Russian Archives Online (RAO) is an online collection of Russian and Soviet-related archives and other sources of film footage, photographs, illustrations and audio, along with supporting documents and text.
RAO exists to serve both the casual student of history and professionals in need of high quality archival material.
In the 80+ years since the Russian Revolution, the film and photo images of Soviet life released to the world, and even to the Russian people, have been carefully controlled and severely limited.
The Archive Media Project (AMP), RAO’s parent, was originally formed as a Russian-American partnership through a USAID Internews grant to open to the world the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk. Out of this partnership grew the idea for an online gateway providing access to the historic images via the World Wide Web: Russian Archives Online.
A Project Called “ROCK”
A major marketing and development initiative was begun in 1997, designated “ROCK” for “Russian Online Culture and Knowledge.” ROCK was envisioned as the ultimate digital library of Russian culture. In order to give a physical representation to the vision of ROCK, demonstration Web sites were created showing the various options for information dissemination. Additionally, a network was established of interested international Russian history experts to provide ongoing guidance to the online and educational aspects of AMP.
On March 6, 1998, Abamedia and Internews Network, an international non-profit supporting independent media in emerging democracies, held a planning conference hosted by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to discuss aspects of Russian Archives Online services with academic advisors and potential funders. The primary interest of academics attending the conference was in the area of visual materials on the history of Russia, and the major recommendation from the conference was that AMP first continue its concentration on improving accessibility to the Krasnogorsk Archive, while making contacts with and providing ancillary information on other image archives as needed. Therefore, the immediate definition of ROCK was revised to give focus to the Krasnogorsk Archive.
Russian Archives Online Digital Cataloging
The Krasnogorsk Archive film cataloguing is underway with new Russian-language entries added monthly to the online searchable database. (See Catalogues for access to this database.) A sample 2,000 entry English-language database is also available. A brief photo catalogue of Krasnogorsk images is online to provide a glimpse of the Archive’s holdings, though by no means comprehensive in nature.
In 1998 the Russian partners of AMP were awarded a Russian Digital Library Program grant to continue the development of a digital library and corressponding cataloguing software programs. Currently, Abamedia and Archive Media Project are applying for additional funds froma variety of sources to continue the development of the databases and cataloguing software.”