Lietuvos Centrinis Valstybės Archyvas
- Lithuanian Central State Archives
The history of the Archive can be divided into four distinct periods: the first, from 1919-1940, during the time of Lithuanian independence following the First World War; the second, from 1941-1944, during the time of the Nazi occupation of Lithuania; the third from 1944-1991, under the Soviet regime; and the fourth and current period, during the time of independence from 1991 to the present.
The first period was the time of the foundation and establishment of the government institutions and the formulation of work procedures. During this period, the Constitution was accepted, as well as additional legislation to regulate life in the newly independent nation and preserve national heritage. Thus, the Central National Archives were established in Kaunas, the capital of Lithuania at that time. In 1921, a peace treaty was signed between Soviet Russia and Lithuania facilitating the return to Kaunas of many documents that had been taken to Russia during the Czarist regime.
During the second period under the Nazi rule, the archive continued its activities, albeit under certain restrictions. It was subject to Reichskommissariat Ostland, and was only open to visitors of German origin. In fact, the ongoing responsibility for the archives was under the control of the Office for Internal Affairs, which was located in Kaunas.
The third period, when the archives were under the Soviet regime, was actually divided in two. In 1940, following the invasion by the Soviet Union, the Archives administration was transferred to Vilnius. From an organisational point of view, the archives were now under the supervision of the NKVD. Confidential documents were transferred to the Soviet Union and afterwards were only partially returned. After the Second World War, the archives came once again under the supervision of the NKVD; in 1960, the responsibility for the archives was transferred to the National Council of Soviet Union Archives.
The current period began with the enactment of the Archives Law. The name of the main archives was changed to the Lithuanian Central State Archives, and the archives were transferred to the supervision of the Central Archives administration which is subject to the Lithuanian Council of Ministers.
Geographical and Cultural Context
The Archives deal with archival documentation created between 1918 and 1990, as well as documents, films, photographs and recordings that are a part of the Lithuanian cultural data base.
Mandates/Sources of Authority
The activities of the Archives have been arranged in accordance with the Lithuanian Constitution, European Union legislation, and additional laws that regulate the activities of the Archives as a public government office.
The Lithuanian Central State Archives have two main reading rooms: one where researchers can consult written documents and another where they can consult video and audio documentation.
The address of the document reading room is:
O. Milašiaus g. 21, Vilnius
The address of the audio and video reading room is:
O. Milašiaus g. 19, Vilnius
Archival and Other Holdings
The Lithuanian Central State Archives preserve records of state, local government, enterprises, religious communities, popular organisations, other non-state institutions and individuals, dating from 1918 until 1990. The archives’ department of Video and Audio documentation is the main repository of audiovisual heritage in Lithuania. It preserves moving pictures since 1919, photo negatives since the 1850's, sound recordings since the 1950's, and videotapes since 1988 until the present day. The archives’ holdings comprise of approximately 31,000 linear meters of records. The archive contains 177 collections from the period of Nazi occupation (a total of 72,189 items, i.e. files). They are collections of documents of the civil government, offices, military offices and police stations and their branches, industrial, transport and other companies and offices during the occupation.
The archives hold approximately 390,000 photographic documents (middle of the 19th c.–until nowadays). These include photographs, negatives, photographic glass plates, albums, vignettes, slides, digital pictures; works of A. Strauss, J. Čechavičius, A. Fleury,V. Zatorskis; photographic documents by J. Bulhakas, M. Smečechauskas, J. Karazija, J. Miežlaiškis, B. Buračas, A. Varnas, A. Mickus, V. Janiselis. The Soviet period is reflected in the photographic material of the Lithuanian News Agency ELTA and editorial offices of newspapers; numerous collections of documentary photography works of J. Juknevičius, V. Kapočius, A. Žižiūnas. Modern-day documentary photographs are also being accumulated.
The archives possess approximately 20,000 audio documents, including sound recordings on gramophone records, magnetic tape, audio cassettes, CDs. The oldest sound recording is a series of songs performed by Lithuanian male quartet from Riga and recorded in Riga in 1907.There are also voice recordings of the presidents of Lithuania A. Smetona and K. Grinius, audio recordings testifying the events of 1940 in Lithuania; a collection of recordings of Kaunas Radiophone (Radio of the Reich) programmes relating to the war period; public speeches of Lithuanian functionaries of the Soviet period; recordings of conventions of various organizations and official celebrations of state holidays; recordings of Vilnius Recording Studio; voice recordings of representatives of Lithuanian Reform Movement Sąjūdis, scientists, artists, politicians, Lithuanian expatriates, former political prisoners and deportees; recordings of the programmes of Lithuanian radio service in the USA and Australia; recordings the Voice of America Lithuanian Radio Service of 1951–1995;
There are over 3,000 video documents. The archives began collection video recordings in 1988. They were mostly video clips filmed by cameramen from the archives. They capture the activities of the National Liberation Movement Sąjūdis, the restoration of the independence of Lithuania, the events of January 1991. There are also video recordings of reminiscences of former deportees, political prisoners, and partisans submitted to the archives by the Lithuanian National Foundation, Inc.
The archives also hold Approximately 9,000 cinematographic documents (1910s– to the present-day). Copies of the films made by the Lumière brothers in 1895 – the earliest films ever made – are preserved in the Archives. There is also a collection of Lithuanian newsreels from 1918–1940 and the works of the first Lithuanian cameramen – K. Lukšys, J.Milius, brothers Motūza-Beleckas, S. Vainalavičius, S. Uzdonas and J. Miežlaiškis; cinematographic material relating to the World War II period; documentaries made in the Lithuanian Film Studios and Lithuanian Television in 1946–1990; the first Lithuanian feature films "Blue Horizon" (Žydrasis horizontas),"The Bridge" (Tiltas), "Ignotas Returned Home" (Ignotas grįžo namo), "The Turkeys" (Kalakutai), and others.
Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication
Galina Žirikova, Lietuvos centrinio valstybės archyvo fondai: holokausto Lietuvoje tyrimo šaltinis (The Collections of the State Archive of Lithuania: a Source of Research on the Holocaust in Lithuania), Vilnius, Valstybinis Vilniaus Gaono žydų muziejus, 2011.
Document reading room opening hours
Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The document reading room is equipped with 31 computerised workstations providing access to the archives' databases.
Documents can be ordered by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The document order form can be found:
Video and audio reading room opening hours
Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Dates of Creation and Deletion
Mémorial de la Shoah