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• Dates (inclusive): 1651-1917
• Dates (bulk): 1850-1917
• Languages used: Russian and French, also German and English, Chinese, Latin, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish, Italian, Greek, Persian, Korean, Mongolian and Norwegian
• EAD finding aids are available
Location of Originals: Rossiĭ skiĭ gosudarstvennyĭ voennoistoricheskiĭ arkhiv (RGVIA), Moscow. Fonds 444-451

The 19th century was a time of rapid Russian expansion in Asia. While its western borders were largely fixed in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, the Romanov autocracy still found many outlets for its imperial energies in the East. Imperial Russia’s Asian march coincided with a revolution in intelligence. Gathering and analyzing such intelligence also became much more comprehensive, almost encyclopedic. It entailed not only the armed forces and the terrain of all potential adversaries, but also political, economic, ethnographic, and much other data.
The collection Archive series, 1651-1917 contains the following parts:
1. A threat from the Far East (China, Japan, Korea)
2. The Eastern question (Turkey, Palestine, Arabia & Syria)
3. The Great Game in Central Asia (Persia (Iran), Afghanistan)
• Publication Dates: 1883-1914
• Languages used: Materials in Russian
• EAD finding aids are available
Location of Originals: National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg

One of the most remarkable pre-revolutionary Orientological publications is the little-known, classified “Collection of Geographical, Topographical and Geographical Materials on Asia” (Sbornik geografi cheskikh, topografi cheskikh i statisticheskikh materialov po Azii). Issued by the Russian General Staff between 1883 and 1914 in 87 thick volumes and 9 supplements (averaging about 300 pages each), the journal’s purpose was to disseminate to senior tsarist military commanders important scholarship about the continent written by Russian and Western explorers, officers, and academics. The bulk of the Secret Prints consists of first-hand accounts composed by contemporary travelers to lesser-known reaches of Asia. Most were Russian army officers, many of whom had extensive training in geography and related disciplines. Among the more illustrious authors are Nikolai Przhevalskii, Aleksei Kuropatkin, Nikolai Ermolov, Gustav Mannerheim, Lavr Kornilov, and Andrei Snesarev. Other articles range from attaché and diplomatic dispatches to histories of tsarist plans for the invasion of India, the siege of Herat, and European campaigns against China. Together, they comprise a unique and largely untapped source for 19th-century Asia.