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Stalin Digital Archive: Unprecedented Access to Archival Documents from the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI)
By: Jutta Seibert
This treasure trove of historical documents is the result of years of cooperation between Yale University Press and RGASPI. The Digital Archive presents documents written by Stalin between 1889 and 1952, Stalin’s correspondence from 1917 to 1952, more than 300 books from Stalin’s personal library with his marginalia, biographical materials, and digital copies of all the volumes of the Annals of Communism series published by Yale University Press. A user guide introduces the reader to the organization of the Digital Archive and its interface.
Scholars new to the archive and students unfamiliar with this historical period are encouraged to explore the Editor Projects first. Available projects cover popular topics such as the Great Terror and Stalin’s nationalities policies. Many of the projects are works in progress. The introductory essays to each project were contributed by subject experts. Projects can include links to documents that are not part of RGASPI. Transcriptions and/or translations of these documents are available, but no digital surrogates of the original document.
The detailed user guide notwithstanding, the complexity and multilingual content of the archive require patience and skill. Personal and place names have been transliterated to improve search capabilities. Adopted transliteration rules, which are clearly outlined in the About section, are a mix of common English usage and Library of Congress rules. Experts may prefer to switch to the Cyrillic keyboard, which is integrated into the search interface, as most of the documents are in Russian. The translations of over 400 documents taken from the Annals of Communism series can be searched in English language. Also incorporated into the digital archive are transcriptions of close to 2,000 historical documents. The number of translated and transcribed documents is expected to increase over time.
It is far too easy to miss the translated document link. The Archive presents a digital surrogate of the document next to a re-keyed text version (see image below). Both panels have a link to additional options represented by three dots, but only the link above the re-keyed text versions allows the reader to toggle between transcription and translation of the text, if a translation is available.
Scholars are encouraged to create personalized workspaces, compare documents, save searches and documents, and annotate and tag documents in their personal library. The registration link for a personal account is conveniently located in the database menu.
Did you know that the Library also has the Yale University Press Annals of Communism series in its print collection and as part of its JSTOR collection?
If you like the Stalin Digital Archive, then you may also be interested in the following Falvey resources:
- The Current Digest of the Soviet Press (East View Press)
Presents selections from Russian-language news outlets, translated into English going back to 1949. Published by Eastview Information Services. For example, Dmitry Volkogonov’s review of the first Soviet biography of Stalin published in the Literaturnaya Gazeta: “The Stalin Phenomenon,” Current Digest of the Russian Press, January 13, 1988.
- Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974- 1996 (Readex)
Features full-text translations of foreign radio and television broadcasts as well as selected foreign news articles and government statements selected by the C.I.A. for distribution to U.S. policymakers and security analysts. Includes translations from Soviet news outlets such as TASS, Izvestiya, and Pravda.
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