Ancient Russian Bibliotheca

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ancient Russian Bibliotheca


(Drevniaia rossiiskaia vivliofika), the first large edition of written sources on the history of Russia, undertaken by N. I. Novikov in the years 1773–75. Its ten parts were intended to acquaint various strata of Russian society with their country’s history.

The Ancient Russian Bibliotheca contained charters granted by khans of the Tatar horde to Russian metropolitans and treaties of Novgorod the Great with the grand princes of Tver’ and Muscovy (1263–1571), as well as wills, treaties, and other documents of grand princes and appanage princes. In addition, it contained documents of private law of boyars and noblemen (1328–1585), reports of ambassadors on their travels and negotiations in various countries, notes on the history of Siberia (from the late 15th through the early 18th centuries), genealogies of noble boyar families, an account of Metropolitan Isidor’s travels to Florence and papal ambassador A. Possevin’s travels, the tale of S. T. Razin, the life of F. Rtishchev, and other documents.

A second, improved edition of the Ancient Russian Bibliotheca consisting of 20 parts came out in the years 1788–91. Of particular value in this edition are the topographical descriptions of Simbirsk province, the Irkutsk vicegerency, and industrial plants of the Ufa vicegerency, as well as descriptions of the Nerchinsk mines, the lands of the Don host, and the city of Perm’. The second edition also included the Dvina and Nizhny Novgorod chronicles, a list of and historical information on court ranks, the tale of the capture of Azov, and other literary works. The publication of the Ancient Russian Bibliotheca was an important step in the development of Russian archaeography and the study of source materials. It has retained its scholarly significance to this day.


Derbov, L. A. “N. I. Novikov i russkaia istoriia (k izdaniiu ‘Drevnei Rossiiskoi Vivliofiki’).” In Iz istorii obshchestvennogo dvizheniia i obshchestvennoi mysli v Rossii, fasc. 2. Saratov, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.