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


State Archive of the Russian Federation

Location and Contact Details

Address: 119992, Moscow, ul. Bolshaia Pirogovsakaia, 17
Metro: Fruzenskaia

Exiting the metro, turn left and follow the road all the way to the end. GARF is the last building on the left.

Web: http://www.statearchive.ru
Phone: (495) 580-87-85
Archive director: Sergei Vladimirovich Mironenko
Chief archivist: Nina Ivanovna Abdulaeva

Opening Hours: Monday and Wednesday: 1200- 2000
Tuesday and Thursday: 1000- 1700
Friday: 1000- 1600
In reality, you are, with increasing ferocity, asked to leave at least 30 minutes before official closing time, if not earlier. 

Sanitarnyi den' is the first working day of each month. As of 2012, they have been moving some of the workdays on either side of holidays to Saturdays in order to adhere to a new federal law on holidays for state employees. Pay attention to the changing schedules, which are posted by the window where you drop off and pick up orders. The archive is closed in August.

How to Register

On your first visit, upon entering the building, take the door to the right, just next to the booth where the guard sits. This leads to the propusk desk. You need to hand in your letter and your passport to the woman behind the glass, who will then issue you with a temporary pass. It is very important that your letter is addressed to the director, Sergei Vladimirovich Mironenko. You show this pass and your passport to the guard (having deposited coat and bag in the garderob), and he will tear off half of it for no obvious reason. You then walk up the steps immediately in front of you and ascend to the reading room. The GARF desk/window is the nearest to you as you enter. Hand in your temporary pass and your letter and you will then be given a paper questionnaire to fill in. You will also have to duplicate this information on the computer system (progress does NOT mean abandoning the old system!). After completing all this, you'll be given a number to log in to the computer finding aids in the reading room. Write this number down somewhere safe or you will not be able to get into this system. You will be able to collect your propusk the next time you visit the archive from the propusk desk (remember your passport!). But as you leave the reading room on this first visit, you need to remember to pick up your temporary pass again (which will be stamped, you'll be relieved to hear) to hand to the guard on the way out. Note that you need to tell the archivists if you intend to bring a laptop with you, as this will require another stamp on your propusk. Obviously.

How to Order Material

Collect an order form (trebovanie) from the GARF window. Orders from different fondy should be written on different order forms. Hand this in to the archivists and they will tell you when the files will be delivered. The average wait is 3 working days but it can go up during busy times. The archivist will usually tell you exactly when to expect your files. The maximum order is 5 files or 10 microfilm reels per day.

Reading Room Practices, General Hints and Tips

GARF's reading room is quite modern and comfortable. Many of the opisi have been computerised, so your initial searching will be done on the computers in the reading room (you are given a login number when you register). You can keyword search, even! However, some fondy are, intentionally or otherwise, not yet digitised and you have to request them individually - most of them are now microfilmed. Excitingly, the computer catalogue is now available ONLINE. Moreover, it is, for no coherent reason, far more extensive than the version accessible in the reading room. Go to the website cited above and follow the link on the left to 'fondy', and then 'elektronnye opisi'. This is a bit of a revelation and allows you to prepare for your research trip in advance and save a lot of time. Note, however, that some archivists in the smaller reading rooms for particular collections don't know that this website exists (or, possibly, what the internet is) and will be combatively confused by how you could have known what to order in advance. Explain if you can (or can be bothered). Although the reading room is full of power sockets, you are not allowed to plug your laptop in. You can only do this at the front desk for reasons unknown. GARF is such a vast archive that many collections of documents have their own, separate reading rooms. You'll discover if this is the case for the materials you're interested in as you go along, and Nina Ivanovna will direct you to which part of the corpus you will need to work in. This tends to mean very small reading rooms which you have to arrive at early (they will have their own idiosyncratic opening times, posted on the door) in order to get a desk. They also have their own archivists who can be as variable as you would expect. GARF's collections are quite open, at least relatively speaking. It seems to be the practice that if a collection or fond is off-limits, you probably won't even know it exists: the opisi won't be listed or, if they are noted by number, they will always be 'unavailable'. It can be worth appealing to individual directors of the archive about this, as the reading room staff won't have the authority to grant you access, but a director may be willing to do so. See GARF's website for a list of the directors and their contact details.

GARF's toilets (turn left after the guard's turnstile, then through the door to your right) are disgusting. They opened new ones in January 2012 and in the span of about six months, they went from acceptable to revolting. Take your own toilet paper, but ideally don't plan on using the toilets while you're in the archive! There are nicer toilets up the first staircase further along from the stolovaia, though. GARF's stolovaia is one of the best. Not just tasty food delivered very cheaply, but one of the happiest Russian women you're ever likely to meet serves the food. Be warned - the food doesn't sit around and going after 1pm is a risk if you're hungry. To get to the stolovaia, you need to walk into the main internal courtyard (the exit to your left after passing through the guard post, but before you climb the steps to the reading room), and follow the left-hand side of the building along until you see the sign for it. There used to be a bufet, but this has now closed; fearful of the desperate hordes of readers in need of caffeine, the authorities have even placed an official seal across the door. For tea breaks, you'll need to bring a thermos, or look outside the archive. The metro station is surrounded by various cafes including the beloved Moo-Moo and now also a Starbucks where the staff are very friendly to offset the steep prices. Starbucks' toilets are also a good strategic option to avoid using GARF's. The Russian State Archive of the Economy (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Ekonomiki, RGAE), at least temporarily, shares a main reading room with GARF and has some khranilishchi in the buildings in the main quad of the GARF building. You can access its finding aids on the same computers using the same login. In September 2012, they announced that they will move the entire collection out to a satellite archive in Podol'sk and, in the meantime, it is not possible to order paper dela from them. Microfilm was still available as of autumn 2012. There is no clear indication of when the move will be completed.

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