Central State Archive of Moscow

“How not to love dear Moscow? “, Baratinsky (1800-1844)


The history of Central State Archive of Moscow begins with the Moscow Provincial Archive of Old Cases, which was formed in late 1700s (1783 to be exact) for the storage of “closed cases” of Moscow institutions and the issuing of certificates based on these documents.

At the beginning, the archival files were housed in administration buildings near the Kremlin’s Resurrection Gate.  Few decades later and the archives miraculously survived the Fire of Moscow in 1812, which destroyed estimated three-quarters of Moscow.  By 1823 the archives were transferred to Nikolskaya Tower of Kremlin, where they collected dust for about a century.

Nikolskaya Tower of Kremlin
Nikolskaya Tower of Kremlin

nikolskaya tower

By the beginning of the 20th century the size of the Moscow gubernia’s archive exceeded 1,800,000 files.  The documents were “safely” scattered in six different Kremlin towers until the Revolution of 1917.   During the shelling of Kremlin towers by Bolsheviks the archives were damaged but remained there until 1930.  Later they were transferred to the premises of Moscow’s closed churches and monasteries.

The World War II and the siege of Moscow in December 1941 prompted the government to move the Central Historical Archive of Moscow to Siberia but not everything came back safely.

No one can estimate how much was lost during the next 70 years of “administrative reorganisations” but the Central Historical Archive of Moscow still has a great collection of documents which can help many family researchers to trace their roots.

Amongst rare and unique documents stored in archive are the birth records of Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pushkin’s marriage to Natalya Goncharova and Anton Chekhov to Olga Knipper, personal files of Wassily Kandinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff and many others. Let’s have a look at what can be found on shelves inside the archive today in respect of your ancestors.


Last year the archive digitised the funds’ inventories and put them online.  Pre-revolutionary period is covered by nearly 11295 funds with just over 9.5  million files as of today.

Hips of information can be found in funds of governing bodies of Moscow and Moscow gubernia: Office of the Governor-General of Moscow, the Moscow Civil Governor, the Moscow Court of Justice, Land Use Planning Commissions, the Moscow City Government, etc.

Fund #1 – Moscow Medical Office and Management (1817-1918)

Funds 3 and 4 are very helpful in genealogy research since they provide a lot of information about the close family composition of each merchant, who traded in the city, or a nobleman, who was registered in Moscow Gubernia nobility books.

Fund #3 – Moscow Merchant Council (1863-1918)

Fund #4 – Office of Moscow Nobility Deputy Assembly (1785-1917)

The online database does not have the record of individual files and the research for your ancestor in various educational institutions is practically impossible, unless you know the exact name of the college or university, where he or she studied.

The greatest interest to researchers will be the collection of metrical records in funds of religious organizations in pre-revolutionary period: Moscow Spiritual Consistory, various Moscow and Moscow gubernia churches, as well Moscow synagogue (funds 1455 for 1866-1919 period and 2372).

There are four funds in the archive covering Lutheran churches:

1476 – Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Moscow. (covering years 1626-1937)

1477 – Evangelical Reformed church, Moscow (  ?-  1936)

1629- Evangelical Lutheran consistory – years not specified

2099 – Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Michael, Moscow ( years 1576-1928)

If your ancestor was an owner of a factory or any other pre-revolutionary industrial and commercial enterprise, you might be in luck. The archive holds the funds of Moscow Land Bank, Moscow Municipal Credit Society, Moscow Exchange Committee and of few small and big companies.


If your ancestor was born, lived, died or worked in Moscow, a lot can be researched.  All you need to do is start.


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