Working with Russian Archival Documents: A Guide to Modern Handwriting, Document Forms, Language Patterns, and Other Related Topics.
(Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, 1998), 114 pp., ill.

This guide book will be of interest to scholars and students of Slavic studies in a range of disciplines such as history, political science, sociology, literature, linguistics, etc. who intend to carry out research in Russian archives. While the study's chronological boundaries primarily encompass Soviet history, the Stalin era in particular, some pre-Revolutionary topics make it useful for a broader audience. The guide is the first to base its approach to the analysis of modern Russian handwritten documents on combined methods of paleography, neography, and forensic studies.

The text consists of an introduction, two chapters, an appendix, and selected bibliography. The introduction underlines the significance of advance preparation for archival research and the importance of analyzing both the outward aspects and the textological features of archival documents. The first chapter presents two methods of reading documents -- graphical and logical. A general survey of the evolution of Russian alphabet and handwriting is followed by a more elaborate exposition of the graphical characteristics of modern hands. The logical approach links up the common principles of producing documents in Russia with data unearthed by auxiliary historical disciplines such as paleography, chronology, metrology, toponymy, and sphragistics. The second chapter subjects four sample documents to detailed analysis to demonstrate how to apply the author's own simple techniques to deciphering illegible hands. Throughout the book, 85 illustrations present archival documents of various types. The texts are deciphered and supplied with commentary. These features make this guide useful both in the classroom and for individual practice in reading Russian handwritten archival documents.

If you would like to order a copy, please send a cheque or money order for $15.00 US (addresses within North America) or $20.00 US (addresses outside North America) to:
Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies
Munk Centre for International Studies

University of Toronto
1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7

back to homepage