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COMPILING A COMPLETE VIEW OF 20TH-CENTURY RUSSIA
STANFORD - A vision of reuniting a "bifurcated Russian culture" is the moving spirit behind a project to compile a bibliography of Russian emigre memoirs, according to the Stanford historian who is heading the effort.
History Professor Terence Emmons is working with colleagues in the United States and Russia on a bibliography of Russian-language memoirs published outside the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991.
When the bibliography appears, Emmons said, "scholars will have available a fund of information about alternative views of the 20th- century Russian experience."
With the massive diaspora of Russians produced by the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath, groups of emigrants all over the globe set up magazines and newspapers to tell their stories, Emmons said.
Inside Soviet Russia, the imposition of strict censorship meant that only an official version of events, designed to legitimize the existing order, was allowed to appear.
Very little of the emigre material was represented in Soviet libraries, Emmons said, "although there was a lot of collecting going on, probably by KGB operatives attached to Soviet embassies around the world." These books and journals, however, were restricted to use by party officials and were not available to scholars.
As a result, "the whole country had a kind of warped, one- sided historical memory," he said.
Emmons traces his involvement with the emigre memoirs project back to the early 1960s, when he went to Russia as a graduate student. His adviser there, Pyotr Andreevich Zaionchkovsky, a history professor at Moscow State University, later launched a massive project to produce an annotated bibliography of memoirs and diaries from the founding of Russia to the 1917 Revolution. That bibliography was finally published in 13 volumes, in stages from 1976 to 1989.
Since the political and ideological climate made it impossible to include emigre memoirs in the Soviet bibliography, Emmons said, "Zaionchkovsky told me it was my job to supplement this project with a bibliography of emigre memoirs."
Emmons put the project on the back burner, until, with the advent of perestroika and glasnost, "it became clear that there was a tremendous surge of interest within Russia in everything that had gone on in the emigration," he said.
On a trip to the Soviet Union in 1988, Emmons met with the editor who had succeeded Zaionchkovsky and asked him about the possibility of getting help from Russian colleagues on the projected bibliography of emigre memoirs.
What had started as a request for help soon turned into a full- fledged cooperative venture, Emmons said. By 1991, a project had been established with a group working in Moscow and another group, led by Emmons, working at Stanford. Since the Hoover Institution library is the single most important source for Russian material outside of Russia, Stanford was a logical place for the project to be centered, Emmons said.
The Moscow and Stanford bibliographers communicate using electronic mail through Internet, exchanging files, messages and notes in Cyrillic script on a daily basis. Telephone communication between Russia and California is both iffy and very expensive, fax is not practical for large volumes of material, and the mails are uncertain and slow on the Russian end. So, e-mail has been a godsend, Emmons said.
"It's an example of how modern technology can aid scholarship in the humanities," he said.
Material for the bibliography is scattered "literally all over the globe," Emmons said. Memoirs have turned up not only in the well- known centers of Russian emigration - Paris, New York, pre-war Prague - but in locations ranging from Manchuria to South Africa to Argentina. The number of entries is approaching 15,000.
After obtaining interim funding from Stanford and Hoover, Emmons in 1992 received a $150,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant, half of which is contingent on matching funds, which he is endeavoring to raise from private sources. This year he was awarded a supplementary grant from the National Council on Soviet and East European Research, but completing the project will require still more funding.
With the money he has, Emmons has hired two full-time Russian-speaking-and-writing bibliographer-scholars. The Russian editor who is Emmons' opposite number in Moscow recently spent a month at Stanford, and the chief Russian bibliographer is spending three months on campus working with the Stanford bibliographers.
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