Author(s): Anton Liavitski (2019) – last update: 2019-02-11
The Нацыянальны архіў Рэспублікі Беларусь (НАРБ) / National Archive of the Republic of Belarus (NARB) is the major archive institution in Belarus. The primary task of the archive is to store documents that have been issued by state organs of Belarus, the Communist Party of Belarus (between 1918 and 1991) and certain associations like trade unions. The archive deals also with documents of other origin, e.g. various sources from the period of the revolutionary wars (1918-1920) and various kinds of documents circulated during World War II in Belarus. A separate group is represented by personal funds, mostly those are estates of statesmen. The website (link below) provides a detailed overview of NARB’s collection.
NARB focuses on the period after 1917. Documents issued before this period are kept in the National Historical Archive of Belarus in Minsk. The geographical scope of the archive’s funds embraces the current territory of Belarus with some exceptions (like the Smolensk province of the Russian Empire). The archives has an impressive collection on arts and literature, but most of the documents regarding this topic are stored in the Belarusian Archive and Museum of Literature and Arts located in Minsk.
Also note that most photo or film sources are held in the specialized archive in Dzjaržynsk.
The National Archives of The Republic of Belarus is not to be confused with the Нацыянальны гістарычны архіў Беларусі / National Historical Archives of Belarus.
Нацыянальны архіў Рэспублікі Беларусь (НАРБ) /
The National Archives of The Republic of Belarus (NARB)
пр-т Незалежнасці, 116 /
Nezavisimosti ave. 116
220114, г. Мінск /
Рэспубліка Беларусь /
The Republic of Belarus
Tel.: (+375-17)2376778 (reception)
Email for general inquiries: email@example.com
Working hours of the reading room: Tuesday-Thursday: 9.00-20.00, Friday: 9.00-18.00, Saturday: 9.00-15.00, Sunday: closed, Monday: closed/cleaning day
Working hours during summer time (from 1st of June to 1st of September) are different: Monday-Thursday: 9.00-17.30, Friday: 9.00-16.15, Saturday, Sunday: closed
How to Find the Archive Sites
NARB is located in the building of the National Library of Belarus in Minsk. The entrance to the Archive can be found in the back of the building. In order to go in, you should ring the bell labelled “Archive” (Архив). Inside of the building you need to take the lift to the second floor where you will encounter a police officer. Here you will be recorded as a visitor.
The building is situated rather on the periphery of Minsk (metro station Uschod). Getting there from the city centre takes approximately 15-20 minutes. The metro is the best way to travel there from the city centre. If you prefer, there is a bus station in the front of the building.
How to Plan a Visit and to Prepare for It
Citizens of most countries have to apply for a visa to be able to travel to Belarus. For citizens of the following 74 countries (see link), there is a possibility to travel without a visa for up to 30 days. This visa-free travel is available only via checkpoint Minsk National Airport.
To be allowed to work in the archive you need to apply for the registration. This requires a photo (3/4), the ID-card (passport), and for students and postgraduates also a letter of referral from the home university (written in Russian would be certainly the best choice). It is supposed to be signed by the director of the institution (e. g. the dean of the department).
If you are going to work in the archive as a private person, filling the application form will be good enough. The form is supposed to provide information about the goals of your research. This form is attached on the website (only in Russian).
There is one reading room. The reading devices (e. g. microfiches or microfilms) are provided. Laptops are permitted and there are power sockets available, but no wi-fi.
Rules and Regulations in the Reading Rooms
For the entrance of rooms of the archive, an ID is required, because every visitor is to be recorded. There is no obligation or possibility to book a working place without an ID. It is best to prepare a list of the needed founds in advance using the digital catalogue of the Belarusian archives. You order the files in the reading room by filling out the blank zakaza order form. Beyond your personal data, such as your name or research topic, you are supposed to know the description of the needed document (nomer fonda, nomer opisi, nomer dela). The ordered documents are delivered in 1 or 2 days (depending on whether you order the files before midday) except for orders made on Saturday, which will be ready on Tuesday afternoon. At once you can order up to 10 units (delo). The next order might be made only after you have returned the files you worked with. To retrieve the files, you must sign the list of users taking responsibility for the current condition of the documents.
Taking photos of the documents is forbidden, but you might order a copy for a small fee (in 2018, the fee accounted for 49 Belarusian kopeks per sheet, i.e, about 20 Euro cents). You can access the current prices on the the archive’s website.
For more information, you can find the Regulation of Using the Archive in Russian.
Archive Databases and Online Finding Aids
Find an overview of the archive in English here
There is a unified catalogue of the Belarusian archives which might also be helpful in this regard
There is no café in the building of the archive. However, there is a restaurant in the building of the library. It is state owned, which means the food is cheap, but there are not many options. Two additional smaller cafés are located there as well. However, in order to use them you have to be entitled to enter the library itself, meaning you must be registered as a reader there. Other cafés and restaurants can be found in the Dana Mall, which is in walking distance from the National Library (5 or 10 minutes).
To find accommodation, use the usual websites like Airbnb or Booking.com. The area of the archive is not a residential area, so it will be difficult to find accomodation nearby. You will have better luck finding accomodation in the city centre, 15-20 minutes away by metro.