Russian State Naval Archives
Annotated Register of Inventories of the Funds
The Russian State Naval Archive (RSNA) is one of the oldest archives in Russia, originating from the Archive of Admiralty-Collegium.
The date of the archive's creation is January 17, 1724, when the Admiralty-Collegium, the highest organ of the naval administration according to the verbal decree of Tsar Peter I resolved "to appoint an archivist and clerks for collection of files in the archive".
The archive of the Admiralty-Collegium gathered documents both of the very Collegium and subordinated institutions and organizations of the Russian Navy.
In the first years of its existence they passed files to the archive according to particular orders in connection with the liquidation of an establishment or because of the death or dismissal of a director.In 1764, completing of the archives became more systematized. Institutions of the Navy department received an order to transfer files to the archive after the finishing a clerk work with them.
The archive of the Admiralty-Collegium existed for more than one-hundred years. The collegium gathered and preserved files with a valuable core of documents about the history of the Russian Navy.
In 1827, in connection with the abolition of the Admiralty-Collegium, the archive became a part of the General Archive of the Naval Ministry. A statement about the Archive of the Naval Ministry, formulated rules of receiving files. From 1828, a special commission worked to analyze the files and put them in order. During the final thirty years of the nineteenth century, the commission divided the files into the groups (fonds), uniting the files belonged to the same institutions, which donated the documents. Within the fonds, they were arranged chronologically. Inventories with brief headings of files were also compiled.
From 1849, the war department spread the application of the rules about division of the files into three categories, in the Naval Ministry too.
In the nineteenth century, work began for the creation of a scientific-reference apparatus for the documents of the archive.
Inventories of the files and an alphabetical index were created for this purpose. In 1853, the inventories started being published. The first one Was the inventory of files of the Inspector's Department. From 1873 until 1906, the archives had a special commission that performed a unique work by preparing and printing 6f ten volumes bf Description of the Files of the Archive of the Naval Ministry for the period from the second half of the seventeenth century to the Beginning of the nineteenth century. Not long before the October revolution, on August 10, 1917, the Archives of the Naval Ministry was renamed to the Central Archive of the Navy and Naval Department.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the archive moved tender the jurisdiction of Russia on June 24, 1992. The Central State Archive of the Navy of the Soviet Union was renamed to the Russian State Naval Archive (RSNA) and entered the network of federal archives of Russia.
The fonds of the RSNA contain documents of the navy from the moment of the creation of the regular Russian Navy in the end of the seventeenth century until 1940. A particular feature of the archive is the concentration of documents from two epochs within the same walls. Materials from both the Russian and Soviet Navies are kept in the fonds. Differentiation date for the documents of the navies of two epochs is October 25 (November 7) 1917. The fonds have independent numeration. Before the numbers of the fonds of the Soviet Navy is the letter "p".
1268 fonds with about 800 000 files are preserved in the RSNA. These fonds contain information from the highest and central establishments and administrations of the Russian and Soviet navies and flotillas. Information about units, ships, military ports, naval bases, scientific research establishments, naval education institutions, boat construction enterprises, and hydrographic and scientific expeditions are also contained in these fonds. Contained within these fonds are the following series of documents about: the creation, organization and activities of the navy, the construction of sailing and rowing boats, steam and armored navies, the creation of defense installations and ports, scientific developments, the role of the navy in geographical discoveries, naval education, and the participation of the navy in the wars of Russia and in its revolutionary activities. Also contained in the archive are documents about the civilian history of Russia, the politics of Russia, its economics, culture and relations with other nations.
The war activities of the Russian Navy from the end of the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth century are reflected in the documents of many fonds of the RSNA. The fonds "Order of the Navy" (f. 177), "Admiralty Office" (f.176), "Admiralty-Collegium" (f. 212), the offices of: General-Admiral F.M. Apraksin (f.233), Admirals K.I. Criuys (f.234), M.Kh. Zmaevich (f.232), N.F. Golovin (f. 230), G.G. Kushelev (f. 198), S.I. Mordvinov (f.173), P.P. Bredal' (f. 231); General-Field-Marschal I.G. Chernishev (f. 172); "The Office of Prince G.A. Potemkin-Tavricheskiy regarding the management of the Black Sea Fleet" (f. 197), "The Office of the commanders of the rowing fleets and ports of the Baltic Sea" (f. 142), "Commission for the affairs of the Archipelag Flotilla in the war with Turkey 1789-1791" (f. 150), "Department of the Naval Minister" (f.166), "The Black Sea Admiralty Administration" (f. 245), keep information about the glorious victories of the Russian Navy, from the end of the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth centuries. These documents are about the Azov campaigns, the naval battles during the period of the Northern War 1700-1721 and amongst them reports, letters about a sea battle at the mouth of the Neva River (1703), of the first battle of the young Baltic Fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral K. Criuys near Kotlin. Island (1705), about the victory near Gangut (1714), about the defeat of the Swedish Fleet at Ezel' (1719), the successful battle of the galley flotilla under the command of M.M. Golitsin with the Swedish squadron at Grengam (1720). There is also material about the personal role of Tsar Peter in the battle operations in the Prut (1711) and Persian (1722-1723) campaigns. There are documents about the participation of the navy in the wars with Turkey during the years 1735-1739, 1768-1774, 1787-1791, 1806-1812. This material includes documents about: the activities of the navy in Archipelag and the North Sea and the glorious victories in the Khioss and Chesma battles (1770), the victory of the squadrons of the Russian Navy under the command of D.N. Senyavin in the battles near Afon (1807), the Dardanell battle (1807). Documents about the role of the Baltic fleet in the wars with Sweden during 1741-1743 and 1788-1790 are also in the fonds. These documents include information on the Revel, Vyborg, and Krasnogosk battles (1790). Also described is the participation of the navy in the military action of Russia against France from 1798 until 1800 and the victories of the Black Sea Fleet under the command of Admiral F.F. Ushakov near Kaliakria (1791) and Korfu (1799).
The events of the Crimean War, 1853-1856, are reflected in the documents of the fonds, "Inspection Department of the Naval Ministry" (f.283), "Office of the Naval Ministry" (410), "Military-campaign Office of His Imperial Majesty on Naval Affairs" (f. 296), "General-Admiral Great Prince Konstantin Nikolaevich (f. 224), "The management of the Main Commander of the Black Sea Navy and the Ports of the Black Sea" (f.243), "Kronshtadt Military General-Governor and Commander of the Military Land and Sea Forces" (f. 317), "The Office of the Main Commander of the Kronshtadt Port" (f.383), and "Main Commander of the Archanglesk Port" (f. 330). There are documents about the battle in the Sinop Bay on November 18, 1853, including the report of P.S. Nakhimov about the victory of the Russian Navy near Sinop; the organization of the defense of Sevastopol', the activities of the Admirals V.A.Kornilov, P.S. Nakhimov, V.I. Istomin, about appointing of the head of the Main Naval Staff A.S. Menshikov as a main commander of the naval and land forces in Crimea, about the appearance of the Anglo-French squadron in the Black Sea, the sinking of ships in the Sevastopol' raid; the activities of the navy in the Baltic and White Seas; about the invasion of the Anglo-French Fleet in August 1854 to Petropavlovsk-na-Kamchatke and the organization of his defense under the direction of V.S. Zavoiko.
All of the aforementioned and other fonds contain documentary materials on civilian history of Russian state - about developing and settlement of Siberia and Far East, Alaska; trade navigation, administrative division of Russia; economics, culture and daily life of their people. There is also information about history of political, economical and culture relations of Russia with countries of Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
The goal of this reference book is to give information about the document composition of each fond of the Russian navy, keeping in the RSNA.
Annotation of the fond includes number of the fond, its title, period of existence of an institution which donated the documents in the given fond (if the fond is personal, dates of life of this individual are indicated; if the date is partially unknown, question mark "?" appears), first and last dates of the documents and quantity of files in the fond, number of the inventory and volume of inventory (if it is). For each inventory the following is given: name, information about containing documents, dates of the documents and number of files.
The appendix contains the following:
- List of personal fonds.
- List of fonds of ships and vessels.
- List of fonds included in "Description of the Files of the Archive of the Naval Ministry" (10 volumes. St. Petersburg, 1877-1906).
- List of fonds, included in manuscript description of files keeping in the RSNA appeared as a result of activity of Naval Department institutions.
- List of fonds having manuscript annotations.
- Subject index of fonds.
- Index of names.
- Geographical index.
- Index of ships and vessels.
- Reference publications.
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