About the Bakhmeteff Archive

The Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European Culture is the second largest repository of the Russian émigré materials in the United States. Its holdings include 991 collections open for qualified researchers.

The Bakhmeteff Archive operates as a part of Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Requests for permission to publish the materials from the Archive should be sent to the curator of the Bahkmeteff Archive.

Researchers should contact the curator of the Bahkmeteff Archive in advance to schedule an appointment. Materials from the Archive are available for paging during regular Rare Book and Manuscript Library hours.

Collection Development Policy Statement

The mission of the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to the documentary heritage of the Russian and East European émigré experience within the general context of academic programs at Columbia University. The Archive also plays a significant role as a rich source of information for scholars from the United States and abroad studying subjects related to the Russian diaspora and Eastern European émigré communities.

The Bakhmeteff Archive became part of the Columbia University Libraries in 1951.  By 1986, it had grown to become the second largest depository in the world (after the Hoover Institution) of Russian émigré holdings.  A printed catalog of the holdings, Russia in the Twentieth Century: The Catalog of the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, was published in June 1987 by G. K. Hall. 

Ranging widely in subject matter from art history and literature to organizational history and politics, the approximately 1,500 discrete collections of the Bakhmeteff Archive allow researchers from around the world to discover hitherto little known aspects of pre-Soviet and émigré life.

The Archive’s greatest collecting strength is in the manuscript and visual materials of prominent figures in politics, literature, art, and religion from the “first wave” of Russian emigration (1880-1940). 

The Bakhmeteff holdings also include many collections from the “second wave” (1945-1970) of  Russian emigration.  It includes papers of prominent figures in politics and culture, as well as memoirs and personal papers of “ordinary witnesses of the epoch”.

Materials from the “third and fourth waves” of Russian emigration (1970-until now) are also collected.  Besides original materials, the Archive collects relevant newspapers, journals, leaflets, and posters (legal and illegal), brochures of a political character, photographs, drawings (including caricatures and cartoons), and many other materials of historical significance.

The collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s and the rejection of the socialist model of economic development in Eastern Europe have changed the international scene.  Participants in the current rewriting of history are drawing heavily on the unknown legacy of their predecessors.  To satisfy this growing demand for information, more Eastern European collections are being acquired for the Bakhmeteff Archive.

In recent years, a special effort has been made to acquire more materials related to subject areas, where the Archive is already strong:

  1. Russian and East European émigré literature, philosophy, art, and science;
  2. Émigré benevolent and professional organizations;
  3. Americans in Russia;
  4. American views of Russia and Eastern Europe;
  5. American-Russian diplomatic relations.