ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: G-1
Rossiiskaia gosudarstvennaia biblioteka (RGB)
|1945–1992||Gosudarstvennaia biblioteka SSSR im. V.I. Lenina (GBL)
[V.I. Lenin State Library]
|1925–1945||Publichnaia biblioteka im. V.I. Lenina
[V.I. Lenin Public Library]
|1924–1925||Vserossiiskaia publichnaia biblioteka
[All-Russian Public Library]
|1921–1924||Gosudarstvennaia Rumiantsevskaia biblioteka
[Rumiantsev State Library]
|1918–1921||Gosudarstvennyi Rumiantsevskii muzei i biblioteka
[Rumiantsev State Museum and Library]
|1872–1918||Moskovskii Publichnyi i Rumiantsevskii muzei
[Moscow Public and Rumiantsev Museum]
|1862–1872||Moskovskii Publichnyi muzeum i Rumiantsevskii muzeum
[Moscow Public Museum and Rumiantsev Museum]
The library, together with its manuscript holdings, was founded in 1862 as part of the Moscow Public and Rumiantsev Museum, on the basis of the large library, manuscript collection, and family archive (starting with the 17th c.) of Nikolai Petrovich Rumiantsev, which was left to the public on his death in 1826. Initially set up in St. Petersburg as the Rumiantsev Museum, it was transferred to Moscow in 1862 and installed in the imposing late eighteenth-century Pashkov House (Dom Pashkova) facing the Kremlin. The library and manuscript holdings were expanded in the course of the late nineteenth century to become one of the largest and most prestigious collections in prerevolutionary Russia.
During its first half-century it acquired many important collections of manuscript books and significant institutional and personal archives. Among the notable manuscript collections were those of the bibliographer and archivist V.M. Undol'skii (1,350 manuscripts); the Slavicists F.F. Bol'shakov, V.I. Grigorovich, and N.S. Tikhonravov; the specialist on the Church Schism (Raskol) and Old Believers, N.I. Popov, and the traveller and Oriental specialist P.I. Sevast'ianov, to name only a few. It also acquired extensive collections from other parts of the Russian Empire, including the rich collections of I.Ia. Lukashevich and M.A. Markevych (N.A. Markevich) from what is now Ukraine.
Nationalized in 1918, the library was reorganized as the State Rumiantsev Museum and Library, and in 1921 it was officially named the State Rumiantsev Library. After the Rumiantsev Museum was made independent, the library came under the control of the People’s Commissariat of Education and in 1924 was renamed the Lenin Public Library.
After the Revolution, the library was significantly enriched by the accession of nationalized collections from religious institutions and private organizations. It also started acquiring major family and estate papers from prerevolutionary gentry families, along with additional important manuscript collections, as well as literary and other archives. The library also received many important literary archives from the State Historical Museum, as well as other archival materials from various liquidated institutions and organizations. Already in 1919, the rich library and manuscript collections of the Moscow Theological Academy (Moskovskaia Dukhovnaia Akademiia—MDA), then held in the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery (Sviato-Troitse-Sergieva Lavra) in Sergiev-Posad were organized as the Sergiev Branch of the Library, which remained active there for the next ten years (it was finally liquidated in 1937). First amalgamated with the library holdings after the closing of the Rumiantsev Museum in 1924, the manuscript collections and archival holdings were then reorganized as the separate Division of Manuscripts. When the large new building was completed for the library, the Manuscript Division remained in the Pashkov House. The Museum of the Book was founded in 1918, and subsequently became the separate Division of Rare Books.
Several other branches and subsidiary museums were organized during the 1920s. A subordinate Literary Museum was organized in 1921 as a gathering depository for many of the collected literary archival materials and memorabilia that had been nationalized after the Revolution, or otherwise acquired or donated to the library. In 1925, the L.N. Tolstoi Cabinet (Kabinet L.N. Tolstogo) was organized as a subsidiary museum, as was the A.P. Chekhov Museum, which had already been established in Moscow in 1921, along with a separate Chekhov Museum in the Crimea, and the F.M. Dostoevskii Museum (Muzei F.M. Dostoevskogo). In 1934 the Literary Museum became part of the newly formed separate State Literary Museum, and the other three literary memorial museums became branches of that museum.
Following the Nazi invasion in the summer of 1941, some of the most valuable library holdings, including manuscript and rare book collections, were evacuated to the East—some by barge, first to Gor'kii (now Nizhnii Novgorod) and then to Perm. A branch was established in Perm during the wartime years, although the library itself continued to function in Moscow. In 1945 the library was given the official name of the Lenin State Library.
In the aftermath of World War II, the library’s collections, including the Division of Manuscripts, were significantly enriched by a large number of “trophy” books and manuscripts brought to Moscow from Germany and Eastern Europe, most of which were put in the “special collection” (spetskhran), which was opened to the public only in 1992. The extensive manuscript materials received from Dresden were subsequently returned to East Germany in the late 1950s. Many of the “trophy” archival materials that came with the book collections, such as the records of the Turgenev Library in Paris were subsequently transferred to central state archives under the NKVD/MVD, and most of the transferred archival collections ended up in what is now GA RF (B–1). The extent of trophy manuscript books and archival materials acquired by the Manuscript Division has yet to be documented.
The Archive was separated from the administrative department in 1932, when a government resolution gave the library the right to the permanent retention of its own records.
In addition to the separate divisions listed below, the library has a large collection of samizdat and independent press from the pre-1992 period.
The library was reorganized and renamed the Russian State Library in 1992. In December 1991, it had already been added to the register of the most valuable monuments of the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation.