Белорусский государственный архив кинофотофонодокументов

  • State Foto Archives of the Republic of Belarus
  • The Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings
  • Belaruskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Kinofotofonodokumentov


The Archives dates its origin from March 1941, when the Central State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) was founded.

The Archives began its actual activities only after the liberation of Belarus from the occupying Nazi forces in 1944. The archival documents were initially held in the repository of the State Archives of Minsk Region. From October 1949, the archives were located in the building of St. Mary Magdalene's church-chapel in Minsk.

In November 1963, the Archives received the name of the Central State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings.

In 1987, the Archives moved to the town of Dzerzhinsk in the Minsk region, where a new building was specially built for its holdings.

In May 1993, the Archives was renamed the Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings.

Archival and Other Holdings

Amount of holdings:

  • film documents: 37.733 items
  • documentary photographs: 258.134 items
  • sound records: 15.602 items

Chronological scope: from 1870 to the present

Geographical coverage:

  • former Vilno (Vilnius), Vitebsk, Grodno, Minsk and Mogilev gubernias (provinces) of the Russian Empire
  • Western Belarus as part of Poland
  • Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR)
  • Russian Soviet Socialist Republic
  • Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
  • WWII Germany
  • Republic of Belarus
  • other countries (in the World Photos section, etc.)

Contents: The Archives holds films, photographs and sound recordings illustrating the history of Belarus throughout one hundred years. These are documentary photographs of the prerevolutionary period, World War I, World War II, and the contemporary period, film documents since 1918, and sound recordings since 1940.

The earliest photographs (dated 1870 and 1898) depict the railway construction in Belarus and the balloon launching in the Governor's gardens in Minsk. Of great value are the photographs and film pictures made on the threshold of the 19th and 20th centuries. These depict the construction of the Moscow-Brest railway, Kurlovski's execution in 1905 in Minsk, Tsar Nikolai's visit to Minsk, and the soldiers' fraternization in the First World War. The Archives holds the collections of photos and postcards (over 400) with the views of Belarusian towns before 1917 (the cities of Minsk, Nesvizh, Borisov, Vileika, Molodechno, Zaslavl, Kobrin, Pinsk, Grodno, Vitebsk, Polotsk, Mogilev, and more).

One of the most valuable photograph collections held at the Archives is that of the dukes Radziwill, one of the biggest noble families in Belarus. It contains 55 photographs from the Radziwill family album. The collection tells about Nesvizh Palace--Radziwills' residence, Radziwill family members, their friends and visitors.

The Archives holds a great number of photographs relating to the Great October Revolution of 1917, the Civil War (1918-1921), and the Polish period, 1919-1939 (mass demonstrations, soldiers' and local population meetings, food detachments, Red Army groups) as well as photographic portraits of the state functionaries and public figures, painters, poets, writers and actors of this period (A. F. Miasnikov, M. F. Frunze, A. G. Cherviakov, etc.).

The World Photo page presents works by foreign professional photographers of the early 20th century and the 1920s-1940s, that is, genre photos, landscapes, and the photographs of B. Show, F. Shaliapin, R. Tagor, C. Chaplin, I. Strauss, and more.

The Archives also retains documents reflecting the economic, social and political life in Western Belarus; the national liberation movement for the reunification with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The substantial part of the archives' documents is represented by various film documents, that is, the scientific, educational & documentary films, feature films, animated cartoons and news films. Many interesting documentary pictures are included in the films "The finishing touches to the portrait", "Prerevolutionary Belarus", "The pages from the history of Minsk", and more. The news reels "Soviet Belarus", "Daily news", "Belarusian arts", "The Pioneer of Belarus" dating from the years 1939-1993 reflect the most significant events in the life of Belarus.

The years of the Second World War are depicted in the photographic documents and films created by the war reporters and operators M. Berov, P. Berstein, I. Veinerovich, M. Sukhova, O. Reizman, and V. Tsesliuk. Of interest are the films "The combat operations of our troops", "Belarusian partisans"; "In the Batka Minai partisan group", "Nazis' crimes in Belarus", "Combat operations of the Partisans", "The battle for Belarus", "In the liberated Minsk", "The liberation of Soviet Belarus", and more. Of great value are the captured German films, that is, the agitation and propaganda material shot by the German cameramen in Belarus during the Occupation, and also sixty three German photographic albums brought from Germany in 1945. These photographs depict the WWII events in the occupied countries and in Germany as well. The most interesting for researchers are the photographic documents on the following subjects: "The Nazi Occupation regime in the captured territories", "Nazis' crimes in Belarus", "The destruction of Belarusian towns and villages", "Combat activities of the Partisan groups", "Partisans' everyday life", "Death camps" and "Jewish ghettos". The Archives also holds a collection of 508 photos made by V. I. Arkashev in World War II. His photographs reflect the events of the early days of the war, army life, combat operations, medical work, etc. The Archives also preserves the captured German news reels and partisans' film chronicle reflecting the very beginning of the war, combat operations, battles and partisans' everyday life.

The Archives preserves interesting sound recordings with the voices of the outstanding politicians, scholars & the workers in Culture and Art of Belarus (Ia. Kolas, Ia. Kupala, M. Lynkov, K. Krapiva, T. Ia. Kisilev, P. M. Masherov, B. I. Kozlov, A. Bembel, Z. Azgur, M. Savitski, S. Staniuta, and more), & also the musical and drama recordings. The most significant among the sound recordings is a collection of the gramophone and tape recordings of the famous Belarusian tenor Zabeida-Sumitski containing his various songs, romances and opera arias in Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, German, Italian, English and Finnish. In all, the collection holds 40 items.

The Archives continues to enrich its holdings. The main sources of acquisition are the National Film Studio "Belarusfilm", the National State Television & Radio Company of the Republic of Belarus, and also the photograph libraries of the central newspaper and magazine editorial offices.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

The "BELOR" database is used in the Archives for retrieval of film documents. The search is completed with the help of various catalogues, indexes, editorial scripts, the lists and descriptions of film topics & photograph albums, guides, thematic surveys and lists. Films can be selected by displaying their positive copies on the sound editing table and by studying the editorial scripts. Copies of photographs can be selected on index cards. Listening to the copies of sound recordings will help the researcher select the original.

Opening Times

Mon-Fri 8:30-17:30 Reading Room: Mon-Fri 8:30-17:30

Conditions of Access

The access to archival documents is possible through the search room, cinema room and sound room. The researchers should have an official letter from an organization or institution with indication of the research topic, purpose and historical coverage. The foreign researchers work in the search rooms in accordance with the "Regulations of work for foreign researchers in the archive search rooms".

Research Services

Photographic documents:

  • Making photocopies from photographic negatives
  • Viewing of photographic albums
  • Making photo-collections and photo-exhibitions
  • Making photographic albums

Sound recordings:

  • Listening of sound recordings for their thematic selection.
  • Listening of sound recordings for their further copying
  • Making copies of sound recordings (audiotape, compact disk)
  • Temporary use of sound recordings (up to three days)

Film documents:

  • Viewing of films and video documents: on the sound editing table, in the cinema room, by videotape recorder Temporary use of documents for further copying (up to one month) Temporary use of documents for their viewing (up to three days) Recording from screen to videotape Recording to optical disk Recording from videotape to videotape

Video documents: Making video film: making film script, searching and retrieval of archival materials, recording archival material to videotape, shooting of working material, sound editing, master copy replication

Use of documents: Making thematic lists Making films with the use of archival documents (in the archive's territory) Excursions of the Archive: for students and organisations Organizing public lectures and open lessons with viewing of film documents Thematic film viewing Scanning of documents and photographs Performing inquiries by electronic mail (of reference character, with working copies of photographs)

Scripts Used

  • Latin