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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-12

Last update of repository: 3 December 2020

Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial'no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI)


Total: 703 fonds, 2,162,000 units, 1617–2005
photographs—191,000 units; films—512 units; sound recordings—577 units; video records—256 units; museum materials—156,000 units

See the Russian list of fonds and opisi:

        Holdings from the former Central Party Archive (TsPA)

Holdings of the former Central Party Archive (TsPA IML; 1991–1999—RTsKhIDNI) now comprise three major thematic divisions: documents on the social and political history of Western Europe (17th–20th cc.); records relating to the political history of Russia in the modern and contemporary periods (late 19th–20th cc.); and records relating to the history of the international communist, socialist, and labor movements (1860s through the 1950s). A fourth section—as described in the 1993 and 1996 guides to RTsKhIDNI—comprises personal papers and collections of major figures in the revolutionary and especially communist movement. Many of the fonds and collections contain copies and original documents from Western European archives, including trophy materials acquired abroad in the wake of World War II. Starting in 1992 agreements have been made for RTsKhIDNI to accession records from contemporary Russian political parties and movements.
        The division for the social and political history of Western Europe has principally accumulated fonds and collections on the history of socialism and the labor movement within two subdivisions. The first comprises documentation on the French Revolution, the Paris Commune (1871), and the revolutionary events of 1830 and 1848 in France, Germany, and other countries, and on workers and social movements and organizations in Western Europe during the nineteenth century. Among them are documents (originals and copies) from the Prussian State Archive, the State Archives of Saxony and Hamburg, and the National Archives of France. These include a collection of documents from the personal chancellery of Napoleon III (1840–1870) and from the Ministries of Domestic and Foreign Affairs of Saxony.
        The second subdivision of the Western European complex comprises collected documents of Marx and Engels, including fonds and collections of documents of members of their families, followers, and associates (August Bebel, Wilhelm Liebknecht, Friedrich-Albert Sorge, Wilhelm Wolff, Laura and Paul Lafargue, and Friedrich Lessner, among others), as well as records of newspapers and international labor organizations in which Marx and Engels were directly involved, such as the Rheinische Zeitung (1842–1843), Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1850), and the Communist League (1847–1852).
        There are also personal papers of representatives of other socialist and labor movements in various European countries—the socialists Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and their followers, Mikhail Bakunin, Ferdinand Lassalle, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Wilhelm Weitling. There are also personal papers of a series of party leaders and active participants in revolutionary events in nineteenth-century Europe (predominantly from France)—such as Gracchus Babeuf (pseud. of François Noël), Louis Blanc, August Blanqui, Filippo Michele Buonarotti, Gustave-Paul Cluseret, Louis-Charles Delescluze, Gustave Flourens, Marc-Antoine Joullien, Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, Jacques Roux, and Auguste Jean-Marie Vermorel.
        The complex of records of political history in Russia includes three main divisions. The first comprises records of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDRP—Bolsheviks and Mensheviks) together with its related general party congresses and conferences, central committees and central organs of the RSDRP and other party institutions, fractions, and organizations of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks; Polish and Lithuanian Social-Democrats (SDKPiL, 1900–1912), Latvian Social-Democrats (SDLK, 1910–1916), the General Jewish Workers’ Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia (Bund, 1897–1921), the “Vpered” group, the Vienna Pravda group (of L.D. Trotskii), and also several other socialist and revolutionary parties—Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries (SR), Poalei-Zion, and émigré Communist Parties in Western Europe.
        The second division comprises the archive of V.I. Lenin (fond 2)—manuscripts of Lenin, records of his secretariat (fond 5—1917–1924), the journals (protocols) of the Council of People’s Commissars (SNK), records of the Council for Labor and Defense (STO), and the “Little” SNK. From the years 1917–1924 there are documents of Lenin’s family; various materials relating to Lenin, including documentation of the commission for Lenin’s funeral ceremony and the perpetuation of Lenin’s name; and other related fonds of Leniniana. This documentation covers the activities not only of Lenin himself, but also of the Soviet government that he led.
        The third division is composed of records of the highest governing agencies of the CPSU, central Party institutions, newspapers and magazines, and educational and scientific institutions from 1917 until 1991. The most voluminous fond comprises the records of the CPSU Central Committee (CC) (TsK KPSS) and its predecessors (fond 17—1898, 1903–1991—684,543 units) with 158 separate inventories (opisi), reflecting records of different auxiliary Party agencies, departments, organs, and institutions under the control of the Central Committee. Separate fonds retain collected materials from succesive Party congresses and conferences, plenums, protocols of CC Politbiuro, Orgbiuro, and Secretariat meetings (1919–1952), the State Committee on Defense (Gosudarstvennyi komitet oborony—GKO, 1941–1945), records of the CC apparatus dealing with intra-Party affairs, domestic and foreign policy (including the post-1943 International Department), the economy, science, and culture. Smaller separate fonds include records of local Communist organizations, newspapers, and other Party organs from both pre- and postrevolutionary periods.
        Personal papers are rich with documentation of Bolshevik leaders, such as A.A. Andreev, I.[E.] F. Armand, N.I. Bukharin, F.E. Dzerzhinskii (Dzierżyński), M.I. Kalinin, L.B. Kamenev (Rozenfel'd), S.M. Kirov (Kostrikov), A.M. Kollontai, V.M. Molotov (Skriabin), I.V. Stalin (Dzhugashvili), L.D. Trotskii (Bronshtein), K.E. Voroshilov, A.A. Zhdanov, and G.E. Zinov'ev (Radomysl'skii), and of prominent spokesmen of alternative RSDRP tendencies—P.B. Aksel'rod, A.A. Bogdanov (Malinovskii), L. Martov (Iu.O. Tsederbaum), and G.V. Plekhanov. Additional groups of personal papers of Communist leaders received from the Presidential Archive (AP RF) during 1996 include those of S.A. Alliluev, L.M. Kaganovich, M.M. Litvinov, G.M. Malenkov, A.I. Mikoian, as well as some additional papers to be added to preexisting fonds. And in April 1999, most of the Stalin papers from AP RF were transferred to RGASPI.
        The documentary complex devoted to the international socialist and communist movements includes records of the First, Second, and Third Communist Internationals, the Socialist Labor International, and the Information Bureau of Communist and Workers’ Parties (Kominform, 1947–1956). The records of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (1919–1943) comprise the most voluminous fond (fond 495—138,545 units) with 234 opisi divided geographically by country. Some of the fonds of this division had earlier been accumulated within the Comintern archive—records of Comintern congresses, foreign Communist Parties, and international organizations associated with the Comintern—the Communist Youth International (KIM, 1919–1943), the Red International Trade Unions (Profintern, 1921–1937), and the International Agency for Assistance to Fighters for Revolution (MOPR, 1922–1941). (Later files pertaining to international CP activities are to be found in the records of the CC International Department—see above.) This division retains personal fonds and documents of persons associated with the German Social-Democrats and the Second International—such as Eduard Bernstein, Wilhelm Dittman, Karl Kautsky, Karl Liebknecht, and Rosa Luxemburg, and of representatives of the left-wing socialist movement who later joined the Comintern—such as Clara Zetkin and David Wijnkoop.
        Extensive audiovisual collections include photographs, films, and sound recordings. These include collections of photographs of delegates to congresses, conferences, and plenums of the CPSU Central Committee (1922–1976), photographic portraits of CPSU and Soviet state leaders (1918–1949), and photographs of Russian revolutionary and social activists. Motion pictures are particularly extensive regarding the life and activities of Lenin and include special collections of the “Living Lenin” and the “Funeral of Lenin.” Among sound recordings are numerous recordings of Lenin speeches (especially 1919–1921).
        In March 1993 RTsKhIDNI acquired the valuable collections (200,000 units) from the former Museum of Marx and Engels, which is now arranged as a new Division of Museum Fonds ( This includes many original documents on European social history; socialist, communist, and national liberation movements; photographs and negatives (ca. 30,000), posters (ca. 40,000), and graphic materials, including a particularly little-known collection of political cartoons; as well as the archive and library of the museum.
        RTsKhIDNI has acquired several other contemporary labor-related collections, including the archive of the Information Center for the Workers’ and Trade-Union Movement “KAS-KOR,” which had been founded in the spring of 1991, with abundant documentation of independent labor unions and contemporary political parties, and a group of over 400 titles of independent labor newspapers and periodicals.

N.B. Researchers should note that most CPSU records postdating 1953 are now held in the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History—RGANI (former TsKhSD) (B–13). Some fonds listed there also contain significant Central Committee files from the pre-1953 period, although some of these, such as records of the Bureau of Party Control, are in the process of transfer to RGASPI. RGANI still retains part of the records and also the extensive item-level locator card files of the CPSU Central Committee Secretariat and Politburo, with files covering the period from 1918 to 1953, together with additional extensive reference card catalogues.
        Many important files from various fonds, dating from 1918 on, including many of the most important files of personal papers (for example, parts of the fonds of Bukharin and Trotskii, and a few remaining Stalin papers), are still retained in the Presidential Archive—AP RF (C–1). In recent years, significant files predating 1952 from the Presidential Archive are being transferred to RGASPI, and some have already been declassified.

        Holdings from the former Komsomol Archive (1992–1999—TsKhDMO)

The basic holdings from the former Komsomol Archive (TsKhDMO) are the records of the highest organs of the Komsomol–including its congresses and conferences, which are preserved in their entirety, except for the first four, which remain fragmentary. Starting from 1919 protocols (resolutions) have been preserved of plenums of the Bureau and Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Russian Young Communist League (Rossiiskii kommunisticheskii soiuz molodezhi—RKSM, 1918–1924), the Russian Leninist Young Communist League (RLKSM, 1924–1926), and the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (VLKSM), along with their supplementary materials.
        Documentation of the Komsomol Central Committee consists of the records of the General Division, the Division of (local) Komsomol Organizations, the Sector for Registration and Statistics, the Divisions of Propaganda and Agitation, Culture, Sports and Defense Capabilities for the Masses, and the Division for Direction of Komsomol Organizations in the Rear-Guard of the Enemy (1942–1944). Transcripts are preserved of meetings of the VLKSM (and LKSM) Central Committees of Soviet union republics, and Komsomol committees of krais (kraikomy), and oblasts (obkomy).
        A unique group of records in the archive are the fonds of zonal bureaus and sections for nationalities, which operated under the authority of VLKSM Central Committee in various regions of the country in the 1920s and 1930s. Complete fonds are preserved of the Central Asian Bureau and Far Eastern Bureau (Dal'biuro), of the Jewish Young Communist League Central Committee (TsK EKSM). The archive retains a large collection of Komsomol documents from the period of World War II, including letters from the front, which have been collected on the initiative of the archive itself from all over the country.
        Foreign relations and Komsomol actitivies in the international arena are reflected in the records of the VLKSM Delegation to the Communist Youth International (KIM, 1919–1943), the Anti-Fascist Committee of Soviet Youth (1941–1956), and the Committee of Youth Organizations of the USSR (1950–1992). This group of materials also includes the records of preparation and participation of Soviet delegations in the First through the Seventh World Youth Festivals.
        The archive preserves the records of the Committee for Affairs of Youth Organizations of the USSR, the Central Council of All-Union Pioneer Organization (1922–1991), and the Central Bureau of the Sputnik Youth Tourist Agency (1958–). There are also records of Communist and other youth organizations, associations, and movements that functioned to the end of 1991, as well as records of existing independent all-Russian youth associations along with those of youth factions, and sections of political parties.
        Former TsKhDMO gradually developed as a repository for a wide range of documents and materials on different data media. The archive has a special fond for periodical publications, which includes the records of the VLKSM Central Committee publishing house “Molodaia Gvardiia” and the editorial records of youth and Pioneer magazines and the newspaper Komsomol'skaia pravda. However, not all the records of publishing houses and central youth periodical publications are acquired by the Center.
        The archive also holds a voluminous collection of photographs, sound recordings, microforms, and motion pictures (including videotapes), museum exhibits, and other materials, such as badges and memorial gifts.
        In 1992 TsKhDMO began to collect personal papers. The Center has already acquired documents of former secretaries of the VLKSM Central Committee and of other prominent Komsomol figures from prewar and postwar periods.
        The museum fond of the center retains memorabilia and other materials from Party and Komsomol veterans, delegates to VLKSM congresses, pioneers of cultivation in the virgin lands (pervotselinniki), and exhibits from internationalist warriors (fighting in Afghanistan). There are also documents of Komsomol participants in the clean-up operation in the aftermath of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl atomic power station.

N.B. Most documentation of the republic-level, regional (kraevye), and oblast Komsomol organizations is accessioned by local Party archives.

ABB ArcheoBiblioBase Archeo Biblio Base Patricia Kennedy Grimsted