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Soviet Newspapers: What is available at UNC and beyond

What Soviet newspapers are available online?

What Soviet newspapers are available online?

University Libraries has purchased several nearly complete digital archives of some of the most important national newspapers. OCR can be spotty, particularly for older issues, so keyword search results should be taken with a grain of salt. All patrons have access to these resources at library terminals; UNC affiliates have remote access.

Argumenty i fakty masthead

Аргументы и Факты Digital Archive

Argumenty i Fakty ("Arguments and Facts") started out as a monthly information bulletin aimed at "lecturers, propagandists, political informators and agitators" and containing a digest of facts and figures for the "correct" analysis and interpretation of current events. The publication's frequency increased throughout the 80s, while its content, format and print run expanded. In the late 1980s it transformed into a full-fledged newspaper and a major mouthpiece of perestroika and glasnost. In 1990 the newspaper became the highest circulating newspaper in the world with a print run of 33,431,100 copies and was entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

  • The digital archive is text only, and covers 1983-2019.
  • UNC also has 1984-2001 in print (with some issues lacking) and 1994, 1998-2007 on microfilm (also with some issues lacking).

Izvestiia masthead

Известия Digital Archive

Izvestiia ("Announcements", "Reports" or, simply, "News") was a major daily (well, it came out 6 times a week) and the official mouthpiece of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR. The newspaper was founded in March 1917 as the official newspaper of the Petrograd Soviet, became the official voice of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union, then of the Council of the Worker's Deputies, later called the Council of the People's Deputies. By the late 1960s Izvestiia's print run was over 8 million copies, and by 1990, over 10 million. The newspaper had a national and a Moscow edition, and after 1960 a Sunday supplement called Nedelia ("The Week"), not included in the digital archive.

  • The digital archive covers 1917-2010 and contains some national and some Moscow editions.
  • UNC also has 1953-1959, 1972-1977, 1977-1991 on microfilm.
  • UNC also has additional online access to 1959; Jul-Dec 1975 through the Center for Research Libraries.

Literaturnaia gazeta masthead

Литературная газета Digital Archive

Literaturnaia gazeta ("The Literary Newspaper") was a weekly publication of the Writer's Union of the USSR, published since 1929.

Pravda masthead

Правда Digital Archive

Pravda ("Truth"), Soviet Union's leading daily and the official voice of the Communist Party needs no introduction.

Sovetskaia ku'tura masthead

Советская культура Digital Archive

Sovetskaia kul'tura (Soviet Culture) was the newspaper of the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Workers Labor Union.

Moscow News masthead

Moscow News Digital Archive

The Soviet Union's leading English language newspaper, aimed at readers abroad and foreigners in Russia.


A curious free resource is:

Старые газеты

This project offers a growing selection of scattered issues from a variety of national and regional Soviet newspapers. Excellent source for getting "the flavor" of some of the publications.

What Soviet newspapers are available in other formats at UNC?

Significant runs of the following newspapers are available at UNC in print or on microfilm. Shorter runs or scattered issues of some other newspapers may also be available: check the Catalog.

Gudok masthead

Гудок

Gudok ("The Train Whistle") was the newspaper of the Ministry of Railways, famous for its satirical content contributed by some of the most notable Russian authors of the first half of the 20th century.

  • UNC has 1945-1988 on microfilm.

Komsomolskaia pravda masthead

Комсомольская правда

Komsomol'skaia pravda ("Komsomol truth") was daily newspaper published in Moscow 1925-present. In the Soviet period it was the official newspaper of the Komsomol (Communist youth organization). In the post-Soviet period it became one of the major tabloids.

  • UNC has 1945-2007 on microfilm with some issues missing.

Krasnaia zvezda masthead

Красная звезда

Krasnaia zvezda ("The Red Star") was the newspaper of the Soviet Ministry of Defense and the Red Army.

  • UNC has 1942-1952 (also 2000-2007) on microfilm (with some issues missing).

Krasnaia Tatariia masthead

Красная Татария

Krasnaia Tatariia ("Red Tatarstan") was the daily newspaper of the Communist Party of Tatarstan, published in Kazan' 1917-present. The newspaper changed titles several times throughout its history: Рабочий, Знамя труда, Известия ТатЦИКа, Советская Татария, Республика Татарстан.

  • UNC has 1924-1950 on microfilm (with many issues missing).

Literaturnaia Rossiia masthead

Литературная Россия

Literaturnaia Rossiia ("Literary Russia") was the newspaper of RSFSR's Union of Writers.

  • UNC has 1963-1964 & 1979 on microfilm and 1980-2018 in print (with some issues missing).

Moskovskii komsomolets masthead

Московский комсомолец

Moskovskii komsomolets ("Moscow Komsomol Member") was the newspaper of the Moscow (leading) branch of the Komsomol (Communist Youth) organization.

  • UNC has 1950-1984 on microfilm.

Sovetskaia torgovlia masthead

Советская торговля

Sovetskaia torgovlia ("Soviet Commerce") was the newspaper of the Ministry of Commerce.

  • UNC has 1973-1990 on microfilm.

Sovetskii sport masthead

Советский спорт

Sovetskii sport ("Soviet sports") was a daily newspaper published in Moscow 1924-present.

  • UNC has 1946-1989 on microfilm.

Trud masthead

Труд

Trud ("Labor") was a weekly newspaper published 1921-present in Moscow. In Soviet times it was the official newspaper of the labor union association.

  • UNC has 1953-1991 on microfilm.

Ekonomicheskaia gazeta masthead

Экономическая газета

Ekonomicheskaia gazeta ("The Economic Newspaper") was a weekly newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party focusing on the economy.

  • UNC has 1961-1989 on microfilm (with some issues missing).

Where do I find English translations of Soviet newspapers?

Where do I find English translations of Soviet newspapers?

While no one translated Soviet newspapers into English in full, you do have some choices for these kinds of primary sources in English.

А weekly digest of English translations of selected major stories, primarily from official dailies Pravda and Izvestiia, but occasionally from other sources as well, including other major newspapers (e.g. Komsomol'skaia pravda, Literaturnaia gazeta, Sovetskaia RossiiaKrasnaia zvezda, in the 1980s Argumenty i Fakty), trade publications (e.g. Sotsialisticheskaia industriia, Uchitel'skaia gazeta), and even some regional newspapers. Not all stories were translated in full: some were condensed or excerpted. Each issue also included a thematic index to Pravda and Izvestiia for the week. Coverage dates: 1949-2019 (the publication continues to cover post-Soviet Russian press).

Cover of Reprints from the Soviet press

Unabridged translations of selected items from national newspapers, focusing on Pravda and Izvestiia. Often complements Current Digest of the Soviet Press, either by providing translation of items omitted from Current Digest, publishing a full translation where the Current Digest only included an excerpt, of offering a different translation. Because this publication came out only bi-weekly and because it included unabridged translations, the number of items covered is far smaller than in Current Digest. Coverage dates: 1965-1991.

Includes English translations of selected stories from a variety of Soviet newspapers, from major dailies and weeklies to trade and local publications, but resource is organized around topic, not publication source, which means you can only browse a particular publication if you already know the title. Not all stories were translated in full: some were condensed or excerpted. Clunky interface. Coverage dates: 1957-1994.

  • Important: this resource does not use Library of Congress transliteration, so you need to adjust the spelling of titles as follows: й = y (not i), я = ya (not ia); ю = yu (not iu), etc.
    • e.g. Вечерний Тбилиси = Vecherniy Tbilisi; Рабочая газета = Rabochaya gazeta, Юность = Yunost'.

Other sources of Soviet news in English:

Moscow News masthead

Moscow News was the official Soviet newspaper aimed at an English-speaking audience. Coverage dates: 1930-2014 (some issues missing).

Daily newspaper published by the Press Department of the Soviet Embassy in London. UNC has 1963-1991 (with some issues missing).

An English translation of Pravda was issued for issues between 1985 and May 5, 1988. UNC only has the 1988 issues on microfiche.

How do I find out what newspapers existed in a particular Soviet republic, region, or city?

How do I find out what newspapers existed in a particular Soviet republic, region, or city?

General resources:Cover of Gazety SSSR

Lists Soviet newspapers 1917-1960. Includes major cities as well as town and regional newspapers, trade, military and transportation newspapers, but omits major high-circulation titles (and, of course, titles that appeared after 1960). Provides title(s), place of publication, language of publication,  dates of publications, and number of issues published, and associated organizations, but typically not frequency of publication.

Two-volume encyclopedia of major Soviet national (volume 1), and republican, regional and some city newspapers (volume 2). Includes trade, labor union, industrial, agricultural, transport, military, medical, literary, sports, and anti-religious newspapers. In addition to standard bibliographic information, each entry provides the newspaper's history, including fluctuations in frequency and print runs, editorial changes, and list the major thematic sections of each publication. Many entries are quite detailed, many are several pages long.


Specialized resources:

Revolutionary period:

4 volumes. Covers newspapers held at libraries, archives and museums across the USSR.

Lists non-Soviet newspapers from the Civil War period which were omitted from Газеты СССР, 1917-1960 and other Soviet sources. Provides titles(s), place of publication, dates of publication, frequency of publication, number of issues published, editors, and associated organizations. Includes index of places of publication.

Catalog of holdings of the Russian State Library.

Can I search the contents of Soviet newspapers?

Can I search the contents of Soviet newspapers without having to flip through thousands of pages for each title?

Cover of Летопись газетных статей 44(1954)Yes, sort of, for certain titles.

Obviously, you can search the full text of the digital archives that UNC has purchased, but you should be aware that OCR can be quite spotty, particularly for older issues.

For newspapers that are not available online, there is an old school print tool called Летопись газетных статей ("Chronicle of newspaper articles"). Letopis' gazetnykh statei was published since 1936, initially monthly, then, since 1977, weekly. It is an index to all the articles published in a number of Russian-language newspapers, including:

  • "Central" or national newspapers:
    • Водный транспорт (earlier title: Речной транспорт), Воздушный транспорт, Гудок, Известия, Комсомольская правда, Красная звезда, Лесная промышленность, Литературная газета, Медицинская газета (earlier title: Медицинский работник), Правда, Сельская жизнь (earlier title: Сельское хозяйство), Советская культура, Советская торговля, Советский спорт, Социалистическая индустрия, Строительная газета, Труд, Учительская газета, Экономическая газета.
  • Republican newspapers:
    • Бакинский рабочий, Заря Востока, Казахстанская правда, Коммунист (Ереван), Коммунист Таджикистана, Литературная Россия (earlier title: Литература и жизнь), Правда Востока, Правда Украины, Советская Белоруссия, Советская Киргизия, Советская Латвия, Советская Литва, Советская Молдавия, Советская Россия, Советская Эстония, Туркменская искра.
  • City newspapers:
    • Ленинградская правда, Московская правда, Московский комсомолец.

Other titles were also indexed throughout the publication's history, for example Московский строитель and Ленинское знамя (Петрозаводск) in the 1950s, Совхозная газета before it became defunct in 1954, and Книжное обозрение, Московские новости, Поиск, Правительственный вестник, Рабочая трибуна, as they emerged or grew in prominence during perestroika and glasnost.

Letopis' gazetnykh statei is organized by topic according to the Soviet bibliographic classification scheme, which underwent several changes over the years, though "Marxism-Leninism" always remained the first category. The basic outline of the classification scheme was typically included in each issue. Quarterly name and geographic indexes (указатели) were also published (in the 1980s included with each issue).

Letopis' gazetnykh statei is a powerful, though clunky tool. If you are working with a short range of dates, it is absolutely indispensable. Working with its hundreds of issues becomes much more unwieldy if you are tracing developments across many years or decades. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for it, and, criminally, no digital version as of 2019.

UNC does not have what I need. What do I do?

UNC does not have the newspapers I need. What do I do?

It is important to assess whether you can get access to the newspaper you need in a timely and cost-effective manner, so that you can plan your project, or determine whether your project is even feasible.

  1. Can you get what you need through interlibrary loan?

  • If your need is for specific articles or sections of the newspaper, can you get reproductions through interlibrary loan? (You will need citations.)
  • If your need is to browse sets of issues, can you get the needed spans of weeks/months/years through interlibrary loan and for how long?

You can begin this assessment work yourself:

  • Check WorldCat. Is your newspaper held anywhere in the U.S.? How widely is it held, what years are held, and in what format? Libraries will typically lend microform and bound volumes, though print newspapers may be too fragile to lend. UNC is a member of the Center for Research Libraries (their holdings are in WorldCat) and benefits from their liberal lending policies.
  • Unfortunately, not everything held by U.S. libraries is listed in WorldCat. Crucially, perhaps the most extensive collection of Soviet-era newspapers, that of the Library of Congress, will not be found in WorldCat and must be explored via LC's research guide:  Russian Newspapers at the Library of Congress.
  • Contact Interlibrary Loan at uncilb@email.unc.edu or (919) 962-1326 to determine what can be borrowed and for how long.
  1. Can the library purchase what you need?

  • It might be possible for the Library to purchase materials that are not available through interlibrary loan. Please contact me with you request: Kirill Tolpygo ktolpygo@email.unc.edu and I will investigate.
  1. Will access necessitate a research trip to another institution?

  • If neither interlibrary loan nor purchasing are options, your project may necessitate a research trip to another institution. Will this trip be domestic or international? Are any travel funds available to you? Will you be able to travel for a sufficient time to examine the materials that you need? These and other questions will help you determine whether your project is feasible.

Kirill Tolpygo

Kirill Tolpygo's picture
Kirill Tolpygo
My pronouns are: he/him.
Contact:
118 Davis Library, CB#3918
(919) 962-8044
  • Last Updated: Jun 8, 2020 12:23 PM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.unc.edu/sovietnewspapers