Yale University Press launches Stalin Digital Archive

Photos: From the Yale University Press: Stalin Digital Archive

The Stalin Digital Archive (SDA) is the result of years of collaboration between Yale University Press and the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History.
The archive will eventually contain more than 28000 documents, including some of Stalin’s personal papers that have never before been made public.
Users have access to high-quality close-up images of the documents in the archive — as illustrated by this view of Stalin’s letter to his protégé, Soviet politician and diplomat Vyacheslav Molotov, from December 1929.
In this letter, Stalin thanks German dictator Adolf Hitler for signing the non-aggression treaty of 1939.
Included in the archive are transcriptions of the 25 volumes in the Press’ “Annals of Communism” series. This image is from “Piggy Fox and the Sword of Revolution,” which includes Soviet leaders’ sketches of themselves and others.
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Yale University Press has launched a Web-based digital archive offering access to some never-before-seen personal papers of Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union 1941-1953, as well as other materials.

The Stalin Digital Archive (SDA) provides innovative tools enabling collaborative research within a wide-ranging collection of documents and scholarship on the former Soviet Union, and will serve as a resource for research libraries, academic institutions, and organizations focused on Russian and Slavic studies.

The archive is the result of years of collaboration between the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) and Yale University Press to publish, in different media, materials from the recently declassified Stalin archive in RGASPI’s holdings and from the Press’ critically acclaimed “Annals of Communism” series.

“The Stalin Digital Archive continues Yale’s tradition in disseminating high-quality content, yet represents a major step forward in academic publishing by providing robust capabilities for users to interact with these materials and engage with a community of scholars,” says David Schiffman, director of digital publishing at Yale University Press.

The SDA aims to advance the field of Russian and Soviet studies on several levels:  

Access to over 28,000 documents

The SDA provides access to a significant body of Stalin’s personal papers that have never before been available or were accessible only at the RGASPI archive in Russia. The electronic archive will eventually contain more than 28,000 documents (404,000 pages), including letters written by Stalin and hundreds of books from his personal library, with his marginal notes. The archive also contains new material on Stalin’s political life and his relationships with world leaders, including the complete wartime correspondence between Stalin and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In addition, the SDA makes available fully digitized transcriptions of the 25 volumes from the “Annals of Communism.” Drawing from previously closed Russian state and party archives, these books present documents selected by teams of Western and Russian editors and published with scholarly commentary and annotation.

Tools for research and teaching

The SDA provides robust technological capabilities for research and teaching. These include:

• the ability to easily navigate, tag, annotate, and cite sources;

• a wide variety of discovery tools, from basic keyword searches to advanced filters;

• curated selections and theme-based browse functions for introducing the archive to students and less-seasoned users; and

• personalization features offered in “My SDA,” which enables users to create secure, private workspaces for saving searches, documents, notes, and citations in one convenient online location.

Promoting collaboration through forums and more

The SDA provides many collaboration tools that are now commonplace on the Web but still lacking in many standard scholarly enterprises. SDA users can participate in community forums to discuss specific sets of documents or themes; access and add to user-generated public tags as valuable finding aids; keep up with the latest research by subscribing to community-based research interest groups; and network and collaborate with colleagues around the world.

 “We are so proud to be publishing the SDA, fulfilling our mission of disseminating research and scholarship in a way that marries digital innovation and scholarly tradition,” says John Donatich, director of Yale University Press. “This archive will enable significant further scholarship on and understanding of the Soviet Union.”

Major funding was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York

For more information about the SDA, contact Schiffman at 203-432-2619 or david.schiffman@yale.edu.

Yale University Press is one of the oldest and largest university presses in the United States, publishing more than 400 books annually in a wide range of disciplines, including art, history, politics, religion, literature, science, and philosophy. Its foreign-language program features widely used textbooks on Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and French.

Formerly known as the Central Party Archive, the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History is the chief repository of materials on the social and political history of Western Europe, Russia, and the Soviet Union, as well as the international labor, socialist, and communist movements. It also preserves the archives of the contemporary political parties of Russia.