It has been nearly 40 years since the preface to the print edition of this guide was written. Much has changed since then, naturally, with the greatest being the fall of the Soviet Union. A close second is the rise of the Internet and the potential for incredible online research. Turning the print version into a machine-readable database had been a dream of mine for years and now that dream has been realized.
The print version had, over the decades, become seriously outdated and flawed. Updates, corrections, additions, and enhancements for this online database have been the work mainly of two people: Steven A. Grant and Erika T. Weir.
This guide lists materials that relate to the Russian Empire, former Soviet Union, and the many distinct nationalities that were once a part of those entities. The materials described in the guide are extremely diverse in character. They cover the broadest possible range of subjects: political, historical, social, economic, diplomatic, artistic, literary, religious, military, musical, and other matters.
The guide covers public and private institutions, including university libraries and archives, public libraries, museums, ethnic organizations, church and business archives, federal and state governmental archives, and both public and private historical societies. Some collections owned by private individuals that were included in the print edition are no longer listed separately but may be searched if their materials have transferred to other hands.
Among the types of materials listed in the guide are the following: correspondence, reports, organizational records, account books, essays, literary manuscripts, diaries, journals, memoirs, autobiographies, photographs, films, tape recordings, and graphic material. With the exception of certain mimeographed materials and rare clippings, nearly all printed matter has been excluded. Those seeking published books, periodicals, theses, and the like should refer to appropriate catalogs of library collections. However, unpublished facsimiles, photo reproductions, and microfilms of originals (even of originals subsequently published) have been taken to be archival materials in this guide.
An attempt has been made to cover all nationalities and regions within the former Soviet Union. For the most part, the emphasis throughout has been on the homelands of these people, rather than on their emigration and life in the United States or elsewhere. However, some documents pertaining to emigre life have been included.
The careful user of this guide may turn up instances in which coverage of a given collection or repository is less than complete or in which items are imprecisely described. Given the large number of collections involved, this is inevitable, the more so since only the most important collections and repositories in or near Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. were visited by the two authors for the original edition. For the many collections not examined in person, they relied upon published finding aids, descriptions supplied by curators and librarians in writing or by telephone, photo reproductions of card catalog entries, and the like. Many entries on collections or individual items are thus based closely on information published elsewhere or supplied by others.
Entries are in alphabetical order by state and thereunder by repository/institution. If the repository/institution has a further component part, that is named also. Within each entry, collections are again in alphabetical order.
For example, a photo held by the Library of Congress would be listed as follows:
Street address Library of Congress Prints and Photographs name of collection
whereas a unique 35mm film would be listed as follows:
Street address Library of Congress Moving Image name of collection
and a handwritten score by Modest Mussorgskii would appear as:
Street address Library of Congress Performing Arts name of collection
The street address would be different in some cases, based on which of the three LOC buildings housed the relevant division.
Every effort has been made to assure that each entry provides the following information: name of the person, organization, or subject involved; dates of birth and/or death of pertinent individuals; dates of existence or operation of institutions and organizations covered; the quantity of materials preserved in the collection; a general description of the collection as a whole, with a more detailed description of the Russian-related holdings; reference to pertinent citations in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and other finding aids; and special conditions affecting access to the collection. Some repositories also provided their own identification or location numbers for collections; these have been incorporated as well.
Due to the diversity of cataloging systems and to the fact that collections were in varying states of organization, it was not always possible to adhere to this ideal format. Even when it has been followed, the same term may have different meanings in the context of different collections. For example, a "box" in one collection may be substantially larger than the same unit of measure in another. For more information or for clarification, researchers should always directly contact the repository or individual concerned.
The conditions of access to the various collections listed in this volume vary greatly, as do restrictions affecting the use of materials. The ultimate authority on such matters is the repository itself, and failure to observe any restrictions will only complicate access to the collection by other users. It is therefore strongly recommended that researchers ascertain beforehand not only the restrictions on access to collections, but also regulations affecting literary rights and the duplication of materials.
Different repositories employ varying systems of transliteration, so the revisers of the print edition have tried to include all possible renderings of a given name to facilitate ease of finding all materials without having to check under diverse spellings. Thus, a researcher should be able to find all materials related to the following author without having to enter all these variations of the spelling of his name: Dostoevskii, Dostoevsky, Dostoyevskii, Dostoyevsky, and so on. Similarly, all Tchaikovsky/Chaikovskii/Tchaikovskii, etc. material should be findable by typing any one of his transliterations.
This guide does not pretend to be an exhaustive coverage of all Russian/ex-Soviet-related materials in archives and manuscript repositories in the United States. For some entries in the volume, the collections listed may represent only highlights of relevant holdings. Much work remains to be done, particularly in church archives and private collections. Computerized data banks and machine-readable collections will also have to be culled at some future point. One should note as well that the microfilm revolution is proceeding at so rapid a pace that the accessibility and reproduction of many items and collections listed herein will soon be greatly broadened.