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Monday, January 13th, 2020...9:59 am

Sovinformburo Photograph Collection digitized

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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)

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