Links to Related Repositories in the United States

At the beginning of the year 2000, there were more than 650 repositories and private holdings of archival and manuscript materials in the United States, relating to the Russian Empire, the former Soviet Union and other East European countries. The materials represented in these collections are extremely diverse and cover the broadest possible range of subjects: political, historical, social, diplomatic, artistic, literary, religious, military, musical and other matters. Description and links to the most significant repositories in the United States can be found on this page.

The Hoover Institution Library and Archives, in Stanford, CA, founded in 1919, is the oldest American repository of archival materials related to Russia and Eastern Europe. The Library's founder, Herbert Hoover, saw the need to collect documents relating to World War I which were in danger of perishing in its aftermath. Hoover and his American Relief Administration staff, while engaged in famine relief in Soviet Russia in 1921-1923, took the opportunity to collect published and unpublished materials, including ephemera, particularly that which related to the contemporary situation. In the years that followed, exiles from tsarist Russia and émigrés belonging to groups which lost out to the Bolsheviks in the Civil War continued to donate materials to the Archives. As a result, the depth of the collections permits research on many topics in Russian and East European history.

The European Reading Room of the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C., currently holds more than 700,000 physical volumes (books, sets, continuations, and bound periodicals) in Russian and approximately the same number of volumes in other languages of the former USSR and volumes in Western languages about Russia and the former Soviet Union. There are also significant collections of other non-book print materials (music scores, newspapers, microforms and cartographic materials) and non-print materials (sound recordings, motions pictures, manuscripts, photographs, and posters), although statistics on these categories of holdings are less readily available.

The Slavic and Baltic Division of the New York Public Library was established as the Russian Division in 1898-99, after the Board of Trustees was petitioned by members of New York's large émigré community. For more than a century, the NYPL has been concerned with the acquisition, processing, care, and public service of many hundreds of thousands of volumes relating to Slavic and East European peoples, cultures, and languages produced in both the homelands, and in the Diaspora.

The Yale University Library, in New Haven, CT, was among the first in America to collect Slavic materials systematically. Joel Sumner Smith, its Associate Librarian in the late 19th century, was one of the very few in his profession who read Russian. The books and serials he acquired today form the core of one of the major holdings in the West. With currently over 100,000 volumes concerning Central and Southeast Europe, as well as some 500,000 volumes relating to Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union, Yale has one of the five largest collections in the United States. The Manuscript and Archives division of Sterling Memorial Library holds important archival collections related to Russia and Eastern Europe, primarily concerned with diplomatic and political history of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, the Beinecke Library holds an impressive collection with a particular emphasis on emigration. Among its holdings are the papers of Czeslaw Milosz, Nina Berberova, Konstantin Balmont and others.

The Houghton Library of Harvard University, in Cambridge, MA, holds a very important collection of first editions of Russian literature. Harvard alumnus Bayard L. Kilgour, Jr., gathered this collection, which is renowned not only in the United States but all over the world. The Kilgour Collections represents the works of Russian poets and novelists from Lomonosov to Blok and is specially strong in the great writers of the 19th century.

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin holds an important collection of Russian avant-garde theater design. The Ransom Center has its major emphasis at the study of the literature and culture of the United States, Great Britain, and France. The Center's collections contain some 30 million leaves of manuscripts, over one million rare books, five million photographs, three thousand pieces of historical photographic equipment, and 100,000 works of art, in addition to major holdings in theater arts and film.

The Museum of Russian Culture in San Francisco was established in 1948 as a cultural non-profit corporation. From its inception, it has been a repository for émigré archives and cultural and historical artifacts. The Museum contains about fifteen thousand books, mostly written in Russian, published in Russia and abroad, in addition to a collection of pre-revolutionary serials and émigré newspapers and journals, with many titles available on microfilm; it also holds archives containing photographs, memoirs, correspondence, diaries, and personal papers of prominent and less known émigrés, particularly residents of the Far East and North America.

The Amherst Center for Russian Culture, in Amherst, MA, was officially opened in September 1992 in conjunction with an international symposium on Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, organized by Amherst College Professor of Russian Jane Taubman and Senior Lecturer Viktoria Schweitzer. The Center houses collections, which are largely concerned with Russian émigré literature. Among the manuscripts are unpublished works and correspondence of such writers as Zinaida Gippius, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, Vasily Kandinsky, Boris Pilnyak, Ivan Bunin, Vladimir Nabokov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Marina Tsvetaeva. The Amherst Center for Russian Culture is also a home of a unique collection of Alexei Remizov's bound literary and art albums.