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Soviet History: a Bibliographic Guide to Published Sources


A suggested keyword ot title search term:

sbornik* dokumentov

Some suggested search strings:

Soviet Union. Obʺedinennoe gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie -- History -- Sources

Soviet Union. Narodnyĭ komissariat vnutrennikh del -- History -- Sources

Peasants -- Soviet Union -- Political activity -- History -- Sources

Government, Resistance to -- Soviet Union -- History -- Sources

Secret service -- Soviet Union -- History -- Sources

Public opinion -- Soviet Union -- History -- Sources

Soviet Union -- History -- Sources

Note that selected archival documents (as well as correspondence, diaries, photographs, etc.) are sometimes published in historical or regional-studies journals, and in journals like Istoricheskii arkhiv. Relevant journal articles of this kind are best identified by a “HOLLIS Everything” search and by keyword-searching entire databases like JSTOR, EBSCO, and EastView. 


  1. Russian State Library - Electronic Catalog

Use “Professional Search” to search for published documents:

Suggested search strings:

  1. Unified Electronic Catalog of the Russian State Public Historical Library

Do simple keyword search (see results for searching “сборник документов”), or use “систематический каталог” under the “поиск по рубрикаторам” tab, then check the boxes starting with “arkhiv” in the “корневая рубрика” dropdown menu. These include hundreds of publications of various archives in Russia, other former Soviet states, and international organizations. 

  1. HathiTrust

HathiTrust contains a significant number of digital copies of document collections published in the Soviet Union. One can try searching both in Russian (сборник документов) and the English transliteration (sbornik dokumentov), and use the filters on the right side of the web page to refine search results. 

Eg. Search results by searching “сборник документов” + language is “Russian”

  1. Digital Handbook for Research on Soviet History: Digital document collections (this can be used to replace the note on the original open access resources spreadsheet in the “On Sbornik Dokumentov” section)

  1. Use similar search terms to search in other libraries’ electronic catalogs.

Bibliographic Resources

Arkhivovedenie i istochnikovedenie otechestvennoi istorii, problemy vzaimodeistviia na sovremennom etape. Eds. M. V. Larin et al. Moscow: s.n., 2002. 

Golikov, Andrei Georgievich. Istochnikovedenie otechestvennoi istorii. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2000. 

Istochnikovedenie: teoriia, istoriia, metod: istochniki rossiiskoi istorii: uchebnoe posobie dlia gumanitarnykh spetsialʹnostei. Moscow: Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi gumanitarnyi universitet, 1998. 

Binner, Rolf, Marc Junge, and Terry Martin. The Great Terror in the Provinces of the USSR: A Cooperative Bibliography. Wayback Machine Internet Archive, 11 Jul. 2004.

Blitstein, Peter A. Selected Bibliography of Document Collections on Soviet History. Wayback Machine Internet Archive, 17 Sept. 2004. (A bibliography of archival document collections on Russian and Soviet history that were published during the period 1989-1998. Most of these documents had not been previously published).

Martin, Terry. English Language Primary Sources for the Study of Soviet History: An on-line resource. Website.

Kondakova, I. A. Otkrytyi arkhiv--2. Spravochnik dokumentov, vyshedshikh v svet v otechestvennykh izdatel’stvakh v 1917-2000 gg. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2005.

Kondakova, I. A. Otkrytyi arkhiv--3: spravochnik istoricheskikh dokumentov, opublikovannykh v otechestvennoi zhurnalʹnoi periodike v 1900-2000 gg. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2013. Also published online (open access).

Newspapers on Microfilm. University of Oregon: University of Oregon Library, 1963.

Digitized, word-searchable Knizhnaia letopis’ (1917-1978 гг.) (Search for “sbornik dokumentov” published in the Soviet Union. Search syntaxes.)

Digitized, word-searchable Knizhnaia letopis’ (1980-2014) (Search for “sbornik dokumentov” published during 1980-2014. Search syntaxes (click “advanced search” and then click the question mark next to the “Search field” row)).

NOTE: When you search in the two databases above, please consult search syntaxes for advanced search. For example, use the asterisk [*] as a wildcard to find the same word with different endings.

Bibliographic indicators on the “Archives of Russia” portal, which includes a list of document collections published by Russian federal state archives and institutional archives during 2005-2020

On Sborniki Dokumentov

Sborniki dokumentov are published collections of (typically) archival documents on a particular subject or from a particular time period. Such collections became especially widespread during the late Glasnost period and especially after the fall of the USSR, when many previously inaccessible documents in government archives became available. For this reason, sborniki dokumentov published after 1989 tend to be particularly useful for scholars of Soviet history.

These days the web is teeming with online sborniki dokumentov, most hosted by individuals and organizations in the former USSR. Please consult Open Access Primary Sources for a partial list of such collections. They can be found under type of collection: “online published document collection".

While the accuracy and authenticity of online transcripts (rather than scans) of published books or unpublished documents is always hard to verify, online collections that cite their archival or bibliographic sources are more trustworthy. Sites with a book-length quantity of archival material and a relative lack of editorial bias tend to be the most useful. On the websites of major Russian and regional archives, there is usually a section titled Publications (публикации) where fully digitized collections are occasionally displayed in PDF format; these are entirely trustworthy. 

Digital Handbook for Research on Soviet History has a section on the online finding aids for post-Soviet archives, which you can also use as a list of major archives in the Post-Soviet space, with links to their websites. You can visit the website of the archive of your interest, and find information about the archive’s publications, which is usually in the “Publications” section.