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The Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection: 1866-1949


History of the Collection and Its General Nature

The uncataloged Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection was accumulated by the Library of Congress (LC) over many decades from diverse sources and placed in the custody of its European Division in 1956. Major components of this collection came from the Yudin collection, acquired by the Library of Congress in 1906, and from the United States consulates in Vyborg, Finland, and Riga, Latvia, via the Department of State, following World War II. Some of the material was acquired on exchange from the New York Public Library and from libraries of the former Soviet Union, some were personal gifts, some were transferred from the libraries of government agencies, including embassy libraries.

The earliest imprint found in this collection is 1717; the latest belong to the end of the 1940s. Between the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and the revolutions of 1917, Russia underwent a period of significant development in its social life and economics, culture and education, science and scholarship. The revolution brought more dramatic changes into society. Nearly every major intellectual and social movement or idea, nearly every major concern, every new interest, every critical historical event in the period 1861-1949 is reflected in the material comprising the Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection. A sampling includes such topics as the emergence of Russian Panslavism, English positivism and Herbert Spencer, the rise of the first native Slavic historians, discussion of the future of the Russian landownership system, memoirs dealing with the Decembrist revolutionaries, the education of women, the national question, Russian orthography reform, etc. Items dealing with the revolutionary period of 1917 to the early 1920s, the ensuing factionalism centering around such figures as Leon Trotsky, the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, and the invasion of the Soviet Union by German forces form a significant part of the collection. Titles published abroad are also represented; places of publication include many of the traditional centers of Russian emigre culture, such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, New York, and Geneva.

Processing the Collection at the Library of Congress

In 1980, Victoria Miller, a Library of Congress intern, reviewed the "B" (philosophy and religion) section of the collection and found the pamphlet, Slovo pokhvalnoe o batalii Poltavskoi [Eulogy on the Battle of Poltava] (St. Petersburg, 1717), a speech, delivered on the eighth anniversary of the battle of Poltava, by Archbishop Feofan Prokopovich, one of the leading intellectual collaborators of Peter the Great.

This discovery led Dr. Robert V. Allen, then Russian/Soviet specialist in the European Division, to look more closely into this uncataloged material, where he discovered several important works on Russian railroads. During this and subsequent phases of the treatment of this material, Dr. Allen's evaluations and advice proved invaluable. Library authorities recognized the value of the collection and made funds available in 1980-1982 to bring the collection under bibliographic control.

It was decided to treat all pre-1866 imprints as a distinct category. A milestone in the history of the Russian press was marked in 1865. This was the year the new censorship law went into effect and mass publication began in Imperial Russia. The pre-1866 pamphlets and brochures form a separate collection in the custody of the European Division.

The materials published after 1865 (6,000 items) were given the equivalent of enhanced minimal-level cataloging on 3" x 5" cards, providing the following range of information: title (in cases where there was no author, a title main entry was established), place of publication, edition, series entry, number of pages, illustrations, maps, etc. Additional information was included in the note area (pertaining to summaries in another language, cases of translation, differences between the title page and cover, etc.)

Each piece in the collection was searched (frequently under several possible entries) in the LC Official Catalog and in the Cyrillic Union Catalog to determine whether the piece was a Library of Congress duplicate or was held by another library. This search established that the collection consists primarily of titles unique in the United States.

The collection contains several categories of material that deserve special mention:

  1.   Limited editions.
  2.   Titles cited as "rare" in Soviet bibliographic sources.
  3.   Works censored either before release by the publisher or confiscated by censorship authorities from book sellers in Imperial Russia.
  4.   Authors, editors, or writers of introductory material who were leading figures of the Communist party, but who later were denounced, expelled, or purged; some were executed.
  5.   Publications by political parties and groups participating in the political struggle of the revolutionary period.
  6.   Duplicates of works held by Library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
  7.   A previously unavailable work by a notable figure in a given field.

This phase of the work, in which Roberta W. Goldblatt was engaged to search and catalog the collection, brought new discoveries. One such was the preprint of an article, "Brakorazvodnoe zabven'e: prichiny razvodov brachnykh po zakonam greko-rossiiskoi tserkvi" [The oblivion of divorce: grounds for divorce according to the canons of the Greco-Russian Church], by Nikolai Leskov, a well-known 19th century Russian author. This article was to have been published in the December, 1885 issue of Istoricheskii Viestnik, but was removed by the ecclesiastical censor and all copies burned. The political intrigues and complexities of censorship, the polemical value of the article, the literary techniques employed by the author, and the insight into his biography (he was married to a legally insane woman whom he could not divorce) offer topics for further study. Research has shown that apparently this is the only copy available anywhere. The former Lenin State Library asked for a copy of it for their holdings.

Another exceptional item is Izo-khromaticheskaia s"emka momental'nymi ruchnymi kamerami. S ukazaniem izgotovleniia chuvstvitel'nykh k tsvietam plastin. (Izo-plastin) [Iso-chromatic exposures taken with hand-held instant cameras. With instruction for the preparation of color sensitive plates (Iso-plates)], published in 1903 by the Russian pioneer of color photography, S. M. Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer to the Tsar.

In 1991 at the initiative of David H. Kraus, then Chief of the European Division, the Library decided to preserve the Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection on film because of the brittle nature of the materials and to make the information it contained more widely available. Nataliya Zanegina was engaged to review the classifications previously assigned to the individual pamphlets and to distribute the considerable body of "miscellaneous" materials among the 14 major classes of the collection. Microfilming of the collection was planned with staff of the the Preservation Microfilming Office who also provided support and guidance as Ms. Zanegina collated the collection for filming. With the assistance of the European Division Secretary, Janie Ricks, entries were made for the individual items in WordPerfect 5.1 and ProCite, which allowed the preparation of indexes in both hard copy and machine-readable form. Final processing of the collection as well as quality control of the preservation microfilm was carried out by the Preservation Microfilming Office.

Each bibliographic entry was checked de visu against the item it represented, then edited according to Library of Congress standards and, in some cases, simplified and shortened. Several items were transferred to special collections of the Library, following consultation with specialists in those units. About 200 brochures and pamphlets were preserved in the original in the European Division (so indicated in the bibliographic entry), because of their rarity or value as artifacts.

Several categories of materials were not selected for filming, namely serials, second copies, off-prints, books, brochures in languages other than Russian or Ukrainian, and LC duplicates, because they were considered out of scope.

Organization of the Collection

In its final form, the microfilmed Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection includes 4,403 entries organized into 14 Library of Congress classes.

Reel 1 contains the Introduction to the Collection and the bibliographic citations for all the items. The remaining reels represent the 14 classes, as follows.

Class "B" (438 entries, reels 2-10) contains brochures and pamphlets on religion and philosophy. Most of the items were published before 1917. They include histories and reports of religious institutions, associations, and brotherhoods, works by or about religious denominations, sermons and articles by clergy, lives of saints, legends of miracle-working icons, publications by the Russian Orthodox missions in Beijing, as well as philosophical writings on issues critical to that period. Speeches and texts of lectures given at universities and theological academies and seminaries (frequently the sources of intellectual and social change and development) form a large part of the materials in this class. The locations of these universities and seminaries ranged from St. Petersburg and Moscow to Odessa and Kiev. Post-1917 publications are mostly Marxist philosophical speculations or atheistic propaganda.

Class "D" (722 entries, reels 11-25) includes a wide range of materials on history, geography, biography, genealogy, heraldry, anthropology, ethnology, folklore, sports, and games -- published both before and after 1917. Distinctive subgroups are brief histories of cities, towns, regions; historical-statistical descriptions of villages; guidebooks and gazetteers (some with detailed maps showing exact locations and extensions of railroad tracks, cemeteries, etc.); travel brochures for resorts and other "tourist spots" (some including such details as departure schedules of trains and boats, ticket prices, etc.). This type of material, especially when coupled with the personal travel accounts presented in the collection, provides information for many fields of scholarship.

Class "H" (972 entries, reels 26-45) is the largest group. Its main topic is economic conditions in pre-revolutionary Russia and in the former Soviet Union. There is a wealth of information on the early formation of collectives and cooperatives, communes, and workers' groups, reports of numerous pre-1917 associations, as well as post-1917 reports of governmental committees, commissions, departments, etc. Other topics include the rebuilding of foreign trade, discussions of the monetary system (including the gold standard), agricultural policies, reports and lists of board members of banks, mutual insurance associations, and statistical information on the early five-year plans. Additional matters treated in class "H" are the status of women (from the emancipation movement in pre-revolutionary Russia to the many works published in the 1920s and 1930s dealing with women as vital "comrades" in the new Soviet society and economy), trade unions, alcoholism, national minorities. The question of Jews in Russia, a sensitive issue to this day, is also well-represented by both pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary items.

Class "J" (437 entries, reels 46-54) contains the materials dealing with politics and governmental activity both in Imperial Russia and in the former Soviet Union. Taking into consideration the role that the Communist party used to play in the life of the former Soviet Union, we assigned to class "J" the official publications of its central organs on different political and economic issues. Part of class "J" is a unique collection of publications of the rival political forces in the period of the Revolution and Civil War. About 100 such items are in the custody of the European Division, and one so noted in the bibliographic entry.

Class "L" (283 entries, reels 55-60) contains brochures and pamphlets on education and the educational process in pre-revolutionary Russia and the former Soviet Union. Examples of course material, descriptions of programs, reading lists, and brochures describing the financial base of a given school can be found in class "L." Between 1917 and the 1930s Soviet education underwent a radical change in administration, teaching methods, and curricula as well as in sheer number and type of institutions. All these topics are represented in the collection.

Class "M" (35 entries, reel 61) is the smallest group in the collection. It mostly contains programs of musical events -- concerts, operas, ballets. There are also several biographies of composers, teaching manuals, and studies of music.

Class "N" (137 entries, reels 62-64) contains publications on art and architecture. Approximately 40% of this material is comprised of editions that were printed in 500 copies or fewer. Many of them are exhibit brochures. These publications usually consist of a brief biographical sketch of the artist, a chronological listing of his works as well as shows, sometimes a bibliography of reviews of his work and, frequently, some illustrations of his work and his portrait or photograph.

The larger portion of brochures in Class "P" (379 entries, reels 65-73) consists of literature or studies of literature; it also contains materials on linguistics, the theater, and textbooks for students of foreign languages. Literary materials include works originally written in Russian and translations from Western languages as well as from other languages of the former Soviet Union. Humorous and anecdotal literature, numerous original (as well as translated or adapted) comedies, vaudeville performances, and plays form still another distinctive group within this category.

Class "Q" (227 entries, reels 74-77) contains brochures and pamphlets dealing with science. This material reflects the traditional interest of Russian science in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, natural history, botany, zoology, physiology, and microbiology. In this class, as in classes "R" through "U-V", much of value can be found in the historical and social aspect of the topics represented.

Class "R" (187 entries, reels 78-81) is medicine. Its major topics are therapy, surgery, and pharmacology.

Class "S" (171 entries, reels 82-85) includes different topics of agricultural production, such as soils, machinery, botany, forestry, and husbandry.

Class "T" (229 entries, reels 86-90) includes publications on technology, engineering, handicrafts, and home economics.

Classes "U-V" (71 entries, reels 91-92), military and naval science, deals with topics ranging from military history studies to practical information for soldiers on the battlefield, training programs, and ordnance.

Class Z" (115 entries, reels 93-94) contains bibliographies on various subjects. It also covers such topics as library science, calligraphy, and shorthand.


Free access to information is the core of a free and democratic society. In a small way, The Russian and Ukrainian Pamphlet and Brochure Collection complements the efforts of Russia and Ukraine to learn more of their history and to share this knowledge with the world. When Alexander Solzhenitsyn visited the Library of Congress shortly after his arrival in the United States and viewed the uncataloged Russian holdings in the custody of the European Division he pulled item after item from the shelves, saying, "I knew this existed, but they wouldn't let me see it." The situation in Russia and Ukraine has changed since his visit, but the materials in this collection may still not be readily available to researchers there, and some items may not exist at all as a result of war, revolution, destruction, or censorship. Prior to filming, this material was of limited access in the West as well, being limited to those researchers who visited the Library of Congress. It is hoped that the materials recorded in these reels of film will abet and inspire research in the West and the former Soviet Union.

Roberta W. Goldblatt
March, 1993

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