HomeA Special Guide to Primary Sources on Social Media

A Special Guide to Primary Sources on Social Media

Social media space in Post-Soviet countries might be harsh and chaotic, but it definitely provides numerous opportunities for scholars and enthusiasts to share ideas and academic resources. This guide focuses on primary source materials for the study of Soviet history one can find on various social media platforms: YouTube, V Kontakte, Facebook, Telegram, LiveJournal, etc. Researchers interested in visual and audio materials and published sources may find social media resources particularly helpful. It is also easier to find materials for relatively niche topics (for example, psychedelia) on social media than through official channels. Resources included in this guide are mainly Russian-language, but we will try to include more relevant social media resources in other languages in the future.

This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive database of all social media resources for research on Soviet history, given the inexhaustibility of information on today’s social media. Rather, this guide indicates social media platforms that may contain primary source materials and shares strategies to find sources on these platforms. Researchers can customize these strategies for their own research needs.

Note that many social media accounts or groups that share different materials are often private initiatives, and their activities may not meet all criteria for legitimacy. Resources on social media are likely to reproduce copyright-protected content without license or permissions, contain re-typed content that cannot be verified for accuracy or completeness, and/or omit facts of publication or archival attribution. Researchers should explore primary sources on social media with special care and shall not use these resources for commercial purposes.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that material for which you have not granted permission (or which is not covered by a copyright exception under applicable copyright laws) has been shared by the social media platforms listed in this guide, you may request that the resource be removed from our site by submitting a notice via the Contact & Contribute page.


YouTube is a great resource for finding video and audio materials. Many former Soviet media producers, such as Mosfilm and Gosteleradiofond, have created their official YouTube channels and shared many old films and video/audio recordings. Even more materials can be found on private YouTube channels or through playlists created by YouTube users. The YouTube channels and playlists shared via this guide are just the tip of the iceberg. You’re encouraged to explore the world of YouTube by yourself, especially if you’re studying Soviet films, cartoons, TV, or music, or looking for oral history interviews and other visual/audio materials.

"Lenin the Mushroom", a television hoax prepared by musician Sergey Kuryokhin and journalist Sergey Sholokhov, first shown in January 1991.

YouTube supports auto-generated subtitles and auto-translation of subtitles for many languages. Most movies in Russian support these functions. If you are not a Russian speaker, you can still try turning on auto-generated subtitles and then using YouTube’s auto-translation. The same mechanism works for many other languages. Of course, both the auto-generated subtitles and auto-translations cannot be 100% accurate.

Mosfilm English YouTube Channel

Mosfilm English YouTube Channel

The official English YouTube channel of Mosfilm, presenting over 1000 Soviet and Russian films with English subtitles.

Gorky Film Studio YouTube Channel

Gorky Film Studio YouTube Channel

The official YouTube channel of the Gorky Film Studio, which produced many famous Soviet movies and TV series.

Soviet TV. Gosteleradiofond YouTube Channel

Soviet TV. Gosteleradiofond YouTube Channel

The official YouTube channel of the Russian State Fond of Television and Radio programs. It presents video recordings of Soviet TV programs.

Cartoon Studio. Soiuzmul'tfil'm YouTube Channel

Soiuzmul'tfil'm YouTube Channel

A YouTube channel presenting Soviet and contemporary Russian cartoons and children's films.

View all YouTube resources...


VKontakte (VK) is a Russian line media and social networking service based in Saint-Petersburg. Numerous VK communities, both academic and non-academic, share digitized printed materials, Soviet photographs, movies, music, and other types of content that can be used as primary sources. Files shared via VK are often freely downloadable. VK communities listed on this site don’t even come close to including all primary source materials you can find via VK. You can always try a simple search of any keyword on VK, and the results may often give some surprise. (See examples of VK resources below.)

Soviet PSYCHEDELIC cartoons VK Group

Soviet PSYCHEDELIC cartoons

A VK group that shares Soviet "Psychedelic" cartoons. Here you can find numerous surrealistic and strange Soviet cartoons.

Soviet books for all VK Group

Soviet books for all

A VK group that shares digitized Soviet books on a variety of topics.

Soviet Buryatia VK Group

Soviet Buryatia

A VK group that shares Soviet-era documents, TV programs, movies, photographs, and publications about Buryatia.

Soviet and Post-Soviet music VK Group

Soviet and Post-Soviet music

A VK group that shares Soviet and Post-Soviet post-punk, psychedelia, industrial, noise rock, underground and other types of niche music.

View all VK resources...

Many Russian state archives also have VK pages and some often post documents on VK. While such posts can hardly be major sources for serious research, sometimes they may provide hints to your research questions or provoke new research questions. Why not just follow some accounts and keep an eye on what they post? Below is a list of links to the VK pages of Russian archives that often post original documents on VK.


Telegram is becoming one of the most popular instant messengers in the Post-Soviet space. Telegram channels provide another platform for sharing information and resources. More and more organizations, projects, and individuals have created their Telegram channels for more instant information sharing. Channels included in this guide don’t cover all Telegram channels that share primary source materials for research on Soviet history. Users are encouraged to explore more by themselves!

"Jewish heroes" Telegram Channel

Jewish heroes

A Telegram channel that shares archival documents about Jewish people who struggled against the Soviet regime.

"Soviet textbooks" Telegram Channel

Soviet textbooks

A Telegram channel that shared digitized Soviet textbooks.

"Society for Promoting Helpful Books" Telegram Channel

Society for Promoting Helpful Books

The Telegram channel of a digital project of the same name that shares digitized imperial Russian and Soviet rare books (always on very niche topics).

"Soviet Psychedelia" Telegram Channel

Soviet psychedelia

A Telegram channel that shares Soviet psychedelic artwork, including paintings, cartoons, caricatures, posters, etc.

View all Telegram resources...


On Facebook it’s probably hard to find downloadable files, but given the popularity of Facebook in the Post-Soviet space, many organizations, individuals (historians, first of all), and civil communities often share source information and source materials (primarily images and photographs) via Facebook. Below are some examples of Facebook pages historians of the Soviet Union may find interesting. 


LiveJournal is a Russian-owned social networking service where users can keep a blog, journal, or diary. As a product of the early 2000s, today this platform is still used by many Russian speakers to share various resources and information. Below are several LiveJournal blogs that share Soviet documents, photographs, and other primary source materials. Below are some examples of LiveJournal blogs researchers of the Soviet Union may find interesting. You are encouraged to explore more by yourselves!

Other Platforms

While Twitter is hardly used for serious resource sharing, sometimes you can still find people posting materials that may interest you, as shown below. You should figure out how to develop serious source materials out of these Twitter fragments.

Uyghur Uyghur2 The origin of Rus' Sino-US-Soviet

Sometimes scholars also share free-access primary source materials on Academia.edu, as Sergey Abashin and Igor Casu always do. There should be other scholars making similar contributions to the academic community. Go check the website!

Sergey Abashin Academia page

Materials shared by Sergey Abashin on Academia.edu.

Igor Casu Academia page

Materials shared by Igor Casu on Academia.edu.