Guide to the Research Collections

- Significant Collections

Significant Collections

A number of major acquisitions, both gifts and purchases, lend unusual breadth to certain parts of the collections. The George Kennan collection was presented to the library in 1919 and 1920; it consists of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, magazines, newspapers, and approximately 500, photographs and other pictures. The collection has information on political prison systems in Siberia, and documents the early phases of the revolutionary movement. Letters from political convicts and other people connected with the emancipatory movement include 40 from Catherine Breshkovskaya, known as the "Grandmother" (Babushka) of the Russian Revolution.2

The library holds 2,200 volumes once owned by Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich.3 It is most valuable for the dynastic, administrative, and military history of the empire, and contains many important government publications, including confidential reports. Court life for the years 1695 to 1815 is chronicled in the 143 volumes of the Kamer fur'yerski tzeremonial'nyi zhurnal (Journal of court functions). In addition, there are more than 250 manifestos issued during the nineteenth century to mark occasions such as births, baptisms, weddings, and deaths in the imperial family. The Svod vysochaishikh otmetok (Compilation of His Majesty's notations) is an annual publication of the notes written by Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II on the reports of provincial governors. Annual reports of the various government agencies and departments, some of them secret, are included in the collection. A large portion of the books and documents concern military affairs, including Russia's wars of the nineteenth century and the Russo-Japanese War. There are also regimental histories and materials on military schools and military costumes. A wealth of geographic, topographic, and statistical information on Russia's Asiatic possessions may be found in the publications of the General Staff entitled Sbornik geograficheskikh, topograficheskikh i statisticheskikh materialov po Azii (1883-1914) and the Materialy (Proceedings) of the Imperial Commission for the Study of Land Ownership in the Trans-Baikal region (1898).

An acquisition of 9,000 pieces of Slavonic literature, mainly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, resulted from a purchasing trip made by Avrahm Yarmolinsky and H.M. Lydenberg in Europe during 1923 and 1924. Some 1,000 volumes of history formed a prominent feature of these purchases, and included such source material as Novikov's Drevnyaya Rossiiskaya vivliofika (1788-91) and the Polnoye sobraniye Russkikh letopisei (1853-1922) published under the auspices of the Russian Archaeographic Commission. There were also family records in the archives of Prince Kurakin (1890-1912) and of the Counts Mordvinov (1901-03). Other materials included Skrebitzki's Documents Relating to the Emancipation of the Serfs (1867-68), special studies, local and municipal history, and substantial additions to the library's holdings on Peter the Great and the invasion of Russia by Napoleon.4

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