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August 20th, 2021

Video appeals to the President of Russia web archive

Screenshot of: by
59RU Пермь

Video appeals to the President of Russia web archive / collected by: Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation.
HOLLLIS # 99155709117603941
The source collection (Zotero library)

Video appeals to the President of Russia Web Archive is now available for research. This is a collection of online videos created as direct appeals to Vladimir Putin by Russian citizens as attempts to get the President directly involved in resolving various social, economic and environmental problems.

The phenomenon was initially triggered by the televised yearly Direct Lines with Vladimir Putin (broadcast since 2001), during which Putin in a television studio answers questions from audiences all across Russia.  Later people in Russia started recording their video appeals to the president for a variety of other reasons (e. g. in the wake of Putin’s visit to the region, spontaneously while facing a crisis, to wish him happy birthday or New Year or simply to express an opinion on his performance as a leader).

The videos are recorded by both groups and individuals. The groups include various political organizations, professional enterprises, non-profit groups and ethnic groups and communities. The individuals represent people from all social and professional groups of contemporary Russia.

The subjects of the videos in the collection vary greatly. Many are related to economic conditions, infrastructure, housing and health. Others are concerned with issues in culture and education, such as endangered cultural institutions or cultural policy. Issues in politics, ideology and moral dominate in videos recorded to express criticism or approval of Putin or to wish him well.

Videos employ a multitude of creative strategies, such as the use of poetry, song, bird’s eye views, group shouts, sign language, children, puppets, animals, etc.

Collected together these videos serve as a virtual encyclopedia of everyday life in contemporary Russian society. The collection presents a rich source for research in political, economical, social and environmental conditions, language, folklore and other aspects of contemporary Russia.

The web archive was developed by librarians and student assistants at Harvard Library and published in collaboration with the Princeton University library under the auspices of the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation.

As of August 20 2021, the web archive contains 314 videos. The source collection (1008 videos and growing) can be accessed in an open Zotero library. The sites inside the Zotero library are assigned subject or format tags and organized by category.

March 25th, 2020

Literary Authors from Europe and Eurasia Web Archive

The Literary Authors from Europe and Eurasia Web Archive brings together web sites related to literary authors (of both fiction and non-fiction essays), translators, critics and publishers from Europe and Eurasia.  The project launched in May 2019 aims to preserve the history of the contemporary literary process as reflected in the non-print publishing activity of important literary figures and organizations. Their websites represent a key addition to the traditional literary archives and by preserving them the curators strive to assure the continuing availability of this potentially ephemeral content to researchers and scholars.

Since the advent of web publishing many authors have taken their texts to the new media, often maintaining online diaries, commenting on literary and political events, and simply having personal websites complete with biographies, schedules of appearances, audio and visual materials as well as literary and critical texts. It is not unusual for poets and prose writers alike to test out their new texts on their social media audiences. All these sources serve as key additions to the traditional archives and are of great value for researchers. At the same time due to the nature of the internet, political pressures in Eastern Europe and Eurasia and brevity of human life these materials are fragile and will perish if not preserved.

The project archives the following types of sites:

  1. Personal websites,
  2. Social media accounts and blogs (LiveJournal only at this point),
  3. Sites of literary organizations and awards.

The Literary Authors from Europe and Eurasia Web Archive is an initiative developed by librarians at Columbia University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University, under the auspices of the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation. The collection is curated by Anna Rakityanskaya (Harvard), Thomas Keenan (Princeton), Robert Davis (Columbia) and Anna Arays (Yale).

As of March 25 2020 the archive lists 83 sites in 11 languages from 13 countries. The archive content can be accessed directly from its Archive-It page or from Worldcat.

Anyone can recommend a web site for archiving by following this link and answering a simple questionnaire.

January 13th, 2020

Sovinformburo Photograph Collection digitized

29th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution: The Press.1946

[Soviet Information Bureau photograph collection]
HOLLIS # 990088625770203941

The Davis Center Collection at Fung Library has digitized its Soviet Information Bureau Photograph Collection. Commissioned by the propaganda arm of the Soviet state to document the country’s reconstruction following World War II, these nearly 5,800 black-and-white photographs provide an extensive visual record of daily life, culture, and politics in the USSR at the start of the Cold War. Subjects include Soviet celebrities, visiting foreign dignitaries, as well as ordinary people from all parts of the USSR, including the Baltics and Central Asia, pursuing work and leisure. Several series of photographs are of historical interest, depicting civilian war casualties, VE-Day parades on Red Square, Stalin’s seventieth birthday celebration, and the Nuremberg trials.

The photographs were brought to the U.S. by Andrew Jacob Steiger, Moscow bureau chief for World News Service in 1948-1949. In the 1950’s Steiger gave them to Sovietologist Alfred G. Meyer, former Associate Director of Harvard’s Russian Research Center (now the Davis Center). Meyer, in turn, donated the collection to Widener Library, where it remained in a vault. The photographs were rediscovered in 2000 and transferred to the Davis Center Collection, which processed them for on-site use. The present digitization vastly expands access, making the collection instantly available to scholars at Harvard and around the world.

Because they were intended for dissemination by foreign news agencies, most of the images bear reverse-side captions – many in English, some in Russian or other languages – identifying the location, subject(s), and photographer. Thanks to the transcription and translating efforts of student assistants, all caption text is digitally preserved alongside the images. The text is fully keyword-searchable and accessible to non-Russian speakers, further enhancing the collection’s usefulness as a teaching and research tool.

To view the collection online, search HOLLIS Images for “Soviet Information Bureau” or follow this link. The collection’s Finding Aid is also available.

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

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.

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