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The Grushnikov Collection
at the Library of Congress

Barbara L. Dash,
Rare Materials Section

(Originally published in Slavic and East European Information Resources, 11:2-3 (2010): [110]-119. This article is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States.)

A carefully assembled collection of more than 6,000 Soviet-era children's books awaits scholars' attention at the Library of Congress.

In August of the year 2000, Oleg Pavlovich Grushnikov donated his collection of more than 6,000 Soviet-era children's books to the Library of Congress along with his multi-volume typescript bibliography of Russian children's illustrators. An official at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Grushnikov began collecting children's books in the early 1970s. Increasingly well known among children's authors and illustrators over the ensuing twenty-five years, Grushnikov saw his collection multiply. It soon included children's and other illustrated books inscribed to him by the artists, and some with original doodles or vignettes.

The Grushnikov Collection represents the work of most twentieth-century Russian children's authors as well as more than one hundred Russian illustrators, many of them known for their work outside of children's illustration. There are also classics of Russian literature and poetry and of world literature, including folk tales and fairy tales. There are nonsense rhymes, riddles, and verbal games and puzzles. Most books are in Russian, including some that are translated from English and other languages into Russian. Others are in English, West European, East European, Baltic, other Slavic, Turkic, or Asian languages; these include translations from Russian originals. The collection includes only a few books from the mid- to late 1920s and at least a few dozen from the 1930s. The 1940s, 50s, and 60s are richly represented, as are the subsequent decades up to the late 1990s. The following is an extremely small sampling from the Grushnikov Collection of book illustrations from the 1930s through the 1970s.

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Color illustration by Nikolai Ustinov
FIGURE 1. Color illustration by Nikolai Ustinov for Mikhail Prishvin's Lisichkin khleb [The fox's bread]. Moscow: "Detskaia literatura," 1987.

Tri medvedia by Leo Tolstoy
FIGURE 2. Tri medvedia [Three bears] by Leo Tolstoy; illustrations by Vladimir Lebedev. Moscow: DETGIZ, 1948.
Pesn' o stroike
FIGURE 3. Pesn' o stroike [A song about construction] by Agniia Barto; illustrations by Tat'iana Mavrina. Moscow: OGIZ; Molodaia gvardiia, 1931. "Ofset-pechat' litografii Tsentrizdata."
Ozernyi front
FIGURE 4. Ozernyi front [Lakeside military front] by Konstantin Paustovskii; illustrations by Tat'iana Mavrina. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo detskoi literatury, 1934.
Moia pervaia zoologiia: chast' vtoraia: V lesu
FIGURE 5. Moia pervaia zoologiia: chast' vtoraia: V lesu [My first zoology: part two: In the forest] illustrated by Evgenii Charushin. Moscow: DETGIZ, 1942.
FIGURE 6. Kot-Vorkot [The grouchy cat]. Illustrations by Iurii Vasnetsov. Moscow: DETGIZ, 1948.
Zaichik i drugie stikhi
FIGURE 7. Zaichik i drugie stikhi [The hare and other poems] by Aleksandr Blok; illustrations by Naum Tseitlin. Moscow and Leningrad: DETGIZ, 1956.
Medved' i veter
FIGURE 8. Medved' i veter [The bear and the wind] by Kronid Garnovskii; illustrated by Viktor Duvidov and Aleksei Shtorkh. Moscow: "Sovetskaia Rossiia," 1960.
Soroka-beloboka: russkaia narodnaia igrovaia pesnia
FIGURE 9. Soroka-beloboka: russkaia narodnaia igrovaia pesnia [The white-winged magpie: a Russian folksong]. Illustrations by Iurii Vasnetsov. Moscow: "Detskaia literatura," 1964.
Obyknovennye varezhki
FIGURE 10. Obyknovennye varezhki [Ordinary mittens] by Ia. Piniasov; drawings by Ol'ga Bogaevskaia. Moscow: "Detskaia Literatura," 1964.
FIGURE 11. Kukareku [Cock-a-doodle-do] by Irina Tokmakova; drawings by Lev Tokmakov. Moskva: "Detskaia literatura," 1978.
Stekliannyi prud
FIGURE 12. Stekliannyi prud [The glass pond] by Tat'iana Mavrina and Iurii Koval'. Moskva: "Detskaia Literatura," 1978.

Most of the books in the collection are large format with illustrated paper covers and a small number of pages. In general, the pages are printed with relatively brief texts, poems or prose, and with many color illustrations. Some books are almost entirely illustration. Some of the bound volumes have striking end papers (see, for example, Figure 19).

But there are also paperbound and hardback books of all sizes, including miniature books, and many in special formats. These include shape books, accordion books, carousel books, coloring books, slice books (also known as metamorphic picture books; see Figure 13), paper cutouts, and (small children's) board books (Figure 15). The collection contains quite a few alphabet books (Figure 16), illustrated in a variety of styles, sets of color illustrated postcards, and even two sets of picture puzzle blocks in their original boxes (one of which is pictured in Figure 14). There are also works for older children, teenagers, and some adult fiction collected for the illustrations. Grushnikov added as well a number of publications about the artists represented in his collection and about their work.

686 zabavnykh prevrashchenii
FIGURE 13. 686 zabavnykh prevrashchenii [686 amusing transformations]. Artists: Georgii Traugot and Aleksandr Traugot. Moscow: L.O. Khudozh. Fonda SSSR, 1956. Metamorphic pictures: a "slice book."
Kot, petukh i lisa
FIGURE 14. Kot, petukh i lisa [The cat, the rooster, and the fox]. Picture puzzle blocks. Illustrations by Tat'iana Mavrina. Moscow, 1952.
FIGURE 15. Galosha [The rubber boot] by Mikhail Pliatskovskii; drawings by Viktor Pivovarov. Moscow: "Malysh," 1965. Board book.
FIGURE 16. Bukvarenok [The big alphabet book] written and illustrated by Georgii Iudin. Moscow: "Detskaia literatura," 1980.

At the Library of Congress, Grushnikov's books are housed in archival boxes and are accessible through the online catalog. A combined search for the title Grushnikov and the title of a book will retrieve the catalog record for the box in which the book resides. To find books by a particular author or illustrator, the reader should search for the title Grushnikov and the author or artist's name. Names and titles must be entered in Library of Congress transliteration, and readers should search for Russian surnames in at least nominative and genitive forms (e.g., Duvidov and, in a separate search, Duvidova). Books can be retrieved by requesting the box number within the Grushnikov Collection. It is likely that in the future books will be selected from the collection for digitization by the Library of Congress; those books may receive individual cataloging.

Kot Samson
FIGURE 17. Kot Samson [Samson the cat] compiled by A.I. Lebedev; with drawings by T.L. (Tat'iana Lebedeva). This copy has covers only; publication information wanting.
Uchenik charodeiaUchenik charodeia
FIGURES 18 and 19. Uchenik charodeia [The magician's apprentice] by Lev Kassil'; drawings by Tat'iana Lebedeva. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo detskoi literatury, 1934.
Skazka o glupom myshonke
FIGURE 20. Skazka o glupom myshonke [The tale of the foolish little mouse] by Samuil Marshak; illustrations by Vladimir Lebedev. Moscow: DETGIZ, 1951."

Grushnikov wanted his collection to demonstrate how the work of individual Russian illustrators developed, and how their art reflected different periods of political and cultural life in the Soviet Union.* His collection certainly accomplished these goals. Some of the most popular children's books of the Soviet period were satires on the life and politics of the time. One example is Samuil Marshak's Tale of the Foolish Little Mouse (Figure 20), reprinted many times with Vladimir Lebedev's illustrations. The collection also traces the careers of a number of illustrators almost from beginning to end. Tat'iana Mavrina, one of Grushnikov's favorite artists, is one example (see Figures 3, 4, 12, and 14). In other cases, as in the work of Tat'iana Lebedeva (Figures 17 through 19), Grushnikov acquired samples of different styles of work by the same artist. His collection contains as well a number of editions of stories or folk tales illustrated by different artists, and is a mirror, if partly veiled, of both art and society for most of the Soviet era.

* Harold Leich of the European Division, Library of Congress, reported this remark from a conversation with Grushnikov that took place in Moscow in September 1993.

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  December 8, 2016
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