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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: C-3Last update of repository: 8 June 2017
Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii (AVPRI)
Total: 400 fonds, ca. 600,000 units, 1720–1917 (some documents from the 16th c.)
AVPRI contains most of the records of the prerevolutionary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and its predecessor, the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, dating from its formation in 1720 by Peter I to 1917, and also the records of various Russian embassies, missions, and consulates abroad. Some fonds contain captured or “trophy” files from Poland, Germany, Romania, Yugoslavia, and other countries.
The largest and most important groups of holdings are the records of central foreign policy agencies conducting Russian diplomacy from the eighteenth century through 1917, namely the Collegium and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Eighteenth-century holdings in MGAMID (roughly through 1832) were held before 1917 in the Moscow Main Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MGAMID), which had remained the main depository for official diplomatic records until the early 1830s. Fonds reflect the various subdivisions of the Collegium as earlier organized in MGAMID. These include the chancellery records, namely those of a political character, including correspondence regarding the relations of Russia with the states of Europe, the Near East and Balkans, Asia, and the Americas. Fonds are divided according to the relations with different countries and Russian missions abroad, such as those in Paris and Vienna. There are also special fonds for missions to peace conferences and some fonds from the secretariats of specific diplomats. There are also fonds for correspondence with other Russian governmental agencies. Administrative records comprise those of the Department of Personnel and Administration (Department lichnogo sostava i khoziaistvennykh del), including files relating to diplomatic appointments, remuneration, and rewards, and other personnel questions.
Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (after 1802) had been earlier collected by the St. Petersburg Main Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (GAMID), along with records which had been retained in the chancellery archive of the Foreign Ministry itself in St. Petersburg, namely the Political Archive and the Secret Archive of the Ministry, all of which were brought to Moscow in 1923. Chancellery political records are organized chronologically within divisions for incoming and outgoing correspondence between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian embassies, missions, and consulates abroad. The Asiatic Department records are further subdivided by different desks (stoly), as the working divisions were known in the nineteenth century. There are, for example, records of the Slavic, Japanese, and Chinese desks. Other fonds reflect the various subdivisions of the Ministry, such as the records of the Ministry’s Department of Internal Communications, which comprise files pertaining to relations with other agencies of the Russian state, such as the Ministries of Industry and Commerce, and records from its judicial, economic, ecclesiastical, and press and information departments. There are also separate fonds for administrative records, which include those of the Ministry’s Department of Personnel and Administration.
Of particular importance are the treaties, conventions, and ratified charters—bilateral and multilateral—signed by Russia with foreign countries (1537–1917)—some in copies and others original. Also of great significance are the various charters and letters of foreign heads of state to Russian emperors and members of the Russian imperial court, along with copies of outgoing messages and letters of Russian emperors, grand dukes, and members of the Russian imperial court to foreign heads of state (1720–1916).
Another complex within the archive comprises fonds and collections of records and related documents from foreign embassies, missions, and consulates of the Russian Empire. There are many fonds from the eighteeenth century in this group, as well as later records from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. There is also documentation from some Russian embassies and missions abroad from the period of the Provisional Government, the Civil War, and the period of diplomatic non-recognition of the Soviet state (1917–1930). These fonds all include incoming and outgoing diplomatic and consular correspondence of the foreign posts with the Collegium (later Ministry) of Foreign Affairs, as well as correspondence and other files from their operations abroad.
AVPRI also has fonds of special diplomatic, military, and field chancelleries of Russian emperors, along with records of diplomatic chancelleries connected with the General Staff or Supreme Command of Russian armies, governors general, and other temporary military institutions.
The archive has a number of special collections, many organized on geographic lines, including documentary materials and memorabilia of Russian diplomats and ministry staff, writers, travellers, and other prominent figures.
Photographs, engravings, and other graphic materials include those of Russian diplomats, views of buildings of Russian embassies, consulates, and other missions, diplomatic events, city views and pictures of cultural and architectural monuments.
AVPRI has an important collection of maps and plans in manuscript, engraved, and printed form, including many early maps, city plans, and specialized maps of borderlands and frontiers of the Russian Empire.
Equally noteworthy is its extensive collection of documents on microfilm, received through intergovernmental exchange programs from a number of Russian and foreign archives. For example, there have been major exchange programs with Denmark and Sweden, with India, and a number of microfilms have been acquired from the United States. Separate opisi comprise subject-specific materials or those records from a single archive or country.
N.B. Most of the diplomatic records of the Posol'skii prikaz (Ambassadorial Bureau), predating the formation of the Collegium in 1720, and of the sections (razriady) of the State Archive of the Russian Empire (Gosarkhiv), including important diplomatic materials from the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, are now held in RGADA (B–2).