Hesitations at the Door to an Archive Catalog
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This essay represents rebections on the reciprocal inbuence between the historian and the archivist involved in developing and improving the apparatus of scholarly reference in the Russian archives. Let us start with some thoughts about historians. Historians rebecting on their trade, and on their interactions with archivists, cannot ignore an obvious fact: the apparatus of scholarly reference is responsible to a certain extent for mapping out the course of their archival research . The reference apparatus imposes a different inbuence on a historian well guided in the ocean of archival materials than a person who tries to and an answer to a particular question and ands himself overwhelmed by the sea of available information. An experienced researcher starts working in the archives only if there is a more or less broad choice of descriptive concepts (a system of key words). It is hard to say what exactly historians feel—the joy of engagement when they meet agures and events that are already familiar, or the joy of becoming familiar with ones that were previously unknown. In most cases beginners learn that archives speak a somewhat incomprehensible language and that, in order to and answers to their questions, they must alter the question itself. They also learn that the catalogs and ales offer them diverse information they were unaware of and the usefulness of which they initially and difacult to assess. Every researcher, regardless of his or her qualiacations, comes to the archives with some already developed ideas about his or her subject, and with a readiness to learn certain kinds of information. The very principle “I am looking for what I am aware of” determines to a considerable extent the trajectory of a scholar’s research. The scholar looks in the reference apparatus for what he or she has already formed an idea about. The catalog and the ale are the researchers’ tool kit, but researchers are unable to adjust the tools. Is The Archival Reference Apparatus “Scientiec”? Archival reference materials in the Soviet Union were preaxed by the word “scientiac.” This means that their authors claimed they were organized in a scientiac way and were thereby linked to the process of “scientiac” historical creativity. Very instrumental in developing archival reference materials were the USSR Council of Ministers Resolution of July 25, 1963, entitled “On the Measures to Improve Archival Activities in the USSR,” and a Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) Central Committee Resolution of 1967 entitled “On Measures to Further Develop the Social Sciences and to Enhance their Importance in Communist Construction.” These two regulating documents gave rise to the Schema of Uniaed Classiacation (SUC) developed at the All-Union Research Institute for Records, Studies, and Archives (RIRSA). This schema is in complete accord with “Marxist-Leninist methodology.” First, it strictly arranges topics by their scholarly signiacance . Section A is devoted to materials connected with the Great October Socialist Revolution and with “the establishing and strengthening of Soviet power.” The section is subdivided into several parts, including: (A1) “Preparations for the Great October Socialist Revolution ”; (A2) “The victory and strengthening of Soviet power”; (A3) “Destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus ”; (A5) “The struggle of Soviet power against coun480 ⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮ Hesitations at the Door to an Archive Catalog Vladimir Lapin ⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯ terrevolution”; (A7) “People’s governments (1940)”; (A8) “Proletarian solidarity and support to the Great October Socialist Revolution abroad. Participation of workers of foreign countries in the October Revolution.” Then, the schema builds a deanite hierarchy of topics and subjects: Section B3, for example, is called “State construction. State power. State security.” Internally, the section is organized by the Russian alphabet as follows: B. “State construction.” V. “State power and state administration.” G. “Justice. Control over legality. Protection of social order and social property. Protection of state borders.” D. “International relations (foreign policy). International social and political movement.” Ye. “Armed forces.” ZH. “Armed protection of the Socialist fatherland.” I/K. “On the leading role of the CPSU (Art. 6 of the USSR constitution).” I1. “Social and political life.” I2. “CPSU.” I3. “Trade Unions.”1 I4. “Komsomol [Communist Youth Organization].” I5. “Pioneers [Communist Children’s Organization].” I6. “Other public and political organizations.” K3. “Agitation and propaganda.” K4. “Mass media.” K7. “Folk festivals, anniversaries, and other jubilees.” L/T. Section with material on the “National economy.” L. “Economic development.” M. “Industry.” N. “Transport.” P. “Communication.” R. “Agriculture, forest, and water economy.” S. “Trade, sale, stocks.” T. “Communal economy.” U/Ia. Final sections dealing with “Elements of the superstructure.” U. “Culture.” F. “Education.” X...