Stalin’s personal papers, many accessible only at the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, more than 28,000 documents in all, are part of a Web-based initiative that Yale University Press is currently beta testing, the Stalin Digital Archive. It showcased the SDA, which was launched with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation nearly three years ago, at the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies meeting last week. In addition to bringing together Stalin’s letters, including wartime correspondence with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and hundreds of books from his personal library with his margin notes, the SDA contains digitized transcriptions of the 25 volumes in the press’s Annals of Communism series.

“Most of this content has never been seen digitally or in print,” says Yale director of digital publishing David Schiffman. “The SDA represents a major step forward in academic publishing by providing robust capabilities for users to interact with these materials and engage with a community of scholars.” Users can create tags that can be shared and collaborate with colleagues around the world. While Yale will translate some of the documents from Russian, Schiffman envisions crowd-sourcing additional translations.

“We are so proud to be publishing the SDA, fulfilling our mission of disseminating research and scholarship in a way that marries digital innovation and scholarly traditions,” says Yale director John Donatich. The press plans to sell access to the archives and its 404,000 pages of writings to libraries.