Image: Pravda notice board, Moscow 1987. Image source: Kyndrová, Dana, and Jefim Fištejn. Russians: Their Icons and Desires = Rusové : Jejich Ikony a Touhy. Translated by Stuart Hoskins and Nina Falkovskaya. Prague: Kant, 2015.
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 ("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.
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.
Literaturnaia gazeta ("The Literary Newspaper") was a weekly publication of the Writer's Union of the USSR, published since 1929.
Pravda ("Truth"), Soviet Union's leading daily and the official voice of the Communist Party needs no introduction.
Sovetskaia kul'tura (Soviet Culture) was the newspaper of the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Workers Labor Union.
The Soviet Union's leading English language newspaper, aimed at readers abroad and foreigners in Russia.
A curious free resource is:
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.
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 ("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.
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.
Krasnaia zvezda ("The Red Star") was the newspaper of the Soviet Ministry of Defense and the Red Army.
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.
Literaturnaia Rossiia ("Literary Russia") was the newspaper of RSFSR's Union of Writers.
Moskovskii komsomolets ("Moscow Komsomol Member") was the newspaper of the Moscow (leading) branch of the Komsomol (Communist Youth) organization.
Sovetskaia torgovlia ("Soviet Commerce") was the newspaper of the Ministry of Commerce.
Sovetskii sport ("Soviet sports") was a daily newspaper published in Moscow 1924-present.
Trud ("Labor") was a weekly newspaper published 1921-present in Moscow. In Soviet times it was the official newspaper of the labor union association.
Ekonomicheskaia gazeta ("The Economic Newspaper") was a weekly newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party focusing on the economy.
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 Rossiia, Krasnaia 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
You can begin this assessment work yourself: