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Archival news

03 December 2010
The 17th international scientific and practical conference "Documentation in Information Society: International Practice in Records Management" took place in Moscow, Russia, on 25-26 November 2010.

The conference was organized by the Federal Archival Agency of Russia and the Russian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Science with the participation of the Russian State University for the Humanities, the Russian Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation and the Russian Society of Historians and Archivists.

The participants at the conference were specialists in records management and archival business from the federal and regional institutions in Russia as well as foreign representatives from Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Finland. The Belarusian side was represented by A. E. Rybakov, Director at the Belarusian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Science.
The conference discussed the following issues:

Formation of state policy in information and records management in government;
Development of normative and legal base in information and records management in e-Government;

International standards of records management;

Realization of interdepartmental electronic recorkeeping in e-Government;

Electronic signature and legally valid electronic recordkeeping;

Practices of implementing the e-Government concept;
Electronic public services;

Provision of public access to government information;

Professional training and development in implementing the projects of information and records management in e-Government.

01 December 2010
The book "We Stood Shoulder to Shoulder…Jews in the Partisan Movement in Belarus" came out in London in English. It is based on the 2005 edition of the same name, prepared by the Jewish History and Culture Museum of Belarus, the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus and the National Holocaust Fund, which published for the first time lists of Jews who were fighting in the Partisan formations in this country.

The new book is added with the documents and materials identified by Jack Kagan about the partisan group of T. Bielski.

J. Kagan was a prisoner at Novogrudok Ghetto during the Second World War. After escape he joined a group of Jewish partisans known as the Bielski Detachment. He is one of the authors of the book entitled "Surviving the Holocaust with the Belarusian Jewish Partisans", published in 1999 in Minsk.

The new publication helps foreign researchers to get a deeper insight into the little known page in the Belarusian partisan movement.


30 November 2010
The National Library of Belarus hosted a presentation of the facsimile edition of the album: The Radziwills. Album of Portraits of 18th-19th Centuries.

The Department for Archives and Records Management of the Republic of Belarus and the National Historical Archives of Belarus provided the book with the digital copies of the original album which is kept at this Archives.

The album is published by the Petrus Brovka Belarusian Encyclopedia.


26 November 2010
24 November 2010, the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus held a regular board meeting to discuss the issues of work organization of the Expert Methodical Commissions / Expert Checking Commissions (EMK/EPK) at the state archives and institutions of the State Archival Service in 2005-2009; about the paid services of the state archives provided to juridical and physical persons in the use of records; the main indexes of work at the institutions of the State Archival Service of the Republic of Belarus in 2011-2015; and staff issues.

It was noted that the expert commissions of the state archives and institutions of the State Archival Service are primarily aimed at improving the selection of records transferred to the state archives for preservation with the purpose of the qualitative formation of the National Archival Holdings, records organization in active recordkeeping, the provision of procedural guidance and control over the expert services in the institutions-sources of acquisition for the state archives. The expert checking commissions provide procedural guidance to the expert services of the state regional and zonal archives, as well as the municipal and district archives of the local executive and administrative agencies.

The expert commission meetings are held no less than once a month. In all, in the period from 2005 to 2009 the expert commissions had 2,310 meetings, including 363 in the republic-level archival institutions, 483 in the regional bodies of the State Archival Service and in Minsk, and 1464 in the regional and zonal state archives. In general, the work of the expert commissions has become more effective as their functions and tasks are now more focused on the quality of the formation of the National Archival Holdings.

At the same time, certain defects have been found in the work of the expert commissions. The study of the composition and contents of records held in the institutions-sources of acquisition is not properly organized. Not all expert checking commissions hold the outside meetings purposing to provide procedural and practical assistance to the expert methodical commissions of the state archives and to improve the quality of documents examined by the commission. The commission meetings often treat formally the discussion of some documents submitted for examination (lists of records creating institutions, certificates, reports of records disposal etc.). The resolution of the department board outlined a series of measures aimed at correcting the mentioned defects.

On the second issue it was noted that in the use of records in the period from 2008 to October 2010, the state archives of the Republic of Belarus earned 1,116,998,963 Belarusian roubles. Among the republic-level state archives the best results have been achieved by the National Historical Archives of Belarus (367 mln roubles) and the State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings (150,5 mln roubles). The leaders among the regional and zonal archives are the State Archives of Brest Region (117,6 mln roubles) and the State Archives of Minsk Region (82 mln roubles).

The main types of paid services offered by the state archives in the use of records are the thematic, biographical and genealogical searches, social-legal inquiries, inquiries concerning property ownership and inheritance rights, and copying of documents.

At the same time, in the field of paid services the state archives face a number of problems. The absence of currency accounts in some of the archives does not allow them to receive payment for handling foreign inquiries. There are cases when applicants refuse to pay for negative answers. In this connection, the department board stressed the necessity of discussing the issue of opening the currency accounts in the archival institutions in which they are absent, as well as to introduce the system of advanced payment.

In some archives, the charging of fees for services remain different for Belarusian and foreign citizens. The department board found it advisable to unify the size of fees charged for services provided to native and foreign citizens alike.

12 November 2010
Eleventh issue of Belarusian Archaeography Yearbook came out at the Belarusian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Studies (BelNIIDAD).

The 11th issue contains materials on documentary editing, archival science, source studies, textual and code analysis, history of government institutions. The issue features documents on the history of medieval, modern and contemporary Belarus, surveys of archival holdings, and other materials.

The edition is intended for historians, archivists, philologists, and specialists in local lore.


28 October 2010
Regular events were held in the framework of the 20th International Archival Day and the Autumn Archival School in Trieste, Italy, from October 10th to 16th.

The events were organized by the International Institute for Archival Science of Trieste and Maribore (IIAS) with the support of the State Archive of Trieste and the Central European Initiative (CEI).

The main topic at the 20th International Archival Day Conference was "Archival Legislation" (with accent on the legal regulation of access to archival documents). The other topic was "Web Sites Dedicated to Archives". Participants at the conference were the IIAS members representing Austria, Belarus, Germany, Israel, Spain, Italy, Canada, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, Montenegro and Czechia and the guests from Great Britain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Malaysia, Romania, Oman Sultanate, Croatia and Estonia.

The working languages were English, Italian and Slovenian.

The conference (11-12 October) was held in two sessions on the above topics. The Belarusian side presented a report on the topic "Access to Archival Information: Legislation and Practice" (in English) delivered by the Director of the Belarusian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Science (BelNIIDAD) Andrei Rybakov. Summary of the papers presented at the conference are published in "Atlanti" 2010.

In debates on the first day of the conference it was recognized that most clearly and transparently the issues of access to archives and archival documents are reflected in the Belarusian legislation. Ch. Kecksemeti, Former General Director of ICA, stressed in his speech that the legal regulation of access to archival information in Belarus meets to the highest degree the recommendations on the issue adopted in 2000 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and in their implementation in national legislation Belarus is ahead of many countries of the European Union. The Italian archivists became interested in the legislation norms on administrative responsibility for the illegal refusal of access to archival documents established by the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Belarus and the practices of their use.

In the framework of the IIAS Autumn Archival School (13-16 October) the BelNIIDAD director A. Rybakov and the VNIIDAD director M. Larin offered to the school audience a joint lecture on the topic "Archival Web Sites in Belarus and Russia" (in English), with the presentation of websites "Archives of Belarus", "Archives of Russia", and other websites of research institutions in their charge. The presentation was prepared as part of the Plan of Joint Actions of the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus and the Federal Archival Agency of Russia. When answering the audience questions, the lecturers noted of the website role and potentiality to meet the users needs for archival information, the distribution of responsibilities between archivists and software engineers in design and content development of archival websites, perspectives of website development and improvement.
28 October 2010
The First Conference on the Archives of Slavic Countries was held in Lipica, Slovenia, 8-10 October 2010.

The Conference was organized with the support of the Forum of Slavic Cultures (Slovenia), the Ministry of High Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, the State Archives of Trieste (Italy), and the Society of Historians and Archivists of Slovenia. The financial support was provided by the Directorate of State Archives, Ministry of Culture of Italy.

The organizational committee included members of the International Institute for Archival Science of Trieste and Maribore, P. Klasinc (Slovenia, director of the IIAS), M. Larin (Russia, director of the Russian Research Institute of Documentation and Archival Science), J. Hanus (Slovakia, director at the Department of Archives and Registries, Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic), A. Rybakov (Belarus, director of the Belarusian Research Institute of Records Management and Archival Studies), Ì. Marosz (Poland, director at the State Archives of Cracow).

The topic of the conference: "Current Issues of Archival Theory and Practice". The conference participants represented 12 out of 13 slavic countries: Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Ukraine, Croatia and Montenegro.

In view of close cultural traditions and languages in the member countries, the conference reports were delivered in the national languages. The Belarusian side offered a report on the topic «Issues of the formation of national legislation as a basis for management of archives and records in the Republic of Belarus" to address the main aspects and principles of development of archival legislation, problems and complexities in this work, possible ways of their solution.

The reports analysis showed that most archival problems appeared to be common for all slavic countries, including in particular:
- the development of unified national archival legislation;
- the formation of archives management system, definition of archives types, their legal status, centralization of archives management;
- system of relationships between state archival agencies and institutions and non-government institutions;
- preservation of archival documents, search of areas, construction of buildings and facilities for records storage;
- scholarly and procedural support of archival business, including the development of principles and methods of work with electronic records and their archival storage;
- professional training;
- financing of archives, social protection of archivists, increasing the level of their salaries.

For more information on the conference, see the Russian-language version of the website.

22 October 2010
20 October 2010, the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus held a board meeting to discuss issues of improving the physical condition of records at the state archives, the condition and amount of records of the National Archival Holdings of the Republic of Belarus held in various institutions-sources of records acquisition for the state archives as on 1 January 2010.

The improvement of the physical condition of records and their preservation is a major field of activity in archival institutions. This work is directly connected with strengthening the material and technical basis of the archives as reflected in the Archives of Belarus State Programme for 2011-2015.

The state archives permanently work on identifying and selecting records that require special treatment. It is enough to mention that 7 percent of all stored files need disinfection and restoration, 8 percent need binding and filing. At the same time a positive dynamics is evident– the overall need for restoration decreased from 7,6 percent to 6,9 percent. The average rate of files placed in cardboard boxes is 80 percent.

During the discussion of the second issue it was noted that the status and development of archive business is connected with improving records preservation at the agency archives, strengthening their legal, organizational, material and technical basis, increasing the efficiency of the agency archives.

As on 1 January 2010, 8643 institutions have been registered as acquisition sources for the central, regional and local state archives in Belarus (government institutions – 7485, nongovernment – 1318, public – 992); of them 8259 institutions hold administrative documents; 384, scientific-technical records, films, photographs, sound records, and electronic records.

It was noted that certain institutions do not meet modern requirements for records preservation; agency archives lack proper material, technical and personnel basis. Inadequate supply of personnel staff and specially equipped facilities at the agency archives is usually explained by the lack of attention the institution managers give to the issue of records preservation.

As on 1 January 2010, 1,706,972 permanent files for the years 1917–2009 are held in the custody of the agency archives. Of them only 74,3% have been prepared for transfer to the state archives for preservation. Especially alarming is the situation with records preservation in the institutions-sources of acquisition for the state archives of public organizations in the Gomel, Grodno and Minsk regions. In all, 511,147 files that expired agency retention period are still held in various institutions, that is 29,9% of the total number of permanent records held by the institutions.

15 October 2010
13 October 2010, the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus held a meeting of the director at the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Republic of Belarus V.I. Adamushko, the director of the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus V.D. Selemenev with the members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Tracing Service, Udo Wagner-Meige and Karen Strugg.

The adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross for matters of the International Tracing Service, Udo Wagner-Meige, spoke of the new objectives the ITS set after the opening in 2006 of an archive for conducting historical research. In this connection the ITS is now occupied with spreading information about its activities and the scope of archive records, as well as attracting foreign researchers, among whom they also want to see research organizations from Belarus.

The adviser to the ITS director Karen Strugg handed to the Belarusian side materials on ITS activities, Belarusian victims of Nazi persecutions, and a survey of records on the National-Socialist practices of persecution in Eastern Europe, held at the ITS Archives.

The Belarusian side made a proposal to organize an exhibition devoted to ITS activities and archive records.

The guests got acquainted with the history and work at the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, storage conditions of archival records.


06 October 2010
1 October 2010, the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus and the Federal Archival Agency of the Russian Federation together with the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War present an exhibition The Soviet Society and the War 1941-1945 staged at the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War.

THE SOVIET SOCIETY AND THE WAR. 1941-1945.

The exhibition The Soviet Society and the War 1941-1945 is a final event in the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War. The exhibition presents electronic copies of records available from the archives in the Russian Federation and the original documents held in the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus.

Many previously unknown documents and archival complexes have been identified and introduced into scholarly practice for the last few decades as a result of studies conducted by archives and research institutions in Russia and Belarus. This made possible to develop new and more objective approaches to the history of the Great Patriotic War, reassess many of its heroic and tragic pages.

The displayed records are focused on the social and spiritual aspects of an individual’s life in the ordeals of the war years. The central part of the exhibition are the witness evidences, the previously unknown documents pertaining to the daily life at the fronts, in the Soviet rear, besieged Leningrad, the conquered districts of the USSR, the mass heroism of the Soviet people, and the costs of the Victory. The documentary evidence of the Nazi punitive regime and the heroic resistance of the Partisans demonstrate the massive scale of the tragedy and the struggle in the enemy’s rear.

The rare archives show how the Soviet leadership used emergency measures in the economic administration in the war, the complex process of economic transformation on a war scale, industry evacuation to the East, construction of aviation plants, production of weapons and military equipment. Previously unknown facts, data and statistics help reassess the economic life of the country in the war years.

The lend-lease problem outlined the complexity of relations between the allies, their political and ideological contradictions in the first months of the war. The economic aid provided to the Soviet Union by the USA and Great Britain has long received a high assessment in Russia.

The exhibition organizers are the Department for Archives and RM at the Ministry of Justice of Belarus, the Federal Archival Agency of the Russian Federation and the Russian State Archives of the Economy.

The exhibition was held successfully in Moscow during the celebration of the Great Victory. In Minsk, the unique archival records, which show new perspectives in the study of social policy and public awareness in the war time are on display from October to December in the rooms of the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War.


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