Annual Report of the Slavic Section for 1921
Slavic Section. Report for the year ending June 30, 1921.
Accessions. There have been added to the Library about 800 publications from the Slavic countries through purchase, gifts, and official channels during the last year.
Although the Section has collected bibliographical information in regard to the literature published in these countries during the period from 1914 up to date, yet on account of the continuously unsettled business conditions and the disorganized communication and transportation facilities there, it has not been possible to place orders with results.
A considerable order for the publications of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Petrograd, issued during the war and the revolution has been placed through an institution of higher learning in Finland and is now pending.
Of the literature acquired by purchase perhaps the most noteworthy is a collection of Lettish publications, 478 in number. It consists of (1) informative literature official (documentary) as well as authoritative private on the history of the Lettish people; (2) of literature on the economic and general social conditions in Latvia, on the folk lore, religion, and customs of the Lettish people; and (3) of publications representing the best Lettish story writers and poets.
Of the Esthonian literature the Library has succeeded in acquiring only the Official Gazette of the Esthonian Republic Government and the Bulletin of the Esthonian Ministry of War, though the sets of both these periodical publications are not complete. An order for Esthonian informative literature is in preparation.
With the central and South European Slavic countries, connections have been established and orders placed, but very little has been received from these countries so far.
Gifts. Among the gifts the most noteworthy is a collection of publications, 12 titles, on the Baron von Wrangel Crimean campaign against the Russian Soviets, presented to the Library by the Russian Embassy. One of the volumes is a detailed report on the military operations, with seven sheets of maneuver and battle maps.
The Section possesses informative literature on the military operations of Kolchak, the operations of the American, English and Russian anti-Bolsheviks' troops in the province of Arkhangel'sk, but as to the military operations of the red armies against their opponents the Section has not succeeded in securing any authoritative publication as yet.
Technical Work. The binding and rough classification has continued. About 1000 volumes have been catalogued, including 100 volumes of the Lettish publications. The principal volumes in Class H are catalogued, and the Russian literature relating to Alaska during the Russian possession is also catalogued.
Demands upon the Section. The Russian belles-littres and works on Russian history and law have been in the greatest demand, and inquiries as to whether the Library has any informative literature from Soviet Russia have been constant.
American readers seem to admire and enjoy the presentation of the characters in the Russian stories - - the art of writing, although the characters in themselves appear to be repulsive to them. "Sad, maddening heroes, human freaks, moral lepers, no bright character or action on which a reader could rest and cheer up" - - are remarks often made by the readers of Russian fiction in the Library.
The study of the history of the former Russian monarchy is pursued by two quite distinct groups of readers, among whom are Americans as well as Russian refugees. One group, holding that the Russian "downfall" is due to the evil will of the Bolsheviks and their "kindred" groups including the "Kadets" and even the "Oktobrists," is collecting evidence and arguments to show that the Russian people, peasants, workers - - everybody - - were much better off during the monarchy than now, or ever since, while the other group is collecting historical facts for their contention that the present "great epoch-making " Russian revolution with its Bolshevism is rather an effect than the cause of the Russian crisis - - the result of the misrule during centuries of the czars in keeping the peasants in poverty and ignorance and in oppressing the conquered non-Russian countries and peoples - - is their claim.
The personality and writings of Lenin are of late attracting some attention, which is perhaps in part due to Mrs. Sheridan's Mayfair to Moscow, and to the press-news about Lenin's yielding to the peasants. "I wonder whether Lenin will be the next Russian czar, he seems to possess the strength of Peter the Great" - - recently remarked a Library visitor who asked for something on the life history of Lenin.
Assistance in translation, collecting statistical and bibliographical information in matters of Russian literature and affairs, has been given to the government offices as well as to the readers and to other divisions in the Library.
[Report not signed; most likely submitted by Peter A. Speek - Ed.]