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Russian and Post-Soviet Ephemera Collection at the Library of Congress

This guide describes a unique collection of primary sources from the post-perestroika era—the time following the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall and the 1991 failed coup against Gorbachev culminating in the fall of the Soviet Union later that year.


select images from the Афиши (Posters) folder in box 2 of the Soviet ephemera collection

This collection is composed of diverse materials that were gathered from the Soviet Union at the time of its collapse in 1991 and shortly thereafter. Items range from propaganda posters and new political party proclamations to exhibition pamphlets and profiles of contemporary artists. Most are political in nature, although some items deal with cultural and ethnic matters. These materials can be viewed as historical documents that were popularly available at this critical time of dissolution and transition.

The approximately 200 files in this collection have been divided into 17 preservation boxes that are listed below. There are over 1,500 items. The largest folder is a collection of over 300 leaflets and flyers. The other large collections include Armenia with 150 items, Ukraine with close to 200 items and Coup with close to 150 items. All the documents are sorted by subject matter and alphabetized according to their Russian file name, for which English translations have also been provided. In order to conserve space, some liberties have been taken in alphabetizing the files. In a few cases subjects were simply too large to fit into just one file. Some boxes have fewer items due to the physical size of the items (some are large format and take up more space in the box), or to the page length of the document. The item count for each folder is in brackets next to the subject folder. Most items are in the Russian language. The materials must be requested in the European Reading Room (LJ-249). Researchers must follow all directions of the reference staff regarding the handling of ephemeral material. For questions regarding this collection, please contact the European Reading Room Reference Desk at (202)-707-4515.

Related Resources

In addition to this Ephemera Collection, the Library of Congress also holds a growing collection of pamphlets from various Russian political parties and other Russian election ephemera collections, such as the collection for the 2011-2012 elections and the 2008 Presidential Election, which are described in detail in their own research guides. Below are related resources from other Library of Congress online content in the collection. The links for collections lead to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. All of these collections are available in the European Reading Room.