A unique exhibition of archive documents, provided by the Nizhny Novgorod regional state archives, opened in the local state museum of arts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of establishing the Nizhny Novgorod regional state archive authority and the 305th anniversary of establishing the province itself.
The opening ceremony was attended by archive managers from various regions. In his speech to open the exhibition called “The Documented Relics and Their Keepers”, Boris Pudalov, the Head of the Committee of Archiving Affairs in the Nizhny Novgorod region, noted that the majority of these documents almost never leave safes, and are put on display for the wider public for the first time ever. Very soon they will return to be locked away again, so this exhibition is a unique opportunity for the town to connect with the history.
The exhibit features unique certificates, dating back to as early as the beginning of the 15th century, including the certificates of Simeon of Polotsk and the king of Poland Sigismund III, Tryphon’s death bill mentioning Minin and Pozharsky, and the 1621 ownership certificate listing the taxpayers of Nizhny Novgorod, including Minin’s son Nefed. There is also a letter from Peter the Great to Pitirim the Archbishop about fringe groups, with the Tsar’s handwriting being so illegible that even some archivists struggle to read it. Pudalov himself admitted he had doubts in regards to some of the words, however, he was confident with his translation, he said.
Among particularly valuable documents one can find an autographed letter from Alexander Pushkin to Kireev, a record keeper from Boldino office of estates, where the poet requests the Nizhny Novgorod chamber of the Civil Court to issue a certificate that proves his ownership of the peasants from Kistenyovo village. Written on blue paper in a floaty manner with fine flourishes, the letter is dated September 19, 1830 – the very famous and fruitful Boldino autumn when the poet finished “Eugene Onegin”, “the Belkin Tales”, wrote “The Little House in Kolomna” and also about thirty lyric verses. Pushkin’s wedding was at that time postponed due to mourning, and on September 3 he came to Boldino to take over the neighbouring village of Kistenyovo, donated to him by his father on account of the poet’s marriage. This very event is pictured in the letter. Judging by Pushkin’s handwriting, despite being apart from his wife to-be, he was in an excellent mood.
Romantically inclined visitors will certainly enjoy the original copies of Pavel Melnikov’s poems written to his future wife Elena Rubinskaya, while aficionados of Turgenev will see a letter of his beloved Pauline Viardot, a renowned French singer, to her student and maid of honour of the Imperial Court, Zinaida Skobeleva.
Another exhibit that belongs to Nizhny Novgorod is a letter from Faina Ranevskaya to an actress Antonina Samarina, daughter of Nikolay Sobolschikov-Samarin, a famous theatre director, actor, entrepreneur, teacher and theatre ambassador.
The exhibition also includes birth and marriage certificates of some famous local names, including Ivan Kulibin, Pavel Melnikov, Alexey Peshkov and Valery Chkalov, and also some documents that reflect the identity of Nizhny Novgorod in various historic periods.
A special focus in the exhibition is given to the archivists who preserved these documents over the hundred years of the archive’s history, studied and introduced it for scientific use, and drafted archive files, articles and packages based on original sources.