June 4th, 2019

Collection spotlight: unusual formats

In addition to tried-and-true traditional formats (both physical and digital), Slavic collection at Harvard owns items that are unusual, one-of-a-kind or simply rare. Please take a look at some of our most unusual recent new additions.

Nashi v Solsberi : nastolʹnai︠a︡ igra
Moskva : Tipografii︠a︡ Prima / (Igrolend. Nastolʹnye igry), 2018

Nashi v Solsberi (Our people in Salisbury) is a simple table game with a reference to the infamous “sightseeing trip to Salisbury” by two suspected Russian intelligence officers Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in March 2018, who are believed to have been involved in the attempt to poison Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The game is intended “for 2 players, ages 6+years” and features only two game pieces, a die and  a board with a stylized map of Europe and a track that starts in Moscow and ends in Salisbury.

Vesëlyĭ kamerton
Burov, Valeriĭ Vladimirovich, 1947- [artist, author] / Vi͡atka : Klub rukopisnoĭ knigi v Vi͡atke, 2016

This one-of-a-kind book in the shape of grand piano was made for the Harvard Library collection by a Russian book artist Valerii Burov. The book features a leather-bound cover and keyboard made from plastic and rubber. It includes 24 pages with handwritten text and illustrations in black and red ink.

(Photo credit: Reed Lowrie)

Two caps and a T-shirt with portrait of V. Zhirinovskii, the leader of Liberal-democratic Party
A plastic bag, a flag and a pen with Spravedlivaia Rossiia party logo
A pair of socks with the Liberal-Democratic party logo


Russian elections 2016 : ephemera

In addition to leaflets, posters, newspapers and campaign literature produced in connection with multi-level elections held in Russian Federation on September 18 2016, this collection also includes some campaign artifacts like plastic bags, flags, pens, caps, T-shirts and even… socks.

February 5th, 2019

Soviet history: archival resources at Harvard university library and archives


The new Harvard Library online LibGuide Soviet history: archival resources at Harvard university library and archives is now published. This guide contains a list of Harvard-owned archival materials documenting the history of the Soviet Union. It is arranged chronologically and by topic/provenance.

The guide brings together primary sources that vary in scope and format. Many materials listed are microform copies of archives of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and other government organizations. The originals of these documents reside in Russian and other archives around the world.

The LibGuide also lists a substantial number of personal manuscript collections, including the papers of Leon Trotsky and other Revolutionary leaders as well as the papers of numerous Soviet dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov.

The guide also includes resources available in electronic format, either exclusively (like the Stalin Digital Archive) or along with the original paper documents (like the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System or some ephemera collections).

Special sections of the guide are dedicated to Ukrainian, Judaica and Western archival resources related to the Soviet history.

(This text was written in collaboration with Svetlana Rukhelman, Davis Center Collection)

May 16th, 2018

Collection spotlight: Teatr.doc plays (e-book)


P’esy : sbornik vazhnykh dlia nas tekstov za vse 14 let teatra / teatr.doc ; [Elena Isaeva and 16 others].

[Moscow, Russia : publisher not identified], 2016.

HOLLIS # 014793077

Harvard Library owns a unique e-book containing a collection of plays written for the Moscow Teatr.doc theater. This small independent theater was founded in 2002 by a group of playwrights with the purpose of offering its audience documentary plays that are based on real events and drawn on documents and interviews with the events’ participants.

The collection includes 15 plays written between 2002 and 2016 by Elena Isaeva, Elena Gremina, Maksim Kurochkin, Mikhail Ugarov and others. Among the subjects covered are independent art communities of the late 1980-s-early 1990s, the behind-the-scenes reality of television talk-shows, court proceedings from the political protest trial, the society reaction to the terrorist act in Beslan, the connection between personal happiness and the social context, etc.

The full-text pdf text is available to Harvard ID holders directly from the online catalog.

March 21st, 2018

Ogonek Digital Archive

Cover of Ogonek, issue #1, 1978. Ogonek Digital Archive.

Ogonek digital archive (DA-OGN)

Minneapolis, MN : East View Information Services

Harvard Library users now have access to the digital archive of Ogoneka long-running illustrated weekly from Russia. Ogonek has been published continuously since 1923, in the tradition of the eponymous pre-revolutionary magazine published in 1899-1918. In the Soviet years its run reached millions of copies.

The magazine was designed to include stories of social and political interest as well as works of fiction, poetry, photography and art surveys. Among the authors who published their works in Ogonek were Mikhail Zoshchenko, Aleksandr Tvardovskii, Ilia Ilf, Evgenii Petrov, Aleksei Tolstoi, Vladimir Maiakovskii, Isaak Babel, Vladimir Soloukhin, Viktor Shklovskii, poet Evgenii Evtushenko, photographer Iurii Rost and many others.

Ogonek‘s history reflected the history of the country at the same time when it was covering it. Its first editor-in-chief Mikhail Koltsov was arrested in 1938, during the wave of Stalin-era repressions. Under Anatolii Sofronov, who was leading the magazine from 1953 through 1986 Ogonek epitomized “stability” of the Soviet life. Perestroika and Glasnost brought change to the information policy and to the Ogonek management: Vitalii Korotich led the magazine in 1986-1991 and turned it into one of the symbols of the era of free speech and information freedom. Ogonek is still being published today, this time by the Kommersant Publishing House.

The digital archive provides access to fully searchable full-text and full-color  digital copies of issues of Ogonek from 1923 through 2016. Valid Harvard ID is required.

November 20th, 2017

Early Russian cinema online

Early Russian cinema online

[Leiden] : IDC Publishers : Brill

HOLLIS # 15042874

We are happy to announce the arrival of the Early Russian cinema online, an electronic archive of 57 Russian film periodicals from 1907-1918.

The collection includes both “serious” and more popular titles produced by the major Russian film studios, film distributors and theater owners. In addition to a wealth of information related to the early years of Russian cinema (including interviews and screenplays), researchers will find information on various genres of live entertainment of that era, such as cabaret, circus and music halls. 

Among the titles included in the collection are Ėkran i st͡sena : zhurnal sinematografīi i fotografīi, Ėlektro-teatr “Palas” : [libretto kartin], Kino-bi͡ulletenʹ : ukazatelʹ prosmotrennykh kartin, Pegas : zhurnal iskusstv, Teatralʹnai͡a gazeta : ezhenedi͡elʹnoe izdanīe, posvi͡ashchennoe iskusstvu i bytu teatra, Vi͡estnik kinematografov v S.-Peterburgīe : ezhenedi͡elʹnyĭ zhurnal and many others.

The database can be accessed by users with a valid Harvard ID via this link. In addition, each periodical title can be accessed directly from the library’s HOLLIS catalog list.

September 8th, 2017

The Russian Revolution: Actors and Witnesses in Harvard Library Collections


Author unknown. Vozmezdie / Retribution ‘For violence and plundering”; “For sophistry and lying”; “For blasphemy and desecration of the Church”; “For murder and humiliation of the dead”; “For base treason against Holy Rus” ca. 1918-1920 [No publication info given] PF Cabinet Typ 958.17.758 [no provenance info] Photographer unknown Crowd at a revolutionary demonstration, ca. 1917-1918 bMS Am 1091 (1405); Gift of Corliss Lamont for the Harvard Alumni John Reed Committee, 1936 Lenin (1870-1924) Note praising Ten Days That Shook the World January 20, 1920 bMS Am 1091 (556);Gift of Corliss Lamont for the Harvard Alumni John Reed Committee, 1936


September 6 – December 21, Amy Lowell Room, Houghton Library

To mark the centennial of the Russian Revolution, Houghton Library in collaboration with the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Slavic Division at Widener Library presents an exhibition showcasing original documents from the period, assembled from its own holdings as well as those of other Harvard Library collections.

This exhibition takes a closer look at the human dimension of the Russian Revolution as reflected in its leaders, their opponents, the thousands of ordinary people of Russia and the American expatriates who witnessed these events first-hand.

The documents from the John Reed Papers, 1903-1967, Leon Trotsky Soviet papers, 1904-1959,  Russian revolutionary literature and other special collections are on display at Amy Lowell Room of Houghton Library until December 21, 2017. Highlights include handwritten notes by Lenin, Trotsky, photographs and manuscripts of journalist John Reed, documents concerning the investigation into the death of Nicolas II and his family and a diary of Hellen Tisdel de Wollant, an American expat caught up in the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

To learn more about The Russian Revolution: Actors and Witnesses in Harvard Library Collections, read the Davis Center interview with the exhibition curators.

The exhibition forms part of a number of commemorative events taking place across Harvard in the fall of 2017. For further details, visit the Davis Center’s website.


September 1st, 2017

Russian Old Believer books online


 Torzhestvennik”. Vʺ Moskvi͡e : Vʺ Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7419 [1911]. HOLLIS # 13359993  Torzhestvennik”. Vʺ Moskvi͡e : Vʺ Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7419 [1911]. HOLLIS # 13359993 Miesiats mart, imia angela. [Russia : publisher not identified, between 1800 and 1899?]. HOLLIS # 13359997
Sbornik” sobrannyi iz knig” sviashchennago i sviatootecheskago pisanii, tvorenii sviatykh ottsev I uchitelei tserkvi I vnieshnikh pisatelei. Vtorymʺ tisnenīemʺ. Vʺ Moskvi͡e : Vʺ Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7424 [1915/1916]. HOLLIS # 13359983 Miesiats mart, imia angela. [Russia : publisher not identified, between 1800 and 1899?]. HOLLIS # 13359997 Skazanīe o volʹnom stradanīi gospoda nashego Iisusa Khrista. Spine title: Khristovy strasty [place of publication not identified : publisher not identified, between 1800 and 1899]. HOLLIS # 13359989


[Russia : publisher not identified], 7159 [i.e. 1651].

HOLLIS # 13359988

Skazanīe o volʹnom stradanīi gospoda nashego Iisusa Khrista.

[place of publication not identified : publisher not identified, between 1800 and 1899]

HOLLIS # 13359989

Miesiats mart, imia angela.

[Russia : publisher not identified, between 1800 and 1899?]

464 pages ; 37 cm

HOLLIS # 13359997


Vʺ Moskvi͡e : Vʺ Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7419 [1911]

HOLLIS # 13359993

Bol’shoi kanonnik”.

Vʺ Moskvi͡e : V Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7420 [1911/1912]

HOLLIS # 13359992

Sbornik” sobrannyi iz knig” sviashchennago i sviatootecheskago pisanii, tvorenii sviatykh ottsev I uchitelei tserkvi I vnieshnikh pisatelei.

Vʺ Moskvi͡e : Vʺ Khristīęnskoĭ tipografīi pri Preobrazhenskomʺ bogadi͡elennomʺ domi͡e, 7424 [1915/1916]

HOLLIS # 13359983

Harvard College Library has recently acquired a collection of 6 rare Old Believer books. The value of this acquisition is determined not only by its great physical condition but also by the fact that it illustrates different chronological periods and publishing methods pertaining to the history of Old Believer literature.

The set includes one item published in 1651 (i. e. prior to the Patriarch Nikon’s church reform that led to the break between the official Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Believers, who remained faithful to the pre-Nikonean rite.). This book (Kanonnik”) serves as an example of a title that while not created by the Old Believers, was nevertheless considered by them as part of their religious and literary heritage.

Another gem of the collection is the 19th century handwritten Skazanīe o volʹnom stradanīi gospoda nashego Iisusa Khrista (a retelling of the passion of Christ based on the later chapters of the New Testament). The book is written in in black and red ink and decorated with ornamental headpieces.

Another 19th century item is a later copy of Trefologion, tretʹi͡a chetvertʹ (mart–maĭ) [Trefologion for March-May], mentioned by A.S. Zernova in her Knigi kirillovskoi pechati, izdannye v Moskve v XVI-XVII vekakh, under number 139.

The collection also includes 3 books in popular Old Believer genres of Torzhestvennik, Kanonnik and Sbornik, published in 1911-1916 by the Old Believer Preobrazhenskii monastery in Moscow.

The complete collection has been digitized within the framework of the Harvard College Library preservation digitization program. In an effort to provide the most complete visual information on these items we created scans of complete books, including the covers, spines and lining papers, as well as any owner’s ephemera found inside.

I would like to thank Michael E. Biggins (University of Washington) and Olga Strakhov (Harvard University) for their assistance with research for this project.

July 5th, 2017

Krasnyi arkhiv digital archive


Krasnyi arkhiv, v.4, 1923 Krasnyi arkhiv, v.4, 1923, page view


Krasnyi Arkhiv digital archive

Minneapolis, MN : East View Information Services

HOLLIS # 6918745

Harvard ID-holders now have access to another online primary source archive: Krasnyi arkhiv digital archiveKrasnyi arkhiv was a scholarly historical journal published in Moscow in 1922-1941 by the Central Archive and later by the Central Archival Administration of the USSR and Russian Federation.  Krasnyi arkhiv published important archival materials on the history of Tsarist Russia and the early years of the Soviet Union.

The journal published archival documents related to the Soviet history as well as pre-Revolutionary period, members of the royal family and top officials of the Tsarist Russia, World War I, the Revolution and civil war, the Bolshevik / Communist party and its dignitaries, Russian politics in Siberia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan, etc. In addition to that, it published archival documents and literary materials on prominent Russian classical authors and literary critics (e. g. Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy and others.

The present database, Krasnyi Arkhiv. Digital Archive contains the entire collection (106 volumes, 1,010 articles, more than 23,000 pages), completely digitized with full-image browsing and full-text article-level search and browse functions.


May 3rd, 2017

Zavod Diafoto glass slides


diafoto-418675660 diafoto-418675645 diafoto-418675789
diafoto-418675624 diafoto-418675576 diafoto-418675648


ZavodDiafoto :

The Davis Center Collection at Fung Library is pleased to announce the digitization of two rare glass slide collections dating from the Stalin era. Series 98. Agriculture of the U.S.S.R. (1940) consists of 43 sequentially numbered images showing agricultural practices across the Soviet Union. Series 585. Rivers and Lakes of the U.S.S.R., also from the 1940’s, contains 55 images depicting various bodies of water and the uses to which they are put by Soviet citizens. Some of the images are black-and-white; others are tinted or hand-colored. The Diafoto factory, in Moscow, was famous for the captioned educational slides which it manufactured from the 1930’s through the 1950’s — but few of these “diapositives,” as they were called, have survived to this day. This is believed to be the only collection of Diafoto slides owned by a library in the United States.

The digital images are now publicly accessible via HOLLIS+ and HOLLIS Images. The original slides are held by the Davis Center Collection and have undergone preservation at the Weissman Center.

(Information for this post was contributed by Svetlana Rukhelman, Davis Center Collection)

November 3rd, 2016

Slavic Poster Collection

 Ukraine. Cultural events. RI 8001162964 Bulgarian politics posters. HOLLIS # 8927680. RI 8001162390. Croatian posters : Election and party material ; Yugoslav war (Croatia). HOLLIS # 09341517. RI 8001163051.
Russia : political posters, 1986- . RI 8001162238 Solidarity posters : Solidarność. Ri 8001162588  Czech political posters : November-December 1989 : The Velvet Revolution, Občanské fórum, Václav Havel. RI 8001162482-hollis-8927700

The Widener library has a unique collection of over 1500 posters from different Slavic countries (specifically Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Soviet Union and Ukraine). The collection dates from the beginning of the last quarter of the 20th century until the present.

Despite the regional, cultural and stylistic differences, there is a common experience that all of these countries shared during this truly unprecedented period: in the 1970s all of them still remained confined within the socialist camp in the so-called era of “stagnation”, then in the 1980s protest movements like the Solidarity movement in Poland began to shake the foundations of the political system, and by the end of that decade and in the early 1990s all of these countries underwent a complete change of political regime (and in some cases even borders), with some (such as Ukraine, Croatia and others) gaining full independence. The years that followed brought new political and social realities to all Slavic countries, as well as previously unthinkable political, cultural and personal choices.

All of this is reflected in the posters, and not just in those that are overtly political, but also in those that deal with cultural and social issues, as their very content and approach reflect the times when they were created. From the Soviet propaganda posters promoting the only existing party and its leaders to the Perestroika years with its reflection on the Soviet past and shift of focus to the individual, Polish Solidarity posters produced in France, the Velvet Revolution posters demonstrating the trademark Czech sense of humor, portraits of Bulgarian authors, Polish opera posters, posters commemorating the Ukrainian Famine of the 1930s and those celebrating Russian artists, the collection of Slavic posters presents a vibrant and diverse image of the region during one of the most turbulent periods in its history.

As part of the Harvard Library’s Open Your Hidden Collections initiative the Slavic Division was able to digitize most of its poster collection. The posters are in open access image galleries available for viewing via the HOLLIS catalog or VIA (Visual Information Access system).

The most convenient way to access the collection is via the Slavic Poster Collection LibGuide.

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