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12 November 2009
Reference book coverA new reference book, entitled "The Vitebsk Province. Government, Social and Religious Institutions. 1802-1917" (Minsk, BelNIIDAD, 2009-524 pp.) has been published.

The book has been prepared by the National Historical Archives of Belarus and is the second in a series of directory books on the institutions of the Minsk, Vitebsk and Mogilev provinces of the Russian Empire. This volume makes known the history of the government, social, scholarly, medical, educational, religious and other institutions which were active in the Vitebsk Province between 1802 and 1917.

The book consists of a preface, four sections, and supplements. Each section begins with an introduction describing the administrative system in the Vitebsk province at that period; sub-sections provide information about its various institutions; and supplements about governor-generals and generals, as well as illustrations.

The directory contains articles on the history of the institutions, based on the documents from the National Historical Archives of Belarus, the Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire, the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, the Collection of Laws and Instructions of the Workers and Peasants Government for 1917-1918, the Laws and Instructions of the Provisional Government for 1917, the Memory Books of the Vitebsk Province, etc. The articles highlight the issues of the institutions' creation, structure, functions, reorganization, liquidation etc.

The edition is intended for employees of government institutions and archives, specialists in various fields of knowledge, as well as anyone interested in his country’s past.

05 November 2009
On 12 November 2009, the Pushkin Regional Library in Minsk hosts a meeting with the staff of the State Archives of Minsk Region and the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus – the authors and publishers of the two-part edition, "Minsk Region in Documents and Materials". The first part of the book, called "The Beginning", was published in 2008 to mark 70 years since the foundation of Minsk Region (Oblast). This part covers the events between January 1938 and June 1941.

Recently the second part titled "The Rebirth" has been published, which covers the events from 1946 to 1953. The book presents, for the first time in print, 70 unique documents that bear evidence to the hard times of postwar reconstruction in Minsk Region. The main types of documents included in the book are memoranda, certificates, and special reports to the Central Committee and the Minsk Regional Committee of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) of Belarus. The book also contains documents of the Minsk Region Executive Committee and the Molodechno Region Executive Committee of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) of Belarus. There are also decision making documents such as resolutions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) of Belarus, the Council of Ministers of the BSSR, and materials describing the process of decision making. Of considerable interest are the supplement of 171 short biographies, the list of executives and leading employees in Minsk and the Minsk region, and the chronicle of events 1946-1953. The book is illustrated with facsimile copies of documents and photographs, which are now preserved at the Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings, as well as by private individuals.

28 October 2009
EURASICA 10th General Conference and International Round Table "New Technologies in the Field of Preservation of Archival Documents" is held in Yerevan, Armenia, on October 29-30, 2009. Also, on this date the Consultative Council of heads of the state archival services of the state members of the Commonwealth of Independent States will hold a regular meeting to discuss issues related to archive business in CIS countries, the training of archive professionals, the participation of archival agencies in records management, etc.

Participants from Belarus side are V.I. Adamushko, Director at the Department for Archives and Records Management, V.L. Nosevich, Director of the Belarusian Research Centre of Electronic Records and V.D. Selemenev, Director of the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus

08 October 2009
On 5 October 2009, on the eve of the Archivist Day, the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus hosted a meeting of the coordinators of primary organizations of the Society of Belarusian Archivists to discuss the objectives and prospects of this public association.

The chairman of the board of the Society of Belarusian Archivists, L. M. Lisova, congratulated the participants on the occasion of the Archivist Day.

The director of the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, V. D. Selemenev, informed the participants about the archives’ activities and foreign relations. The board deputy chairman and former director of this archives, E. I. Baranovski, made a report on the topic of "Archives and their role in development of social sciences".

The issues of integration between the professional activity and the work at the society of archivists’ primary organization were dealt in the report by the director of the State Archives of Vitebsk Region, T. M. Svistunova.

The meeting resulted in the adoption of an action plan for the preparation of the 20th anniversary of the Society of Belarusian Archivists, which is to be celebrated in 2010.
In conclusion, the participants visited an exhibition titled "The documentary image of our native land" presenting documents selected from various state archives of the Republic of Belarus.

07 October 2009

Dear colleagues!
Congratulations on the Archivist Day!
Thanks to the dedicated work of the archivists in the State Archives Service of the Republic of Belarus, all people who are not indifferent to their past can see and appreciate the documentary heritage of our country.
We wish you health, happiness, well-being, and success in your hard but respected work for our dear Belarus!

The Department for Archives and Records Management
of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus
6 October 2009

07 October 2009
The third meeting of the international council on the project for the virtual reconstruction of the Radziwills’ documentary heritage and book collections was held on October 2, 2009 at Mir Castle, Mir, the Republic of Belarus in the framework of the Regional Project "Documentary Heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth/Rzeczpospolita". The meeting was organized by the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records with the participation of the National Commission of the Republic of Belarus for UNESCO and with the financial support of the UNESCO Moscow Office.

The participants of the meeting included specialists and officials from archives and libraries in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Finland, and representatives from the Belarusian Culture Foundation and the National History and Culture Museum-Reserve "Nesvizh".

The participants welcomed the decision of the UNESCO International Advisory Committee taken on August 31, 2009 to include the Radziwills’ documentary heritage and book collections into the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Register and emphasized the importance of the joint efforts undertaken in the framework of the project.

The council members reported about their work in pursuance of the previous decisions, and in particular about the implementation of the project "Documentary Heritage of Rzeczpospolita" and the preparation of a demonstration compact disc "The Radziwills’ Documentary Heritage (registers of the library and museum collections of the Nesvizh entail)". It was noted that all conditions have been available for completing the projects by the end of 2009. This will result in the creation of a unified information resource that would describe the contents of the major archival holdings and libraries’ manuscript collections covering the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including a more detailed description of the Radziwills’ Nesvizh archives. The compact disc will present the digitized copies of the most important registers of the Nesvizh Library and descriptions of the museum pieces which had been preserved at Nesvizh, thus helping specialists to further the virtual reconstruction of this collection.

The participants confirmed that the newly-created information resource would be given to all participating countries for free use and that their archives and libraries would provide all interested persons with access to the information, also by means of its placement on their websites. They also confirmed their readiness to continue, on the basis of the existing agreements, the exchange of archive and library copies and the joint acquisition of the information resource.

The participants made the decision that it would be advisable to create a Centre of Studies of the Radziwills’ Documentary Heritage, based at the National History and Culture Museum-Reserve "Nesvizh", which could assume responsibility for the maintenance and acquisition of the database and a specialized website. In this connection, they requested the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus to take an appropriate decision. It was also decided that before the creation of the centre the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records would continue the coordination of works for the project.

A final document was adopted on the results of the meeting, which set out several steps for further implementation of the project. In particular, the Council requested the respective bodies in the participating countries to initiate the adoption of international projects, within the European Union, the Council of Europe and other international organizations, for studies and virtual reconstruction of the documentary heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

15 September 2009
A regular three-party meeting of the heads of state archival services and institutions from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine was held on 10-12 September 2009 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The agenda included the following issues: The archives during the financial crisis: the ways for sustainable activities; Electronic archives: problems and perspectives; Joint publishing projects; The role of local archives in documents preservation.

The Belarusian delegation was represented by V.I. Adamushko, director at the Department of Archives and Records Management of the Republic of Belarus, V.V. Balandin, director at the Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings, A.K. Golubovich, director at the National Historical Archives of the Republic of Belarus, A.V. Zapartyko, director at the Belarusian State Archives-Museum of Literature and Art, V.L. Nosevich, director at the Belarusian Research Centre dor Electronic Records, V.D. Selemenev, director at the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, and P.M. Cherny, director at the State Archives of Gomel Region.

15 September 2009
The State Archives of Brest Region presents an exhibition of documents "17 September 1939…" dedicated to 70 years since the reunification of Western Belarus with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The exhibition offers 47 documents dating from 1939-1941 selected from the holdings of the regional and city committees of the Communist Party of Belarus for Brest, Baranovichi, Pinsk, Kobrin, etc. The documents, covering the period from September 1939 to June 1941, reflect the first steps of Soviet power in the western regions, the activities of the provisional institutions, the election to the People’s Assembly of Western Belarus, etc.

15 September 2009
The exhibition "World War Two: the lessons of history and the present" is being staged at the National Library of Belarus from 28 September to 30 September, 2009 to mark seventy years since the beginning of the Second World War.

Within the frames of the exhibition the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus presents previously confidential documents telling about the local population’s attitude to the Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany, the military trainings in September 1939, public panic over the events in Europe, etc.

Of especial interest among the 300 new publications on World War Two presented at the exhibition are war bulletins of the foreign press published at the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army Fifth Administration selected from the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus holdings. These small in size publications dating from September 1939 already bear clear witness to the scale of the catastrophe of the late 1930s.

28 August 2009
The UNESCO International Advisory Committee at its meeting in late July 2009 added thirty-five new items of documentary heritage to the Memory of the World Register, among them, the Radziwills’ Archives and Nesvizh Library Collection, submitted by the Republic of Belarus in cooperation with Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Finland. The decision was announced on 31 July.
The successful inclusion of the nomination on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register has become an important achievement of the Archival Service of the Republic of Belarus, which completed major work in the project. The nomination dossier, describing the ten surviving parts of the Nesvizh collection and showing their cultural and historical significance, was prepared in late 2007 by the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records with the financial support from the UNESCO Moscow Office and with the participation of specialists from the member countries. To show the contents and the significance of the Nesvizh collection, the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records also prepared a compact disc with the illustrating materials, including the digital copies of the most representative archival documents, early illuminated books and ex-librise bookplates of the Nesvizh library, as well as samples of archival signatures and archivist's handwriting. The digital copies were made by the archives and libraries participating in the project. Part of these can be found on the UNESCO official website, together with the nomination text:

The Nesvizh collection is one of the largest collections of documents on the history of Central and Eastern Europe. The collection was created from the 15th to 18th centuries by members of the Radziwill family, one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The holdings, preserved during the course of history in different Radzwills’ estates, included archive and library in which invaluable historical and cultural information was accumulated. The extent of the collection, its continuous expansion through new acquisitions and comparatively high level of preservation make it a unique archival complex of world value. This collection is now dispersed among archives and libraries in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and to a lesser extent in other European countries.

Belarus now holds a considerable part of the collection. First of all, these are over 20,000 documents from the "Radziwill Princes" Holding at the National Historical Archives of Belarus. Several thousand books from the Nesvizh library, newly reconstructed by its owners in the 19th century, are at the National Library of Belarus, the Central Academic Library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences and the Presidential Library.

The UNESCO listing and international recognition of the universal significance of the Nesvizh collection will serve, we hope, as a powerful impulse to scholarly and cultural cooperation in the region and will promote the integration of the peoples and their mutual enrichment.

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