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Russia Abroad – Resources on Emigres

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Successful utilization of bibliographical and other reference tools requires clearly identifying the topic of the research, particularly when embarking on the study of a topic as complex and multifaceted as Russian emigration. Emigration is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as the “departure from a place of natural home or country for life and residence elsewhere.” Although as a demographic phenomenon, the migration of ethnic groups from place to place poses an interesting topic of study, it is beyond the scope of the present compilation of sources. The purpose of this compilation is to list and annotate those sources, printed and electronic, that can assist researchers studying the social, cultural, and political activities of Russian émigré society around the world.

The most significant period in the history of Russian emigration began in 1917, when in the wake of the October Revolution, millions of Russians departed, some voluntarily and others involuntarily. In Roman Gul’s words, they were “taking Russia with them.” The dominant opinion among this group, especially its intellectual and artistic elite, was that the departure from Russia was temporary. They were not immigrating, but seeking a temporary heaven from a new, and transitory, political regime. Accordingly, the group took upon itself the challenge of continuing and preserving the cultural life of its homeland during its temporary exile. For this reason, the phrase “Russia Abroad” seems an appropriate one to describe Russian emigration.

It is important to note that the following compilation focuses on the intellectual activities of Russians working within the Russian community primarily in the arts and humanities. For the most part, the work of Russian émigré scientists and engineers became a part of the mainstream activities of the new country. Likewise, the compilation does not provide material on researchers of Russian culture working within the academic institutions of the various host countries. However, researchers interested in biographical information about these figures can find it in the following sources, to the extent that their lives were a part of the Russian émigré experience.

The reference material presented here also includes works that were published outside of Russia because they were banned or censored within it. Although not representing émigré literature per se, these works were intended for audiences in Russia and can therefore be seen as a part of “Russia Abroad.”

“Russia Abroad” presents an additional dimension to bibliographical searches for material on a particular subjects and/or time period: geographical location, whether of residence, publication, or primary audience. Thus a complete search necessarily encompasses the relevant countries of activity. Although a significant amount of literature has been written on emigration, and new material is continuously being released, there are relatively few bibliographies on the relevant topics. We attempt to ease future searches using the online catalogue (WorldCat) by providing for each source its relevant subject headings. These subject headings can guide further searches on the same topic or they can be crossed with other subject headings for conducting advanced searches on more specific or related topics.

This compilation is a work in progress and clearly cannot encompass the topic in its entirety. We welcome suggestions from the users on both the content and organization of the material.

The material represented in this compilation is divided into four categories:

  1. Sources providing general information on “Russia Abroad” in different parts of the world
  2. Bibliographic resources
  3. Bio- and biobibliographic resources
  4. Other sources

The user will find an additional division inside each category. Every entry contains:

  1. the short annotation;
  2. the call number of the item as listed in the University of Illinois library catalog (please be aware of the fact that the majority of publications belong to the Reference collection and are not available for circulation) ;
  3. DESCRIPTOR – a set of those subject words or/and subject phrases from the WorldCat record for the item which may help retrieve other items of a similar nature.

For advanced searches, we list additional choices of subject headings. By combining them a researcher may compile his/her own “bibliography” from materials that are available on WorldCat. The user can also limit the search by choosing the language of the publication and the time when the source was published.


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