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Image of original cover of  Russia Looks at America: The View to 1917 Russia Looks at America: The View to 1917

Robert Allen
former Russian Area Specialist,
European Division
Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1988


Robert V. Allen (1923-1991) was the Russian/Soviet Area Specialist in the European Division at the Library of Congress for thirty years, from 1955 until his retirement in 1985. He began his career at the Library after earning a PhD in history at Yale University. In his position at the Library, he was responsible for building the Russian and Soviet collections, and for assisting readers and researchers use the Russian collections of the Library. In addition, he participated in many special projects related to Russia such as exhibitions and symposia, and was active in professional activities such as scholarly conferences, research, and publication. His tenure as Area Specialist overlapped with much of the Cold War period, and his tenure saw huge increases in the size and quality of the Russian collections made available at the Library to the Congress, federal government agencies, individual scholars and researchers, and the general public.

Dr. Allen's Russia Looks at America, published by the Library of Congress in 1988, represents the culmination of his scholarly and bibliographic career. Based on exhaustive bibliographic research conducted over many decades using pre-revolutionary Russian publications, the work is in effect a narrative bibliography, holding up a Russian mirror to the United States and interpreting for American readers what the Russians saw in that mirror, by presenting a fascinating summary of how Russians viewed the upstart but technologically innovative new republic from the mid-18th century until the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. A second, companion volume was originally planned for publication but was canceled for lack of funding; the second volume would have contained all the bibliographic citations gathered during the course of his research, in essence a comprehensive bibliography of Russian works about America. The card files for the unpublished second volume are kept in the European Division and are available for consultation upon request.

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  August 5, 2013
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