HU OSA 381 Electronic Archives of the Communist International (Comintern)

Identity Statement

Reference Code
HU OSA 381
Electronic Archives of the Communist International (Comintern)
1919 - 1956
Description Level
Extent and medium (processed)
3 SDLT I, 0.1 linear meters


Name of creator(s)
Communist International (Comintern)
Archival history
The Communist International materials at the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow have only been open to scholars since 1992. The holdings are massive, somewhere between 20 and 25 million pages, and the finding aids (opisi) for the various sections themselves total more than 20,000 pages and are written in Russian. Consequently, this archive is not easy to explore. In 1992 the Council of Europe was asked to intervene to save the Comintern Archive in Moscow, which was endangered by the political changes. At the end of 1992 ICA, the International Council on Archives, the Council of Europe and the Federal Archival Service of Russia (Rossarchiv) ) initiated discussions about the possibility to create an electronic catalogue using the latest developments in computer technology. Such a catalogue would facilitate easy access to this unique set of archival holdings. The preliminary talks lasted three years: the Framework Agreement was signed by the representatives of ICA, the Council of Europe and Rossarchiv on June 6, 1996. The Framework Agreement set as its goal the creation of an electronic database of the 220,000 Communist International files (about 20 million entries) and of a collection of 1,000,000 digitized images of the most frequently researched documents. On June 27, 2003 the electronic version of the Comintern Archives was inaugurated by RGASPI [Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History]. The Incomka project had two parts: first, to digitize as images one million pages of the most used and historically significant documents of the Comintern and, second, to digitize the finding aids to Comintern collections at RGASPI into an electronically text-searchable database. An international committee of historians have recommended which sections of the Comintern archive were to be digitized. Entire sections were chosen for digitization, not just individual documents. In order to facilitate international use, the project determined that the database was to be electronically searchable in both Cyrillic-alphabet Russian and Latin-alphabet English. The translation has been done by the U.S. Library of Congress. To assist with the difficulties of translating the names from Russian into Latin-alphabet English, 167 scholars from 54 countries were called upon.

Content and Structure

Scope and Content (Abstract)
The fond consists of 1100 thousand digital images available on 574 CD's in TIFF format. The electronic indexes to the Electronic Archives of Comintern provide search and retrieval of the digitized images of the documents of the Communist International that are stored at the Russian State Archives of Social-Political History.
The database is based on an edited electronic version of the printed RGASPI finding aids. It allows for searches using file descriptors, key words, and personal or organizational names down to the individual file folder level, but not to the level of the individual document. It provides for the rapid location of file descriptions of the entire twenty-million pages holdings of the Communist International Archive at RGASPI, not just the pages which have been scanned for the Incomka project. The database is searchable in both Cyrillic-alphabet Russian and Latin-alphabet English.

Each of the group includes documents from different fonds that are listed in another finding aid to the Archives under the title Signatures (Reference Codes). The sub-groups structure provides reference to the series (opis) and file (delo) level descriptions and indicates existence of scanned images within the large scope of the documents from the respective collection.
The description compatible with ISAD is provided only on the folder (delo) level.

The majority of the documents date from 1919 to 1943; however both earlier and later materials can be found.
The collection comprises the documents of the seven congresses of the Comintern and the thirteen plenums of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI), together with materials from the associated preparatory and working commissions. It is also includes e.g. photographs of participants, leaders of Communist movement over the world.


System of arrangement
The material is organised in eleven groups: Congresses and Plenums of Executive Committee of the Communist International; Executive Committee of the Communist International and its Organizational Offices; Communist Parties as Comintern Sections; Educational Institutions of the Communist International; International Revolutionary Organizations; Personal Fonds and Collections of the Documents; Personal Files by Countries; International Socialist Movement; International Brigades of Spain; International Trotskists' Organizations; Other Comintern Documents.

Conditions of Access and Use

Conditions governing access
English, French, German, Russian

Allied Materials

Publication note
Kecskeméty Károly: Elektronikus információszabadság a múlt megismerésének szolgálatában - a Komintern-Levéltár informatizálása, 385-392 ol. In: Az elektronikus információszabadság. Eötvös Károly Inézet, Budapest 2005 A free online inventory to the complete Comintern Archives (55,000,000 pages) M. M. Drachkovitch, ed., The Revolutionary Internationals, 1864-1943 (1966); J. Braunthal, History of the International (2 vol., 1967); B. Lazitch and M. M. Drachkovitch, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern (1973); Framework Agreement between the State Archive Service of Russia and the International Council on Archives on the principles which will govern the implementation of the Computerisation Project of the Komintern Archives. Strasbourg, April 1996, Ref: CC/LIVRE (96) 7.; Comintern Archive: A look behind the scenes on microfiche. Edited by Kirill M. Anderson. Leiden: Inter Documentation Company (IDC), 1994-. Microfiche edition. Comintern Archive: Electronic Guide on CD-ROM. Leiden: IDC, 1998. (Lib: MH). Complete files of the seven Congresses and thirteen plenums (1919-1935) are available for purchase on microfiche. Files of the Communist Party of the USA in the Comintern Archives. Compiled John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, Vernon Pedersen, Herbert Romerstein. Edited by John Earl Haynes. Leiden: IDC Publlishers, 2003. Microfiche edition. Electronic edition: Guide to the Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and Soviet State : Microfilm Collection, 1993-1996. (Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and Soviet State: Microfilm Collection). Compiled by Lora Soroka. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Archives. 2000. Electronic publication: Shirinia, Kirill Kirillovich; Shakhnazarova, Eleonora Nikolaevna; and Adibekov, Grant Mkrtychevich. Organizatsionnaia struktura Kominterna 1919-1943. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1997.

Description Control

Archivist's note
Processed by Olga Zaslavskaya, November 20, 2003.