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Soviet History: a Bibliographic Guide to Published Sources

About This Guide

29th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution: Restoration of heroic cities.part of Soviet Information Bureau Photograph Collection. Fung Library SIB_0098

The Soviet History: a Bibliographic Guide to Published Sources focuses on published primary sources for the study of Soviet history, which include books, periodicals, collections of archival documents, legal and statistical sources, personal narratives and correspondence, oral history and works of literature, photography and arts that appeared/were published in the Soviet Union. This guide is intended as a companion to Soviet history: archival resources at Harvard university library and archives, which deals with archival, rather than published, resources. The present guide leaves out secondary and retrospective sources.

For each category of primary source we included the following sections:

  1. HOLLIS : some search strategies for for building your own bibliography from the Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS), including some suggested hyperlinked search strings for the Advanced search mode.
  2. Bibliographic Resources : a list of bibliographies or other reference publications (articles, book chapters), with a direct link to the HOLLIS record ; in most cases some online versions of these will be available, either temporary (via HathiTrust) or a permanent one. In addition we have included web-based (online) resources that are available via open access or with Harvard Key.

As you work through this guide, please also refer to the following Harvard Library guides on resources pertaining to Russia, Eurasia, and Soviet history:

English-Language Primary Sources for the Study of Soviet History by Dr. Terry Martin

Digital Resources for Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies at Harvard University (a guide to databases, e-books, digital journal and newspaper archives, etc., accessible with Harvard Key or in open access)

Soviet history: archival resources at Harvard university library and archives.

Open-Access Resources for Research in Soviet History : a guide (hundreds of open-access online repositories of archival documents and various other categories of  primary sources arranged in a sortable spreadsheet).

HOLLIS: Strategies for Success

Please consult the HOLLIS User Guide for useful tips on navigating the Harvard Library's online catalog.

In order to receive the most precise search result, please use these strategies:

  • Use Advanced Search mode and enter more specific search terms.
  • Transliterate your searches using the ALA-LC (Library of Congress) transliteration format. Refer to the Library of Congress Romanization tables, or use an online transliteration tool.
  • Limit the search by date to your chronological period.
  • Limit the search to "Russian" or other relevant language(s).
  • Use "pearl chasing": remember that in HOLLIS all subject headings/phrases are hyperlinked; clicking on one will take you to other HOLLIS entries that contain the same subject phrase. This is called “pearl chasing". See what happens when you click on each of the two subject headings in the HOLLIS record for Ezhegodnik periodicheskikh izdanii SSSR:

Locating Copies of Materials You Have Identified

Search HOLLIS; if an item is in the library but not available online and a physical loan is not an option for you, you can request chapters, articles, or excerpts (up to 15% of a given work) via the Scan & Deliver link in the full record view.

If you need the complete work and it is not in HOLLIS, search WorldCat for copies held at other university and public libraries in the Western world (US, Canada, Australia, UK, Europe), If one or more copies are found, you can request that one be sent to Harvard Library for you to borrow: 

  • First, search Borrow Direct, which is an expedited interlibrary loan program for users of libraries from the Ivy Plus consortium in the Northeastern U.S. If the item is available, place a Borrow Direct request.  
  • If the search yields no results, place an Interlibrary Loan request. Use the information in the WorldCat catalog entry to populate the form fields; this will help ILL get the item for you faster.

For periodicals (journals, newspapers, magazines), note that WorldCat will indicate whether a library has a title, but won't specify the format or issues held. Click on the holding library's name in the search results list to obtain the holdings details in that library's native catalog. If you’re looking to browse many issues held by another library, opt for periodicals on microfilm; these are more likely to be lent willingly and in large quantities.

If an item is not in WorldCat, your options are:

  • To search the web for a digital copy. Note that digital archives of many Soviet-era, journals, newspapers, maps, statistical reports, and other published content are available online. Some can be accessed with a Harvard Key login via subscription databases; other open-source platforms are hosted by libraries and independent organizations. Please consult this comprehensive list of digital archives.
  • To place a purchase request with Harvard Library (note that older works will be harder to source and will take longer to acquire than a recently published one)
  • To look for a print copy on E-bay, Amazon, and other secondhand online bookseller sites.
  • Post-pandemic: a research trip to the major libraries in Russia or the CIS region.