Collection of Manuscripts
Of particular interest are the documents reflecting the Museum's history. Those are, primarily, the materials pertaining to the establishing of the Ethnographic Department, which include projects, memoranda and proposals of such prominent Russian scholars as D. Klements, V. Lamansky, N. Mogiliansky and others, as well as minutes of the Museum Council sittings in 1902-16, which dealt with the vital issues of expanding the Museum's stock. Equally noteworthy are the Museum records reflecting it activity in the post-revolutionary years up to the late 1920s, as well as the developments of the first half of the 1930s which resulted in transforming the Ethnographic Department into an ethnographic museum in its own right. The archives contain papers from the time of World War II and the first post-war years when Museum resumed all its activities. The departmental section of the archives enables one to consider the whole process of amassing the Museum collections, gives an insight into the character of its permanent displays as well as temporary exhibitions that have been arranged throughout its century-long history, and reveals the specific features of its educational activities.
Documents containing ethnographic information make up a substantial part of the manuscript collection. These are largely field diaries, accounts of expeditions, unpublished papers by staff members and the Museum's local agents.
Materials collected by the architect I. Galnbeck in Estonia in 1906—12 are a valuable source of information for scholars of Estonian traditional culture. Eighty-three archival files include notes on folk dances, games, rituals, sketches of various objects of the interior, tools, clothes and ornaments, all accompanied by detailed commentaries in German and Estonian. Impressive material on the ethnography of Byelorussia, the Caucasus and various gubernias of Russia, Lithuania, and Poland are to be found in the expedition accounts and field diaries of 1906-07 written by A. Serzputovsky. I. Pulner's expedition diaries of 1920-40 contain unique ethnographic information on the Caucasus Jews.
The archives possess materials collected during integrated expeditions of the 1920s—30s: the Upper Volga ethnological expedition of 1921-25 headed by D. Zolotariov, whose members studied the culture of the Russian- and Finnish-speaking population of the Yaroslavl and Tvier gubernias, and the Northern Caucasus expedition of 1923-33 headed by A. Miller, which studied ethnographic and anthropological characteristics of the population of Mountainous Ossetia, Balkaria, the Nalchik area and other localities in the Northern Caucasus, while also carrying out some archaeological work. The material collected by those expeditions includes diaries, accounts, drawings, sketches and articles based on the data they collected.
Valuable materials of the ethnography of many Eurasian peoples are to be found in the personal collections of the Museum's leading specialists: S. Teploukhov (1888-1934), former head of the Palaeontology Department and explorer of Siberia; A. Makarenko (1860-1942), a staff researcher specializing in Siberian ethnography; I. Pulner (1900-42), head of the Jewish Department; T. Kriukova (1904-78), head of the Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of the Volga Region and the Western Urals; L. Gumilyiov (1912-92), an outstanding scholar and writer who was on the staff in 1949; Ye. Studenetskaya (1908-88), head of the Caucasus Ethnographic Department; A. Morozova (1900-99), head of the Central Asia Ethnographic Department and B. Gamburg (1930-85), a staff member of the same department. The materials were collected by the above-mentioned specialists during their expeditions to different parts of the country. They also compiled bibliographies while they were working on their respective subjects, wrote articles and notes on arranging museum displays and enlarging exhibitions.
Of great interest are the materials in the personal collection of the distinguished ethnographer and folklorist A. Pypin (1833-1904), who played an active part in the organization of the Museum. After A. Pypin's death his collection was handed over to the Museum's archives by the curator Ye. Liatsky. It contains mainly bibliographical data on his History of Russian Ethnography, a book well-known to ethnographers and folklorists alike. The remarkable materials of the "Prince V. Tenishev Ethnographic Bureau" rank high among other ethnographic documents. This organization was set up in 1898 by the well-known businessman and patron of arts V. Tenishev (1843-1903) with the purpose of collecting information about the lifestyles, ideology and culture of Russian peasants. The collection of the Ethnographic Bureau, active up to 1901, conforms to Guidelines for Gathering Ethnographic Information on the Peasants of Central Russia drafted by V. Tenishev himself in 1897. Those manuscripts are a remarkable resource for ethnographic research into the life and culture of Russian peasants of the late 19th century, revealing their attitude towards the authorities, the courts of law, and the church. The collection comprises 1,873 archival files based on the information gathered in twenty-two gubernias of the European part of Russia. Besides these, it includes sections of Guidelines for Gathering Ethnographic Data on the Educated Urban Classes and rough copies of Guidelines for Gathering Ethnographic Data on Russian Civil Servants drafted by members of the Ethnographic Bureau, which were handed over to the Museum in 1904 by Prince Tenishev's widow, M. Tenisheva.
The papers of the Russian Geographical Society's Commission for Elaborating Ethnographic Maps are also worth mentioning. They are, in fact, answers to a questionnaire sent in 1915—19 to members of the local Society's branches. Unfortunately, the archives possess only a small part of the answers received, mainly those dealing with the characteristic features of Russian dwellings.
In 1948, the Museum received the documents of the State Museum of the Peoples of the USSR. This input contains 549 archival files that include both departmental records (i.e. papers describing the state of affairs at the Dashkova Ethnographic Museum, then a department of the Moscow Public and Rumiantsev Museums, personnel files of the Museum of the Peoples of the USSR covering the years 1935—48), and ethnographic materials, e.g. the inventory of cultural objects, the staff members' accounts of expeditions, expedition diaries, minutes of the Museum's Academic Council sittings, and correspondence about purchasing some of the exhibits. Besides, there are interesting materials of the Managing Committee of the Moscow Ethnographic Exhibition of 1867, including the correspondence between its organizers and the scholars of Slavic countries about cooperation in the selection of exhibits, as well as a number of documents of the Imperial Society of Lovers of Natural History, Anthropology and Ethnography at the Moscow Imperial University. The archives have a small collection of hand-written books, e.g. those on religious and archaeological artefacts found in monasteries and churches of various eparchies in 1902—04; twenty hand-written volumes dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, the most notable being a synodic in the memory of the Princes Ostrovsky's family, a breviary and a monastery prayer book with ornamented vignettes dated the latter half of the 17th century, and fragments of Old Believers' wall sheets of the 18th and 19th centuries.