Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 6 No. 4

Work in Progress

Comintern Archives on Microfiche

BEFORE THE collapse of the USSR, the Comintern archives, which were closed down in 1943, were held in the inaccessible central archive of the CPSU’s Central Committee. Following the political and economic reforms in the early 1990s in Russia, these Comintern archives were then made accessible through the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Contemporary Historical Documents (RTsKhIDNI), the former Central Party Archive. In recent years, though, the Inter Documentation Company (IDC) Publishers of The Netherlands has been filming parts of the Comintern archives so as to make this material available on microfiche to a much wider world of researchers.

The last instalment of this microfiche series was due to be completed in April 1997. In its totality, it will include all documents which relate to the seven Congresses and 13 Plenums of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, including the shorthand notes made on the first Comintern congresses, as well as the material from all the preparatory and working commissions.

IDC Publishers is also transforming the complete archive indexes (opisi) into a full-text database format. The database records contain the following fields: fond number, opis number, number of archive folio, description of folio contents, date and year, number of pages, language of publication, and microfiche number of the collection. At the same time they have also translated the text of the opisi from Russian into English, French and German. In a unique approach to micro-publishing of archival material, IDC Publishers together with the International Institute of Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam are also producing a detailed index so that researchers at the IISG will be able to add notes and comments to specific highlights of the collection.

The collection, which comprises approximately 14,000 microfiches, goes some way to preserving long-term the 1.5 million items held in 551 fonds in the RTsKhIDNI; something which is invaluable given that last year the Russians suspended the microfilming project they had been undertaking with the Hoover Institution. If the future does brighten up, though, perhaps the next step will be to add the materials’ sections of the various national Communist parties to this electronic preservation and retrieval system.

The price of the entire collection at around 151,000 Guilders is beyond the budget of all except a limited number of specialist libraries and archives, though instalments of the series will be able to be purchased separately. Further information on this work and its availability can be had from Inter Documentation Company Publishers, Hogewoerd 151, PO Box 11205, 2301 EE Leiden, The Netherlands. Their E-mail address is info@idc.nl and they have a website at http://www.idc.nl.

Gary Tennant

Updated by ETOL: 30.9.2011