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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-3Last update of repository: 21 December 2016
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (RGIA)
The Leningrad Central Historical Archive was formed in 1925 on the basis of the Leningrad divisions of several sections of the Central Archive of the RSFSR (Tsentrarkhiv), founded in 1922. These records of central institutions of the prerevolutionary Russian Empire had been brought together in 1918 as part of the Consolidated State Archival Fond (EGAF), most particularly its Second Petersburg (juridical) Section and the Section for the Economy, among others.
Housed in the impressive complex of buildings on the Neva Embankment which had housed the prerevolutionary Governing Senate and Holy Synod, the records of those institutions served as the core for the consolidated archive. Those buildings became the main storage center for several sections of the EGAF, comprising high-level state records from ministries and other prerevolutionary state and private institutions, whose records were centralized in a single archival complex, as the Leningrad Division of the Central Archive of the RSFSR. As an exception, many of the records of the prerevolutionary security services, police, and penal institutions were incorporated into the Petrograd Historico-Revolutionary Archive, which in 1924 was transferred to Moscow and combined with its Moscow counterpart.
In 1929 the Leningrad Central Historical Archive was administratively joined with its Moscow counterpart as a division of the Central Historical Archive. The Leningrad Division (LOTsIA) then had sections for the economy, politics and law, culture and life, and the army and navy. In 1934 LOTsIA was split into four separate archives, including the Archive of the National Economy and the Archive of Internal Policy, Culture, and Life (both became “Central” Archives after 1936). On the basis of these two archives, the Central State Historical Archive in Leningrad (TsGIAL) was formed in 1941, and in 1961 was renamed TsGIA SSSR. It subsequently received from Moscow some of the fonds of high-level central institutions of the Russian Empire, as well as some fonds of personal papers, which had earlier been held in TsGIAM (abolished in 1961) and TsGADA.
The archive received its present name in June 1992, and in November 1993, it was added to the federal register of the most valuable monuments of the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation.
Since the revolution RGIA and its predecessors occupied the historic buildings of the prevolutionary Governing Senate, Holy Synod, and State Council on the Neva Embankment and the Senate square (Senatskaia ploshchad’), where most of the massive central records of the Russian Empire were consolidated after 1917. A major international fund-raising drive for the reconstruction of the historic RGIA buildings was conducted under ICA and UNESCO auspices, but contributions from foreign and Russian sources hardly kept pace with inflation. A 1996 government decree authorized construction of a new building for RGIA, but there was some delay before funds were appropriated. Earlier in 1992 a collapsed ceiling forced closing of some storage areas, and in July of 1995 the archive was officially closed,” following a series of reports about defective wiring by the Fire Marshal. The archive continued to serve researchers under extraordinarily difficult conditions that forced numerous temporary closings and curtailed services. In late 2002 a presidential decree turned the historic buildings over to municipal authorities, and the construction of the new building for RGIA began. The new RGIA building on Zanevskii prosp., 36 was essentially completed by early 2006 and transfer was underway of the 7.2 million archival files during the year. It was open for researchers in fall 2008.
Later in 2008 the Constitutional court of Russia was transferred from Moscow to the historic buildings on the Neva Embankment. In May 2009 the B.N. El'tsin Presidental Library was opened on other wing of this building on the Senate Square (see G-14), and has been receiving electronic copies of considerable documentation from RGIA.