Russian book in the USA

The Russian emigration, who left their homeland in 1917, brought Russian culture to almost all countries of the world and retained its devotion and respect for its ideals.

The eternal monuments of this attitude to their cultural past are the Russian book, whether brought from the homeland or published abroad, in the conditions of the eternal struggle for existence, without money, without remuneration for work, without broad reader support, and sometimes in a hostile environment.

The latter conditions were the reason that the material of the unpublished, which remained in the form of manuscripts in a significant proportion of our writers, scientists, artists, etc., was in the hands of the authors or their heirs much more than what they managed to publish and all of them have a question not only that their offspring would ever see the light of day, but also the question of their preservation.

But under all unfavorable conditions for publishing a foreign book, many scientific, historical, literary and other works were published, and all this was raised quantitatively and qualitatively by the Russian book fund, which is scattered across the book depositories of various Russian public organizations, private Russian libraries of American universities and other centers of spiritual culture of this country, which has now become a new homeland for the vast mass of Russian emigration. The published foreign book was also the contribution that the Russian emigration made, as a contribution to the treasury of world culture.

The cradle of the appearance of a Russian book in the United States brought from Russia was Alaska, where in 1805 on the ships of the Russian expedition of Kruzenshtern Rezanov brought a collection of 1,200 books, maps, paintings, atlases, a telescope, etc., and all this was concentrated on Kodiyak Island, marking itself as if the first Russian museum and library in this country. Read more …

In 1900, in the city of Sitka, the Museum-Archive was founded by the American Government with a library attached to it. His guardian until his death was a priest Andrei Kashevarov. After the Second World War, according to the assistant to the curator of the museum, Dr. E.A.Sheinits, the library had only about 100 books in Russian; they are all dedicated to Alaska. In the archive of this Museum there is a valuable unique manuscript of the diary of Father John Veniaminov.

In 1906-7 The Russian Book Fund in the United States immediately grew to enormous size and valuable qualities in content due to the famous library of the Krasnoyarsk merchant Gennady Vasilievich Yudin acquired by the American Government, which laid the foundation for the Russian section of the Library of Congress. More details

After the Second World War, from other American repositories where Russian books were located, the following should be noted:
– Public library in New York (had about 82,000 items)
– Harvard University Library (66000)
– Hoover Library at Stanford University (50,000)
– Columbia University (35000)
– University of California, Los Angeles (15000)
– University of California, Berkeley (14000)
– Yale University (10000)
– Cornell University (8000)
– Michigan University (8000)

In other universities at that time there were 6-5-4 thousand books, but in general it should be assumed that in these American repositories there were at least 600,000 Russian books.

Hoover Archive, Stanford University

Hoover Archive, Stanford. Photo M. Blinov, 2001

With regard to contemporary Russian storages in the USA, it is impossible to say exactly about their size and values, because there were no reports to this …

Particularly valuable collections of Russian books were held by some of the old statesmen and public figures who had collected them for years in Russia, and since only a few managed to escape the fate of refugees, there are only a few such private collections.

Library of Baron A.P. Boodberg

Library of Baron A.P. Boodberg. Photo M. Blinov, 2001

The total number of books at the disposal of Russian public organizations of this country can be considered partly in the city of San Francisco, where for 5-6 thousand Russians (not counting the old, pre-revolutionary emigration), there were 1 private and 3 or 4 public libraries with a total the number of books is about 20,000, and adding to this the collection of books of the Museum of Russian Culture and some other organizations, we get the figure of about 25,000 volumes.

2002. Employees of the Vice-Consulate of the Russian Federation in San Francisco and Zabelin S.N. The unique and largest US military-historical library of the Society of Russian Veterans. Exported to the Russian Federation. The vice consulate is closed.

One must think that the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and other cities, not to mention New York, with its huge Russian colony, can bring the total number of books to 100,000 volumes, not counting books from private collections. Of the Russian public organizations, I was especially lucky to create a library for the Tolstoy Foundation, which has a library of 13,000 books donated by Mr. H. (who modestly wished to remain anonymous) and Mrs. L. For the first many years he spent all his earnings on buying books about Russia and on the slope of life, he wanted to give them to the Tolstoy Foundation. Mrs. L. managed to bring her husband’s library of 10,000 books from Shanghai and she also donated them to this Fund …

(A. Dolgopolov. Los Angeles, California)

see also

  • Library of Baron A.P. Budberg (Society of Russian Veterans of the Great War in San Francisco)
  • Library at the House of St. Vladimir (San Francisco)

Books and Publishers in the USA