This is the largest and most recently acquired collection of Soviet documents at Harvard. It consists of materials microfilmed in Russian central archives since 1992. Most of the microfilm is of finding aids (opisi) for three of the most important Moscow archives -- the Center for Storage of Modern Documentation (TsKhSD), the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI), and the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF). These finding aids will be of tremendous use to anyone planning a research trip to Moscow.
This web site, however, will deal only with actual documents (as opposed to finding aids) microfilmed for the collection and present at Harvard as of the summer of 2002 (microfilming continues and new documents are still arriving). Modern Russian archives are generally organized as follows.
Storage and Classification of Documents
At the bottom level individual documents are filed in dela (singular delo), which used to be known as edinitsy khraneniia. A delo may consist of anywhere from one to several hundred pages of documents.
At the next level dela (plural) are described in opisi (occasionally also called perecheni) (plural). Each opis may list anywhere from two or three to several thousand dela. The term opis is used in two separate, but connected senses...
1. to describe the actual finding aid that lists the dela and summarizes their contents.
2. as a unit of document classification between delo and fond.
Fond refers usually to an entire collection of documents from a particular institution or individual. Each fond may contain one or more opisi listing its contents. Thus Fond 5566 of the State Archive of the Russian Federation contains documents of the printers' labor union.
List refers to an individual document page.
Thus a typical citation of a document stored in a Russian archive will identify the archive, the fond number, the opis number, the delo number and the page, or list number of the document. For example GARF, fond 5566, op. 4, d. 237, ll. 3-7.
This web site attempts to summarize the contents of archival materials at the fond level, or, in the case of particularly large fondy, at the opis level. Each description of a fond or opis identifies the originating institution(s), lists the finding aid for the fond/opis, gives a time frame for the fond/opis, and describes some of the documents in the fond/opis. The descriptions of documents are NOT complete. They are intended only to give the reader a general sense of the contents of fond/opis and enable him or her to decide whether to examine the microfilmed finding aid (opis) for a more detailed description of documents.
How to use the Chadwyck-Healey finding aids
There is a thin book cataloguing the O'Neill archive in the collection of microfilm finding aids in the Lamont basement, call number Film A975 (make sure that you use the 1999 edition, not the 1995 one). This book lists the fondy and sometimes opisi microfilmed, and shows what reel numbers in the O'Neill archive they are on. It is best used to match a fond or opis with a Chadwyck-Healey microfilm reel number, which will enable the researcher to pull the correct box of microfilm reels off the shelf.
The microfilm reels themselves are stored in boxes in the microfilm storage cage in the Lamont basement. Each box is labeled with the reel numbers for the reels it contains and a summary of its contents (i.e. GARF, f. 7863). The call number Film A975 identifies microfilmed finding aids, or opisi. Call numbers above this (Film A 975.1, .2, etc.) identify microfilm of actual historical documents.
Suppose that you decided based on this web site that you wished to take a closer look at the contents of GARF fond 9414, which contains documents related to the administration of Soviet concentration camps. First you would go to the book catalogue of the O'Neill archive at call number Film A975 (see above) and find out what microfilm reel the opisi for this fond were on. Then you would go to the microfilm cage and pull the box containing the proper reel off the shelves. After examining the opisi using the microfilm readers upstairs you could decide which particular documents you wanted to examine. You would then refer back to the O'Neill archive catalogue book to find the reel number for the documents, pull that reel off the shelf, and look at it.