One of the many favourable aspects of the collapse of the USSR was the vastly increased access to the archives of Soviet institutions by historians, economists and other specialists that resulted. This led to an intense study, by specialists from the successor states of the USSR, mainly Russia (which inherited the archives of all the central Soviet institutions), and by foreign academics, of the huge mass of documents on the Soviet period accumulated in what became the archives of the successor states. One major result of this study was the publication of a large mass of archival documents. By now, not only individual volumes, but a number of series of volumes, containing original documents in a wide variety of fields, have been published. In addition, numerous articles and books utilizing archival sources have been published. Furthermore, some archival documents containing previously unknown information are now available on the web. For example, Ukrainian archivists have placed on the web numerous documents relating to the 1933 famine in their country. This new approach to the study of the USSR, and the additional knowledge resulting from it, is known as the archival revolution in the analysis of the Soviet system. Overviews of the new insights thus obtained about Stalinism have recently been published both by historians (Khlevnyuk, 2001; Litvin and Keep, 2005) and economists (Gregory, 2004; Gregory and Harrison, 2005), two journals/annuals have published special issues on the archival revolution, and there is a website devoted to political economy research in Soviet archives (http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/persa). The purpose of this paper is to provide a survey of the new knowledge which is shorter than Gregory and Harrison's survey article, links the new knowledge to what was previously known, discusses some issues excluded from previous surveys, and considers questions likely to be of particular interest to JOIE readers.