Have a question? Need assistance? Use our online form to ask a librarian for help.
Angela Cannon, Reference Specialist, European Division
Note: This guide is adapted from an earlier version, which first appeared on the European Reading Room website in 2010.
Created: January 2, 2020
Last Updated: October 28, 2022
From 1702 to the present day, Russians have published thousands of newspapers, both at home and abroad. The first Russian newspaper was Viedomosti [o voennykh i innykh dielakh], published originally in Moscow and then later St. Petersburg. It appeared irregularly from 1702-1727 and provided military news, as well as some general domestic and foreign news, but essentially was a propaganda organ for Peter the Great and his policies. An issue from 1715 is the earliest Russian newspaper in any format held by the Library of Congress and is kept in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The title was continued in 1728 by Sankt-Peterburskiia viedomosti, the first Russian newspaper to be published on a regular basis. In fact, Sankt-Peterburgskiia viedomosti continued publication up through 1917, when it was shut down by the new Soviet government. It was resurrected in 1991 and continues to publish to the current day. The Library of Congress holds many years of this title from both historical eras, including numerous original issues from the 18th century.
A non-governmental commercial press emerged in Russia in the mid-19th century, although censorship was still in effect. By the late 19th century Russian newspapers had become more familiar as popular news sources covering stories of topical, not just governmental interest. During this time newspapers developed editorial slants, with some being more conservative and others more liberal. Newspapers such as Peterburgskaia gazeta (1867-1917), Peterburgskii listok (1864-1917), Neva (1879-1887), and Syn otechestva (1862-1905) were widely read.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the advent of Soviet power, the press became more controlled. Although some titles were overtly propagandistic, others focused more on educating readers in the new Soviet ways. Influential or widely read titles include Pravda (1912-present), Izvestiia (1917-present), Komsomol'skaia pravda (1925-present), Leningradskaia pravda (1924-1991), as well as the main cultural paper Literaturnaia gazeta (1929-present).
With Gorbachev's introduction of reforms under the rubrics of glasnost' and perestroika, thousands of new newspapers and journals emerged, the so-called independent press. These periodicals dealt with previously controversial topics such as the market economy, religion, sex, and even the occult. The Library of Congress has a large collection of such materials detailed in another guide. See below for the annotation of the microfilm of this collection. Gorbachev's reforms led to the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union. In the new post-Soviet era a number of the major newspapers from the Soviet era continued to publish, some reinventing themselves, but new titles also emerged and became important sources of news, such as Kommersant (1992-present), Nezavisimaia gazeta (1990-present), and Novaia gazeta (1993-present).
According to the Rossiiskii statisticheskii ezhegodnik [Russian statistical yearbook], in 2019, 8,503 newspaper titles were issued in Russia, 7,926 of which were in the Russian language. That is down slightly from a high of over 11,000 titles in 2013, but still larger than most decades since 1940. While television is the most important contemporary source of news for Russians today, newspapers are still popular with some segments of society. With the growth of Russian Internet media, newspapers are expected to decrease in importance, following the global pattern, but as long as Russians continue to publish newspapers, the Library of Congress will continue to collect them in whatever format they appear.
With over 2,800 individual titles in print, microfilm, and digital formats, plus additional titles in special sets, the Library of Congress has one of the largest collections of Russian newspapers in the United States. The Library of Congress began collecting foreign newspapers in 1901, but the first Russian newspapers in the collection arrived in 1906 via the purchase of the Yudin Collection. With the Yudin Collection the Library acquired many pre-revolutionary newspapers from across the Russian Empire, but also a significant number from Siberia, an area of special interest for the bibliophile Gennadii Yudin, who lived in Krasnoiarsk. Although the Library added a few newspapers after 1906, the next important acquisition of Russian newspapers came in 1927, when the Library acquired 298 titles from the Russian revolutionary and Civil War period of 1917-1920. A number of those issues are still considered rarities even today. However, the real expansion of Russian newspaper collecting took place in the 1940s, when the Library's interest in Eastern European collecting in general rose in tandem with the development of the field of Slavic studies and the United States government's rivalry with the Soviet Union. Not only did the Library of Congress acquire as many newspaper titles or even single issues from the Soviet Union as it could, it also microfilmed its collection of papers to make them more accessible to researchers across the United States.
By 1953 the collection of Russian newspapers from the Soviet period alone numbered almost 400 titles. Newspaper collecting continued heavily throughout the subsequent decades. Today the Russian newspaper collection is well-rounded, covering all periods of Russian history, but the Soviet period, in particular titles from the central Russian press, is a true collection strength. Besides political and government newspapers, the collection also contains industry and financial titles, literary newspapers, popular tabloids, and military newspapers. Other areas of strength are newspapers from the 1917 revolution, independent press from the Gorbachev era, and post-Soviet titles in digital and microfilm formats. The Library of Congress currently subscribes to over 30 titles on microfilm and hundreds of titles via subscription databases, and collects Russian special interest press in print. Also acquired in print and then reformatted are titles from the diaspora such as a Russian newspaper from Israel and several from the United States.
This guide describes the Library of Congress' collection of newspapers, beginning with the oldest title in the collection, the 1715 issues of Viedomosti o voennykh i innykh dielakh, and ending with current publications, whether received in paper, microfilm, or electronic format. It includes all newspapers published in the current territory of Russia regardless of the language of publication, as well as all Russian-language newspapers published anywhere else in the world. However, it does not contain non-Russian language titles from the former Soviet Union published in republics that became independent countries. For example, Russian language newspapers from Estonia may be found, but not Estonian or German language newspapers published in Estonia. The language of publication is included in the entry only for those titles not published in Russian. The bibliography also contains a few Russian-related anomalies such as French-language newspapers published in France by the Soviet Embassy in Paris or by notable figures of the Russian emigration such as Aleksandr Kerenskii. Not included are the contents of several large microfilm sets, which are listed below, or the holdings of the legal gazettes or other titles held by the Law Library of Congress.
Entries are organized by country and then by city of publication. The first seven pages are for Russia, with three pages devoted to Moscow, one to St. Petersburg, and the others to various regions, with entries by city. City names are given in their current form with older names in parentheses. For instance, all newspapers from Leningrad and Petrograd are listed under Sankt-Peterburg. City names from countries other than Russia are listed in the vernacular for that country. For example, Parizh is spelled Paris and L'vov is spelled L'viv. In the field "Dates of Publication" are dates showing the longevity of the newspapers. Information about which dates the Library of Congress holds in its collections appears in the "LC Has" field. For microfilm holdings the number of reels is also provided to facilitate interlibrary loan requests. A plus sign after the number of reels indicates that the title is still being received. Microfilm circulates via interlibrary loan, but bound volumes and paper issues do not.
In 1918 the Soviet Union switched calendars from the Julian to the Gregorian (the calendar used in the West). The dates listed in the bibliography for pre-revolutionary Russian titles, including some from 1917, are given in Julian, whereas the dates for post-1917 are given in Gregorian (new style). For transitional times, the Julian (old style) is listed first with the new style dates (Gregorian) following in parentheses. For example, the range of dates Oct 25, 1906-Oct 27 (Nov 9), 1918 should be interpreted as Oct 25, 1906 (Julian, old style) and Oct 27, 1918 (Julian, old style), but understood that Oct 27 (old style) is the same as Nov 9 (Gregorian, new style). Sometimes the abbreviations o.s and n.s, for old style and new style respectively, are used.
In 1917-1918 Russia introduced spelling reform that simplified the alphabet by eliminating certain letters. For pre-revolutionary and émigré newspapers, titles are given first in the transliteration of the old spelling and then after an equal sign in the modern spelling. For example, Moskovskiia viedomosti = Moskovskie vedomosti. All Cyrillic titles are rendered into Latin script using the Library of Congress romanization system.
Minor title changes appear in the same entry separated by an equal sign. The corresponding dates of publication for each title change are separated by a semi-colon. Previous and continuing titles that show more than minor title changes are listed in the Notes field and the titles are given their own separate entries.
Bibliographic sources for the dates of publication and other bibliographic data are listed with abbreviations and entry numbers in the field "Bibliographic Source." Sometimes bibliographic data is extracted from the newspaper itself if it is clear that the Library of Congress has the first and/or last issues, or if the information is taken from the masthead. This case is indicated by the phrase "The newspaper itself." Due to sketchy bibliographic control of Russian newspapers beginning in the late 1980s, standard bibliographic sources frequently were not helpful, thus, for current newspapers, sometimes the compiler contacted the publishers directly for start dates. This is indicated by the phrase "Email from publisher." The bibliography of reference works consulted with their abbreviations is given on the page Online Catalogs and Russian Newspaper Bibliographies.
For those researchers who do not know the place of publication of a particular title of interest, a title index with names of cities in parentheses is provided. The index can help differentiate newspapers with the same name that were published in different eras or locales.
Newspapers on microfilm constitute a large part of the Russian newspaper collection at the Library of Congress. All of the titles cataloged individually are detailed in this guide, but some microfilm sets are not analyzed for newspaper content. The microfilm collections are described below link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional digital content are included when avaiable.