CERCEC’s current library was set up in 1961 as a USSR documentation centre, an ambitious project with the mission of collecting all the material necessary for the ongoing research of the various groups at the EHESS working on the USSR and Eastern Europe.

Over the years, thanks to the collaboration and exchanges established by Alexandre Bennigsen, the centre’s first director, and Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay, there emerged a collection specialising in social sciences, particularly the history of Russia, the USSR, the Balkan countries and Turkey, with a large number of reference books and standard works.

The collection of further documents led to the formation of a collection particularly strong on history (history of 18c-19c Russian Empire, history of ideas and social movements, social and cultural history of elites) and sociology (sociology of national groups, particularly the Soviet Union’s Muslims, rural sociology, sociology of elites).

From its creation to the 1980s the documentation centre provided readers with current bibliographies of the Soviet Union, various nations and the Soviet republics.

As research at the centre developed into a number of components with research teams working on various cultural areas (Russia, USSR, Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey) it became necessary to refocus the documentary collection on the history, sociology, demography and geography of Russia, USSR, CIS and Central and Eastern Europe, managed by what is now CERCEC, and the documentation on the Turkic world managed by CETOBaC.

Since the end of the Communist regimes and the opening-up of archives in those countries, there has been a historiographical revival that has led to a considerable influx for the library of relevant publications in history and sociology.

The historiographical revival has also affected standard works and reference books. Acquisition of the first volumes of the Great Russian Encyclopedia is an obvious continuation of our acquisitions policy. We have also amassed a major collection of new archive guides, of particular use to master’s and PhD students.

Access conditions and hours

The library is open primarily to EHESS and CNRS researchers and students, and to outside readers if places are available.


Krystyna Frank (send an email) Dmitri Gouzévitch (send an email)

Tel: 01 49 54 83 18

Opening times

09:30 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:00

Consultation from 12:00 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 18:15 by appointment only.


You may register with an identity document or student card.

Bibliographical research

Online reference catalogue: BULAC catalogue (books and periodicals)

Other online catalogue: SUDOC catalogue

Standard works

  • General and thematic/specialist encyclopedias from the pre-Revolutionary, Soviet and post-Soviet periods
  • Biographical dictionaries
  • Statistical collections and yearbooks including the 1897 census
  • Collections of laws, constitutions
  • Basic works on political parties
  • Complete works of Lenin (Russian and French), Stalin, Khrushchev, Trotsky
  • Works of major Russian historians of the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Thematic collections of published archival documents
  • Language and specialist dictionaries
  • Archive guides to the post-Soviet period
  • Bibliographical guides
  • General bibliographies (Russian, Soviet, post-Soviet and Western), national and regional, by discipline (history, geography, political and social life, philosophy, religion, law, administration, economics, literature, art)

Reference works

Research at CERCEC has led to the establishment of thematic collections worthy of note:

  • Published archival documents on the history of political parties
  • Russian emigration in the 20th century: a major set of books and periodicals
  • History of CPSU (including Plenum minutes)
  • Jews in the Russian Empire and USSR
  • Stalinism (new Russian and Western historiography, Soviet historiography)
  • Peasantry issues
  • Autobiographical writing (all periods)
  • History of books and publishing

As CERCEC’s research field has extended to the Caucasus and Central Asia, so new specialist collections are being built up.

New research directions closer to cultural history (or the cultural and social aspects of political history) have also redirected our acquisitions policy.

The entirely digitised book collection is open-access.

The collection of specialist periodicals in the Slavic field is available in open access to readers, including the last five years of extant titles.

The online reference catalogue is the BULAC one.