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Changes in the work of the reading room


From June 30, 2017 till September 01, 2017 the reading room is closed.


Changes in the work of the reading room


From July 01, 2016 till August 31, 2016 the reading room is closed.


About the archive

Previous names

1963-VII.1991 Leningradskoe otdelenie Arkhiva Akademii nauk SSSR (LO AAN)
[Leningrad Division of the Archive of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR]
1925-1963 Arkhiv Akademii nauk SSSR (AAN)
[Archive of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR]
1922-1925 Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Akademii nauk (ARAN)
[Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences]
1917-1922 Arkhiv Konferentsii Rossiiskoi Akademii nauk
[Archive of the Conference of the Russian Academy of Sciences]
1728-1917 Arkhiv Konferentsii Imperatorskoi Sankt-Peterburgskoi Akademii nauk
[Archive of the Conference of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences]


Established in 1728, the first scientific archive in Russia served as a repository for documentation of the Conference (General Assembly) of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and its Chancellery. In 1922 the archive was expanded to house all Academy records and named the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences. After the archival reform within the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1931, which immediately followed the so-called "Academy Affair" (akademicheskoe delo) (1929-1931), the archive accessioned many personal papers of Academy members, as well as of other scientists and scholars associated with the Academy. These were previously held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of the Academy of Sciences (BAN) and other Academy institutions, most of which no longer had the right to preserve documents on a permanent basis. After the Academy moved its headquarters to Moscow in 1936, a Moscow branch of the archive was established. The Moscow branch became the central Archive of the Academy in 1963, while the Leningrad archive remained a Division. Since 1991 it has been known as the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the preferred acronym SPbB ARAS.
In December 2004 St. Petersburg Laboratory of Scientific-Applied Photography and Cinematography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LAFOKI) was abolished, and its fonds (mostly administrative and personnel records and photograph archive) were transferred to the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive RAN.

N.B. During the Soviet period, institutes under the Academy of Sciences in Leningrad were required on a regular basis to transfer their records designated for permanent retention to the Leningrad Branch of the Archive of the Academy of Sciences. However, with the lack of RAN archival storage facilities in Leningrad, no records after 1973 were transferred, and in some institutes earlier records, even those already formally designated for transfer, physically remain in the producing institution.


Total: 778 fonds and archival collections (razriady) - 486 813 units, 18th c.-2012 (some documents 16th-17th cc.)
institutional fonds-199 (152 673 units); personal fonds-563 (240 225 units); sound recordings-73 units (1958-1973); archival collections 16 (93,915 units) (1554-2012)

The archive retains documentation (dating until 1932) of the Academy central administration, namely the Conference of the Academy of Sciences (1724-1932), its Chancellery and Commissions (1725-1803), the Chancellery and its Administration (1804-1928), chancelleries of the Academy President and Vice-President (1818-1886), Secretariat (1927-1939), the Secretariat and Chancellery of the Presidium (1939-1959), the Administrative Committee of the Administrative Division (1803-1948), and the Secret Division (Sekretnaia chast') (1922-1938). Among other records are original minutes of meetings of the General Assembly and Academy divisions and sections, supplements to the minutes, scientific correspondence, and various scientific and administrative documentation. The archive also preserves the records of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1783-1841), which later became a part of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences as the Division of Russian Language and Literature (ORIaS).
Documentation materials of the eighteenth through twentieth centuries results from the work of scientific and auxiliary institutions of the Academy of Sciences, including fonds from the Library, Archive, Publishing House, Printing Press, Book Kiosk, the Botanical Gardens, the Main Astronomical Observatory in Pulkovo, and others. There is a wide range of documentation from different departments and offices (drawing, engraving, and instrumentation, among others) dating back to the eighteenth century. There are also records of the Academy research expeditions (18th-20th cc.) in Russia and other parts of the world. The archive also preserves fonds of museums, beginning with the Kunstkammer and its various specialized successor scientific repositories established in the early nineteenth century-the Museums of Anthropology and Ethnography, Geology, Zoology, and Mineralogy, among others.
The evolution of science and scholarship from the end of the nineteenth through the first third of the twentieth century is recorded in fonds of various committees, commissions, and associations-the Archeographic Commission, the Byzantine Studies Commission, the Commission for Study of the Natural Productive Forces (Komissiia po izucheniiu estestvennykh proizvoditel'nykh sil) (1915-1930), and the Commission for Study of Tribal Structure of the Population of the USSR (Komissiia po izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia SSSR) (1917-1930), among others. In addition, the archive retains fonds of the St. Petersburg/Leningrad-based scientific research laboratories and institutes, which grew out of these committees, commissions, and associations-the Institutes of Astronomy, Physico-Technical (see E-33), Geomorphology, Chemistry, Demography, and Petrography, among others, as well as the Institutes of Russian Literature (Pushkinskii Dom) (see E-28) and Oriental Studies (Asiatic Museum) (see E-30), and other institutes in the humanities and social sciences.
The archive holds fonds of scientific and scholarly institutions and societies outside of the Academy, including the Russian Institute of Archeology in Constantinople (1890-1928), the Russian Chemical Society (1868-1955), the Imperial Mineralogical Society (1817-1938), and the Russian Entomological Society (1846-1939), as well as the editorial office of Russkii istoricheskii zhurnal (1916-1922), among others. The archive also retains fonds of the Leningrad Division of the Communist Academy under the USSR Central Executive Committee (TsIK SSSR) (1929-1936) and its research institutes (agriculture, economics, agricultural economics, natural science, Soviet construction, state and law, philosophy, Marxist methodology, history, literature, philology and the arts), as well as of Marxist scientific and scholarly associations (those of biologists, physicians, mathematicians, economists, Orientalists, regional specialists [kraevedy], and others). There are also records of the research institutes under the Communist University in Petrograd (1922-1926), and the Leningrad Division of the Institute of History of the Association of Institutes in the Social Sciences (1927-1928), among others.
Documentation of personal origin is mainly represented by personal papers of scholars of the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Among the earliest materials is the so-called Pulkovo Collection (Pulkovskoe sobranie) which includes papers of the German astronomer and mathematician Johann Kepler (1571-1630), together with manuscripts of his teacher the Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe (1546-1601). The archive also retains personal papers of most prominent Russian and foreign scientists and scholars who were members of or associated with the Academy of Sciences. Representing physics, mathematics and the natural sciences, are the documentary collections of M.V. Lomonosov and the inventor and mechanician I.P. Kulibin; the mathematicians Leonhard Euler and V.A. Steklov; the astronomers V. Ia. and O.V. Struve and F.A. Bredikhin; the physicists P.N. Lebedev and A.F. Ioffe (Joffé); the geologists F.N. Chernyshev and A.P. Karpinskii; the botanists A. S. Famintsyn, K. A. Meyer, and N. I. Vavilov; the zoologists Karl Ernst von Baer (K.M. Ber), Iohann Friedrich (I.F.) Brandt, and M.A. Menzbir; the soil scientist V.V. Dokuchaev; the geographers P.P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskii and L.S. Berg; the physiologists I.P. Pavlov and A.A. Ukhtomskii; the chemists A.M. Butlerov, A.E. Chichibabin, and V.E. Tishchenko; and the navigators Admiral Adam Iohann von Krusenstern (I.F. Kruzenshtern) and F.P. Litke, among many others.
Among documents pertaining to the humanities there are papers of the historians G. S. Bayer, Gerhardt Friedrich Müller (Miller), Porfirii, Bishop of Chigirin (K.A. Uspenskii), E.E. (A.A.) Kunik, M.M. Kovalevskii, A.S. Lappo-Danilevskii, N.P. Likhachev, and V.N. Beneshevich; the historians of art N.P. Kondakov and D.V. Ainalov; the Orientalists B.A. Dorn, V.V. Bartol'd (Wilhelm Barthold), S.F. Ol'denburg, N.Ia. Marr, and I.Iu. Krachkovskii; the philologists Andreas Johan Sjögren (A. M. Shegren), F.F. Fortunatov, and L.V. Shcherba; the statistician and archeologist Peter Köppen (P.I. Keppen); the ethnographists N.N. Miklukho-Maklai, V.G. Bogoraz-Tan, and L.Ia. Shternberg; the literary scholars Ia.K. Grot and N.K. Nikol'skii, to name only a few.
Archival collections (razriady) include manuscripts of scientific and scholarly works, biographical documents of scholars and scientists, correspondence of Academy members, and documents acquired from various institutions, including the Cabinet of Incunabula of the Library of the Academy of Sciences (BAN). Other collections include regulations, personnel registers of Academy institutions, and other documents on the history of Academy; records of several scientific and scholarly societies; a collection of Academy publications, including suspended and unfinished ones, along with printed and manuscript newspapers, prepared at the St. Petersburg Vedomosti Academy Press (1727-1799). There are also collections of portraits of scholars, metal engraving plates and prints (18th-19th cc.); and a collection of photographic and phonographic documents on the history of science, among others.
Among documents in the graphic collection are maps, plans, and drawings; a series of watercolors on parchment by the Swiss artist Maria Sibylla Merian (17th c.), previously held in the Kunstkammer in the eighteenth century, along with other unique drawings of exhibits in that first Russian museum.
Administrative and personnel records of LAFOKI transferred to PFA RAN in 2004 were joined to fond 298. Unarranged photograph archive of LAFOKI (ca. 40,000 negatives) will be added to the collection (razriad) of negatives or created a separate collection (razriad).

Access & Facilities


Almost all of the holdings have been declassified. Access should be requested by official letter to the director from the researcher's sponsoring institution or a personal letter with indication of the subject and aim of research. Starting in March 1998, the archive was forced to close as a result of budgetary deficiency from RAN. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to accomodate a limited number of researchers on an emergency basis (especially those from abroad) by special arrangement with the director.

Working conditions

Files can be ordered in advance in MWTh 10:00-17:00, usually not more than five files at one time. Orders are normally delivered within 3 days. Limited space is available in the archival reading room.

Copy facilities

Scanned copies can be prepared in the archive.

Reference facilities

Opisi of processed fonds are available in the reading room. There are card catalogues covering documents on the history of Academy institutions, expeditions, Academy prizes and awards, and individuals. There are also thematic-subject card catalogues and typewritten indexes to the various collections (razriady).

Library facilities

The Scientific Reference Library (17,500 volumes), officially a division of BAN, was founded in 1800 as the library of the Archive of the Conference of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. It includes reference literature on history, the history of science, and archival affairs, as well as published materials with biographical data on scientists and scholars. Basic reference materials in Russian and foreign languages are available for access in the archival reading room. There are card catalogues of publications by the archival staff and publications prepared on the basis of materials in the archive (Universitetskaia nab., 3; tel. +7 812 323-08-21; webpage: