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During the period of Soviet rule, archives centralized and preserved a vast holding of church records dating from 1721-1917, and other genealogical sources. Access had now been granted to this material though the degree of availability varies from archive to archive.
In the archives of the former Soviet Union, material is filed by record group (fond). A record group contains the records of a specific organization, portion of an organization, or individual. Archives also create collections as opposed to record groups, in which records of different organizations or individuals are filed together on some logical or thematic basis. Thus, in some archives, vital records of different religions can be filed together.
A single volume, file, or even a single sheet of paper is an item (delo). Each item is given a title based upon the record type and contents. Items are usually filed chronologically by the earliest year of information found in that item. Within a particular year, the items are supposed to be filed by degree of significance.
An inventory (opis) is a list of items in a record group or collection. While filing by record group reflects authorship, description by inventory reflects content, equivalent to a table of contents in a book. The inventory identifies title assigned to each item, the sequential number, and information on inclusive dates and number of pages. The inventory is the key to finding records in an archive. It usually is not available outside of the archive. There may be more than one inventory for a record group. These sometimes reflect different types of material or different accessions of records for the same institution. The decision as to what to include in an inventory will vary significantly from archive to archive.
The result of the above practices is that each item in an archive is defined by three numbers:fond, opis, and delo. The number at each level is simply a sequential number. Later insertions are given an alpha designation after the number such as 21a, 21b, etc.