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Russian State Naval Archives: Finding Aids

Copyright © 1998-2017 Blitz, all rights reserved

The Russian State Naval Archive is one of the oldest archives in Russia and is a rich source of historic and genealogy informaton. The RSNA originated as the Archive of Admiralty-Collegium on January 17, 1724 according to the verbal decree of Tsar Peter I. The archive of the Admiralty-Collegium gathered documents the Collegium and subordinate institutions and organizations of the Russian Navy.

The archive of the Admiralty-Collegium existed for more than one-hundred years and preserved files with a valuable core of documents about the historyof the Russian Navy. In 1827 the Admiralty-Collegium was abolished and the archive became a part of the General Archive of the Naval Ministry.

Beginning in 1828, a special commission worked to analyze the files and put them in order. During the final thirty years of the nineteenth century, the commission divided the files into the groups (fonds), uniting the files belonged to the same institutions, which donated the documents. Within the fonds, they were arranged chronologically. Inventories with brief headings of files were also compiled.

On August 10, 1917, not long before the October revolution, the Archives of the Naval Ministry was renamed to the Central Archive of the Navy and Naval Department.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union the Central State Archive of the Navy of the Soviet Union was renamed the Russian State Naval Archive (RSNA) and entered the network of the Russian federal archives.

The fonds of the RSNA contain documents of the navy from the creation of the regular Russian Navy by Peter I (the Great) in 1696 through 1940.

In the RSNA there are 1268 fonds containing approximately 800,000 files. These fonds contain information about the administration of the Russian and Soviet navies and flotillas, as well as information about units, ships, military ports, naval bases, scientific research establishments, naval education institutions, boat construction enterprises, hydrographic and scientific expeditions and the participation of the navy in the wars of Russia and in its revolutionary activities.

The Russian Baltic Information Center - Blitz works closely with the RSNA and and can provide archival research and genealogy searches for persons connected with the Russian and Soviet navy. Blitz has also published annotated finding aids covering the entire RSNA collection from 1696 to 1940.

The following archival finding aids have been published by Blitz in commeration of the 300th year Anniversary of the Russian Navy and are available from Blitz-USA.

Order from Blitz-USA 
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Mazur, T.P., Annotirovannyi reestr opisei, Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv VMF (1696-1917). Sankt-Peterburg : Blitz, 1996 This Annotated Register to the Russian Navy Archives contains annotations to 1260 fonds (1816 opisei, 1,194,119 items) for the prerevolutionary period to 7 November (25 October) 1917. Prerevolutionary documents in the Navy Archives cover the activities of the higher and central navy institutions, flotillas, education institutions, ports and bases, navagation, etc.
ISBN 5-86789-025-2 Hard cover, 512 pages US$68.50

Malevinskaya, M.E., Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv VMF. Spravochnik pofondam (1917-1940), Sankt-Peterburg : Blits, 1995 This two volume reference set describes the holdings of the Russian State Naval Archives in St. Petersburg for the years 1917 thru 1940. Part I of the reference consists of 11 sections including revolutionary-democratic institutions and organizations (including the period under the Provisional Government), central organs of the naval command, fleets, flotillas, land forces, private funds, collections and White Guard Units. Included in the reference volumes are indexes to ships and vessels, a geographical index, index of names, and subject index.

A separate section of Volume II includes 20 unique photos of vessels and reproductions of original documents regarding actions of the Baltic Fleet during the Russian-Finnish War and previously secret documents about the destruction of the Black Sea Navy by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Chast I, ISBN 5-86789-015-5, Hard cover, 416 pages
Chast II ISBN 5-86789-019-8, Hard cover, 237 pages
Set of two volumes US$84.80

Sergeeva, N.G., Rossiiskii flot 1720-1917 gg. Bibliograficheskii spravochnik izdanii morskogo vedomstva, Sankt-Peterburg : Blits, 1995. This is the first time such a reference book of Russian Navy publications has been prepared. This book chronicles the life and activities of the Navy including the organization, history, science, technology, medicine, etc., much of which is not widely known. 
ISBN 5-86789-017-1, Paper cover, 156 pages US$24.95

Efimov, S.V., Avtografy Petra Velikogo. Katalog This catalogue contains annotated descriptions of 179 manuscripts of Peter the Great from the years 1698-1725 which are held in the Archives of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Russian History. These manuscripts characterize the military, state and diplomatic activities of the tsar-reformer and include letters and decrees to A.D. Menshikov, B.I. Kurakin, A.I. Ushkov, S.I. Vladislavich-Raguzinskii and other eminent figures from the beginning of the XVIII century. A signifigant number of documents are being put into circulation for the first time. 
ISBN 5-86789-018-X Paper cover, 136 pages US$29.95