(redirected from archivist)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



independent institutions, or sections in institutions, organizations, and enterprises, which preserve documentary materials; also, a collection of documents which has been organized as a result of the activities of such institutions, societies, and individual persons. In their capacity as collections of sources, archives serve the goals of scholarly research. They are also utilized to meet practical needs of the economy and the state administration.

Prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR. The history of the oldest archival repositories within the present-day territory of the USSR goes back in its sources to the first millennium B.C. Landmarks in writing (cuneiform inscriptions on clay tablets, stones, and objects of daily life) dating back to the 9th-6th centuries B.C. were discovered in Transcaucasia on the territory of one of the world’s early slaveowning states—Urartu. The so-called marble archive has been preserved from the ancient cities of the northern Black Sea coast (6th-5th centuries B.C.). Monuments have been found which contain information about writing in the states of Central Asia—Khorezm, Sogdiana, and the Samanid state. At the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th century A.D. private archives appeared in these states along with the central archives. Avicenna left a detailed description of an archive-library belonging to a Samanid emir. Archives began to appear during this period in other nations also. A considerable number of the oldest Armenian manuscripts were collected in Matenadaran, Armenian SSR. By the tenth century, archives had also come into existence in Georgia. The first archives in Kievan Rus’ were begun at princes’ courts, in monasteries, and in churches.

After the creation of a centralized Russian state in Moscow during the 16th century, the Royal Archive was begun; here documents were deposited from the princes of Tver, Riazan, Smolensk, Chernigov, and Yaroslavl, among others. Many materials were also deposited here which pertained to the domestic administration and the foreign relations of the Russian state with the countries of Western Europe and Asia. At the beginning of the 17th century, at the time of the Polish-Swedish intervention, the Royal Archive was partially conveyed to Poland, and the remaining materials were placed in the Posol’ski Prikaz (Foreign Office).

At the beginning of the 18th century, as a result of the reforms of Peter I concerning the General Regulations for the Collegiums (1720), the archives of institutions—that is, the Senate, the Collegiums, and the Synod—were separated from current, ongoing business and transferred to the administration of special persons known as archivists. It was at the same time that the word “archive” itself came into circulation. Documents from the abolished Posol’ski Prikaz were then combined into the first historical archive—the General Archive of Old State Affairs (later renamed the Moscow Archive of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs). In 1797, His Imperial Majesty’s Own Office of Maps was created (from 1812 known as the Archive of the Military Topographical Office). During the 19th century the following large historical archives were formed: the Moscow Archive of the General Staff (1819; later named the Lefortov Archive), the State Archive of the Russian Empire (1834), the Moscow Archive of the Ministry of Justice (1852), the Military Science Archive (1867), and others. Among the governmental institutions of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century the largest archives belonged to the Senate; the Synod; the State Council; the Committee of Ministers; the Council of Ministers; the State Duma; the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Agriculture and State Property, Finances, and Public Education; the Ministry of the Court; the Maritime Ministry; the State Control; and divisions of His Majesty’s Own Chanceries. (Among these the most important was the Archive of the Third Section, which concentrated in its holdings confidential information concerning all “occurrences” in the country during the period 1826–80.)

In prerevolutionary Russia, documents relating to revolutionary organizations and parties were located primarily in the archives of the police and the juridical-investigatory and other such institutions. On V. I. Lenin’s initiative an archive of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party was created in Geneva in 1904. Prior to the October Revolution of 1917 there was no centralized administration of archives in Russia; this lack had a negative effect on the status of archival affairs.

After the October Revolution, on the basis of a decree of June 1, 1918, by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR entitled “On Reorganizing and Centralizing Archival Affairs,” as well as other decrees signed by Lenin on archives in the RSFSR, all the archives of governmental institutions were abolished as departmental units. The documents held by them were collected in the Unified State Archival Repository (EGAF). Archival affairs in the country were under the direction of the Main Archival Administration (GAU), which in turn was under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. In order to preserve archival holdings of importance to the whole country, 13 central archives were created in the USSR, directly subordinate to the GAU: the Central State Archive of the October Revolution, the Higher Organs of State Power, and the Organs of State Administration of the USSR (TsGAOR SSSR); the Central State Archive of the National Economy of the USSR (TsGANKh SSSR); the Central State Archive of the Soviet Army (TsGASA); the Central State Archive of the Navy of the USSR (TsGAVMF SSSR); the Central State Literature and Art Archive of the USSR (TsGALI SSSR); the Central State Archive of Old Deeds (TsGADA); the Central State Historical Archive of the USSR (TsGIA SSSR); the Central State Military History Archive of the USSR (TsGVIA SSSR); the Central State Archive of Scientific and Technical Documentation of the USSR (TsGANTD SSSR); the Central State Archive of Cinematic and Photographic Documents of the USSR (TsGAKFD SSSR); the Central State Archive of Sound Recordings of the USSR (TsGAZ SSSR); the Central State Archive of the RSFSR (Moscow); and the Central State Archive of the RSFSR Far East (Tomsk). In the Union republics (except for the RSFSR, whose archives are subordinate to the GAU under the Council of Ministers of the USSR), archival affairs are directed by archival administrations under the republic councils of ministers. Under their jurisdiction are the central republic archives. In the autonomous republics, krais, and oblasts there are local archives—krai, oblast, raion, and so forth. They are directed by the archival sections of the executive committees of the councils of workers’ deputies. Besides the state archives of the GAU system, the USSR has archives under the jurisdiction of Party organs, certain ministries and departments, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the academies of sciences of the Union republics, and individual institutions of the Central Party Archive (TsPA) which are administered by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism attached to the Central Committee of the CPSU. Materials of local organizations of the CPSU and the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League (VLKSM) are retained in Party archives under the administration of branches of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism and of the krai and oblast committees of the CPSU. A total of more than 55 million documents are concentrated in Party archives (1968). Documents of institutions which have carried on the foreign relations of Russia and the USSR are concentrated in the Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, the Archive of the Foreign Policy of Russia (AVPR), and the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the USSR (AVP SSSR). Under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR there are two archives, in which have been collected military and naval materials pertaining to the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) and the postwar period. Documents which relate to the activity of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the academies of sciences of the Union republics, their institutions, and the personal holdings of scholars are kept in the Central Archive of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (created in 1728); documents of certain prerevolutionary institutions, monasteries, collections of manuscripts, and so forth are concentrated in the Library of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Leningrad Section of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and other institutions. There are archives in the Lenin State Library of the USSR; the M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library; the State Historical Museum; the Central State Museum of Artillery, Military Engineering, and Military Communication; republic and oblast museums and libraries; and memorial museums, such as the archives of the L. N. Tolstoy Museum and the V. V. Mayakovsky Museum. The literary legacy of A. S. Pushkin is concentrated in an archive under the administration of the Institute of Russian Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Pushkin House), and that of A. M. Gorky is in the archive of the Institute of World Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In addition to the state archives, current archives are maintained by institutions, organizations, and enterprises. Materials are kept in these temporarily (from five to 40 years) and then transferred to state archives.

World War II inflicted considerable damage on state archival holdings; however, because of the efforts of state and Party organizations, the Soviet Army, and the Soviet people, the most valuable documents were saved. Among the responsibilities of archives is the issuance of certificates and information concerning work records, wages, and so forth. Archives study and publish historical documents jointly with scientific research institutes. Many archives issue guidebooks, descriptions, and surveys of documentary materials and other reference literature. Staffs of historian-archivists are trained at the Moscow State Historical-Archival Institute (founded in 1930). On Mar. 2, 1966, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Documentation and Archival Affairs (VNIIDAD) was established in Moscow.

Since February 1966 the journal Sovetskie arkhivy (Soviet Archives) has been published. Previously issued were the following journals: Krasnyi arkhiv (Red Archive; 1922–41), Arkhivnoe delo (Archival Affairs; 1923–41), Istoricheskii arkhiv (Historical Archive; 1955–62), and Voprosy arkhi-vovedeniia (Problems of Archive Studies; 1959–65).


Samokvasov, D. Ia. Arkhivnoe delo ν Rossii, books 1–2. Moscow, 1902.
Maiakovskii, I. L. Ocherki po istorii arkhivnogo dela ν SSSR, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1960.
Cherepnin, L. V. Russkie feodal’nye arkhivy XIV-XV vv, parts 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948–51.
Gosudarstvennye arkhivy SSSR: Kratkii spravochnik. Moscow, 1956.
“Voprosy arkhivovedeniia i istorii gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii SSSR.” Trudy MGIAI, 1965, vol. 20.
K 50-letiiu sovetskogo arkhivnogo dela: Osnovnye postanovleniia Sovetskogo pravitel’stva. Moscow, 1968.
Foreign countries. Archaeological excavations have revealed that archives already existed in the ancient world. The largest archive of the early Middle Ages in Western Europe was the archive of the Roman popes (the Vatican Archive), which came into being around the fourth century. Even now this archive is one of the most valuable on the history of medieval Europe. During the Middle Ages there were archives attached to feudal principalities, individual monasteries, patrimonial estates, and municipal archives. With the process of state centralization, there was a gradual increase in the importance of royal archives, which became the principal archives of the state. Nevertheless, by the end of the Middle Ages, despite elements of centralization, each country had many archives which were not connected with one another.
The Great French Revolution at the end of the 18th century led to major changes in archival affairs. In 1789–90 a resolution was adopted on the establishment in France of the National Archive, in which all documents would be concentrated which were set aside as a result of the activity of the legislative institutions of the country during the revolutionary period. In 1794 the Convention issued a decree which declared the National Archive to be the country’s central state archive, which would be given documents of new legislation, as well as historical materials relating to questions of land and the courts. At the present time the French National Archives (Archives Nationales) in Paris is one of the largest archival repositories in the world. In local areas analogous materials must be concentrated in provincial archives. Documents which are only of historical value are transferred to the National Library in Paris. The 1794 decree, which first established the principle of a general archival reform, became a model for archival legislation in a number of countries. During the 19th century archives became public; this made their materials more or less accessible for scholarly research and facilitated the transformation of archives into centers of scholarly work on the research and publication of the documents preserved in them. Training of special staffs of archivists was begun in many countries. A special archival institute was established in Paris in 1821 (the so-called Ecole des Chartes). During the 19th and 20th centuries there was manifestly a trend toward the further centralization of archives, revealed both in the concentration of state repositories and in the subordination of archives to special administrative organs. The centralization of archival affairs in France was given shape by a series of legislative acts passed during the period from the 1850’s to the 1890’s. The most important of these acts was that of 1884. In accordance with these acts the administration of national, provincial, community, and hospital archives was concentrated in the Ministry of Education, under which were established the Archive Board, the Archive Commission, and a system of inspection.
Following France’s example, reforms in archival affairs were carried out in the Netherlands (1875) and in Belgium (1879); in the latter a network of state archives (central and provincial) was created under the administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In Great Britain a law was passed in 1838 on the establishment of a state public archive (the Public Record Office). It was one of the richest archives, and in it were concentrated all the historical holdings of London. Certain materials from operating institutions began to be deposited here too; however, neither a general archival administration nor any network of local state archives subordinate to it has been created in Britain. The concentration of archives in Italy and in Germany (countries which remained politically divided until the second half of the 19th century) first occurred within the individual states which existed on their territory. In 1861, after the unification of Italy, the Archive of the Italian Kingdom was established; it is now the Central State Archive (Archivio Céntrale dello Stato, Rome). All state archives were transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A general German state archive did not come into being until 1919. Since World War II the central archive of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) has been the German Central Archive (Deutsches Zentralarchiv) in Potsdam; documents dated prior to the 19th century are preserved in its division in Merseburg. The central archive of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is the Federal Archive (Bun-desarchiv) in Coblenz; documents dated prior to the 19th century are kept in its branch in Frankfurt am Main. In the USA the central state archive (the National Archives, Washington) was established in 1934. In accordance with the Federal Archives Act of 1950, which placed the National Archives of the USA under the authority of the General Services Administration of the federal government, the National Archives received the right of administrative control over the archives of all federal departments. An extensive network of local state archives of the USA, which has developed since the early 19th century and includes archives of states, counties, and cities, is not under the jurisdiction of a central archival administration; in their establishment and structure there is great diversity. Many archival documents are kept in libraries, especially in the manuscript division of the Library of Congress in Washington.
World War II caused enormous damage to the archives of many countries, particularly to repositories in Eastern Europe—for example, the archives of Warsaw and Prague. Many archives in Germany were destroyed, and many in Italy suffered damage. After the war the government of the USSR turned over to the government of the GDR more than 2 million items of archival documents and acts which had been saved by the Soviet Army from destruction during the defeat of Nazi Germany. Rescued archival materials were also returned by the government of the USSR to the governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, France, and a number of other countries.
In capitalist countries the possibility of creating a unified state archival repository on a national scale is excluded because of the dominant principle of private property. Along with the state archives there exist numerous private archives—for example, those of business enterprises, joint-stock companies, and political organizations—the owners of which frequently block the use of their archival materials, fearing the disclosure of “business secrets” and so forth. Besides a centralized system of administering state archives (as is practiced, for example, in France, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries), there also exists a decentralized system (practiced in the USA, Switzerland, Great Britain, and other countries).
In the majority of the Latin American countries state national archives were created during the first half of the 19th century, after the liberation of these countries from Spanish and Portuguese colonial dependence. For example, the main national archive of Argentina was established in 1821, that of Mexico in 1823, and that of Brazil in 1838.
In the countries of Asia and Africa the status of archival affairs was made difficult by the position of colonial and semicolonial dependence in which many of these countries found themselves. Archival treasures were plundered and taken by the colonial powers to the mother countries; there are particularly large amounts of colonial materials in the archives of Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal. The situation of archival affairs has improved somewhat during the past few decades in countries which have won independence from their former colonizers. Among the richest archives in the Eastern countries are the National Archives in Delhi, India; the Archives of the Council of Ministers of Turkey in Ankara; and the Central State Archives in Cairo (UAR).
In socialist countries other than the USSR archival affairs have undergone a radical transformation. During the period from 1949 to 1957 reforms were carried out in Bulgaria, the GDR, Poland, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia to implement the sequential centralization of archives. Harmonious, unified archival systems were established. State archival holdings were organized, including documents preserved in various archives, libraries, and museums, as well as those current materials from present-day institutions and organizations. Great attention has been paid to collecting historical revolutionary documents, and historical revolutionary archives have been established.
In the archives of a number of foreign countries there are valuable collections of documents relating to Russian history; especially rich in such materials are archives in Sweden, Finland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the USA.
International ties between archivists. The International Council on Archives (ICA) has existed under UNESCO since 1948. It includes archival institutions from 71 countries (1968); since 1956 the archival institutions of the USSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Byelorussian SSR have been members of the ICÁ. The responsibilities of the ICÁ are as follows: the periodic convocation of international congresses of archivists (the first was held in Paris in 1950), the establishment and strengthening of ties between archivists from different countries, assistance in the preservation and protection of documents, and the coordination of archival operations on an international level. Since 1951 the ICA has issued the journal Archivum. It has also established international courses for archivists in Paris. Outside the structure of the ICA, but under its sponsorship and guidance, the organization called the Round Table of Archives (a regional European organization) has been in existence since 1957.
The contemporary status of archival affairs is characterized by the extensive introduction of archival technology—that is, microfilming and photoreproduction of documents, creation of the archives of motion pictures and microfilms, and utilization of new methods of restoring and preserving documents. It is also characterized by the shifting of archives into archival storage facilities which are specially equipped for the improved storage of documentary materials—for example, special shelves and airconditioning units. Use of archival materials has been facilitated by the publication of catalogs and guidebooks.


Maiakovskii, I. L. Arkhivy i arkhivnoe delo ν rabovladel’cheskikh gosudarstvakh drevnosli i ν epokhu feodalizma. Moscow, 1959.
Brzhostovskaia, N. V. Arkhivnoe delo ν stranakh Evropy i Ameriki ν period kapitalizma. Moscow, 1957.
Brzhostovskaia, N. V. Razvitie arkhivnogo dela ν noveishee vremia (1918–1960). Moscow, 1961.
Arkhivnoe delo ν zarubezhnykh stranakh: Ocherki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1963.
Brenneke, R Archivkunde. Leipzig, 1953.
Favier, J. Les archives. Paris, 1959.
Jenkinson, H. A Manual of Archive Administration, 2nd ed. London, 1965.
Schellenberg, T. R. The Management of Archives. New York-London, 1965.
Dadzie, E. W., and J. T. Strickland. Directory of Archives, Libraries, and Schools of Librarianship in Africa. Paris, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The archivists have been working on digitising the glass plate negatives and hope to finish cataloguing the documents in the coming year.
The Society of American Archivists gives a nice definition of provenance; "The origin or source of something--Information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection." (3) The theory of respect of original order is that the records should be kept in the order that the creator put them it.
When Perry announced he would house his archives at the state library, archivists had less than a year to determine a digital solution before he left office in January 2015.
The congress is very important to those in the field of archiving because it serves as a venue to learn from each other the best practices in archival management in the country, and it strengthens networks with fellow archivists for support.
Chapter 3 introduces archival appraisal, considered by many archivists to be the most intellectually demanding archival function, and one that distinguishes archival work from other related disciplines.
The chief archivist has also ruled out any scrutiny of private mobile phones or devices and personal text messages on ministerial phones.
ALABI--a professional organization of librarians and archivists from a broad variety of Baptist historical collections, colleges, and seminaries in America--holds an annual meeting normally the days after the Baptist History and Heritage Society meeting, but this year tried something new and met jointly with the Society.
Paul Ford, an archivist at Walsall Council, started to research the Watson family after an autograph album dating back to 1900 was sent to Walsall Local History Centre.
Bates challenges the belief that the archivist's organization of materials is the "best," and she explores how archives may present one story but ultimately produce another.
The first challenge the archivist faces in working with information technology professionals relates to language.
"We picked Worcester because we were meeting there, and then what we realized was how rich the community is with recent immigrants and all these different cultures, and that Lutheran Social Services is doing so many amazing things to help these individuals," said Lisa Long Feldmann, an archivist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
On Saturday from 2pm, Rhian Phillips, senior archivist at Glamorgan Archives, will give an illuminating talk, Glamorgan Archives: Discovering the Past.

Full browser ?