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Annual Report of the
Division of Slavic Literature for 1938

(From the report of the Chief, Mr. Rodionoff)


During the fiscal year 1937-1938 the collections of the Division of Slavic Literature were increased by the acquisition, through exchange, purchase, transfers and gifts, of 1,800 books, 3,140 issues of periodicals, and 514 pamphlets, or a total of 5,454 pieces of printed material. While the International Exchange Service continued to supply the Division mostly with the current material from the Slavic countries, the majority of out-of-print books originated in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as the new publications of the Russian emigrants in Western Europe and China, were acquired through purchase. Although in quantity the material received through purchase constitutes about seventeen percent of all the accessions of the Division of the past year, it should be estimated at approximately forty-five percent of the total value of the said accessions.

With 154,725 pieces collected prior to July 1, 1937, the Division contained about 160,179 pieces on June 30, 1938. (This total included about 46,548 issues of periodicals and serials which were tallied as individual items upon receipt, but were subsequently bound into approximately 10,092 volumes). The increase, therefore, of the holdings of the Division from the original collection of 68,000 Russian items, acquired in 1907 from Mr. Yudin,1 can be estimated at about 92,179 items, or 135 percent. (Many thousand volumes of Slavic material which have been assigned to other divisions of the Library are not taken into account for this computation).

While the unremitting interest of the scholars, statesmen, politicians, journalists and of the general public to various Russian topics continued to necessitate a more extensive acquisition of Russian material than that which is summarized above, the difficulties of securing the said material remained the same as during the preceding year.2

The Division, nevertheless, succeeded in acquiring many publications of considerable rarity and reference value of which a few only are mentioned here as follows:


The Institute of Literature (which is also named "The Pushkin House") of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics continues to realize its very important bibliographical projects on the Russian classics, and copies of its three following publications of 1937 were acquired for the Division during the year:

  •  a) Pushkiniana. 1911-1917, with 2,115 entries, compiled by A. G. Fomin; this book is a continuation of his previous work under the same title, but covering the period of 1900-1910 and published in 1929 by the same Academy (the Division also has a copy of it).
  •  b) Rukopisi Pushkina, Khraniashchiesia v Pushkinskom Dome (The Manuscripts of Pushkin kept in the Pushkin House) - a detailed description of 823 items, by L. B. Modzalevskii and B. V. Tomashevskii, well known Russian specialists in Pushkiniana.
  •  c) Materialy dlia Bibliografii Lermontova (Material for a bibliography of Lermontov), Volume first, listing 2,467 entries for the publications of Lermontov's works, for the period of 1824-1935, compiled by K.D. Aleksandrov and N.A. Kuz'mina and edited by V.A. Manuilov. The approach of the first centenary of the death of Mikhail Iur'evich Lermontov, the great Russian poet (1814-1841), prompted the Institute of Literature to work out a project of collecting and publishing material for an extensive bibliography of him; the collection of such material is contemplated to comprise several volumes of which the volume first only, mentioned above, has been so far published.

Besides those bibliographical works on Pushkin and Lermontov, there was acquired for the Division a copy of a paleographical publication of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is noteworthy, namely:

  •  Karinskii, N. M., editor. Obraztsy pis'ma drevneishogo perioda istorii russkoi knigi (Samples of the writings of the most ancient period of the history of the Russian book). Leningrad, 1925. This folio contains the sixty-eight phototype reproductions of ancient Russian manuscripts, mostly of the eleventh century, with an explanatory article by the editor.

From Rossica published recently outside Russia S. P. Postnikov's Bibliografiia Russkoi Revoliutsii i Grazhdanskoi Voiny (1917-1921) (A Bibliography of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War of 1917-1921), Prague, 1938, - is a very useful reference book acquired for the Division during the year. The entries for this work were made out from the Catalog of the Library of the Russian Historical Archives in Prague, Czechoslovakia, edited by Jan Slavik, the Director, and published by that institution, which was founded in 1923 by the Russian refugees, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia. The Archives have succeeded in developing a larger collection of very valuable and rare material in manuscripts, documents, books, periodicals and newspapers. In the foreword to the publication mentioned above the editor modestly regards it as a preliminary work for a complete and scientifically compiled bibliography of the same subjects, which, however, he deems hardly feasible in the near future. Nevertheless, the bibliography published by the Archives has been favorably commented by the press and the students of Russian history.


In this class the following publications acquired for the Division during the year are noteworthy:
  •  Bibliia siriech Knigi Vetkhago i Novago Zavieta po iazyku slovensku. . . (The Bible, i.e. the Books of the Old and the New Testaments in the Slavonic language). Moscow, The Printing House of the Old believers, 1914. Folio, about 700 leaves, including several woodcuts. Full leather binding. A facsimile of the first complete Bible in the Church-Slavonic, which was published in 1581 by Constantine, Prince of Ostrog, in the Polish town by that name, and known as "The Bible of Ostrog." Rivaling in workmanship and European Bible of that period, "The Bible of Ostrog" was skillfully executed at the Prince's own printing house by Ivan Feodorov, the famous first Russian printer.3 In the history of Slavic printing "The Bible of Ostrog" has always been considered as an outstanding landmark and achievement both from technical and educational points of view, and that significance of the book, its rarity and the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the official beginning of Russian printing (1564-1914) caused the publication of its facsimile imitating with the utmost care all the technical features of the original edition. However, by inserting several plates into this reproduction of "The Bible of Ostrog" the publishers somewhat receded from the idea of a facsimile, although the plates copying some pictures from the sixteenth century Church-Slavonic manuscripts considerably aid the book in the characterization of Russian spiritual culture of that time.
  •  Blagoviestnik (The Messenger of the Good News, or the Gospel). Moscow, 1648. The first edition, official, by the Patriarchate of Moscow and of all Russia. In the Church-Slavonic. Folio, of 925 numbered leaves and four portraits of the Evangelists in woodcuts; printed in black, with vermillion used extensively for the titles, sub-titles, capitals, etc.: bound in contemporary full leather bindings, with hand tooling, ornamented and gilded edges and copper clamps. Copies of this publication are extremely rare. It represents the period of intensive Russian revising, reprinting and printing for the first time, of the old religious books and manuscripts in the Church-Slavonic and shows the high standards of Russian typographical art attained by the middle of the seventeenth century when Russian printing had not yet reached its first hundredth anniversary. The work itself is a Church-Slavonic translation of the commentary on the four Gospels, written originally in the ancient Greek by Theophilactus, a prominent Byzantine writer of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and the Archbishop of Achrida, Bulgaria, then a province of Byzantium. [Today Ohrid is in the Republic of Macedonia, ed.] In this work the author mostly compiled and systematized the interpretations of the four Gospels by St. John Crysostom which had been scattered throughout his sermons. It was written upon the request of Tsaritsa Maria, of Byzantium. Prior to 1648, the work circulated in Russia in Church-Slavonic manuscripts of an ancient translation from the Greek, by an unknown translator. The Library has the original text in Volume one hundred and twenty-three of J.-P. Migne's Patrologia Graeca, Paris, 1864.
  •  Florovskii, G. Puti russkago bogosloviia (The ways of the Russian theology). Paris, 1937. This is a history of the Russian theology, covering the period from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, with vivid characteristics of the religious thinkers. The book is supplemented with an extensive and valuable bibliography of the subject.
  •  Kozhevnikov, V. A. Buddizm v sravnenii s khristianstvom (The Buddism in comparison with the Christianity). In two volumes. Petrograd, 1916.

History and auxiliary sciences

  •  Imperatorskoe moskovskoe arkheologicheskoe obshchestvo (Imperial Moscow archeological society). Materialy po arkheologii Kavkaza (Archeological material of the Caucasus). In fourteen small folio volumes. Moscow, 1888-1916. A complete set comprising over 2,250 pages of text, accompanied by about 2,000 drawings and over 750 lithographic and phototype plates, all artistically executed. The set is a symposium of articles on various archeological material, as architectural monuments, works of art, implements, pottery, ornaments, inscriptions, manuscripts, etc., found in the Caucasus by the special expeditions arranged by the Imperial Moscow Archeological Society and financed by Emperor Alexander III. The publication is indispensable to the students of history, archeology and ethnography of the Caucasus, a region of the great mountains, where, during many a century, various peoples and tribes had clashed and fought for their existence, and ancient Christian kingdoms had suffered from the ravages inflicted by barbaric and Mohammedan invaders.
  •  Imperatorskoe russkoe istoricheskoe obshchestvo (Imperial Russian historical society). St.-Petersburg-Petrograd. Sbornik materialov otnosiashchikhsia do arkhivnoi chasti v Rossii (Colletion of the material pertaining to the organization of the archives in Russia). In two volumes. Petrograd, 1916-1917. An instructive collection of the official material (the laws, enactments, ordinances, instructions etc.), for the period of over one hundred years, pertaining to the archives of various governmental departments both in the capitals of Russia, St.-Petersburg and Moscow, and in her provinces.

Besides the Russian publications mentioned above in this group, some of non-Slavic Rossica historical works, out-of-print and new, acquired during the year for reference use in the Division, are also noteworthy, viz.:

  •  Loukomski, G. K. La vie et les moeurs en Russie de Pierre le Grand à Lénine. (Avec 107 planches en phototypie). Paris, 1928. In quarto.
  •  Nolde, Boris, le baron. L'alliance france-russe. Les origines du système diplomatique d'avant-guerre. Paris, 1936. An extensive study, by a well known European specialist in international law and diplomatic history, published as a serial issue of the Collection historique de l'Institute d'études slaves de l'Université de Paris.
  •  Potocki, Jean, le comte (1761-1815). Histoire primitive des peuples de la Russie avec une exposition complete de toutes les notions, locales, nationales et traditionelles, nécessaires à l'intelligence du quatrième livre d'Herodote. St.-Pétersbourg, imprimé à l'Académie imperiale des sciences, 1802. In quarto, made of rag paper and bound in contemporary full red morocco. The author was a talented historian, linguist, geographer, ethnographer, archeologist, scientist and one of the first profound students of the Slavic peoples. His monographs were published in limited editions, and, therefore, they are very rare.
  •  La Russie ou moeurs, usages, et costumes des habitants de toutes les provinces de cet empire. Ouvrage orné de cent-onze planches, representant plus de deux cents sujets, gravés sur les dessins originaux et d'après nature, de M. Damame-Démartrait, peintre franšais, auteur et editeur des Maisons de Plaisance Impériales de Russie, et Robert Ker-Porter, paintre anglais, inventeur de Panoramas. Extrait des ouvrages anglais et allemands les plus recents, par M. Breton, Tomes 1-6 (of small size, bound in contemporary full green morocco). A Paris, 1813. This set might as well belong into the class of fine arts by the exquisite pictorial material accompanying its text.
  •  Weydemeyer, A. Tableaux historiques, géographiques et statistiques de l'Empire de Russie, avec une carte généalogique. St.-Pétersbourg, 1828. Folio, made of rag paper, with gilded edges. It contains sixteen tables of which the three are accompanied with the maps in colors. Bound in contemporary full green morocco, with hand tooling and gilded ornament by the edges of the boards. The author, a Russian historian, was a good systematizer of various data scattered throughout the numerous sources hardly accessible to the general reader. By publishing this work in French he expected to be useful especially to foreign readers who had usually been misinformed about Russia; for, as he stated in his foreword: ". . . la plupart des ouvrages publiés dans l' étranger sur la Russie. . . contiennent beaucoup d' erreurs." It is the rank of Russia among the world powers which prompted the author to undertake this work, and he wrote, in the same foreword: "La puissance de la Russie et son influence dans le système politique la mettent au premier rang des états de l'Europe. Des notions exactes sur cet Empire ne peuvent qu'intéresser tous les peuples. ."

Geography (physical, political and economic)

  • Nauchno-izdatel'skii institut bol'shogo sovetskogo atlasa mira (Scientific editorial institute of the great soviet atlas of the world). Moscow. Bol'shoi sovetskii atlas mira (the great soviet atlas of the world). Volume first, in two parts. Moscow, 1937. Loose-leaf folio containing one hundred and sixty-eight maps in colors, with the total area about eighteen square metres.

    This monumental work, by many outstanding Russian specialists in various fields, has been planned to comprise the three volumes of which the second and the third have not yet been published.

    There are the two parts in the first volume, viz.: one devoted to the world in general, containing the eighty-three maps, and another - to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in general, with the eighty-five maps, each part comprising the two groups, namely, the physico-geographical and the politico-economic. Approximately equal spaces are given to each group in each part. In the physico-geographical groups the latest data on the geology, soils, meteorology, climates, geography of animals and plants, oceanography, etc. are presented, while the politico-economic maps treat a great variety of subjects, many of which, in regard to capitalistic countries, are new and original, as, for example, the imperialism or political and economic expansion and rivalry of the great world powers, economic interdependence of the bodies politic, exports of the capital and the origins of financial investments in the main industries and transportation systems, sources of the raw material and the world markets for it, foreign markets for the main productions of various countries etc.

    Of course, the new politico-economic themes treated in the atlas in regard to the capitalistic countries have not been applied therein to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which presumably is void of the capitalism and imperialism and independent from the foreign capital in financing its industries. Therefore, the prevailing idea of the politico-economic maps of the Union (there are forty of them in the atlas) is to show its progress in various branches of the national economy.

    In the technical execution, the first volume of the Great Soviet Atlas of the World is up to the standards established by the best modern world atlases published in other countries.

    The second and the third volumes of the atlas have been conceived by its editors to comprise the individual maps of the parts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (i.e. the republics, regions, territories, etc.) and those of the capitalistic states of the world, respectively.

Social sciences

  •  Liubomirov, P. B. Ocherki po istorii metallurgicheskoi promyshlennosti v Rossii (Historical essays on the metallurgical industry in Russia). Leningrad, 1937.
  •  Popov, K. Ekonomika Iaponii (The economic condition of Japan). Moscow - Leningrad, 1936. Published by the Institute of the world economy and politics of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, this work is a revised and enlarged edition of the author's earlier work on the economic geography of Japan.
  •  Pososhkov, I. T. Kniga o skudosti i bogatstve (A book about the indigence and wealth). Moscow, 1937. The third edition, with introductory articles, facsimile and index. This is a new, revised and well commented edition of the famous Russian treatise written about 1724, but first published over one hundred years later, in 1842. The author, Ivan Tikhonovich Pososhkov (1652-1726), a self-educated peasant and self-made business man, who is regarded by historians as the first Russian economist, was arrested for this work and died in prison. For, his treatise is not merely a theoretical work, but an integral plan of economic and political reconstruction of Russia, which apparently was not in conformity with the policies of Emperor Peter the Great, then the ruler of Russia; nor was it in accordance with the ideas of the author's Russian contemporaries.
  •  Sigov, S. P. Ocherki po istorii gornozavodskoi promyshlennosti Urala (Historical essays on the mining and metallurgical industries of the Ural Mountains). Sverdlovsk, 1936.

Fine arts

The Division was especially successful during the year in acquiring many publications of high reference value in the class of fine arts, several of them being rare and out of print items.

The following acquisitions are probably the most noteworthy:

  •   Grabar', I. Repin, Il'ia Efimovich, Moscow, 1937. In two folio volumes, bound in the publisher's cloth. This is a monumental monograph, by a prominent Russian historian of fine arts, on the life and works of Professor Repin (1844-1930), one of the most outstanding and prolific Russian painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The text is accompanied by numerous plates (many of them done in colors) and illustrations finely reproducing the artist's works.
  •  Kallash, V. V., editor, Portrety russkikh pisatelei v geliograviurakh, po originalam izviestnykh russkikh khudozhnikov (Portraits of the Russian writers in heliogravures, after the originals by well known Russian artists). Moscow, 1904-1905. Large folio containing seventy-five portraits, with biographical sketches of the writers.
  •  Levitan, I. 26 geliograviur (The twenty-six heliogravures). Moscow, n.d. Large quarto. The best works by I. I. Levitan (1861-1900), the famous Russian landscapist, are reproduced in this beautiful publication of the Mir Iskusstva (The World of Art), one of the leading and progressive Russian magazines on fine arts, of 1899-1904.
  •  Loukomski, G. K. La ville sainte de Russie. Kiev. "La mère des villes russes." Son histoire, ses monastères, ses mosaïques et fresques, ses oeuvres d'art. Avec aquarelles et dessins de l'auteur. Paris, 1929. Large quarto, in French, with sixteen plates in colors and sixty-four in black, by the author, a well known Russian artist and historian of fine arts.
  •  Nekrasov, A. I. Drevnerusskoe izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo (The ancient Russian imaginative art). Moscow, 1937. With four plates in colors. A new and original monograph on the subject, abounding in data, bibliographical references and illustrations.
  •  Novitskii, A. Istoriia russkago iskusstva s drevnieishikh vremen (A history of Russian fine arts from the most ancient times). Moscow, 1903. In two volumes, with many illustrations and plates.
  •  Shishkin, I. I. 60 ofortov (The sixty aquatintas). St.-Petersburg, 1894. This folio contains exquisite reproductions of the aquatintas by Professor I. I. Shishkin, the famous Russian landscapist and aquatinter (1831-1898).
  •  Stasov, V. V. Slavianskii i vostochnyi ornament po rukopisiam drevniago i novago vremeni (The Slavonic and Oriental ornament from manuscripts of the ancient and modern times). St.-Petersburg, 1887. Large folio containing one hundred and fifty-six plates in colors, with explanatory Russian and French texts. For its wealth of material and high reference value, this publication is well known among European historians of fine arts.
  •  Vereshchagin, V. V. Turkestan. St.-Petersburg, 1874. This publication contains reproductions of one hundred and six etchings (on twenty-six plates) taken from life by the author, the famous Russian painter (1842-1904), during his participation in the Russian campaign of 1868 in Turkestan.

Belles-lettres. The smallest Russian book in the world

  • Krylov, Ivan Andreevich (1768-1844). Basni (Fables). St.-Petersburg, Ekspeditsiia zagotovleniia gosudarstvennykh bumag, 1856. 4

    The dimensions: a) of the bindings: 3 by 2.3 centimetres; b) of a page: 2.9 by 2.2 centimetres, or about 1:392 of a page of the New York Times; c) of the type-setting space, exclusive of the pagination: 2.1 by 1.4 centimetres, comprising twenty-one lines, each having the capacity of twenty-five characters, which, however, is not used in full, owing to the breaks of the lines and the inter-word openings.
    The printing-type, especially molded for the book, is classified by bibliographers as "the smallest diamond," but in the terms of the modern classification of printing-types it comes close to "the brilliant."

    The characters and the words appear in the book with an astonishing clearness, and one with a good eye sight might read them without a magnifying glass. There is not a single error in the book.

    The book has a frontispiece lithographed portrait (a bust in profile, in oval) of the author, Ivan Andreevich Krylov, the famous Russian fabulist (1768-1844), the engraved ornamented title-page, eighty-four pages of text containing twenty-five fables in verse, two pages of the table of contents, and the second title-page, which is printed and not engraved as the front title-page.

    The copy acquired by the Library on its Babine Fund is in excellent condition. It is bound apparently in the publisher's boards, with the title appearing again on the front board and ornaments - on both, all executed in three colors lithography, and the ornament by the edges of the bindings done in a light green shade. The edges of the book are gilded, and it is enclosed in a contemporary black morocco slip case. The romantic style prevails in the whole ornamentation of the book.

    The book was designed by Jack J. Reuchel, a Russian medalist, numismatist and printer (1780-1856), who for thirty-eight years (1818-1856) had held the position of the Director of the Technical Division of the "Ekspeditsiia Zagotovleniia Gosudarstvannykh Bumag" (The State Bureau of Engraving and Printing) at St.-Petersburg, Russia, in which the printing of the book was executed. According to a legend, it took about one year to mold and perfect the printing-type for the book, and the entire printing was limited to the fifty copies only, the majority of which were turned over to Emperor Alexander II for distribution at his discretion. In fact, there are no data in bibliographical literature either on the number of the copies printed, or on an approximate number of the copies extant.

    Mr. Reuchel's purpose in making the smallest Russian book was to show the degree of perfection attainable to the Russian typographical art of his time. Although, prior to 1856, several books of smaller dimensions had been published in Western Europe, the printing-types used for them were much larger than that which was molded for printing the miniature edition of I. Krylov's "Fables."


Among many other publications added during the year to the Division's collection of belles-lettres, there are about fifty items of Pushkiniana 5 with several illustrated editions of A. S. Pushkin's works and pictorial publications illustrative of his life. Some of them, by the superb artistry of their execution, might as well belong into the class of fine arts, and in this group the following four French versions of the poet's works are outstanding:

  •  Pouchkine, A. Boris Godounov. Illustrations de V. Choukhaeff. Traduction de J. Schiffrin. Paris, Éditions de la Pléiade, 1925. In quarto, with the eighteen plates in colors, executed in the style of Russian illuminations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The edition was limited to 445 copies. The Division's copy is no. 414, printed on vergé-paper.
  •  Pouchkine, A. Boris Godounov. L'illustration et la decoration de Boris Zworykine . Traduction franšaise de A. Baranoff. Paris, l'Édition d'art H. Piazza, 1927. In large octavo, with the fifteen plates in colors, executed in the style of Russian miniatures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Each page is adorned with an ornamental frame. The edition was limited to 995 copies. The copy acquired for the Division is No. 257, printed on vellum.
  •  Pouchkine, A. S. Le coq d'or et d'autres contes. Traduits par N. Andreieff, illustrés par B. Zworykine. Paris, l'Édition d'art H. Piazza, 1925. In quarto, with the twenty plates in colors, executed in the style of Russian miniatures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The edition was limited to 995 copies. The copy acquired for the Division in No. 944, printed on vellum.
  •  Pouchkine, A. La dame de pique. Traduction de J. Schiffrin, B. de Schloezer et A. Gide . Avant propos de André Gide. Illustrations de Vassili Choukhaeff. Paris, Éditions de la Pléiade, 1923. In large octavo, with the eight plates and twelve illustrations in colors. The edition was limited to 345 copies. The copy acquired for the Division is No. 307, printed on vellum.

Miscellaneous activities

About thirteen hundred new author entries were written in longhand during the year and filed in the Division's catalog of temporary entries; 1,730 titles were classified; about 6,000 books were plated, labeled and marked with call numbers; 7,438 pieces of printed material condensed into 1,376 volumes were prepared for binding; and about 11,300 were arranged on the shelves.

The Union Catalog of the Russian holdings in American libraries, which is in the care of the Division, absorbed considerable time for filing and refiling about 5,000 cards.

The Division lent 1,230 volumes during the year, either through the inter-library loan system, or on personal and official borrowing privileges.

About nineteen hundred readers and visitors were accommodated in the Division during the year, and about nine hundred written inquiries were answered by its official correspondence.

1 Cf. Report of the Librarian of Congress, 1907, p. 20.  Back to text

2 Cf. Report of the Librarian of Congress, 1937, p. 221.  Back to text

3 Cf. Report of the Librarian of Congress. 1933. p. 146.  Back to text

4 The printer's name, the place and the date of publication do not appear in the book. They are given by the Report of the Imperial Public Library of St.-Petersburg for 1856 (Otchet Imperatorskoi Publichnoi Biblioteki za 1856 god), on page fifty-nine, where a copy of this book is listed as a gift from Mr.Reuchel (the Technical Director of the "Ekspeditsiia"), "who recently passed on," states the Report. The "Ekspeditsiia Zagotovleniia Gosudarstvennykh Bumag" was the State Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Back to text

5 Cf. "Report of the Librarian of Congress," 1937, pages 219 and 224.  Back to text

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