About the archive

I.V. Tunkina

Academy Archive - Manuscript Heritage Treasury of the World Science

The first scientific archive in Russia - St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the largest and most important documentation centre of the Imperial-all-Union-Russian Academy of Sciences, is universally acknowledged to be one of the treasuries of the historical manuscript materials of the fundamental world science. Unique manuscript fonds and collections of the Archive, which is going to celebrate its 300th anniversary soon, are not only of national but world importance.
As of January 1, 2016, St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences retains 775 fonds and 488055 folders, chronological framework of the main documentation covers the period from the 18th century to 2016 (part of the materials being of the 15th -17th centuries). The holdings of the Archive include:
- institutional fonds - 203 fonds (152873 folders) for the period from the beginning of the 18th century to 2013;
- personal fonds - 572 fonds (241248 folders) for the period of the 16th century to 2016;
- archival collections - 16 collections (93934 folders) for the period of 1554 - 2010.
The Archive retains documents of the Administration of the Academy of Sciences (up to 1932) - the Conference (General Assembly of the Academy of Sciences, 1724-1932), all its divisions, the Chancellery and Commissions (1725-1803), the Chancellery and the Administration of Affairs of the Conference (1804-1928), chancelleries of the Academy President and Vice-President (1818-1886), the Secretariat (1927-1939), the Secretariat and Chancellery of the Presidium (1939-1949), Committee of the Board - Administration Board - Administration of Affairs - Administrative-economic Management (1803-1948), the Secret Division (Sekretnaia chast') (1922-1938). Among the documents there are original minutes of the meetings of the General Assembly and divisions of the Academy of Sciences, supplements to the minutes (protokol'nye bumagi), academic correspondence, scientific and administrative documents. The Archive also holds the documentation of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1783-1841).
Documentation materials of the scientific and auxiliary institutions of the Academy of Sciences of the 18th-20th centuries include the fonds of the Library, the Archive, the Publishing House, the Printing House, the Book Store, the Botanical Gardens, the Main Astronomical Observatory in Pulkovo, and others. There is a wide range of documents of different departments and chambers (drawing, engraving, instrumental, among others) dating back to the 18th century as part of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, as well as the materials of the Academy research expeditions of the 18th-20th centuries not only throughout the territory of Russia but covering many other parts of the world. The archive also retains fonds of museums, beginning with the Kunstkammer and its specialized scientific repositories established in the early 19th century - the Museums of Anthropology and Ethnography, Geology, Zoology, Mineralogy, and others. Up to the middle of the 18th century the Academy of Sciences performed the functions of the Academy of Arts, therefore the Academic Archive holds the materials on the history of Russian fine arts and architecture, documents on the history of St. Petersburg and its suburban palaces, for example one of the first plans of the city made by French architect J.B.A. Le Blond (1717).
The evolution of science from the end of the 19th century through the first third of the 20th century is represented by fonds of different committees, associations and commissions (the Archeographic Commission, the Byzantine Commission, the Commission for the Study of the Natural Productive Forces (1915-1930), the Commission for the Study of Tribal Structure of the Population of the USSR (1917-1930), etc.) based on the laboratories and institutes of St. Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad: Institutes of Astronomy, Physics and Technics, Geomorphology, Chemistry, Demography, Petrography, and others, as well as the Institutes of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) and Oriental Studies (Asiatic Museum), and other institutes in the sphere of humanities.
The Archive retains materials of non-Academy research institutions and societies, including the Russian Institute of Archaeology in Constantinople (1890-1928), the Russian Chemical Society (1868-1955), the Imperial Mineralogical Society (1817-1938), the Russian Entomological Society (1846-1939), the editorial office of "Russkii Istoricheskii Zhurnal" ("Russian Historical Journal") (1916-1922) and others. The archive also holds fonds of the Leningrad Branch of the Communist Academy under the Central Executive Committee of the USSR (1929-1936) and its Institutes of Agriculture, Economics, Agricultural Economics, Natural Science, Soviet Construction, State and Law, Philosophy, Marxism Methodology, History, Literature, Linguistics, as well as Marxist research societies (of biologists, physicians, mathematicians, economists, orientalists, local lore specialists and others). There are also documents of the research institutes under the Communist University in Petrograd (1922-1926) and the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of History of the Russian Association of Research Institutes of Social Sciences (RANION) (1927-1928), among others.
Documents of personal origin is mainly represented by personal papers of scientists of the 18th - 20th centuries. Among the earliest materials are manuscripts of German astronomer and mathematician J.M. Regiomontanus (1436-1476) and the so-called Pulkovo Collection (Pulkovskoe sobranie) - archive of one of the founders of modern natural science, German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), together with the manuscripts of Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe (1546-1601).
The archive also retains personal papers of prominent Russian and foreign scientists and scholars who were members of the Academy of Sciences or associated with it. Physics, mathematics and natural sciences are represented by the documentary collections of Russian encyclopaedist scientist M.V. Lomonosov; inventor and mechanician I.P. Kulibin; mathematicians L. Euler and V.A. Steklov; astronomers V.Ia. and O.V. Struve, F.A. Bredikhin; physicists P.N. Lebedev and A.F. Ioffe; geologists F.N. Chernyshev and A.P. Karpinskii; botanists A.S. Famintsyn, K.A. Meyer, N.I. Vavilov; zoologists K.E. Baer (K.M. Ber), J.F.(F.F.) Brandt, M.A. Menzbier (Menzbir); soil scientist V.V. Dokuchaev; geographers P.P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskii and L.S. Berg; physiologists I.P. Pavlov and A.A. Ukhtomskii; chemists A.M. Butlerov, A.E. Chichibabin, V.E. Tishchenko; seafarers A.J. Krusenstern (I.F. Kruzenshtern) and F.B. Lütke (F.P. Litke), among many others.
Humanities are represented by the names of historians G.S. Bayer (T.-Z. Baier), G.F. Müller (F.I. Miller), K.A. Uspenskii (Porfirii, Bishop of Chigirin), A.A. Kunik, M.M. Kovalevskii, A.S. Lappo-Danilevskii, N.P. Likhachev, V.N. Beneshevich; art historians N.P. Kondakov and D.V. Ainalov; orientalists B.A. Dorn, W. Barthold (V.V. Bartol'd), S.F. Ol'denburg, N.Ia. Marr, I.Iu. Krachkovskii; linguists A.J. Sjögren (A.M. Shegren), F.F. Fortunatov, L.V. Shcherba; statistician and archaeologist P. Köppen (P.I. Keppen); ethnographers N.N. Miklukho-Maklai, V.G. Bogoraz-Tan, L.Ia. Shternberg; specialists in the study of literature Ia.K. Grot, N.K. Nikol'skii, and many others.
Archival collections (razriady) include manuscripts of research works, materials on biographies and scientific-administrative activities, correspondence of the Academy of Sciences' members; charter and staff regulations and other documents on the history of the Academy of Sciences; archives of a number of scientific societies and collections personal documents; a collection of editions of the Academy of Sciences published by the Academy Printing House "Sankt-Petersburgskie Vedomosti"(1727-1799), printed and manuscript newspapers; a collection of portraits of scientists, metal engraving plates and prints of the 18th-19th centuries; photographic and phonographic documents on the history of science.
Among the graphic documents including maps, plans, drawings, etc. there is a collection of watercolors on paper and parchment by Swiss artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), previously held in the Kunstkammer, along with other unique drawings of the first Russian museum's exhibits.
Information and Reference System
In recent years, the Archive has been updating its finding aids and reference system (see SPbB ARAS website http://ranar.spb.ru/). Inventories of the fonds are being scanned and displayed on the Internet. Scanned materials are accessible to researchers on the webportal "Information system "Archives of RAS"" (ISARAN) at http://www.isaran.ru/?q=ru/funds&ida=2 and the page Finding aids and reference system of the SPbB ARAS website (http://ranar.spb.ru/rus/Baza/). At the same time, the Archive is updating the electronic database of SPbB ARAS (http://db.ranar.spb.ru) which mainly includes documents on the personal staff of the institutions of the Academy of Sciences, the online edition "Lomonosov and Lomonosoviana in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences" (http://db.ranar.spb.ru/lomonosov), inventory of the drawings of objects previously held in the Kunstkammer (18th century) (http://ranar.spb.ru/rus/page/618/) etc.