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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-7

Last update of repository: 3 December 2020

Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva (RGALI)


Total: 3,222 fonds, 1,607,603 units, 18th c.–2015 (scattered documents 14th, 16th, and 17th cc.)
institutional fonds—398 fonds; personal papers—2,823 fonds; microfilms—1 fond (7,400,206 frames)

Currently RGALI is the largest repository of institutional records and personal papers relating to the history of Russian and Soviet literature, social thought, music, theater, cinema, and the fine arts. The chronological scope of its collected documentation spans three centuries, from the eighteenth century to the present, but the bulk of materials is from the Soviet era. Documentation is stored in two general sections–the division of literature and the division of fine arts. Records of state institutions and social organizations occupy the largest and most important part of these divisions.
        The prerevolutionary period, in terms of records of social organizations and culture associations, is represented most significantly by fonds of the Society of Friends of Russian Philology (Obshchestvo liubitelei rossiiskoi slovesnosti, 1811–1930), the Society for Aid to Needy Writers and Scholars (Obshchestvo dlia posobiia nuzhdaiushchimsia literatoram i uchenym—Literaturnyi fond, 1859–1922), and the editorial records of newspapers and magazines, such as Russkii vestnik, Delo, Russkoe bogatstvo, and Sovremennik, to name a few.
        Fonds relating to the Russian theater include those of the Moscow Office of Imperial Theaters (1806–1917) and the Russian Theater Society (1894–1917). Documentation for the history of art in Russia is concentrated in fonds of the Moscow Society of Friends of the Arts, the Tret'iakov Gallery, and the School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.
        The evolution of culture and art during the Soviet period is documented in fonds of state administrative agencies in the culture sphere–the Commitees for Art of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (1936–1953) and RSFSR (1938–1953), the Main Administration of Art (Glaviskusstvo) of Narkompros of the RSFSR (1928–1933), the Ministry of Culture of the USSR and its divisions (1953–1991), and also those of branch administrative agencies for selected types of art–the Committee for Cinematography of the USSR, the Board of Directors for Fine Arts Exhibitions and Panoramas, the State Association of Music, Variety, and Circus Enterprises, and others.
        Professional and other non-governmental cultural organizations in the realm of literature are represented by the fonds of Proletkul't (1917–1932), the Kuznitsa All-Russian Society of Proletariat Writers (1920–1959), the Union of Soviet Writers of the USSR (1932–1991) and its predecessors, along with those of literary associations and publishing houses. Analogous creative organizations from the division of fine arts are represented by fonds of the All-Russian Theater Society, the Union of Soviet Composers of the USSR (1948–1991) and of the RSFSR (1932–1991), the Unions of Soviet Painters (1957–1991), Architects (1932–1991), and Cinematographers (1965–1991).
        RGALI retains numerous fonds of scholarly institutions in the realm of art, such as the Imperial Academy of Arts (1757–1918), the Institute of the History of Art, and fonds of specialized higher educational establishments–the State Institute of Theater Art (GITIS, from 1879) and other theater schools, Moscow Conservatory and the Higher Technical Art Institute (VKhUTEIN, 1926–1930), and the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), among others. An important segment of official records comes from different creative institutions, namely film studios, theaters, circuses, music ensembles, choruses, and orchestras, museums, permanent and travelling exhibitions, and also from publishing houses, newspapers, and magazines.
        Provisionally all of these fonds can be separated into three main groups: management–reflecting administrative efforts of state institutions; personnel files, including information about the life and activity of creative workers in the Soviet Union; and more purely creative materials related to the artistic process. Among administrative documentation are documents of general content—reports, memoranda, and related communications to higher administrative organs. Personnel records, as a rule, are retained in agency archives; RGALI receives personal files only with data about the individuals' creative activities, as described in questionnaires, autobiographies, and personal references.
        Approximately half of the personal papers in RGALI represent materials of literary orientation. The rest deal with other branches of art, i. e. theater, ballet, music, cinema, sculpture, architecture, and fine arts. The largest fond, the main part of which relates to the first half of the nineteenth century, is the family archive of three generations of the Viazemskii princes—the so-called “Ostaf'evskii arkhiv.” Its documents relate to literary and social developments involving the life and creative work of many men of letters of that period, including letters of A.S. Pushkin, G.R. Derzhavin, P.Ia. Chaadaev, and N.V. Gogol'.
        RGALI retains the most significant part of the creative legacy of F.M. Dostoevskii and also papers of I.A. Goncharov, N.A. Nekrasov, I.S. Turgenev, and M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century drama is represented in the papers of A.N. Ostrovskii, A.V. Sukhovo-Kobylin, A.F. Pisemskii, and A.P. Chekhov. The Silver Age of Russian literature is represented in the fonds of L.N. Andreev, A.I. Kuprin, and I.A. Bunin. Soviet Russian poetry is represented in the fonds of A.A. Akhmatova, A.A. Blok, M.A. Bulgakov, S.A. Esenin (Yesenin), V.V. Maiakovskii, and M.I. Tsvetaeva.
        The history of Soviet literature is reflected in the fonds of F.V. Gladkov, A.S. Grin, Iu.K. Olesha, K.G. Paustovskii, Iu.N. Tynianov, A.A. Fadeev, and many other writers. Russian theater art in various genres and stages of development is represented in the fonds of actors and directors A.I. Iuzhin, V.E. Meyerhold (Meierkhol'd), M.G. Savina, L.V. Sobinov, and Maurice Petitpas (M.I. Petipa).
        Music is represented in the fonds of P.I. Tchaikovsky (Chaikovskii), S.I. Taneev, S.S. Prokof'ev, and D.D. Shostakovich, among others. Fine arts are reflected in the fonds of I.E. Repin, V.M. Vasnetsov, N.K. Roerich (Rerikh), M.V. Nesterov, and K.S. Petrov-Vodkin. Sources for the foundation and evolution of Soviet cinematography are found in the fonds of Ia.A. Protazanov, V.I. Pudovkin, A.P. Dovzhenko, S.M. Eisenstein (Eizenshtein), and M.I. Romm.
        RGALI also holds special collections of materials devoted to outstanding figures of Russian culture, such as A.S. Pushkin and L.N. Tolstoi, whose personal papers are, for the most part, located in other repositories. Personal documents of many famous writers and artists are also to be found in the several miscellaneous collections, such as those brought together by D.I. Iavornyts'kyi (Evarnitskii), F.F. Fidler, E.F. Tsippel'zon, L.N. Rabinovich, Ia.N. Tarnopol'skii, and Iu.G. Oksman, among others.
        Approximately seventy special subject- or type-oriented collections of documents have been assembled from RGALI's many miscellaneous accessions—albums, engravings, manuscripts, poetry, letters, memoirs and diaries, photographs, folklore materials, and personnel questionnaires (formuliarnye spiski) of men of art and letters. Besides, many fonds themselves contain rich graphic materials, including photographs. Many fonds in the archive contain copies of original documents received from foreign archives in England, the United States, Czechoslovakia, France, and Yugoslavia.
        During the years 1988–1993, more than 100 fonds or parts of fonds in RGALI were declassified. Most of these represent documents of institutions, organizations, and individuals in emigration or repressed during the Soviet period. Among them are the personal papers and documents of A.T. Averchenko, A. Belyi, Z.N. Gippius, S.A. Esenin (Yesenin), S.P. Mel'gunov, and M.I. Tsvetaeva, along with editorial records of the newspapers and journals Krasnaia nov', and Na literaturnom postu, and the fond of the Institute for the Study of Jewish History, Philosophy, and Literature.

ABB ArcheoBiblioBase Archeo Biblio Base Patricia Kennedy Grimsted