Archival Studies and Records Management

Archival studies as a branch of state activity on creation and completing of archives, arranging accumulation, storage, recording and use of documents of the National Archival Fund of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter – NAF) covers scientific, legal, political, practical issues.

The state archives of the Republic of Belarus contain the bulk of the NAF documents, formed in the process of economic, socio-political, socio-cultural activities of the state at all stages of its development.

The documents of the NAF are cultural asset of national and world culture and illuminate the history of the country from the XIV century and to this day.

The most ancient of them are original parchment charters of the XIV-XVII centuries, as well as books of register of civil status of judicial institutions of the XV-XVIII centuries. Among these documents are "Confirmative Privilege of Dukes Fyodor and Konstantin Koryatovich to Pan Grinko on the city of Sokolets. For faithful service" dated June 20, 1391, the book of register of civil status of the Drogichinsky Zemsky Court (1431-1444), the proclamation of Bogdan Khmelnitsky dated May 7, 1656 to the merchants of Slutsk for the right to freely trade in Ukraine and others.

Documents on the socio-economic history of Belarus of the XVI-XIX centuries, characterizing feudal serfdom relations and the development of capitalism, are widely presented in the country’s archives.

Among the NAF documents are sources on the history of the peasant uprising in the Krichevsky starosty led by Vasily Vashchila, Ivan Karpach and others in 1743-1744, the uprising of 1794 led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the uprisings of 1830-1831 and 1863-1864, the peasant and labor movement in the XIX – early XX centuries.

Rare documents include materials on the history of wars: the Northern War of 1700-1721, the War of 1812, the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878, the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, the First World War 1914-1918.

The NAF documents contain numerous evidence of acts of bravery performed by the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War. These are documents on the activities of clandestine bodies and organizations, headquarters of partisan formations, brigades, regiments, units, leaflet collections, posters, newspaper packages for 1941-1944, materials of the Extraordinary State Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating Crimes, Perpetrated by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Accomplices, and others.

A large set of archive documents covers the state and development of industry, agriculture, science, culture, health system, education, physical education and sport in Belarus.

The important place among the NAF documents is occupied by documents of the central government bodies, reflecting the economic and social policy of the state.

Record management is the activities to ensure documentation and organization of work with documents.

Relations concerning the activities of state bodies, other organizations, as well as citizens of the Republic of Belarus, foreign citizens and stateless persons, permanently residing in the territory of the Republic of Belarus, including individual entrepreneurs, on the organization of accumulation, storage, accounting and use of documents of the NAF, and, equally, relations concerning creation and operation of archives, and relations in the field of management of archival studies and records management are regulated by the Law of the Republic of Belarus of November 25, 2011 "On Archival Studies and Records Management in the Republic of Belarus".

The fulfillment of special (executive, control, regulatory and other) functions in the field of archival studies and records management in the Republic of Belarus is entrusted to the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter – the Department).

The system of state archive institutions of the Republic of Belarus includes:

six republican state archives:

  • National Archives of the Republic of Belarus;
  • National Historical Archives of Belarus;
  • National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno;
  • Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recording;
  • Belarusian State Archives-Museum of Literature and Art;
  • Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation;

two research institutes:

  • Belarusian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Studies;
  • Belarusian Research Center for Electronic Records;

two laboratories:

  • Central Laboratory of Microfilming and Restoration of Records of the National Archival Holdings of the Republic of Belarus;
  • Republican Technical Laboratory for Security Microfilming of Permanent Records of the Insurance Fund Documentation;

industry periodical – scientific and practical illustrated journal "Archives and Records Management";

nine regional and sixteen zonal state archives:

  • State Archives of the Brest Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Baranavichy;
  • Zonal State Archives in Kobrin;
  • Zonal State Archives in Pinsk;
  • State Archives of Vitebsk Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Glubokoe;
  • Zonal State Archives in Orsha;
  • Zonal State Archives in Polotsk;
  • State Archives of the Gomel Region;
  • State Archives of Public Associations of the Gomel Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Zhlobin;
  • Zonal State Archives in Mozyr;
  • Zonal State Archives in Rechitsa;
  • State Archives of the Grodno Region;
  • State Archives of Public Associations of the Grodno Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Lida;
  • Zonal State Archives in Novogrudok;
  • State Archives of the Minsk Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Borisov;
  • Zonal State Archives in Molodechno;
  • Zonal State Archives in Slutsk;
  • State Archives of the Mogilev Region;
  • State Archives of Public Associations of the Mogilev Region;
  • Zonal State Archives in Bobruisk;
  • Zonal State Archives in Krichev.

The main activities of the state archival institutions of the Republic of Belarus are:

  • formation of the National Archival Fund of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter – NAF) and the completion of state archives;
  • ensuring the safety of archival documents and their accounting;
  • development of a scientific reference apparatus;
  • use of archival documents.

In the sphere of the NAF formation, a list No. 1 of organizations referred to as sources of completion of state archives is maintained. This process involves the work on monitoring compliance with the established terms for the transfer of management, scientific and technical documentation, film-, photo-, sound-, video documents from organizations for permanent storage in state archives. Additionally, a list No. 2 of organizations, that are not sources of acquisition of state archives, is maintained. As part of the interaction, lists No. 1 and No. 2 are updated and amended, as well as measures are taken to identify new organizations – sources for completion.

During the completion of state archives with documents, related to the cultural heritage of Belarus, as well as with documents of foreign origin on the history of Belarus, located abroad, they are identified in archives, libraries and museums of near and far abroad. As part of this, a database of documents on the history of Belarus, stored in foreign archives, libraries, museums ("Archival Belarusika") is maintained.

In ensuring the safety of documents, the central issue prioritized is maintaining the security of the state archives’ buildings and the NAF documents stored in them. For this purpose, a complex of interrelated measures is undertaken to create and comply with optimal conditions and the corresponding organization of maintenance of archive.

These conditions are provided by: construction, reconstruction and repair of buildings; equipping the work premises and storage facilities with fire-extinguishing medium, security and alarm systems; the use of technical means to provide optimal temperature, humidity, light, sanitary-hygienic and security regimes in buildings and archives; the use of special means of storage and movement of documents.

The creation and development of a system of a scientific and inquiry apparatus (hereinafter – SIA) for archive documents is one of the most important forms of activity of archival institutions. Among the insistent problems is the translation of the SIA, and, above all, the case records into electronic form.

In the framework of the use of documents such activities are carried out:

  • information support for users (execution of thematic, biographical, genealogical requests, as well as requests of a social and legal nature);
  • provision of documents for research in reading rooms;
  • implementation of exhibition and publication projects.

The increase in the number of requests to archives and the number of users accessing reading rooms raises the question of creating a stable system of remote access to archive documents. The central direction in this area is the information content maintenance of the Open Access to Documents System of the National Archival Fund of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter referred to as the NAF OADS), which is designed to provide information at four search levels: the level of the archive fund; inventory level; level of a archive case; document level.

The introduction of information technologies into working practice of the state archives coincides with the creation of digital copies of archival documents and the decline of use of the originals of archival documents by users in the reading rooms.

The Department and state archives are responsible for the following administrative procedures:

  • issuance of authorizations (permits) for the export of originals of NAF documents across the state border of the Republic of Belarus;
  • issuance of archival certificates (archival copies, archival extracts, information letters) at the request of a socio-legal nature;
  • affixing of an apostile on the documents proceeding from state archives.