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Annual Report of the Slavic Section for 1919

Slavic Section. July 16, 1919

To the Librarian:

I respectfully submit herewith my report on the Slavic Section for the last two fiscal years ending June 30, 1919, excluding the period May – October 15, 1918, inclusive, during which I was absent on leave.

Size of the Section.   The Slavic Section of the Library of Congress contains publications in the Russian, Polish, Bohemian, Servian, Bulgarian, and other Slavic tongues — over 100,000 volumes in all. The majority of the publications in the Section are Russian. The Yudin Collection alone contains about 80,000 volumes. With the exception of the Polish, the subsections of the literature of other Slavic nations, especially of those subjugated by the Teutonic powers in the past, have not been developed, principally for the reasons that the literary expression of these peoples was restrained and the interest of other nations in them was discouraged by their masters. Now, with freedom, their literature will grow in extent and importance, and the best of it the Library should acquire in the coming years.

Accessions.   Owing to the war and the turbulent revolutionary conditions in the Slavic countries which have resulted in an entire breakdown of communication and transportation systems, not to speak of the collapse of business relations, it has been possible to acquire only a very limited number of Slavic publications — about 500 in number, including periodicals and pamphlets — these being secured through local purchases, gifts, and official channels. Among the most noteworthy are the original Izviestia (Official Bulletin) of the temporary Russian government following the downfall of the Tzar; the official bulletin of the government of Kerenskii; the bulleting of the Bolsheviks up to the first part of this year; various other Russian periodicals, although not one in a complete set; Asiatic Russia [Aziatskaia Rossiia], an official publication in three large volumes with a collection of detailed maps of Siberia; seven volumes of scientific lectures on philosophical and religious problems by noted professors of the Russian Theological Academy, published in very limited numbers; war posters; photographs of the war and revolutionary leaders and scenes in Russia.

Repeated attempts through private business concerns as well as through official channels to secure from Russia literature by purchase have failed. For instance, a very large order for literature on Russian economic life and affairs of more recent years received no answer but silence. By the voluntary aid of a Russian engineer a list of recent technical literature has been prepared, but there is little hope of getting the volumes from Russia before internal peace has been established there.

Technical work.   During the last two years ending June 30 the technical work in the Yudin Collection has progressed so far that the real value of the Collection has become apparent and the Collection is now available to the readers and especially to the research students in the Library.

About three fourths of the Collection is roughly classified and about 10,000 volumes are classified in detail and catalogued.

The newspapers and magazines of general character are classified in alphabetical and chronological order and a record of them has been made.

The earlier Russian publications, from the year 1692 up to the beginning of the 19th century, consisting of about 2000 volumes, many of them of great rarity and value, have been classified separately and are kept now in an enclosure in the Collection. There are also about 1000 volumes of revolutionary literature, half of which are "underground," or secretly published.

However, most of the technical work, such as binding newspapers, classifying in detail and cataloguing, remains yet to be done. It would be advisable to have one more technical worker in the Collection.

Demands upon the Section.  Demand upon the Slavic Section has been heavy and varied. This is explained by the importance into which the Slavic peoples sprang through the war and the revolutions and by the fact that their conditions were little known in the Western countries, especially in this country.

Assistance in research — bibliographical, statistical, etc. — in translation of letters, decrees, and other Slavic text, expressions and words, and in collecting miscellaneous information in regard to Slavic affairs was rendered constantly. Cases in which extended assistance was given — hours or days of time — are recorded as follows: members of Congress, 17 cases; Department of the Interior, 12 cases; Office of the General Staff and other offices in the War Department, 23 cases; Department of Labor, 7; State Department, 5; Department of Justice, 3; Department of Commerce, 5; Treasury Department, 2; Department of Agriculture, 10; Tariff Commission, 1; Office of the Surgeon General, 2; Committee on Public Information, 2; colleges, 13; other libraries, 9; other divisions of the Library,12; Smithsonian, 2; Red Cross, 3; Russian Embassy, 15; Bulgarian Legation, 4; Danish Legation, 1; Persian Legation, 1; chambers of commerce, 2; temperance societies, 3. In 46 cases individual readers in the Library and private firms were assisted in the same way.

Preparation for the War Department of a classification table of the Slavic peoples with a short descriptive sketch of each as expressed in statistical data based upon official sources, interpretation and verification of the transliterated Russian names on a new detailed Siberian map for the Matthews-Northrup Works, were among the more extensive pieces of work carried out in the Section. Studies of Slavism, as philosophy and movement, by a number of students in the Library have required considerable assistance from the Section. With the appearance of Bolshevism on the stage there have come numerous inquiries to the Section in regard, for instance, to the history and program of the Bolsheviks, the meaning, correct spelling and pronunciation of the words "Bolshevik,""Soviet," "Sovdep." "Tzyk," etc. Inquiries in regard to the "Bolsheviks" have lately been superceded by inquiries in regard to the cooperative movement in Russia. The greatest demand by readers has been for publications on the economic conditions in Russia, natural resources, transportation, and commerce. Textbooks, grammars and dictionaries for the study of Russian, belles-lettres, and works of literary criticism have been in considerable demand.

Visitors to the Section have been numerous.   The ancient and rare Russian volumes in the enclosure and Russian art works are a special attraction to them. It has been a touching sight to see with what wonder and emotion Russian visitors, especially old-time immigrants from backwoods places, find in the Collection the books which they had studied and read in their youthful days in Russia, which they had held tenderly in their memories for many years, and which they had never thought to see on the shelves of a library so distant from their native land.

(In the last annual librarian report (1918) on page 66 is stated: "Owing to the absence of Dr. Speek, in charge of our Slavic Section, a report of his is deferred". This explains why my report is for the last two years. P.A.S. ) [P. A. S. = Peter A. Speek – Ed.]

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