Contact information • History • Holdings • Access & Facilities • Bibliography
ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-12Last update of repository: 3 December 2020
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial'no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI)
The Russian Center for Preservation and Study of Records of Modern History—RTsKhIDNI—was established in October 1991 on the basis of the former Central Party Archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the CPSU (TsPA IML), which was nationalized by the presidental decree of 24 August 1991. It was opened to researchers in December 1991. With the March 1999 Rosarkhiv reform, RTsKhIDNI was combined with the former separate Central Archive for Komsomol records, which was established in 1965 as the Central Archive of the Komsomol, on the basis of the archive of the General Division of the VLKSM Central Committee. In accordance with the nationalization of CPSU archives in August 1991, the former Komsomol archive was transformed into a new center under Roskomarkhiv and since 1992 had been known as the Center for Preservations of Records of Youth Organizations—TsKhDMO. The consolidated archive henceforth has the new name of the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History—RGASPI. This archive now serves as the main depository for documentation relating to the history of socialism, the records of the CPSU and its predecessors, mainly before 1953, as well as the records of the Komsomol.
The origins of RTsKhIDNI (TsPA IML) date back to various prerevolutionary Bolshevik party archives and libraries in emigration. After the October Revolution documents relating to the history of the revolutionary movement were collected and preserved by state archives and also by specially established scholarly-research centers with their own archives, some under state auspices and others under the Communist Party. Founded in 1920 under the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR, the Commission to Gather and Study Documents for the History of the Revolution and the Russian Communist Party (Istpart), which functioned from 1921 until 1928 as a division of the All-Russian Communist Party Central Committee (TsK VKP[b]), had the authority to preserve collected documents in a specially organized division entitled “Documents for the History of the RKP(b),” within the Archive of the October Revolution (AOR). A separate Istpart archive was established in April 1924, which by the end of the 1920s had brought together over 60,000 documents, along with journals and brochures, proclamations and decrees, and many newspapers. These included holdings from the earlier Paris archive of the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDRP) and the Lenin-sponsored G.A. Kuklin Library in Geneva.
Another scholarly research institute—the Institute of Marx and Engels—was separated from the Socialist Academy in June 1921 and became an independent institution under the authority of the Central Executive Committee (TsIK SSSR). Under the leadership of D.B. Riazanov, the Institute had the aim of gathering manuscripts and other documentation relating to Marx and Engels from various European repositories—either in original or copies. By the end of the 1920s, it succeeded in bringing together (through purchase or photocopying) over 175,000 documents, including 15,000 manuscripts from the heirs of Karl Marx, records of the German Socialist Party (SPD), documentation from the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1848, the Paris Commune, and personal papers of a wide range of European socialists, including the private collections of Eduard Bernstein.
In September 1923 a memorial repository for manuscripts of V.I. Lenin was founded—the archive of the V.I. Lenin Institute (Institut Lenina, as a division of TsK VKP[b])—which in August 1928 was merged with Istpart.
A year later in 1929 on the basis of that merged archive, the Central Party Archive (TsPA) was established, and documents created by and relating to V.I. Lenin were also transferred there from the Central Archive of the October Revolution (TsAOR). In 1931 the Institute of Marx and Engels and the Lenin Institute were merged to form the Institute of Marx, Engels, and Lenin (IMEL) under the TsK VKP(b), with TsPA, which thus combined the holdings of the various earlier depositories, as one of its structural subdivisions. The archive remained under the aegis of the Central Committee of the VKP(b) and later CPSU until 1991, although the name of its sponsoring institute changed several times: it incorporated the name of Stalin from 1954 through 1956, and subsequently was known as the Institute of Marxism-Leninism (1956–March 1991) and the Institute of the Theory and History of Socialism (April–October 1991). The archive remained a closed repository devoted to service to the CPSU under the tight control of the Central Committee.
Following the end of World War II, the archival holdings were augmented by many “trophy” materials, including, for example, files of Nazi anti-Communist agencies and the papers of Ferdinand Lassalle brought to Moscow from Germany. Materials of the Second International and many other Western socialist sources (including some from the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and its Paris branch and the Belgian Museum-Archive of the Socialist Workers’ Movement) had been collected throughout Europe by Nazi agencies and were subsequently seized by the Red Army in Silesia and elsewhere. Some of these were first deposited in the so-called “Special Archive” (TsGOA, now part of RGVA) and subsequently transferred to TsPA.
An even more major addition to TsPA was the transfer in 1959 of the archive of the Third Communist International (Comintern) from the General Department of the CC CPSU (Obshchii otdel TsK KPSS), which thereafter comprised a separate section of the archive.
The character of its activities and nature of its documentary holdings made TsPA the principle scholarly-historical archive of the CPSU, in contrast to the ongoing current archives of the CC CPSU, which functioned as agency archives and remained direct parts of its apparatus (B–13 and C–1).
When the Museum of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was abolished in 1993, its archival holdings were all transferred to RTsKhIDNI. Since 1992, RTsKhIDNI had been actively acquiring related materials of non-Communist political parties and social movements. For example, RTsKhIDNI recieved on deposit the archive and samizdat collection of the Information Center for the Worker and Professional Union Movement (KAS–KOR) (see Paskalova, M.A.; Solov'eva, S.A.; and Strukova, E.N. Samizdat i novaia politicheskaia pressa: (po materialam kollektsii Moskvy i Sankt-Peterburga), Moscow, 1993). Plans call for RGASPI to continue acquisitions in such directions.
Since 1993, RTsKhIDNI had been receiving significant transfers of high-level Central Committee records and personal papers of CP leaders from the historical part of the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation—AP RF (C–1). Of special interest in April 1999, most of the remaining parts of the Stalin papers was transferred to RGASPI, and declassification procedures were underway.