The Bridge: Connecting Past and Present through Archival Research on Russia

Malcolm Byrne's picture

A Joint Project of the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the National Security Archive


From Svetlana Savranskaya, The National Security Archive


On October 7, 2020, the National Security Archive at George Washington University and the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey launched a new project: “The Bridge: Connecting Past and Present Through Archival Research on Russia” to help inspire interest in Russian history, politics and culture of the XX century. During a very difficult period in U.S.-Russian relations, it is important not to lose sight of opportunities for research, which do exist despite the political challenges and the global pandemic.  Despite all the indications to the contrary, many of the most important Russian archives are open and are worth investigating.  This project is intended to help guide Western scholars, and especially young researchers to the Russian and post-Soviet archives.

 The goal of this project is to illuminate archival sources and disseminate information about collections that are available (in-person and online) for the use of students and young experts in the field. Research based on original source materials is of paramount importance to moving the field of Russian studies forward.  The project organizers asked leading historians of Russia and the Cold War to talk about the most important Russian archives and give specific advice for accessing open collections.  Among project participants are such prominent scholars as Vladimir Pechatnov of MGIMO, Peter Ruggenthaler of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Austria, Mariana Budjeryn of Harvard, Giorgi Kldiashvili of Institute of Freedom on Information Development of Georgia and others.  They recorded lectures and provided reference materials to help Western scholars in their preparation for working in the Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian archives. 

Some highlights of this project include how to access critical archives such as RGANI, GARF, and the Foreign Ministry archives in Moscow; tips on how to access archival material in regional archives that may be off-limits in the capital; and how to access a variety of archival material online from the comfort of your own home or office.

Carnegie Corporation of New York provided funding for this project.