Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guide to Russian Archives by Andy Willimott

I would like to draw your attention to some freely available materials which will hopefully be of great benefit to new research students, or those who are planning to undertake a research trip to Russia or Ukraine in the near future. Last year at the University of Oxford, Jon Waterlow (Oxford), Samantha Sherry (Edinburgh) and Andy Willimott (University of East Anglia) organised a conference called 'Research Approaches to Former Soviet States: A Practical Introduction'. 

Some more description follows below, but in the first instance you can hear the majority of the papers given at the event as a free podcast, available here:

The conference took the form of a two-day collaborative workshop for current postgraduate students planning to make their first research trips to (or use sources from) former Soviet states. The event had a strong interdisciplinary focus, incorporating talks on researching History, Film, Theatre, Visual Art, Literature, Language, Music, Cultural Studies and Memory. The aim was to stimulate exchange and interaction not only between institutions, but also across academic disciplines.

The intention was to share as much practical and methodological information as possible to give all new researchers a head start so they could avoid getting bogged down in administrative or organisational difficulties.

In addition to papers given by experienced academic researchers, there were numerous presentations by current graduate students who had just completed extensive research trips, primarily in Russia and Ukraine. These students shared crucial practical information and gave extensive advice on how to approach research and the process of a projectâ  s evolution during the research process.

A huge amount of practical information on individual archives, archival and library holdings and structures, archival vocabulary, visa advice, useful weblinks and more was produced as a booklet for the conference and  is freely available online:

The right of Samantha Sherry, Jonathan Waterlow, and Andy Willimott to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The editors are happy for sections to be reproduced for students, provided full acknowledgment is given.

The podcast includes the following talks:
Panel I - Overview Panel
* Early Modern sources: Clare Griffin (SSEES) - Using Manuscripts to Research Russian History - The Case of 17th Century Medical Texts
* Early Revolutionary sources: Andy Willimott (UEA) - Researching Soviet Social History in the 1920s
* Early Stalinist sources: Jon Waterlow (Oxford) - 'But there was no humour in the 1930s!'   - Researching Around the System
* Post-Stalinist sources: Alessandro Iandolo (Oxford) - Using 1950s-1960s Sources:  the Case of Soviet Policy in West Africa

Panel II - Racial and Medical Histories
* Daniel Beer (Royal Holloway) - The Human Sciences in Revolutionary Russia: Using Specialist and  Thickâ  Journals
* Simon Pawley (SSEES) -  More History from the Sideâ  : Researching Social History of Medicine of the Late Imperial and Early Soviet era.

Panel III - Music, Visual Art & Film
* Claire Knight (Cambridge) - Silence in the Archives
* Joshua Walden (Oxford) - Sonic Sources and the Study of Béla Bartókâ  s â  Romanian Folk Dancesâ
* JJ Gurga (SSEES) - Whose voice is it anyway? Film Dubbing in the Soviet Republics
* Seth Graham (SSEES) - A Russianistâ  s Adventures in Central Asian Cinema

Panel IV - Memory
* Catherine Merridale (Queen Mary) Listening for Twenty Years
* Polly Jones - Myth, Memory, Fandom: Konstantin Simonov and his Readers in the 1950s and 1960s

Panel V - Reading Between the Lines: Beyond the Text of Printed Sources
* Samantha Sherry (Edinburgh) -The Elusive Censor: The Difficulties of Researching Soviet Censorship
* Simon Huxtable (Birkbeck) - Newspapers Beyond Text: Mapping 'Komsomolâ  skaya pravda', 1950-1964
* Alex Titov (Leeds) - Research in Private vs. Institutional ArchivesDifference in Approaches, Unity of Aims

The conference was made possible by the financial support of the Arts & Humanities Research Council; the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies; the Modern European History Research Centre, part of the Faculty of History at Oxford; and the University of East Anglia.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Colleagues,

    Very pleased to see your development of online sources with others in Russia and hopefully Eastern Europe, the former USSR, in the future. Please know that photography and the history of photography remain high on the list with the people in Russia in their museums, educational and photographic institutions, libraries, state archives, and schools. Since first lecturing on the history of photography and helping to build libraries with photographic publications in the USSR beginning as a Fulbright Scholar in 1991, the development of their true art history continues to unfold. Curating, lecturing, writing and exhibiting in over seventy cities throughout Russia since then, photography continues to gain a strong foothold in the educational system and those establishing the new history in art and culture for the new century.


    Steve Yates
    Fulbright Scholar, USSR 1991, Russia 1995, 2007
    Founding Curator of Photography, Museum of New Mexico
    Associate Adjunct Professor, University of New Mexico