ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-4
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voenno-istoricheskii arkhiv (RGVIA)
Total: 13,151 fonds, 3,423,120 units, 1520–1918 (some documents from 1919–1941)
institutional fonds—12,920 (3,252,993 units); personal papers—216 fonds (36,284 units); scientific-technical documents—15 fonds (133,843 units); personnel records—9 fonds (294,400 units); microforms (as original)—1 fond (77 units)
In accordance with its profile, RGVIA retains documentation generated by the supreme, central, and local military administration and military agencies of the Russian Empire from the end of the seventeenth century until March of 1918.
Records of the high command of the Russian Army are concentrated in the fond of the Cabinet (or Office) of His Imperial Majesty and of the Conference at the Imperial Court. Some materials from these fonds are now held in RGADA (B–2).
The fonds of prerevolutionary central military organs consist of the records of the chancelleries, expeditions, local military offices (povytii) and commissions of the Military Collegium (1717–1812), the Chancellery, departments, and directorates of the Military Ministry (1808–1918), the General Staff (1865–1918), and the Main Administration of the General Staff (1905–1918). They characterize the evolution of the regular Russian Army established by Peter I—the system of organization, recruitment, troop mobilization, training, military supply, and the regimentation of military service. These include, in the first place, decrees (ukazy) of emperors and the Senate, journals and protocols of meetings of military agencies, reports about the strength and condition of the army, and correspondence relating to mobilization and the establishment of military formations.
Fonds of the Artillery Expedition of the Military Collegium, the Main Military Technical Administration, the Main Engineering Department (1862–1918), and the Administration of the General Inspectorate for Engineering Support provide data about the development of military technology and engineering in Russia. The development of military legislation, legal proceedings and justice are revealed in records of the Military Collegium, the Main Military Court Administration (Glavnoe voenno-sudnoe upravlenie—GVSU) (1867–1918), and of armed and military districts (voennye okruga).
A large complex of records consists of fonds from organs of local military administration: Military Districts (Warsaw, Kyiv, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Finland, Khar'kiv, and others), territories of Cossack troops (Don, Caucasus, Orenburg, Ural, and others), fortresses (Bobruisk, Dvinsk, Kovno, Narva, and others), and frontier posts (the Staff of the Kuban Line and the Administration of the Trans-Caspian Oblast, and others).
Fonds of the Main Administration for Military Educational Establishments (Glavnoe upravlenie voenno-uchebnykh zavedenii) (1865–1918), the Military Medical Academy (Voenno-meditsinskaia Akademia) (1801–1917), and other military schools (military academies, schools, and cadet corps) characterize the evolution of Russian military education and pedagogical thought in addition to instructional activities of a galaxy of Russian scientists.
RGVIA consolidates the basic complex of records of wars and campaigns in which the Russian Army participated from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. These include fonds of armies and military corps in various wars, and of the chancelleries and rosters of Russian military commanders—M.B. Barclay de Tolly (Barklai de Tolli), A.A. Brusilov, M.I. Kutuzov, P.A. Rumiantsev, and A.V. Suvorov.
Military institutions from the period of World War I are represented by the fonds of the Staff of the Supreme Commander in Chief (Stavka, 1914–1918), the General Staff, the Administration of the Military Commissar of the Provisional Goverment (1917), and field commands of fronts, armies, corps, and divisions of all service branches in the ground and air forces. These are closely connected to the records of social organizations (such as the Russian Red Cross Society, the All-Russian Union of Cities and Towns, and the Skobelev Committee), which were established for supporting the Russian Army, regulating military production, directing the military economy in Russia, and providing supplies and medical services.
Along with the history of military activities, records in RGVIA provide extensive data about the history of nationalities of the Russian Empire and natural resources in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia, and the Far East: for example, fonds of the Department of the General Staff, the Asian Section of the Chief of Staff, the Main Military-Technical Administration, the Main Quartermaster’s Administration, and the Main Administration for Cossack Troops.
Documents in many fonds characterize economic conditions in Russia from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries in addition to prevailing domestic and foreign policy. Russian diplomatic, economic, commercial, military, scientific, and cultural relations with foreign countries, for example, are presented in the fonds of the Foreign Section (Expeditsiia) and the Chancellery of the Collegium, the Chancellery of the Ministry of War, and collections from the Military Science Archive.
Collections of military history and cartographic materials of the former Military Science Archive (VUA) include unique subject-related collections on statistics, economy, ethnography, and military topography of the Russian Empire, as well as materials for the history of European, Asian, and several Latin American countries. There are general world atlases, maps of foreign countries and Russia, and cartographic details about specific regions, city plans, and plans of fortresses and their environs. VUA collections and the fond of the Main Military Technical Administration also have unique sources for the history of architecture and urban development: architectural drawings and drafts for various military, civil, and church buildings in numerous Russian cities from the sixteenth through the early twentieth century. Here there are also rare engravings and watercolors of museum quality depicting towns, battle scenes, and military uniforms.
RGVIA also holds a large number of personal papers, including those of important military commanders and officials (A.A. Arakcheev, M.B. Barclay de Tolly [Barklai de Tolli], A.P. Ermolov, A.N. Kuropatkin, B.K. Minikh, G.A. Potemkin). There are also personal papers of military theorists and historians, along with professors and men of letters whose works were associated with Russian military history (D.P. Buturlin, P.N. Voronov, A.M. Zaionchkovskii, and A.I. Maksheev).