Searchable Database at UIUC --- The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States

The Slavic Reference Service, in collaboration Dr. John H. Brown and Dr. Steven A. Grant, is hosting a searchable database version of The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States [Link note: researchers will be able to view UIUC print holdings, digitized text of the guide[the Library of Congress], and the searchable database-- all in one place]. This database will be updated and maintained by the Slavic Reference Service. Researchers can explore archival depositories and collection highlights in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. According to the compilers, the scope of this database includes: “… 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 are also noted.” Moreover, the materials listed in the database include: “… 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 However, unpublished facsimiles, photo reproductions, and microfilms of originals (even of originals subsequently published) have been taken to be archival materials in this guide. “ In terms of geographic coverage, the compilers have tried to include “all nationalities and regions” within the former Soviet Union. In the addition to the link above, researchers can directly access this database here.


SRS part of new International Area Studies Library!

As of August 22, 2011, the Slavic Reference Service will be one of the array of services offered in the new International Area Studies Unit (IAS).   While the collection and staff are being moved, August 5-21,  we will be closed for walk-in requests.  However, we will try to address ILL, email and chat requests, as time permits.

The new unit will be locatd in room 321 Main Library, the third floor, on the south side of the building. For those familiar with the library it will be in the space formerly occupied by the English library and that of the Asian library. 

Our service will continue to operate as before.  We have been fortunate to secure funding for the coming year from the U.S. Department of State, Title VIII program and the library here at the University of Illinois.

The reference collections of the Slavic, Africana, Asian, Global Studies and Latin American units will all be housed in this space and the librarians of those units will be available for consultation. The Slavic Reference Service will also be available in this space.

The reference collections, periodicals and microform collections will be in Room 321.  While we are in transit (August 5-21) our service could be delayed.  We ask for your patience as we get settled into this new space.  Barring any unforeseen delays, we should be back to normal by August 22.


Polish digital photo archive

One of the types of materials frequently requested by patrons, but not always easy to locate, are photographs of particular historical persons, events or locations. Polish non-profit organization, Ośrodek Karta, which is dedicated to preserving historical materials. Among other initiatives, the organization is dedicated to digitizing its collection of over 160,000 photographs illustrating the social history of Poland and East-Central Europe in the 20th century. Although not the entire corpus has been made available online yet, the archive’s website it is well worth visiting. Some of the photographs in the collection have been donated by private persons, others are works of renowned Polish photojournalists. The range of the subjects covered is broad, from early 20th century pictures of the activities of the Warsaw Cycling Society, to portraits of the KOR and Solidarity leadership. The best represented, however are photographs showing everyday life in the Polish People’s Republic, Polish Armed Forces in the West and, perhaps most importantly ,the photographic evidence of the life of the Polish Gulag prisoners, as well as photos associated with the Katyn massacre. A separate, very interesting collection, are samizdat postcards produced during the explosion of the Solidarity movement and the martial law. One hopes that the cooperation of the archive with its sponsors continues and more of its unique collections become available electronically. To reach the archive use the URL: http://www.karta.org.pl/archiwa_i_bazy_danych/Archiwum_Fotografii/49


Polish full text works available online

A page we visit often and wholeheartedly recommend is Polskie dzieła pełnotekstowe, http://www.bj.uj.edu.pl/zb/pelnotek1_pl.php which is published on the home page of the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków. It is a very extensive gateway to Polish digitization resources and projects. After providing the link to the massive Federacja Bibliotek Cyfrowych, it is divided into following sections: national projects [such as National Digital Library], regional projects [like for example the Silesian Digital Library], particular library projects [e.g. Digital Library of the Warsaw University]. That division is followed by various Polish encyclopedias and dictionaries on the web. There is a separate link to the library of ephemeral imprints from the 16th-18th centuries and the Library Science Digital Library. Of great interest are the links to digital versions of Polish journals online. Among them the most complete list of periodicals, arranged alphabetically:
The list closes with digital libraries devoted to particular disciplines: economics, philosophy/religion, history, literature, earth sciences, biology, math, engineering, pedagogy, law, and sociology.
To go to a particular site, click on the zobacz >> icon following the name of the resource.


We have found this site, http://www.bookfi.org/ which claims to contain close to a million scanned Russian books, especially useful for Russian etexts. It also claims itself to be the largest electronic library of the Russian net. It is not possible for us to verify these claims, but preliminary searches have shown that one can find many digital versions of works on the site that are not available anywhere else. An example of such a work is Sovetskaia voennaia entsiklopediia. (One would assume that it would be impossible to find this work online for free due to copyright restrictions).
The site has a search engine, which allows for keyword or exact phrase searches. A quick browse of the results of a search using bibliografiia, shows that the site would be of great interest to serious researchers.
Below is an example of a sample hit in the database.

Please note the category, Russkoe zarubezh'e. Clicking on this subject heading leads one to other books in the category. The database also allows for separate searches by category and genre. Although we have not had the chance to work with this resource extensively, it seems to show great promise for Russian scholars searching for materials which are hard to find in digital format otherwise.