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The archival work in Armenia began in 1923 and has gone through a glorious path over eight decades. Having been deprived of statehood for centuries, the Armenian people had been deprived of the opportunity to fully preserve their material and spiritual treasures, historical and cultural monuments. And the famine, disease, economic devastation, and financial hardship caused by World War I and the aftermath of the civil war certainly created serious difficulties for the establishment of cultural centers. It is known that the Museum of the Revolution adjacent to the People’s Commissariat for Education of the Armenian SSR had an archive department. The adopted decree obliged the state institutions within a month to submit to the archive department of the museum all the works and correspondences that had been completed before the Sovietization of the country (December 2, 1920), illegal destruction of archive materials was strictly prohibited by government periodical published and in the “Soviet Armenia” newspaper on January 7, 1922. Thus, step by step, the ground was being prepared for the creation of the state central archive of the republic. The resolution of the initiated events was the decision of the chairmanship of the Armenian SSR Central Executive Committee on September 26, 1923, on establishing a state central archive adjacent to the Central Executive Committee. And the charter of the state central archive of the Armenian SSR on the first legislative act on archival work was approved in February 1924. According to the charter of 1924, the state central archive was established based on several other archival funds of the archive department of the Yerevan State Museum. By the command of the Secretariat of the Central Executive Committee of the Armenian SSR on March 17, 1924, Prof. Khachik Samvelyan was appointed the head of the newly formed archive under whose administration the first archivists of the Republic began the works on the discovery of undeveloped archival materials scattered elsewhere in the basements and halls of the buildings, and the works on their registration and concentration in the state central archive. Thus, the task of collecting, preserving, registering, and using one of the spheres of the cultural life of our people was put on a state basis. From 1923 to 1924 the archive of the Armenian Communist (Bolshevik) Party of the Central Committee was formed, based on which the party archive was later created. On June 19, 1925, Kh. Samvelyan, the head of the State Central Archive of Armenian SSR reported to A. Karinyan, the chairman of the Armenian SSR Central Executive Committee that the archive funds of 21 pre-revolutionary periods and 27 Soviet institutions were concentrated in the archive, and the documentary materials of other 7 institutions of Yerevan are also registered. At the same time, it was informed about the expectation of later receiving valuable archival documents related to the history of Armenia and the Armenian people from Baku, Astrakhan, Moscow, Leningrad, and other places with a large number of Armenians. Kh. Samvelyan, the head of the State Central Archive in the 1930 annual statement on the activities of the archive, along with some other urgent issues, demanded the formation of archival workers in all leading institutions and enterprises which at that time only the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture of the Armenian SSR and Executive committees of Yerevan and Leninakan (Gyumri) city councils had, meanwhile were no archive workers in the existing state institutions.

By decision No. 23 of October 31, 1931, of the Armenian SSR Central Executive Committee, the Central Archive Department of Armenia was established as a body authorized by the State for archive administration. In the first half of the 1930s, the Republic’s archive network was expanded. According to the new charter of the Central Archive Department, two state central archives would be formed: Armenian SSR history and the October Revolution. Archival bureaus were organized in   the Political regional councils?, and archival departments in the advanced institutions which played an important role and significance for the further expansion and development of the archival work in the Armenian SSR. In August 1938, by the decision of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR, the Central Archive Department with adjacent institutions was handed to the competence of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), and by another command of the same year, the archive department of the NKVD was restored. The latter was put in charge of state central and regional, as well as departmental (institution-enterprise) archives operating in the Republic and the organizational and methodological management of their work. According to available statistics, 26 out of 38 administrative districts of Armenia (33 according to some sources) had state archives at that time. On August 23, 1939, the People’s Commissariat Council of the Armenian SSR examined the archival work in the People’s Commissariat, institutions, and regions of the Republic, and recorded the extremely unsatisfactory state of documentary materials storage. The heads of all institutions, the chairmen of the   Regional executive committees were offered to provide the archives with comfortable rooms with appropriate furniture, and with the necessary staff units, and within a month to subject the unregulated documents accumulated in the archives to scientific and technical development. On March 29, 1941, in pursuance of the decision on the “USSR state central archive network” approved by the People’s Commissariat Council of USSR, the historical archives and the archives of the October Revolution of the Armenian SSR were combined, and the State central archive of the Armenian SSR was recreated.

The Great Patriot caused new problems and demands for the country. In the first days, many archivists (Harutyun Karapetyan, Gohar Nahapetyan, Mushegh Grigoryan, Martin Mkhitaryan, and others) left for the army. And those behind faced the problem of using archival documents for propaganda purposes against German fascism. It was obvious that even in the difficult conditions of the war, the archival work of the country was not left out of the attention of the governmental bodies, of which many facts testify to us, especially by the decision of the People’s Commissariat Council of Armenia October 8, 1943, on the establishment of the State central archive of Cinema-Photo-Phono-Documents of the Armenian SSR. According to the annual report of, 1945, in the Central state archive, there were counted only 475 funds with 235,700 storage units as of January 1, 1946. These indicators increased to some extent during the next 10 years. The number of funds increased by 279, and the number of storage units – by 23,505. And at the end of 1957, 765 funds with 269,840 units were already registered. During this period in the State central archive of Cinema-Photo-Phono-Documents, 30,351 positive-negative units were collected within the years 1944 – 1957, of which 21,808 were already regulated. Only in 1958, 8920 negative-positive storage units were replenished during the year, 4962 of which were fully processed in the same year. On January 29, 1958, the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR decided to rename the archive department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Armenian SSR to the Archive Department of the Ministry, and to reorganize the State central archive, creating two state central archives, i.e.  ASSR historical (later history) and the October Revolution and socialist construction. The Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR, following the example of the other Soviet republics, on July 22, 1962, decided to reorganize the archive department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs into an archive department under the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR. This reconstruction turned out to be crucial for the further improvement and unprecedented development of the country’s archival work. In 1963 by the decision of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR, Ashot Harutyunyan was appointed head of the archive department of the Armenian SSR. The next, no less important act of the government, which was adopted on May 25, 1963, was that the new charter of the archive department was approved. Besides, by the decision of the government, the city-state archives of Leninakan, Kirovakan, Ghapan, Etchmiadzin were dissolved, based on their documentary materials, four branches of the State central archive on the October Revolution of the Armenian SSR and socialist construction were established in those cities. Later that number was doubled. Branches were established in Hrazdan, Ijevan, Kamo, and Ararat. After that by decision of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR on January 24, 1973, the State Central Archive of the Armenian Periodical Press was established which was one of the exceptional events in the history of archival formation in the Soviet Union. One of the possible realities of those years was the exploitation of a four-story building of the Cinema-Photo-Phono-Documents archive. It was provided with modern equipment and materials necessary for working with such documents. The year 1980 was marked by the birth of the 5th state central archive in the archive system of the Republic, from January 1st the archive of scientific and technical documents started functioning in the Armenian SSR. In 1980 a decision was made to establish a state archive in the city of Yerevan which began its work early the next year. In addition, in the 1980s one of the most important events related to the field was the implementation of construction and renovation works in the system, as a result of which new archival structures were added, as well as the old ones. The issue of having an archive periodical of state and departmental archives became obvious for Armenia as early as the 1940s. However, that wish of the Armenian archivists came true in the middle of the next decade, in the 1950s. The first issue of the first archival periodical, “Scientific and Information Bulletin” was published in 1956, the last, the 21st issue, in 1962, when it was already the third year that “Bulletin of Armenia Archives” magazine was published in parallel, an issue per year periodically. 102 issues of the magazine have been published so far.

The new relations established between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) after the collapse of the Soviet Union had a positive impact on the establishment and development of international cooperation in the archives. This is evidenced by the holding of joint consultations, conferences, councils, and other similar events at the level of archival institutions of different countries since the mid-1990s. Thus, on September 25-29, 1995 for the cooperation of archivists of the CIS member states during the regular meeting of the heads of the state archive services of the CIS and the Baltic States in Alma-Ata the issues of coordination of approaches to the development of the mechanism of cooperation of archival services to satisfy the social-legal inquiries of the citizens, as well as the issues of the draft charter of the information center of the archival work became a subject of joint discussion. There, the delegation of the Archive department under the Government of the Republic of Armenia unequivocally agreed to cooperate following the requirements of the Charter. Let us add that since May 30, 1994, Department of Archives of the RA has been a member of ICA (International Council on Archives). The main topic of discussion at the regular session of the Eurasian Bureau of the ICA on November 29 1997, was the provision of access to archives. By the way, such meetings-events were organized in 1998-1999, in which, however, due to lack of funds, Armenian archivists did not participate. Nevertheless, in those difficult times, certain steps have been taken, especially connected with the signing of bilateral agreements on cooperation with the archive services of the CIS member states. An interdepartmental agreement was signed in Kyiv on July 22, 1997 between the General Archive Department under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and the Department of Archives under the Government of the Republic of Armenia, and on November 17 of the same year in Tbilisi between the Archive Departments of Georgia and the Archive Department of the Republic of Armenia which was respectively ratified by the decisions N6 of the RA Prime Minister on January 12, 1998, and by the decisions N350 on January 17, 1998. From 1998 to 2000 similar agreements in the sphere of archives were signed between the Archive Departments of the Republic of Armenia and Russia (ratified by the decision N 592 of RA Prime Minister’s on October 15, 1998) and then the Committee on archives and record- keeping of the Republic of Belarus (ratified by the decision N260 of March 31, 2001, by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia).

In recent years, the archivists of the Republic have received considerable financial support from the benefactors of the Armenian-American community in favor of the expansion of archival construction in the motherland, the results of which are visible to us, to the employees of the sphere and the visitors. Thus, in the summer of 2003, thanks to Sam Sassounian, a representative of the ”Ghevont” Hall of ”Vardanants Aspetner”, all the windows and several doors of the three-story building of the National Archives of Armenia were changed. At present, Armenian archivists are purposefully working to develop creative ties and cooperation with their compatriots abroad being deeply convinced that it is possible and mutually beneficial to jointly prepare collections of documents, scientific studies, monographs, and other nationally valuable works based on rich sources of documentary information in the National Archives of Armenia.  In 1996, fundamental changes in the administrative-territorial division took place in our country: 37 regions of the republic were dissolved, and 10 new administrative units – provinces were created (not counting the city of Yerevan which was also reserved the status of a province). Taking into account these administrative-territorial divisions of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the need to determine the status of the archive service in the administration system, 1996 By the decision N 536 of September 26, 2012, by the Prime Minister of the RA the new charter of the archive work department was approved – the system of archives carrying out the protection of the documents of the NAS Fund. Per that decision, the state archives of Yerevan and 6 central cities and 10 regions of the Republic with their 41 branches started functioning in the system of the archive work department. 2004 was marked by the further improvement of the legislative field of the Republic’s archives. The National Assembly adopted the new RA Law on Archive Work. In recent years, the Government of the Republic of Armenia has implemented radical internal system reforms in the field. According to the relevant decisions of the executive power of the Republic first on March 6, 2002, the Archive work department under the Government of the Republic of Armenia was reorganized with the status of a separate subdivision of the Archive agency of the Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports, then its charter was approved according to which the agency was a republican body of the executive power of the Republic of Armenia. By the decision of August 8, 2003, the agency was reorganized into a structural subdivision of the Ministry. With the next stage of reforms, on August 22, 2002, by the relevant decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the state archives subordinated to the Archival work agency were reorganized into state non-commercial organizations. By another government decision adopted on March 20, 2003, they (together with their service provider) were reorganized into ”the National Archives of Armenia”, a state non-commercial organization subordinated to the Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports of the RA. By the same decision, the state archives of the regions subordinated to the agency (also of the city of Yerevan) were reorganized into regional branches of the National Archives, and the former branches of the regional archives into its territorial representations. As a result of the listed reforms, the Archive system of the Republic of Armenia is as follows today: “National Archives of Armenia” state non-commercial organization and 11 regional branches (including the city of Yerevan) operating under its direct subordination and 29 territorial representations where, as for January 1, 2006, 5759 funds have been fully concentrated with 3419353 storage units. Looking back from the four-year standpoint of archival building in Armenia, bringing to mind the fruits of the creations of the past, it is not difficult to be convinced of the achievements, in the fact that the efforts of all-time workers in the field have not been in vain. There is no doubt that a necessary precondition for developing these achievements and reaching new ones, serious progress is that archivists do not see the activity of the field as an end in itself, a series of actions separate from national and international issues. The work of the State archive service should be aimed at the establishment and strengthening of an independent state, contribute to the generations’ pride for the past, present, and future of our people for the sacred goals of education in the spirit of faith to solve nationwide and national problems.