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Peter the Great: Primary and Secondary Resources at the Library of Congress

A towering historical figure, Petr Alekseevich Romanov (1672-1725) profoundly influenced Russian politics, culture and society. This guide highlights primary and secondary sources available at the Library of Congress related to the leader.


[Peter I, The Great, Emperor of Russia, 1672-1725, half-length portrait, standing, sword in hand, facing left]
[Peter I, The Great, Emperor of Russia, 1672-1725, half-length portrait, standing, sword in hand, facing left]. c1902. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Peter the Great (1672-1725), born Petr Alekseevich Romanov, was Tsar, later Emperor, of Russia from 1682 until his death in 1725, co-reigning with his half-brother, Ivan V, from 1682 to 1696. Peter the Great's influence on Russian society and culture cannot be overstated. By shifting Russia's "eye" toward Europe, Peter the Great forever divided his nation's history into periods of "before" and "after" his reign. His reforms not only impacted how the Russian elite talked and dressed, but also how art, literature, religion, science and architecture developed in the country. Although he remains a polarizing figure, Peter the Great's reign is undeniably one of the great turning points in Russian history. His major achievements include the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703, the victory against Sweden at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, and the birth of the Russian navy, Peter's lifelong passion.

This guide provides information about primary and secondary sources related to Peter the Great that are available at the Library of Congress. With a rich collection of rare 18th-century Russian print materials, especially of legal documents, the Library offers unique resources for researching Peter the Great and his era. Items featured in this guide are mainly in English and Russian, but there are also materials in French, German, Latin, Danish and Dutch. The items are held throughout the Library, including the General Collections, Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room, Law Library, Prints & Photographs Reading Room, Manuscript Reading Room and the Motion Picture/TV Reading Room. For further assistance, use the "Ask a Librarian" box on the left-hand side.