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Muslims in Russia

Muslims in Russian History
Muslim peoples played an important role in the creation of the multinational Russian state. The process took several centuries and was completed only when Central Asia was annexed in the 1860s. Russian power had confronted a huge Muslim world, and the Muslim question became one of the major factors in both the internal and the external policy of Russia's tsars. According to the first general census (1897), by the end of the nineteenth century the Muslim population amounted to approximately 14 million, representing almost 11 percent of the total population of Imperial Russia.

The Muslim Question
The attitude of the Russian state to the Muslims changed more than once. Down to the time of Peter the Great, Russian policy combined the merging of the Muslim elite with the top of Russian society, with the forced, gradual Russification and Christianization of the general population. Starting with Ekaterina II, all-Russia imperial policy changed from that of suppressing the Muslims to that of legitimizing them. When Alexander III became tsar in 1881, he started to pursue a policy of the increased administrative prosecution of religious nonconformity, and discrimination against non-Christians (including Muslims), thus increasingly separating Muslims from Russian society.

The Wind of Change
New forces entered public life at the beginning of the twentieth century. In Russia, there was a powerful outburst of Muslim nationalism, based on religious reformism, traditionalism, and liberal ideas. During the First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907, there were great changes in the state and in society linked to the creation of the State Duma (parliament), the proclamation of civil freedom, and the possibility to form political parties and alliances, and to relatively independently express political opinion. It was then that the traditional worldview was shaken and the foundation for the secularization of the social conscience was laid.
The Union of Muslims of Russia ( Ittifak-Al-Muslimin) - which was created at the 1905-1906 congresses of Muslim representatives from throughout Russia - became the Muslims' most powerful political organization. The Union survived until 1917 and had branches in the lands along the Volga and in the Crimea, the Urals, the Caucasus, Siberia and Turkestan.
This period saw an increase in the number of Muslim intellectuals searching for their national identity. The Muslims of Russia showed a great interest in the legacy of the past, in their national roots, and in their spiritual, religious, and ethnic traditions. Periodicals widely discussed the understanding of the Muslims’ cultural heritage and of the East-West problem.
During and shortly after the February and October Revolutions of 1917, nationalist movements grew rapidly. Finding themselves with a degree of freedom they had formerly thought impossible, many in Russia - including Muslims - were for the first time able to clearly express their problems and the ways to solve them. After they took power on October 25, 1917, the Bolsheviks started to pursue a national policy that in reality never considered the true interests of the Muslims. Thus, the Muslims' attitude toward the new authority worsened dramatically. From the summer of 1918 onward, most Muslims felt negative toward the Soviet authorities and the communists who restricted their religious freedom.

The Muslim Press
Until the first Russian revolution (1905-1907), the problems of Russian Muslims were extremely poorly reported in the Russian press. This is why Muslim public figures time and again tried to obtain permission to publish their own newspapers and magazines. The Buku paper Kaspij was the first Muslim paper to be printed in Russian (1881). Its publisher was an Azerbaijanian politician, Ali-Mardan Topchibashev. He was the first deputy of the State Duma and one of the Muslim leaders in the Russian Empire. Kaspij was published by Muslim journalists for Russian readers. The revolution led to the appearance of many periodicals, including Muslim ones, of numerous ideological persuasions: from monarchist to socialist, and from patriotic to "pan-Turkist" and "pan-Islamist."
These publications were intended to acquaint the Russian and European public with the problems of the Muslims of the Russian Empire, and represented the interests of various groups within the Muslim community. They published official orders related to the Muslim population, documents, resolutions, appeals made by Muslim congresses, the protocols of sessions of Muslim organizations, materials on the most urgent problems of the Muslim population, reviews, letters from Muslims, etc. The notion was spread in society that the Muslim press, especially in 1909-1912, was thoroughly infected by the "viruses" of pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism. For example, the Parisian magazine Musul'manin ( Muslim), which was printed in Russian in 1908-1911, was considered a locus for the distribution of these ideas, as were the St Petersburg publications V mire musul'manstva ( In the Muslim World) and Mususul'manskaia gazeta ( Muslim Newspaper).
After the collapse of the monarchy in March 1917, many Muslim papers and magazines appeared, including some in Russian. The most precious and the rarest is News of the All-Russian Muslim Council. It was published in Petrograd in the second half of 1917 by the All-Russian Muslim Council, the highest executive body of the country's Muslim population. The Council comprised such well-known and established representatives as Zakhid Shamil, the grandson of Imam Shamil. Zakhid Shamil was a journalist, a member of the editorial board of the Petersburg magazine Book Chronicle, and an officer in the Chief Administration of Press in Petersburg.

A Unique Source
Practically all these publications have yet to be thoroughly studied and are practically unknown to foreign researchers. Nevertheless, they are a unique source. They provide familiarity with a very heterogeneous and unknown world that lasted for more than 50 years, namely from 1861 to 1918. Materials published both at the center and on the periphery reflect the picturesque palette of life of Muslims in the Russian Empire, as well as the positions of the public and political figures of different layers of Muslim society.
This collection presents works written by and about Muslims. It includes publications that present the point of view of outsiders regarding the Muslim press. Inorodcheskoe Obozrenie (Foreigners' Overview, a supplement to Pravoslavnyj Sobesednik [Orthodox Collocutor]) is a publication about Muslims in Russia. In addition to articles of a missionary character about Muslims, it contains translations and annotations of numerous Muslim books, magazines, and newspapers. The publications made an essential contribution to the process of overcoming the old religious and national estrangement of the Muslim population.
In the pages of these editions, for the first time on such a scale, intelligent arguments were presented in support of rejecting national self-isolation, the need to familiarize other peoples with Muslim achievements in the fields of science, culture, industry, and agriculture, and the idea of the mutual understanding between and the cultural rapprochement with all peoples.
The discussion was directed at both Western and Russian culture, and showed a significant understanding of the need to become familiar with the achievements of a world civilization. The publications strengthened progressive tendencies by responding forcefully to current political events. The value of this heritage is especially clear now that the historical and spiritual past of Muslims in Russia is being actively reconsidered.
Russian Genealogy

Family ties
The major significance attached to family class ties in Imperial Russia (right up to the 1917 October Revolution) is a well-known fact. This means that information about the family ties of some historical figure or other may help to explain the reasons for some of his/her actions, any career advancements, as well as other events. This was an entirely typical aspect of life in Russian pre-revolutionary society. Genealogical literature was very well established in Russia between the 18th and early 20th centuries, both from a theoretical and practical standpoint. Family trees were published for virtually all the relatively well-known families. Furthermore, groups of nobles published lists of nobles in their own provinces.

The earliest important work
The earliest important work in Russian genealogy was a publication by N.I. Novikov known as the Velvet Book ( Genealogical Book of Russian and Emigré Princes and Nobility, St Petersburg 1787). Although the material in this work has been elucidated by subsequent publications, it contains the closest reproduction of the genealogical system used prior to Peter the Great. The Velvet Book also provided the basis for the structure of power right up to the end of the 17th century. This covered the formation of the Boyar's Duma and the introduction of mestnichestvo, a system of precedence where positions of representatives from the various families were defined in a hierarchy of power.

Development of Genealogy
The major highlight of the development of genealogy in Russian was the publication of the 4-volume reference work by Prince Petr Dolgorukov entitled Russian Genealogical Book (St Petersburg, 1854-1857). However, the impartiality of some of the information provided in the publication led to the author being condemned and exiled, which meant that his work remained unfinished. Nevertheless, this publication provided the first comprehensive collection of information about the main noble families and most important of all, it encouraged the further development of genealogy. Dolgorukov's material, including the unpublished material, was used by A. Lobanov-Rostovsky in his two-volume publication Russian Genealogical Book (1st edition published St Petersburg, 1873-75). During preparation of this work for publication, particularly in the case of the second edition, the major specialists in the field of genealogy at that time also became involved: L.M. Savelov, V.V. Rummel et al.

Russian and Ukrainian nobility
The work produced by V. Rummel and V. Golubtsov, Genealogical Collection of Russian Noble Families, 2 vol. (St Petersburg 1886-1887) was the continuation of Prince A. Lobanov-Rostovsky's work. This publication mainly focuses on the families omitted by Dolgorukov and Lobanov-Rostovsky. Unfortunately, the third and fourth volumes of this publication were not printed. The major reference work on the Ukrainian nobility, which is almost not referred to at all in other genealogical publications, is the work of V. Mozdalevsky, Genealogy of Minor Russia, 4 vol., (Kiev, 1908-1914). This publication remains virtually the only source detailing the history of the families described in it even right up to the present day. A particularly eminent position in Russian genealogy is occupied by Leonid Mikhailovich Savelov, the major Russian specialist in the field of genealogy. His works, primarily his bibliographical publications, are the prime source any researcher will initially refer to when seeking information about the Russian nobility. For this reason, the present collection contains all his major works, the most important among them being The Bibliographical Index of the history, heraldry and genealogy of the Russian nobility, 2nd edition (Ostrogozhsk, 1897). There is also a manuscript included in the collection, which is a work by the genealogist, K. Gubastov, entitled Genealogical information about the Russian nobility and noble families originating from natural unions. The manuscript contains notes and corrections from another renowned genealogist, A. Sivers.

Genealogical Notes
An important source of information for history researchers is also provided by genealogical notes. Although they do not provide the reader with genealogical tables or family trees, they do give details of sources of genealogical information. Furthermore, these works can provide information about how reliable certain published genealogical material is, as well as about the problems which have remained unsolved when the final genealogical table has been prepared (information about persons with the same surname, but not featuring in the family tree, for instance). Finally, they also contain information on the history of families for whom complete family trees were never prepared. Frequent references are made to these sources by L. Savelov's work Genealogical Notes, containing information about ancient noble families up until 1700, but which unfortunately only goes as far as the letter "E".

Periodical publications
There is a wide range of genealogical information contained in two periodical publications devoted to genealogy. In 1898 the Russian Genealogical Society was formed in St Petersburg and it began issuing the publication Russian Genealogical Society News from 1900. In 1904 an alternative association was set up in Moscow by L.M. Savelov called the Historical Genealogy Society, which published the Historical Genealogy Society Chronicle. The "News" mainly published material about the history of families in the 16th and 17th centuries, whereas the "Chronicle" dealt with a much wider range of issues dating from the birth of Russian statehood up to the 20th century.

Necropolises
One other significant source of information for historical and genealogical research is provided by necropolises containing lists of people buried there. While not, strictly speaking, part of genealogical literature, they provide, nevertheless, valuable information on the history of families. They have a major role to play in the works of V.I. Saitov produced under the patronage of Prince Nikolay Mikhailovich and in those of V. Chernopatov. This includes necropolises in Moscow, St Petersburg, various provinces in Russian and abroad.

Limited access to publications
In general, genealogical publications have had very low circulation rates, with numbers of copies ranging from 20 to a few hundred. Moreover, many print runs have not completely sold out (as was the case, for example, for the work by V. Rummel and V. Golubtsov, which led to publication being stopped). It is therefore hardly surprising that one famous genealogist in Russia called his regularly published notes "For the few". As a result of this, there is, in fact, limited access to this type of information nowadays. Only a few major libraries in Russia and the rest of the world have relatively complete collections of this literature. These include the State Historical Public Library of Russia, which has provided the basis for the present collection. The Historical Library, which has been built up on the basis of private book collections belonging to historians and bibliophiles living in the 19th and early 20th centuries, has acquired the most valuable collections of genealogical literature.

Dr. M. Afanasiev, State Historical Public Library of Russia

Various Authors & Editors

Anti-Soviet Newspapers

Civil War
The collapse of the Tsarist regime and the Provisional Government in 1917 left a power vacuum in the former Russian Empire. In the resulting chaos, a number of both real and shadow governments emerged. These ranged from centralist (Bolsheviks, Whites) through separatist-nationalist (Ukraine, Cossack Hosts, Transcaucasian Republics) to peasant-anarchist (Makhno) governments. Although the Bolsheviks had no trouble seizing power in November 1917, they managed to consolidate their new position only after several years of bitter struggle in a major civil war with the counterrevolutionary forces referred to as the "White Movement."

Miraculous survival
Until recently, the sources that could shed new light on Russia's civil war period (1918-1922) were not available to researchers. Because of the instability and constantly changing conditions of the civil war, it was impossible to collect the numerous volatile, short-lived newspapers, which were constantly appearing and disappearing. Daily papers meant for mass consumption were sent to the front line, and over it into the enemy's territory. Once read, they were used either to roll cigarettes or to bind feet, and consequently disappeared without trace.

In the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1950s, there were "ideological purges" of the newspaper stocks held by Soviet libraries. During these purges, many of the White Movement press items that had miraculously escaped destruction were now destroyed, because they were regarded as ideologically harmful and superfluous. Those that were not destroyed were withdrawn from scholarly circulation and packed away in special depositories. All information about them was proscribed, which is why none of the larger archives or libraries possesses a complete list of titles or sets of the White Movement press of the period. This makes any copy of a newspaper - let alone whole sets - of the utmost importance.

Unique Collection
The collection is unique in that its contents reflect all aspects of life in that stormy period, which was replete with revolutionary upheavals and civil strife. The variety of material published in these newspapers is astounding. Alongside material reflecting political issues and the burning topics of the day, the collection presents the widest range and variety of newspapers, from those carrying marriage announcements to a batch titled "On the way: News from Chairman of Revolutionary Council Trotsky's Train." This latter newspaper was dubbed "anti-Bolshevik" after Trotsky's rift with J. Stalin. The IDC collection contains official civic and military documents from the White Movement executive organs, central and local news, news from the civil war fronts, information about the activities of regional and local administrations, and press releases from credit, industrial, and cooperative stablishments and savings banks. Juxtaposed with these are facts about everyday life, reflecting the work of various charitable societies and organizations, theatrical performances, concerts, and other major and minor cultural events. Interspersed with these is a very wide range of advertisements. Thus, the collection will provide researchers with not only a rich store of materials to examine, but also the opportunity to make new discoveries.

Literary Treasures
The collection contains lots of material dealing with belles-lettres and literary criticism that holds indispensable information yet to be assessed by literary critics and scholars. Many prominent Russian politicians, scholars, and writers who later lived in exile, published their works in the newspapers of the period. For example, the well-known writer A.I. Kuprin published the newspaper The Prinevsky Krai; N.V. Ustrryalov - the ideologist of the Smenovekhovstvo - was in charge of the Russian Press Bureau under Admiral A.V. Kolchak's government, and also actively cooperated with a number of White newspapers in Siberia; the fathers of the "White Idea" - namely N.N. Lvov and V.V. Shulgin - were active in the south of Russia; and B.A. Suvorin was the publisher of The Evening Time, the largest White newspaper in southern Russia.

A number of widely known writers and poets - for example, Vs. Ivanov, M. Voloshin, Teffi, A.V. Amphiteatrov, and A.T. Averchenko - published their literary pieces and essays in various White newspapers. These newspapers also contain a great variety of drawings, caricatures, and chastushkii (two- or four-line ditties on some topical or humorous theme).

Structure of the Collection
The term "anti-Soviet newspapers" embraces all the newspapers containing anti-Bolshevik propaganda published in the territories controlled by the Whites and the Reds in the period 1918-1922. In accordance with the character of its materials, the collection can be divided into three parts.

The first, and largest, part contains 405 White Movement newspapers. This is the periodic press of different White Guard governments, along with press items from various military and civic organs, establishments and organizations of anti-soviet orientation. Also in this category are most newspapers published in the territories that were controlled by White Movement governments. Such newspapers, which on the whole were either neutral to the White governments or showed some respect for them, were delegated to the care of the special depository for the simple reason of having been published in the territories controlled by the Whites. Practically all the newspapers of the White Movement governments are represented in the NLR collection.

The second part, though smaller (287 titles), is also of extreme importance: it comprises the newspapers that were published in the territories controlled by the Soviets but which were opposed to the "Bolshevik commissars state," though some of them supported the idea of keeping the Soviets "without Bolsheviks," and were extremely critical about some of the Bolshevik government's decisions. These included Social Revolutionary (SR) newspapers, newspapers that were dubbed "petty-bourgeois" by the Bolsheviks, and anti-Bolshevik newspapers with different Russian Social Democratic Labor Party affiliations. The "petty-bourgeois" newspapers were primarily meant for various categories of service providers (e.g., small shopkeepers, cooks, etc.), and paid little attention to the "class struggle" or the glorification of the power of the People's Commissars; in fact, they simply ignored this power.

The third, and smallest, part (six titles) comprises émigré newspapers published by Russians in Harbin, China.

Provenance
The history of this collection is connected with the name of N.V. Iakovlev (1891-1981), a well-known literary scholar and a participant in S.A. Vengerov's Pushkin Seminar. In 1919, the Russian (Omsk) government of A. Kolchak created the Temporary Bureau of the Book Chamber and appointed Iakovlev as its director. In Omsk, on August 1, 1919, Iakovlev called for people to collect and preserve any and all printed material, "since the events we are living through have world-wide significance." The result is the world's largest collection of regional White Movement newspapers and leaflets. In 1920, the collection was taken to Petrograd and handed over to the custody of the Petrograd Book Chamber. When, later in the same year, the capital was moved to Moscow , the collection was transferred to the Russian Public Library (now the NLR).

Finding aids
A catalogue of this collection - Nesovetskie gazety 1918-1922. Katalog sobraniia Rossiiskoi natsional'noi biblioteki. Sankt-Peterburg: Rossiiskaia natsional'naia biblioteka, 2003 - was completed by Prof. G.V. Mikheeva and published by NLR. The catalogue provides an alphabetical list of newspapers' indexes of personal names and places of publication. It is available together with the microfiche collection.

Researchers who are interested in the regional spread of the newspapers can get this information from the regional subdivisions of the newspapers in the collection, which groups newspapers territorially (i.e., those published in southern Russia, Siberia, etc.). This list is available on the IDC website.

The National Library of Russia
The National Library of Russia St. Petersburg (www.nlr.ru) is one of the world's largest libraries: its collection numbers more than 32.8 million items, 6 million of which are written in a foreign language. The library possesses one of the largest collections of White Movement materials. Until recently, these newspapers were sealed in a special depository at the NLR and were unavailable to researchers. Until now, neither facsimile nor any other type of reproduction of these

Edited by Dennis M. O'Flaherty

Collection includes official and semi-official publications which fall roughly into two classes: materials produced by the government to rationalize its legislation of the press and censorship, and materials designed to help censors and writers interpret the legislation.

Series:

Edited by Vladimir Tikhonov and Owen Miller

Children's Leisure Activities in Russia, 1920s-1940s
Building the Lenin Mausoleum in Snow Bricks: Organising Children's Games in Pre-War Soviet Russia

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed an upsurge of interest among Russian intellectuals in play as a psychological and pedagogical phenomenon. As the Italian psychologist Giovanni Amonio Colozza, whose treatise was translated into Russian in 1909, put it, play represented 'the free and central expression of those interior things that need to be outwardly expressed'. This view of play as central to childhood development was also influenced by the work of James Sully and G. Stanley Hall, and other members of the 'child study' or 'paidology' movement. The 'mother's diaries' and 'father's diaries' extensively published by Russians in the 1910s and early 1920s regularly noted children's games as part of their record of day-to-day development, and after the Revolution, much work on recording games was also done by the Experimental Stations of Narkompros.
This psychological or anthropological view of play was only one among various approaches, however, and after the Revolution, and particularly from 1925, it began to be vigorously challenged by an instrumental view of play as a central element in peer-group socialisation and, more particularly, in learning about future adult roles. Play was used, as methodological guides for nursery-school teachers indicate, in order to inculcate 'politically correct' attitudes. Baby dolls and fashion dolls were regarded with disapproval, because they reinforced traditional gender stereotypes and, in the second case, frivolity; dolls representing members of 'national' (i.e. ethnic) minority groups were given the stamp of approval, since they could be used to tutor children in internationalism. Children were taught new variants of familiar games, such as constructing the Lenin Mausoleum with snow bricks dyed red, rather than houses or igloos, or playing Co-operative Shop and Collective Farm Market using wooden models and building blocks. Even before the Revolution, efforts to provide children with 'rational leisure' had begun (an example was the children's summer playground run by volunteers on Petrograd Side, St Petersburg, in the 1910s); now, the Pioneer and Komsomol movement devoted huge energy to efforts to 'clean up' children's games in the streets and courtyards of cities, and also among village children. Pioneers themselves were used as a 'revolutionary avant-garde' to propagandise new kinds of game among 'unorganised children': building bird-boxes instead of robbing nests, playing 'Communists' against 'Fascists' instead of 'Cossacks and Robbers', engaging in healthy and beneficial 'active games' instead of taking part in games of chance such as 'heads or tails' or playing cards for money.
The movement for 'socialisation through play' and 'rational leisure' was documented in many hundreds of publications, both in periodicals (for example, Doshkol'noe obrazovanie [Pre-School Education], Prosveshchenie na transporte [Education in Railway Schools], Na puti k novoi shkole [On the Road to the New School], and Pedologiya), and in separate short books and brochures. The selection here, taken from materials held in the Russian State Library and in the Ushinsky Pedagogical Library in Moscow, gives a representative overview of the different trends. Our choice has been carefully considered to include books published in the provinces as well as in Moscow and Leningrad, to place heavily ideologised tracts alongside more liberal materials, and to offer a spread of material covering different age groups, from pre-schoolers to pre-teens. We have concentrated on books that contain material about the actual practices of play, as opposed to schematic recommendations, and on material that is particularly characteristic of the era. The selection runs chronologically to the late 1930s (the Second World War brought a break in attitudes to this subject, as in other areas of child care).
Many of the items included are now extremely rare - the condemnation by state decree of 'pedological perversions' in 1936 led to a purge of pedagogical literature from many libraries, and, as with other kinds of functional literature, the guides were also often used till they wore out. The material that we have gathered offers a unique insight into one of the most important and characteristic areas of socialising the young in early Soviet Russia, and a window into the mentality of the 'first Soviet generations' as well.

Professor Catriona Kelly (Oxford)

Various Authors & Editors

Comintern Archives: Files of the Communist Party of Japan

"General Staff of the World Revolution"
The Communist, or Third, International (Comintern) was founded in early 1919 as an international revolutionary proletarian party. For more than a quarter of a century, the Comintern deeply influenced the political life of many countries. The semi-legal and clandestine activities instigated by the Comintern made this federation of about 70 parties in Europe, Asia, and America one of the most cloistered societies of recent centuries. In practice, the Comintern was a Soviet-sponsored agency designed to coordinate the overthrow of the capitalist system worldwide, acting thus as the "General Staff of the World Revolution."

Rumours and myths
As with all such semi-secretive organizations, the Comintern soon became a source of rumors and myths that were perpetuated over the years. For a long time, historians could only speculate on the reality behind these myths, as they had no access to the Central Party archive in Moscow where the Comintern archives were stored. This situation is now changing and new areas of historical research are being opened up.

Top secret
After the Comintern was dissolved in 1943, its archives were transferred to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, and later to the Central Party Archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Classified as top secret, the Comintern archives were inaccessible to researchers until late 1991, when the archives were opened to the public. However, even though they are now public, the archives are still difficult for researchers to access. The archives contain 220,00 files (15 linear kilometers of shelving) in almost 90 languages, and are divided into 521 documentary units (files). The Comintern archives contain 55 million pages of original documents from seven Congresses, thirteen ECCI Plenums, and over 70 communist and socialist parties, and other international organizations. The archives cover the whole period during which the organization was active, namely 1919-1943. As a result of the increasing international tension in the 1920s and 1930s, the documents of the communist parties of Germany, Italy, France, and other countries were stored for safekeeping in the Moscow-based archive. Many materials were received directly from the national communist parties or from representatives of the Comintern. Hand-written amendments and other personal corrections made by various figureheads of the communist movement make this material even more valuable.

The Communist Party of Japan
Initially a distinct group within the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), the CPJ was founded in 1922 and remained an underground organization until the end of WW II. During these years, many CPJ leaders were imprisoned in Japan or fell victim to the 1937-38 purges in the Soviet Union. Today, the CPJ has about 400,000 members and is represented in Japan's upper house of parliament.

The CPJ files
The CPJ files cover the period 1919-1941 and include extensive documentation on the relations between the Soviet Communist Party and its counterparts in Japan, the Far East, Europe, and America. The collection contains, for example, the proceedings of CPJ conferences, the plenums of the Central Committee, and records of local organizations; documents of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI) and correspondence between the leaders of the CPJ and the ECCI and its Shanghai- and Vladivostok-based Bureaus; materials about the labor history of Japan, trade unions, and youth organizations; and many periodicals and newspapers produced by the CPJ and trade unions.

Various Authors & Editors

Comintern Archives: Files of the Communist Party of Mexico

The Comintern archives: Top secret
The Communist, or Third, International (Comintern) and its archives, kept hidden away for many years, have been shrouded in rumor, conjecture, and myth. Its influence was heavily felt even in countries where it could only operate in semi- or total illegality, through secretive activities, yet it is impossible to write twentieth-century history without these archives. The archives, which are held in the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History in Moscow, contain 55 million pages of original documents in almost 90 languages covering the entire period during which the organization was active (1919-1943). However, access to this indispensable source of information – 15 linear kilometers of shelving classified as "top secret" – was virtually impossible for many years. In 1992, the archives were opened up to the public, but were still difficult to access, due to their vastness and complexity.

Communist Party of Mexico
The Comintern ruled over the international Communist movement through its 70 partner organizations in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa, and deeply influenced the political life of many countries worldwide. In the 1920s, Mexico became subject to the steadfast attention of the Comintern. The CPM was considered to be an advanced post of the struggle against American imperialism. The Pan-American Bureau was created in Mexico as the Comintern’s regional body to coordinate the communistic movement in Latin America and the continental committee of the Anti-Imperialist League.

Unique Collection
The files of the Communist Party of Mexico ( fond 495, opis' 108) cover the period 1919-1940 and include extensive documentation of relations between the Comintern and its counterparts in Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Among the documents of the CPM, the most informative are letters, reports, and reports to the Executive Committee of the Comintern concerning workers’ and communist movements, the creation of the Popular Front, financing the work of the party, the presidential elections, and the activities of the churches in Mexico. Many documents in these collections are unique, for instance, the documents on two muralists – Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Sikejros (Siqueiros) – and correspondence between Sikejros and Secretary General of Profintern, A. Lozovskii. The collection also includes rare periodicals and newspapers, and many valuable photos. Until 1992, access to the documents of Communist parties was extremely limited; for example, researchers were allowed access only to printed materials, individual resolutions, and reports on the performance of CP delegates at the congresses of the Comintern.

The collection contains:
• Relations between the Comintern and its counterparts in Latin America, North America, and Europe;
• Material of the Caribbean Bureau, the Latin American Bureau, and the Pan-American Bureau;
• History of the Communist Party of Mexico and that of the USA;
• Correspondence with the Communist Party of the USA;
• Labor history, trade unions, and youth organization in Mexico;
• Pamphlets, ephemera, leaflets;
• Collection of rare periodicals and newspapers: Bandera Roja, Vida Nueva, La Voz del Campesino, El Machete, and Nuestros ideales.

Various Authors & Editors

Comintern Archives
Congress 1, 1919

The Comintern archives collection comprises the thousands of 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. They include transcripts and minutes of meetings, with individual presentations and general discussions and debate, materials presented by the leadership and those arising from the floor, and a wealth of other documents.

This collection is also included in the Comintern Archives collection.

Various Authors & Editors

Comintern Archives
Congress 2, 1920

The Comintern archives collection comprises the thousands of 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. They include transcripts and minutes of meetings, with individual presentations and general discussions and debate, materials presented by the leadership and those arising from the floor, and a wealth of other documents.

This collection is also included in the Comintern Archives collection.

Various Authors & Editors

Comintern Archives
Congress 3, 1921

The Comintern archives collection comprises the thousands of 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. They include transcripts and minutes of meetings, with individual presentations and general discussions and debate, materials presented by the leadership and those arising from the floor, and a wealth of other documents.

This collection is also included in the Comintern Archives collection.