Digital Handbook for Research on Soviet History is a bibliographic guide to primary source materials for the study of Soviet history. It is developed by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, with support from the Harvard History Department

This website is intended to support research on Soviet history by helping researchers navigate online resources collected and cataloged by our project team. These resources primarily pertain to fifteen post-Soviet states, but we have also included resources from beyond the post-Soviet space so that scholars with a broader spectrum of interests can also find this guide helpful. While a part of the resources included in the Digital Handbook is devoted to holdings in Harvard libraries, most of the resources presented on this website are open-access.

The Digital Handbook consists of three sections dedicated to three types of resources:

Open Access Primary Sources

A collection of primary source materials freely available online. Our current database contains more than 900 resources – digital archives, libraries, collections, exhibitions, and digital scholarship projects – that provide free access to unpublished and published materials, including archival documents, document collections, primary source books, periodicals, cartographic materials, statistical data, diaries, memoirs, correspondence, oral history, photographs, and works of literature and art. 

English-Language Primary Sources

A bibliographic guide to thousands of English-language document collections, periodicals, fiction, and other types of materials that can be used as primary sources for studying Soviet history. Initially designed by Professor Terry Martin as a tool to facilitate Harvard students’ use of primary sources in their course papers, this database has expanded and now includes a significant number of open-access digital primary source materials.

The Guide. Soviet Anti-Bureaucracy Posters, Fung Library FPCC_053

The Guide. Soviet Anti-Bureaucracy Poster Collection, Fung Library FPCC_053

Don't dare to criticize! Soviet Anti-Bureaucracy Posters, Fung Library FPCC_036

Don't dare to criticize! Soviet Anti-Bureaucracy Posters, Fung Library FPCC_036

Online Finding Aids

Listing of digital finding aids and other referential materials published by post-Soviet archives (central archives in Moscow, republican archives, large provincial-level archives, municipal archives, and archives under various agencies). Notably, in the future this section will provide access information on all former KGB archives, informing researchers what materials from these archives are at least notionally available for research and how one can go about conducting research in them.

Further instructions on how to navigate the resources can be found in each section. You can also search keywords or use the Advanced Search function to find specific resources. In addition to the three major sections mentioned above, please also consult other bibliographic resources created by Harvard or other institutions, where you can find information about Russian and Eurasian collections at different institutions beyond the CIS region.

Our project is still in its early stage and the website content is constantly being updated. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback on this website, please connect with us via the Contact & Contribute page.

Header Image Credit

Spring in Moscow, 1947, by L. Dorensky via Soviet Information Bureau Photograph Collection, Fung Library SIB_4903.