Cairo, the Tenth Congress on the History of Art in Rome, and the 1913 Congress on Historical Sciences in London. At the First International Congress of Archivists and Librarians, held in Brussels in 1910, members of the European and American archival communities had a chance to hear Dr. Il'ia Shliapkin, a professor at the St. Petersburg Archaeological Institute, present a paper on the activities of GUAKs in saving records from destruction.60 The Russian delegation in turn had a chance to hear Waldo Gifford Leland, a member of the American delegation, speak about the difficulties that the Public Archives Commission, established in 1899 to survey public records, encountered: “Having little money at its disposal, and no governmental authority to carry on investigation, it was obliged to depend upon the efforts of those interested in the work, and upon the good will of the government officials whose records were to be examined.”61 Members of various GUAKs around Russia would have both sympathized and empathized with this statement, having encountered almost identical problems themselves.

This increased interaction and the development of personal relationships within the archival community aided in propagating the new methods and ideas percolating in the field at the turn of the century. More and more, nations exchanged professional literature through these newly established relationships. Sometimes written in French, the lingua franca of the age, these publications entered a much wider circulation within the profession. For instance, Leland used a monograph published by the Main Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (formerly MAKID) in his article “The National Archive: A Programme,” which advocated the creation of the National Archives in the United States. In the first sentence, he quoted a part of the introduction and the same argument Russian archivists arguing for their own centralization used: “The care which a nation devotes to the preservation of its past may serve as a true measure of the degree of civilization to which it has attained.”62

Archivists continued to advocate for reform but could do nothing without the assistance of the national government. In 1911, Tsar Nicholas II ordered the Russian Imperial Historical Society, a powerful group of high-ranking history enthusiasts, to tackle the issue. The society created a special commission on the archival question in 1912, investigated the archival situation via questionnaires, and, realizing the difficulty of the situation, called the First National Congress of GUAKs in May of 1914.63 Part of the discussion revolved around the creation of a centralized entity to regulate archives. This time, the suggestion was for a single governing body whose job would be to safeguard all monuments, artifacts, and records that made up the nation's heritage. However, by the outbreak of World War I, nothing had been enacted, and the envisioned reform never materialized.

By the second decade of the twentieth century, constant governmental reform over the previous three centuries had let to an exponential increase in the bureaucratic apparatus and, correspondingly, in the number of archives. The number of bureaucrats employed by the state had increased from fewer than 6,000 in the mid-eighteenth century to approximately 500,000 at the start of the 1900s.64 According to one author, by this time approximately 120,000 archival repositories overspread the Russian Empire, with the Ministry of Finances alone possessing seventeen autonomous archives.65

A few weeks before the start of World War I, Ivan Bunin, a Russian writer who would win a Nobel Prize in literature, wrote the short story “The Archival Case.” In the story, an unnamed narrator, a statistician in the regional administration, works on the second floor of a two-story building that houses an archives on the first floor. The narrative revolves around the local archivist—Fusin—who has spent more than sixty years working in the archives and continues to do so. Fusin is both ridiculed and pitied for spending his entire life surrounded by useless detritus without ever ascending to the second floor of the building, where the narrator thinks liberal and progressive ideas are helping to reshape people's lives, advancing them forward. However, the archivist disregards all deprecations, considering that “not a single human action is possible without archives.”66 He spends his entire life in this archival underground, while real life flows above his head, until one day he decides to ascend to the second floor, an act that leads to his death. His death greatly affects the narrator, who begins to reconsider his opinion of archives:

Equality is all well and good but Fusin was right when he said that life without archives is impossible, and that we need to safeguard them. If they did not exist, if people like Fusin did not exist, how would this piece of paper on which I write of his sad fate be preserved? But with Fusin around it would definitely be preserved, and would definitely come to someone's attention—the later the better. Then these lines, which tell of this old story will have greater impact. Fusin used to say “What if someone has an inquiry?” Well then, if someone needs a reference of what our times were like, perhaps my story will come in handy.67

While the story illustrates age-old stereotypes of archivists as idiosyncratic individuals stuck in the past, their dedication to safeguarding the history of their country is evident even to the narrator, who changes his opinion at the end. Although Russian archivists failed in their main goal of archival reform, visible progress had been achieved—from the days of Viskovatov, when the archivist was just another bureaucrat whose task was to serve the authorities; to the era of professional historians like Muller, when the archivist began a shift toward academia but was still expected to bar access to all outsiders; to the Kalachov years, when the archivist was increasingly starting to see himself as responsible for providing as much access as possible.

By the 1910s, the archives profession finally became established as a discipline. Two institutes of higher education specifically geared for the task were churning out professionals to work in archival repositories. Researchers were utilizing archives like never before, and archivists were making some gains when it came to providing greater access to their collections. Unable to tackle their task alone and finding lukewarm reception from the government, archivists had to rely on the enthusiasm mostly of dilettantes who stepped in to aid the embattled archivists in saving the national heritage. Historical societies played an instrumental role in generating interest and working to preserve their local histories, whether through membership in GUAKs or in other organizations. Other allies and user groups (including genealogists, clergy, and the military) were instrumental in the effort. By meeting and organizing into interest groups and creating alliances through conferences and congresses, they exerted influence on the local authorities and lobbied on behalf of archives or their users, sometimes keeping archivists themselves accountable. For instance, in 1914, when the head of the Archives of the Ministry of the Imperial Court attempted to limit access to the archives and stop publishing sources found therein, genealogists protested so vehemently that he was forced to reconsider his plan.68

Acquaintances at international meetings and conferences led to additional exchanges of ideas and allowed Russian archivists to attune to the developments taking place in the nascent profession working toward greater standardization. At a conference in England, the Russian historian Alexander Lappo-Danilevsky met and befriended J. Franklin Jameson, another early pioneer of the American archival profession. Lappo-Danilevsky, an influential academic deeply involved with the activities of GUAKs who would play an important role in archival reform during the Russian Revolution of 1917, wrote to Jameson asking for advice and American scholarly literature on archival reform. Jameson responded:

The national government of the United States has done practically nothing in the way of concentrating its archives. We stand in the lowest stage of evolution in that respect, governmental papers, in almost all cases, still remaining in the departments, and even in the bureaus, in which they originated. Therefore the American literature of the subject is a literature of agitation for an improvement rather than anything from which the archivists of another country could learn of achievements that would interest them. . . . Nevertheless, the matter is in progress, and success is sure to arrive ultimately; and I suppose that, the longer it is delayed, the more we shall be able to avail ourselves of European experience. Therefore it will be a pleasure to learn, by and by, what steps toward concentration have been taken in Russia.69

The sentiments expressed by Jameson are as valid today as they were back then. A century ago archivists, confronted by an increasingly complex set of tasks, realized the importance of learning from the experience of their colleagues abroad; a development that if anything has become more important in today's globalized world. As a profession, archivists cannot reach their full potential working in a vacuum, unknowingly duplicating the efforts previously done elsewhere. By working together, exchanging ideas and staying abreast of developments happening around the world, the archival profession has the potential to become much stronger and better able to move confidently into the future.

Aleksandr Gelfand is an archivist at The Winthrop Group, a consultancy firm that provides archival and historical services. Previously he worked at New York University, Baruch College/CUNY, and Columbia University. Gelfand holds a master's degree in archives and public history from New York University. His research interests include international archives, archival history, web archiving, and exhibits in archives.

Aleksandr Gelfand is an archivist at The Winthrop Group, a consultancy firm that provides archival and historical services. Previously he worked at New York University, Baruch College/CUNY, and Columbia University. Gelfand holds a master's degree in archives and public history from New York University. His research interests include international archives, archival history, web archiving, and exhibits in archives.

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The Posol'skii Prikaz possessed a much wider set of powers than those typically associated with a ministry of foreign affairs; throughout its existence, these included management of the post and parts of the judiciary, taxation, and bureaucratic appointments.


Tat'iana Innokent'evna Khorkhordina, Rossiiskaia nauka ob arkhivakh: istoriia, teoriia, liudi [Russian science on archives: history, theory, people] (Moscow: RGGU, 2003), 100.


Sigurd Ottovich Shmidt, Opisi Tsarskogo arkhiva XVI veka i arkhiva Posol'skogo prikaza 1614 goda [Descriptions of the tsar's archive of the 16th century and the archive of the posol'skii prikaz of 1614] (Moscow: Izd-vo Vostochnoi lit-ry, 1960), 8.


Elena Viktorovna Chistiakova, Oko vsei velikoi Rossii: ob istorii russkoi diplomaticheskoi sluzhby XVI–XVII vekov [The eye of all of mighty Russia: on the history of Russian diplomatic service in the 16th–17th centuries] (Moscow: Mezhdunar. otnosheniia, 1989), 66–67.


Khorkhordina, Rossiiskaia nauka ob arkhivakh, 103.


Chistiakova, Oko vsei velikoi Rossii, 70. Ivan the Terrible later came to regret this deed, and it is noted that in 1583, he made a large endowment to a monastery for prayers to be said for the soul of Ivan Viskovatov. The tsar also made edits to the Chronicle, highlighting Viskovatov's loyalty and good deeds.


Contemporary English-language archival literature has left this period of Russian archival development largely untouched. Most attention has been given to the Soviet and post-Soviet archival experience. While researching this article, the author relied heavily on the archival textbook Rossiiskie arkhivy: istoriia i sovremennost': uchebnik [Russian archives: history and modernity: a textbook] and the monograph Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii [History of the archival practice in prerevolutionary Russia] as guides for creating a chronological outline and as major bibliographical sources. Archival and history periodicals were also major sources of information. The Russian counterpart of The American Archivist was especially useful. Established in 1923 as Arkhivnoe delo [Archival science], it had been renamed a number of times over the twentieth century, including Vosposy arkhivovedeniia [Questions of archival practice] from 1959 to 1965, Sovetskie arkhivy [Soviet archives] from 1966 to 1991 and, since 1992, Otechestvennye arkhivy [Archives of the fatherland]. Other periodicals utilized for the article include Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik [Archaeographical annual], Vestnik arkhivista [Herald of an archivist], and Voprosy istorii [Questions of history].


Lev Vladimirovich Cherepnin, “U istokov arkhivovedeveniia i aktovogo istochnikovedeniia (‘prakticheskoj diplomatiki’) v Rossii (Votchinnye arkhivy i sudebnaia ekspertiza dokumentov v XV nachale XVI v.)” [At the sources of the creation of acts and archives (“practical diplomatics”) in Russia (real estate archives and court authentication of documents in the 15th—beginning of 16th century)], in Voprosy arkhivovedeniia no. 1 (1963), 54.


A. Ia. Aleksandrova et al., Dokument v rossiiskoi istorii: monografiia [The document in Russian history: a monograph] (Nizhnii Novgorod: Nizhegorodskii gosudarstvennyi tekhnicheskii universitet im. R.E. Alekseeva, 2012), 64. The terms “d'iak” and “pod'iak,” derived from the Greek word that means servant, were bureaucratic positions found within both the government and the church.


Birch bark continued to be used in the far north and in parts of Siberia well into the seventeenth century. See I. Kostanov and Iu. M. E'skin, “Arkhivy i arkhivnoe delo v Sibiri i na Dal'nem Vostoke v dopetrovskii period” [Archives and archival practice in Siberia and the Far East in the Pre-Petrine Period], in Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 4 (2006): 3–18; and V. L. Ianin, “K 50-letiiu otkrytiia berestianykh gramot v Novgorode” [In honor of 50-year anniversary since the discovery of birch letters in Novgorod], Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik (2001): 3–10.


Aleksandrova et al., Dokument v rossiiskoi istorii, 52.


For comparison, Jack Kerouac's On the Road was written on a scroll approximately 120 feet long. For an example of a stolbets, see


For instance, the earliest extant guide to the tsar's archive, housed in Posol'ski Prikaz, dates from the early 1570s and, based on an earlier description by Viskovatov, lists 231 boxes, chests, and caskets. Descriptions range from such laconic statements as “old lists” in box 126 to those more detailed, such as “. . . letter from Queen Elizabeth brought by Anthony the Englishman and removed [from archive] by the sovereign in April of 7070 [1562]” in box 179. Churches and monasteries used similar methods for their recordkeeping. However, by the eighteenth century, with the secularization of lands, their importance as record creators and keepers declined substantially.


Vadim Nikolaevich Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii [History of the archival practice in prerevolutionary Russia] (Moscow: Vysshaia shkola, 1989), 27.


Tat'iana Innokent'evna Khorkhordina and Tamara Serafimovna Volkova, Rossiiskie arkhivy: istoriia i sovremennost': uchebnik [Russian archives: history and modernity: a textbook] (Moscow: Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi gumanitarnyi universitet, 2012), 206–8. 1712 is also sometimes considered the beginning of the archival profession in Russia. That year, Peter promulgated the decree on how the records of the Senate should be kept. See “O iubileiakh v arkhivnom dele” [On anniversaries in archival practice], Otechestvennye archivy no. 3 (1998): 12; and Gennadii Aleksandrovich Belov, “250-letie arkhivnogo dela v SSSR i persperkivy ego dal'nejshego razvitiia” [The 250th anniversary of archival science in the USSR and the perspectives of its further development], Voprosy arkhivoveneniia no. 4 (1962): 3–11.


Aleksandr Borisovich Kamenskii, “G. F. Muller i arkhivnoe delo v Rossii XVIII v.” [G. F. Muller and archival practice in 18th-century Russia], Sovetskie arkhivy no. 2 (1989): 30.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 47. This mainly applied to important governmental archives located in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Regional archives could rarely expect to receive similar assistance and were frequently left to deal with their backlogs using regularly available resources.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 60.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 60.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 63.


When the archivist continually complained to Napoleon about the damage being done to the archives by the occupying army, the French emperor reportedly expressed annoyance at the bureaucrat who kept pestering him with “his archives.” Nevertheless, he put some policies in place to lessen the damage. (Khorkhordina and Volkova, Rossiiskie arkhivy, 31).


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 50.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 56.


Filipp Filippovich Vigel, Zapiski (Munich: Im Werden Verlag, 2005), 34–35.


Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Romany, povesti: tom vtoroi [Novels and stories: second volume] (Moscow: Ripol Klassik, 1998), 135, stanza XLIX. This translation by A. S. Kline takes some liberties but retains the rhyme of the stanza: “Fashionable Record Office clerks / Quite rarefied, review my Tanya / Comparing notes, like circling sharks / And pass sarcastic judgment on her.”


I. A. Cherkasov, “Obraz arkhivista v russkoi literature XIXkh–pervoi' treti XX v.” [The image of an archivist in Russian literature of the 19th–first third of 20th century], Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 1 (2010): 5.


Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. Constance Garnett (New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005), 35.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 103. Although the use of documents increased, finding them was difficult due to the lack of finding aids and the condition of some of the collections.


Although he had free reign from that point on, the conditions of the archives left much to be desired. Finishing the last volume of his history, Solovyov wittily wrote to a friend that the contents of the book would not be considered dry (interest-wise), since he had worked on it in the damp archive.


The historian Nikolai Karamzin and the poet Alexander Pushkin are examples of such individuals.


Maria Igorevna Avtokratova and Vadim Nikolaevich Samoshenko, “Rabota dorevoliutsionnykh istorikov v chital'nykh zalakh arkhivov, voshedshikh v sostav TSGADA” [The work of prerevolutionary historians in the reading rooms of the archives that were incorporated into TSGADA], Sovetskie arkhivy no. 4 (1988): 54.


Archaeography, the discipline of describing antiquities, was and remains a popular field of study in Russia.


Vladimir Glebovich Tkachenko, “Iz istorii organizatsii khraneniia arkhivov v Chuvashii (XVIII–pervaia polovina XIX v.) [From the history of the organization and storage of archives in Chuvashia (from the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century)], Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 6 (2005): 33–35.


I. I. Iuganova, “Arkhivy Iakutii: neizvestnye stranitsy istorii (XVIII v.–1917 g.) [Archives of Yakutia: unknown pages of its history], Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 1 (2008): 4.


I. I. Komarova, “Moskovskoe arkheologicheskoe obshchestvo i ego rol' v razvitii mestnykh kraevedcheskikh organizatsii Rossii” [Moscow Archaeological Society and its role in the development of local historical organizations of Russia], Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik (1989): 86.


Aleksandr Davidovich Stepanskii, “K istorii nauchno-istoricheskikh obshchestv v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii” [History of academic-historical societies in prerevolutionary Russia], Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik (1974): 43.


At the time, approximately seventeen different types of description methods were being used in Russia.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 126.


Nina Valerian Brzhostovskaia, “Voprosy arkhivnogo dela na arkheologicheskikh s'ezdakh v Rossii (1869–1911)” [Questions of archival practice on the archaeological congresses in Russia (1869–1911)] Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik (1971): 89–105, 106.


Ernst Posner, “Archival Administration in the United States,” in Archives and the Public Interest: Select Essays by Ernst Posner, ed. Ken Munden (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006), 115; and Vera Tsedashievna Lyksokova, “Deiatel'nost' Irkutskoj GUAK po sobiraniiu i populiarizatsii istoricheskikh istochnikov” [Activities of the Irkutsk GUAK in the collection and popularization of historical sources], Otechestvennye archivy no. 2 (2004): 30.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 134.


L. I. Shokhin, “N. V. Kalachov vo glave Moskovskogo arkhiva ministerstva iustitsii (po neopublikovannym dokumentam)” [N. V. Kalachov at the head of the Moscow Archive of the Ministry of Justice (based on unpublished sources)], Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik (1987): 142.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 133. For an example of a completed questionnaire, see V. S. Shandra, “Voprosnik N. V. Kalachova o polozhenii arkhiva Kantseliarii novorossijskogo i bessarabskogo general-gubernatora” [Questionnaire of N. V. Kalachov on the condition of the archive of the office of Novorossiysk and Bessarabian governor-general], Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 5 (2000): 62–67.


Nikolai Vasil'evich Kalachov, ed., Sbornik Arkheologicheskago Instituta: kniga pervaia [Collection of the Archaeological Institute: book 1] (St. Petersburg, 1878), 3.


P. S. Yakovlev, comp., Pamiatnaia kniga Imperatorskago Arkheologicheskago Instituta v S.-Peterburge, 1879–1911 [Anniversary book of the Imperial Archaeological Institute in St. Petersburg, 1879–1911] (St. Petersburg: Tipographia V.D. Smirnova, 1911), 9.


The list included such notables as King Rama V of Siam, the politicians Sergei Witte and Peter Stolipin, and Dmitry Nabokov, grandfather of the author of Lolita.


The Moscow Archaeological Institute (MAI) was eventually established in 1907 as a coeducational institution with a broader curriculum and branches in other cities.


At the time, Russia was divided into states or provinces called gubernias, thus Gubernskiye Uchenye Archivnye Kamissii (GUAK).


Eventually, thirty-nine different GUAKS were distributed throughout the country. Typically, individuals involved in GUAKs were local teachers, government officials, writers, members of the nobility, clergy, army officers, and other educated individuals. For an example of a composition of an Archival Commission, see G. V. Razorenova, “Deiatel'nost' Kaluzhskoi' uchenoi' arkhivnoi' komissii po formirovaniiu gubernskogo istoricheskogo arkhiva (1891–1917 gg.)” [Activity of the Kaluga Scientific Archival Commission in forming the Gubernatorial Historical Archive (1891–1917)], Otechestvennye arkhivy no. 6 (2010): 11.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 167.


Samoshenko, Istoriia arkhivnogo dela v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 203.


Viktor Arkad'evich Berdinskikh, “Prikhodskoe dukhovenstvo Rossii i razvitie kraevedeniia v XIX veke [Parish clergy and the development of local history in the 19th century], Voprosy istorii no. 10 (1998): 135.


Berdinskikh, “Prikhodskoe dukhovenstvo Rossii i razvitie kraevedeniia v XIX veke,” 136.


O. N. Naumov, “Opisanie i nauchnoe ispol'zovanie arkhiva Moskovskogo dvorianskogo sobraniia v kontse 19–nachale 20 v.” [The description and scientific use of the Archive of the Nobility Assembly of Moscow at the end of the 19th–beginning of 20th century], Otechentvennye arkhivy no. 2 (1997): 16–17.


For examples, see Arkhiv kniazia Vorontsova. Kniga pervaia. Bumagi grafa Mikhaila Larionovicha Vorontsova [The archive of Prince Vorontsov. Book 1. Records of Count Mikhail Illarionovich Vorontsov] (Moscow: Tipografia A. I. Mamontova i K, 1870); and Kniaz Andrei Ivanovich Viazemskii, Arkhiv kniazia Viazemskago [Archive of Prince Viazemsky] (Izdanie Grafa O. D. Sheremeteva, 1881).


Much like the American bicentennial, anniversary celebrations in late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century Russia helped to attract greater attention to archives and to procure greater resources. Unlike the twentieth century, when archival exhibits were a popular mode of celebration, anniversary monographs and other types of publications were more typical in Russia; the exhibits still mainly consisting of objects. Among the more notable celebrations was the centennial of the War of 1812 (Napoleon's invasion of Russia) and the tercentennial of the rule of the Romanov dynasty (1913).


Il'ia Vladimirovich Khokhlov, “Polkovaia istoriografiia russoi armii v kontse XIX–nachale XX v.” [Regimental historiography of the Russian army at the end of the 19th–beginning of 20th century], Voprosy istorii no. 2 (2008): 159.


Sergei Pavlovich Shchavelev, “D. Ia. Samokvasov—istorik, arkheolog, arkhivist” [Samokvasov—historian, archaeologist, archivist], Voprosy istorii no. 3 (1993): 180.


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Waldo Leland, “Waldo Leland's Remarks at Brussels Conference,” in Waldo Gifford Leland and the Origins of the American Archival Profession, ed. Peter J. Wosh (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2011), 126.


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