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Alexis Babine at the Library of Congress

Eugene G. Pivovarov,
Visiting Scholar,
European Division

This web site is devoted to Alexis V. Babine, Russian scholar and long-time librarian at the Library of Congress. The site consists of three parts: a biography of Babine, a bibliography of his works and sources in the Library of Congress on the history of its Russian collection, and data taken from Babine's notebooks that show price changes in a Russian province during the years of the Revolution and Civil War.


Alexis V. Babine (Aleksei Vasilievich Babin) was born into a family of provincial merchants in the small Russian town of Elatma, in the Ryazan' region, on March 22, 1866. For two years he studed at a university in St. Petersburg. Wanting to continue his education abroad, Babine went to Riga where he found a job as a stoker on a German ship and left for the United States in 1889. In 1891-1896 he studied American history and worked as a cataloger at the Cornell University Library. After a short trip to Paris he was appointed to the position of librarian at Indiana University in Bloomington. Two years later Babine moved to Stanford where he was not only an assistant librarian but also a teacher of bibliography and Russian language.

Photograph of Alexis V. BabineIn 1902 Babine came to the Library of Congress where he took the position of "the specialist in charge of the Slavic literature." In 1903-1906 he negotiated the purchase of the large Russian language collection of a wealthy Siberian merchant, Genadii Yudin. He not only made all the necessary arrangements, transferring 80,000 volumes from Russia to the Library of Congress, but also published a bilingual description of the collection, translated all the correspondence between the Librarian of Congress and Mr. Yudin, and began to work on a catalog of this collection.

In 1910 Babine decided to return to Russia where he published the first popular history of the United States in Russian and worked as an inspector of public schools in Kharkov and Vologda provinces. After the February Revolution Babine was appointed to Saratov University, where he worked as an instructor of English, a librarian, and a member of the American Relief Administration (ARA) during the years of the Civil War. In 1922 Babine emigrated to the United States From 1927 until his death in 1930 he served as the assistant head of the Slavic Section of the Library of Congress.

Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of the Congress, characterized him as "scholarly, methodic, industrious, punctilious, and versed in the necessary technique; familiar also with administration, and linking it, his professional qualifications for the post were in that field very unusual."

Babine's collection can be found in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. In this collection are materials on the history of the Russian Revolution, the Civil War, emigration from the Russian Empire, as well as materials about the history of the Library of Congress and its European Division.


Alexis V. Babine: a Bibliography, shows the holdings of the Library of Congress--books, papers, and microform -- by and about Alexis V. Babine. Additional information about Babine and his activities can be found in the archives of Stanford, Cornell, and Indiana universities.

The material in the index is divided into three chapters: Books and Articles, the Babine Papers, and Related Archival Materials (Collections) in the Library of Congress. The last chapter is divided into two parts: archival materials available in the Manuscript Reading Room and files kept in the European Reading Room. The description of the Babine Papers is based on the register prepared by Ahmed-Jahmal Johnson in 2000.

All titles and author names are arranged by main entry in alphabetic sequence and include Library of Congress call numbers. Russian-language entries are transliterated using the Library of Congress system. Items are searchable by subject, title, author, call number, and place of publication in the Library's online catalog (

Books and Articles

Babine, Alexis Vasil'evich. A Russian Civil War Diary: Alexis Babine in Saratov, 1917-1922. Edited by Donald J. Raleigh. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1988. DK265.7 .B3 1988 Diary written by Babine during the Civil War in Russia.

Babine, Alexis Vasil'evich. Istoriia Sievero Amerikanskikh Soedinennykh Shtatov. St. Peterburg: Tip. Trenke i Fiusno, 1912. Microfilm 19577 E History of the United States written by Babine.

Babine, Alexis Vasil'evich. The Yudin Library, Krasnoiarsk (Eastern Siberia). Washington, D.C.: [Press of Judd and Detweiler] 1905. Z997.Y85 B Babine's description of the Yudin Library.

Babine, Alexis Vasil'evich. The Yudin Library, Krasnoiarsk (Eastern Siberia). Washington, D.C.: [Press of Judd and Detweiler], 1905. Microfilm 96/10003 [Law Library]

Brasch, Frederick E. A. V. Babine. Washington, D.C., 1930. Z720.B18 B7 Short biography of Babine.

Eighteenth Century Russian Law Collection. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Preservation Microfilming Program, 1996-2000. Microfilm 96/10003 Introductory reel includes Yudin Library, Krasnoiarsk (Eastern Siberia) by Babine.

Kasinec, Edward. Slavic Books and Bookmen: Papers and Essays. New York: Russica Publishers, 1984. Z2483 .K37 1984 Short biography of Babine.

Kraus, David H. "The Slavic Collections of the United States Library of Congress." UNESCO Journal of Information, Librarianship, and Archive Administration, 1, No.3, [1979]. Description of the development of the library's Slavic collections.

Lowell, Mildred (Hawksworth). Indiana University Libraries, 1829-1942. [n.p., n.d.]. Microfilm 5564 Z Thesis about the development of the Indiana University libraries, where Babine served as a librarian.

Palmieri, Aurelio. Rarità Bibliografiche Russe Nella Biblioteca del Congresso in Washington... Rome. Tipografia pontificia nell'Istituto Pio IX. 1917. Z733.U63 Y85 Babine's successor on the purchase and development of the Yudin Collection.

Player, Cyril Arthur. How an American Librarian Reached into the Heart of Siberia and Plucked 80,000 Volumes. Detroit, 1920. Z733.U63 Y9 Article about purchasing the Yudin Collection

Polovnikova, I. A. Molodye gody IUdina. Moscow: Reklamnoe agentstvo Ekskliuziv, 1996. Z989.Y83 P65 1996 Book by Yudin's descendant about Yudin's youth.

Raleigh, Donald J. Revolution on the Volga: 1917 in Saratov. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986. DK265.8.S37 R34 Book by the editor of Babine's diaries about the revolution in Saratov.

Report of the Librarian of Congress... 1907, pp. 20-23; 1927, p. 13; 1929, pp. 109, 340; 1930, pp. 7,19. Entries concerning Babine's career and the development of the Slavic holdings at the Library of Congress.

Shindina, A. B., comp. IUdinskoe sobranie Krasnoiarskoi kraevoi nauchnoi biblioteki: katalog. Krasnoiarsk: Krasnoiarskaia gos. kraevaia universal'naia nauch. biblioteka im. V.I. Lenina, 1991-1993. Z939.K943 S547 1991 Catalog of the Yudin Collection in the Krasnoiarsk Scientific Regional Library, with a preface concerning its history.

Sokolova, N. M., comp. Gennadii Vasil'evich Iudin: bibliograficheskii ukazatel'. Krasnoiarsk: Krasnoiarskaia gos. kraevaia universal'naia nauch. biblioteka im. V.I. Lenina, 1990. Z989.Y83 S65 1990 Bibliographical index of books about the Yudin Collection.

Tuneeff, D. D. G. V. Yudin: Biographical Sketch in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Yudin Collection, Library of Congress. [Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1931.] Z989.Y83 T85 Biographical sketch of Yudin, written by Babine's colleague.

Volkonskii, Sergiei. My Reminiscences.Translated by A.E. Chamot. London: Hutchinson & Co. [1925]. DK254.V6 A3 English translation of the reminiscences of Prince Sergei Volkonskii about his trip to the United States and Cornell University.

Zalewski, Wojciech. Collectors and Collections of Slavica at Stanford University: a Contribution to the History of American Academic Libraries. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Libraries, 1985. DJK36.U6 Z35 1985 Book about the development of the Slavic collections at Stanford University. Contains information about Babine's service at the Stanford University Library.

Archival Manuscript Materials Collections

Manuscript Reading Room

1) Babine, Alexis Vasilevich, 1866-1930. Papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine, 1866-1930.

2) Ashley, Frederick William, 1863-1942. Papers of Frederick William Ashley, 1822-1941 (bulk 1913-1926) 2 v., 1 container. 0.4 linear feet., MMC-3665. Diary and scrapbook containing handwritten entries, chronologies, clippings, obituaries, and memorabilia relating to Ashley's career at the Library of Congress and to his personal life.

3) Ashley, Frederick William, 1863-1942. History of the Library of Congress, 1939.   The Records of the Library of Congress. Description of the development of the Library of Congress. Contains entries about the Slavic Divison and a biography of Babine.

4) The Records of the Library of Congress.

a) Central file (Putnam-Macleish). Container 117.
Babine's correspondence.

b) Kennan, George, 1902-1937. Container 162.
Correspondence between George Kennan and Herbert Putnam concerning the purchase of the Yudin Collection.

c) Slavic Division, 1907-1935. Container 210.
Correspondence of the Slavic Division (1907-1935).

d) Perlstein, Izrael, 1927-1940. Container 232.
Correspondence with I. Perlstein, a book dealer, concerning book purchases for the Library of Congress.

e) Simikhovich, Vladimir G., (1904-1930). Container 365.
Correspondence between representatives of the Library of Congress and Simikhovich, a Russian professor, concerning Slavic holdings at the library.

f) USSR, Embassy of, 1902-42. Container 729.
Correspondence and memoranda from the Russian and Soviet Embassies (1902-1942).

g) Yudin Collection, (1903-1947). Col 2.
Correspondence between Yudin, Herbert Putnam, and Babine concerning the purchase, shipment, and binding of the Yudin Collection.

5) Tuneeff, D. D.
Papers, 1931-1932. 2 items. MMC-2864.
Papers of Babine's colleague .

6) Putnam, Herbert, 1861-1955.
Papers of Herbert Putnam, 1783-1958 (bulk 1899-1939). 8,000 items. 34 containers. ML128.M8 H37 1990.
Family correspondence. The papers relate largely to Putnam's family and personal life. Include letters to his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth (Munroe) Putnam, about his trip to Europe in 1903 with Babine.

7) Vinokouroff, Michael Z., 1894-1983.
Papers of Michael Z. Vinokouroff, 1851-1930. 1 microfilm reel.
Papers of Babine's colleague. Selections (1927-1930) from a bound volume, relating to the acquisition of the Alaskan Russian Orthodox Church records by the Library of Congress.

European Reading Room

1) Kapusta, Alvin.
The Yudin Collection. The Uncatalogued Remnant. Analysis and Recommendations. European Division Files. The History of the Russian Collection.

2) Kapusta, Alvin.
The History of Slavica at the Library of Congress (1800-1985). European Division Files. The History of the Russian Collection.

3) Karlovich, Robert A.
Izrael Perlstein. Talk Delivered by Robert A. Karlovich at the AAASS Panel on Eminent Slavic-American Bookmen, November 3, 1984. European Division Files. The History of the Russian Collection.

4) Kraus, David H.
"The Development of the Russian Collections at the Library of Congress before World War II." Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Library Association, Slavic and East European Section, Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 1985: European Division Files. The History of the Russian Collection.

A Register of the Papers of Alexis V. Babine in the Library of Congress.
Prepared by Ahmed-Jahmal Johnson, 2000
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Collection summary: Papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine

Span Dates: 1895-1953

Creator: Babine, Alexis Vasilevich, 1866-1930

Size: 250 items; 5 containers plus 1 oversize; 2 linear feet

Repository: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. MMC-3239

Abstract: Librarian, teacher, and author. Correspondence; lectures and articles concerning the Bolsheviks; Russian ms. of Babine's history of the United States; notes and typescript of a journal (1917-1922) recording his experience during the Russian revolution as superintendent of schools for the Vologda Territory, as instructor at the University of Saratov, and assistant to the American mission in Moscow; his translations of short stories; notes and notebooks; diplomas and other certificates; and passports. Includes ms. and typewritten copies of a play entitled We the People by Harold Anson. Most of material in English.

Administrative Information:

Provenance: The papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine (1866-1930), librarian, teacher, and author, were acquired by the Library of Congress as a bequest from Babine, 1931-1954.

Copyright Status: The status of the copyright on the unpublished writings of Alexis Vasilievich Babine is governed by the Copyright Law of the United States. (Title 17, United StatesC.).

Preferred citation: Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: container number, Papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Container List:

  • Certificates and diplomas, 1885, 1913-1922, n.d.
    Correspondence, 1901-1930
    Journal, 1917-1922 (3 folders)
  • Miscellany, 1922-1928, 1953, n.d. See also Oversize Notebooks, n.d. (3 folders)
    Passports, 1911-1922
    Photographs, n.d.
    Writings, n.d.
    "The American Revolution, 1899
  • "The Bolsheviks in Russia," n.d. (2 folders)
    "The Brigand," n.d.
    "Discovery of America," 1901
    "Lenin, Trotski and Co.," n.d.
    "New Plymouth, Mass.," 1896
    "Periodic Oscillations of the Rapidity," n.d.
  • Russia, lecture, n.d.
    "Russian University and the Bolsheviks, n.d.
    • Short stories, n.d. (3 folders)
    • "Story of a Young Love;" n.d.
    • "Tonya's Brigand," n.d.
    • Unidentified, n.d.
    • United States, colonial history
      • Connecticut, 1896
      • Maryland, 1896
      • New York, 1897
      • New England, 1896
      • Pennsylvania, 1897
      • Virginia, 1895
  • "We the People,"; n.d. (5 folders)
  • OV 1 Miscellany, 1953, n.d. (container 2)
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