Centre for Doctoral Training in Russian, Slavonic & East European languages and culture


Russian State Archive of Literature and Art

Location and Contact Details

Reading Room 1 (Читальный зал рукописей)
Address: ul. Vyborgskaia, d. 3, korpus 2
Phone: (499) 159 75 13

Reading room 2 (Читальный зал микрофильмов и фондов государственных учреждений)
Address: ul. Vyborgskaia, d. 3, korpus 1, komn. 8
Phone: (499) 156 69 52
Metro: Vodnyi stadion

RGALI is deceptive: reading room 1 (which is where you should initially register) is NOT reached from ul. Vyborgskaia, although reading room 2 (the microfilm room) is. To reach reading room 1, turn left out of the train coming from the city, leave the metro station and turn left. Walk along ul. Admirala Makarova on the side opposite the metro. The entrance to the archive is off this street: turn right just before you reach ul. Vyborgskaia (in early 2010 there were major road works going on here, which obscured the turning, although the building was accessible). The archive is the yellow building on your left. 

Web: www.rgali.ru
Email: zakazrgali@list.ru

Archive director: Tatiana Mikhailovna Goriaeva
Chief archivist: Dmitrii Viktorovich Neustroev

Opening Hours:
Reading room 1
Monday-Thursday: 0930-1730
Friday: 0930-1630

Reading room 2
Monday & Wednesday: 1200-2000 Tuesday & Thursday: 1000-1730 Friday: 1000-1630 The sanitarnyi den' is the first working day of each month. You will kindly be requested to leave the archive fifteen minutes before closing time and you will not be allowed to enter either reading rooms within thirty minutes of closing time. Orders for documents are not accepted from mid-July until the beginning of September. Both reading rooms are closed in August.

How to Register

When you arrive for the first time, show your letter of introduction to the guard at the main entrance. (S)he will call through the duty archivist who will ask you to fill in some forms, take your passport photo and make up your propusk. There is a small charge for making up the propusk. Your propusk is only considered valid when presented alongside your passport. Occasionally the guard will check that you are in possession of both documents. If you are not, then access to the archive will be denied and henceforth you will be greeted with suspicious frowns whenever you decide to work in RGALI again.

How to Order Material

There is an online catalogue at www.rgali.ru and a number of open-access card catalogues in the basement. Opisi are in cupboards in the reading room anteroom, where the duty archivist works. These are available on request and are occasionally freely available when the cupboards are left unlocked. Approach the duty archivist in reading room one and ask for a request form; you will be handed three. One form is for microfilms, one is for original documents (podlinniki) from personal fondy, and one is for podlinniki from the fondy of cultural bodies and organisations. To find out which orders should be written on which order forms, present the duty archivist with a list of all the documents you need, recorded in order of fond/delo (hint: you are less likely to irritate the duty archivist if you have one long list, rather than several shorter ones). He will then mark each item on your list with the letters 'pl' (short for plenki, meaning on microfilm) or 'nv' (ne vypuskaiut, documents that cannot currently be accessed). Any items left without a mark are podlinniki; simply look at the name of a document's fond to work out on which order form it belongs. To avoid any pen throwing/stabbing injuries, do not fill the order forms in with a pencil. Documents ordered from the fondy of cultural bodies and organisations will normally be delivered to and consulted in reading room two. The average wait is three working days for documents on microfilm and four working days for podlinniki of any type. During busier periods documents may take anything up to a week to arrive. In theory, documents can be kept for up to a month; in practice, they may be taken away after two weeks. Do not send documents back that you think you might need again, or that you would like to copy. You will have to wait several weeks, if not months, to receive these documents a second time.

Reading Room Practices, General Hints and Tips

Laptops are allowed, and all desks have power points and lamps (though not all work). The reading rooms are small, and are often full by midday. Many fondy in RGALI are collections of an individual or family's documents and it is necessary to get permission from that individual or their descendents to gain access. The chief archivist, Dima, is very knowledgeable and is sometimes able to provide the necessary contact details - although he may be reluctant to give these out. If you are granted permission by the relatives, you must have them itemise every single delo which you want to view in order for Dima to grant access.

Documents may be ordered in advance by e-mail, if you can provide all the required cataloguing information. Do not expect to be told which documents are podlinniki and which are on microfilm. Copies can be made of all documents and images. The cost of this service depends on the age of the document you want to copy; the older the document, the cheaper it is to copy. As a rough pricing guide, one scan of one side of one page onto CD costs fifty roubles. Allow up to two weeks for orders to be processed. No limit is imposed on the number of copies you can order, but you cannot copy a whole delo or fond. You will be asked to sign a dogovor if you request more than one hundred copies at any one time. Hint: if you want to copy a document on microfilm and you know that this document is split over two separate reels, state this fact on the order form to avoid confusion. Pay for your copied documents by taking a receipt, lovingly signed and stamped by the duty archivist, your passport, and your registration details to any branch of Sperbank in the city centre. Present these documents at a counter, where you will be required to pay off your debts in cash. Do not take exact change as the bank incurs a small additional charge for completing the transaction. The bank will return your receipt, sporting an extra stamp, which you then take back to RGALI's duty archivist, along with a blank CD to replace the one that has been used to house your images. The duty archivist will only photograph the receipt once it has been stamped by the bank, so you may keep the original for your own records. There is no stolovaia at RGALI, and the nearest cafes are back towards the metro. There is a table and chairs by the lockers at the entrance. You can ask the guard to let you back through the security gate and eat there if you want to bring food with you. The bathroom in reading room two leaves much to be desired (unless you're a fan of shredded newspaper). Take your own tissues, soap/hand sanitizer, and a bottle of water.

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