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Russian Revolutionary Literature

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About this Collection

Introduction: Russian Revolutionary Literature

Introduction: Russian Revolutionary Literature

This catalogue is a guide to Harvards collection of Russian revolutionary literature printed before 1917. The collection is broad in coverage. In time, it goes back to the report of a commission on the 1825 Decembrist uprising and to Alexander Herzen (1812-1870), to whom the origins of Russian socialism can be traced. From Herzen on, the intellectual basis of the revolutionary movement can be studied in the writings of the major figures Bakunin, Chernyshevskii, Tkachev, Plekhanov, Kropotkin, Chernov, Martov, Trotsky, Lenin and others. The collection also abounds in the anonymous and ephemeral pieces distributed among the workers and peasants, particularly those published immediately before and during the Revolution of 1905. All the various groups and intellectual persuasions are represented, from the early anarchists and populists on up to the Socialist Revolutionary Party and Lenins Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Most of the material was published abroad or on underground presses within Russia, but a few legally-issued publications of major authors are also in the collection.

The catalogue, compiled by me in the early 1960s (work underwritten by Bayard L. Kilgour, 27), has been accessible in the Houghton Library where the collection is housed. The breadth of the collection and its increasing use have made evident the desirability of making it more generally available through reproduction on microfilm. This the Houghton Library has done in cooperation with Research Publications, Inc., (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group) of New Haven. Thus this catalogue, now indexed, also serves as a guide to the microfilm.

Harvards collection was begun at the time the literature was being produced. On March 20, 1896, while the young Lenin was an exile in Siberia, Ivan Panin of Grafton, Mass. wrote offering a box of material on the revolutionary movement "two feet square, & about a foot high." He identified himself as "for a time" the American correspondent of Obshchee delo published in Geneva. With the gift, Harvard got the greater part of the rare early periodicals and books listed in this catalogue such items as Listok Narodni voli, Nabat, Obshchee delo and Vestnik Narodnoi voli.

The next significant addition consisted of ephemera from 1917 and 1918. Most of these items are broadsides and obviously of great rarity. Their inclusion somewhat lessens the unity of the catalogue, which is otherwise limited to material before 1917, but it seemed worthwhile to make such unusual pieces available. Some of the broadsides were the gift of Dr. F.A. Golder; others of Mr. T.P. Martin.

Not until 1940 was there another major acquisition. In that year Harvard bought most of the material from the early twentieth century, particularly the Socialist Revolutionary and anarchist periodicals, pamphlets and broadsides. This group also included some publications of the Jewish Bund in the Russian language.

Then in 1957 came another large acquisition. Mr. Kilgour, to whom the Russian collections at Harvard owe so much, made a magnificent gift of rare Lenin pamphlets, including the first, printed at an underground press in St. Petersburg. With these were many Russian Social Democratic Labor Party periodicals such as Iskra, along with pamphlets and broadsides by other Party members.

Work had scarcely gotten underway on Mr. Kilgours gift when it became clear that other revolutionary items of great rarity and importance were at Harvard and that recataloging was desirable. The material was all brought together and this catalogue prepared.

Hardly any other class of material presents so great a challenge to the bibliographer as Russian revolutionary literature. Almost everything, it sometimes seems, was issued pseudonymously or anonymously and often undated as well. In addition, there are no completely adequate bibliographical guides. During the 1920s, Soviet scholars made great progress in listing the published output of revolutionary groups, but in the past forty-five years almost no bibliographic work in this area has been published in the Soviet Union.

For lack of adequate tools, many anonymous and pseudonymous pamphlets do not have authorship determined. We shall never be able to identify the authors of many, but progress has been made. The late Boris I. Nikolaevsky kindly read through the catalogue and made a number of new attributions from personal knowledge. In other instances, authorship could be determined from memoirs and other material of a non-bibliographic nature. Other attributions from users will be welcomed and recorded in the Houghton Library copy of this catalogue.

The collection is not complete. The literature of the Russian revolutionary movement numbers many times over the pieces listed here, but making available these hundreds of rare or unique items should greatly help historians of the revolutionary movement in their search for the source material.

Notes on Cataloguing

The printed catalogue is arranged as follows: books and pamphlets before 1917; pre-1917 broadsides and broadsheets; broadsides of monarchist groups before 1917; periodicals before 1917; official Russian government documents (Tsarist publications about the revolutionary movement); and broadsides and leaflets, 1917-1920.

Except for the latter group of broadsides, which are arranged in chronological order, all items are arranged alphabetically by author, if known, otherwise by title. American cataloguing practice is to put material under an authors given name except in rare cases were he is infinitely better known under another. Thus, Lenin, Trotsky, and a few others are under their revolutionary names, but most authors are listed under their given names. Both names are in the index. Some anonymous items, such as proceedings of party congresses or party programs, are listed under the party, but corporate headings have been used sparingly. Entry by title has been preferred. Publications of the various parties and groups are noted in the index.

Users of Russian bibliographies will be aware that listovki, i.e., broadsides and leaflets of three or four pages, are listed together. I have followed American practice, and leaflets of three or four pages are listed with the books and pamphlets. Under broadsides are included only single sheets, unfolded, printed on one or both sides.

Notes on Filming

Incomplete periodicals have been filled out where possible by filming copies in other libraries. The target card on the microfilm always locates the original text.

This index includes titles of series, reprints from periodicals, publications of groups centered around periodicals, and publications of other party organizations. In general, a work is indexed under a party organization only if the name appears on the title page. Hence, a work might be listed under Iskra, but not under the R.S.D.R.P., unless R.S.D.R.P. also appears on the title page. The broadsides from 1917 to 1920, few in number, have not been indexed.

Kenneth E. Carpenter
Kress Library of Business and Economics
Harvard University


Anderson - Leningrad. Publichnaia biblioteka. Volnaia russkaia pechatv Rossiiskoi publichnoi biblioteke. Pod red. V.M. Andersona. Peterburg, 1920.

Andréas - Andréas, Bert. Le manifeste communiste de Marx et Engels; histoire et bibliographie, 1848-1918. Milano [1963].

BIN - Information supplied by Boris I. Nicolaevsky.

Birman - Moscow. Institut marksizma-leninizma. Biblioteka. Sotsial-demokraticheskie listovki, 1894-1917 gg.; bibliograficheskii ukazatel. tom 1: Listovki tsentralnykh uchrezhdenii i zagranichnykh organizatsii pod red. B.P. Birmana, G.I. Kramolnikova i P.G. Sennikovskogo. [M.] 1931.

Bourguina - Bourguina, Anna. Russian Social Democracy: the Menshevik Movement; a Bibliography. Stanford, 1968.

Browder - Browder, Robert Paul, ed. The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, selected and edited by Robert Paul Browder and Alexander Kerensky. Stanford, 1961. 3 v.

Kamenev - Russkaia politicheskaia literatura zagranitsei. Vypusk l. Sotsial-demokraticheskiia izdaniia. Sostavlen pod red. Iu. K. [M.] 1922 [i.e. Oxford, A.L. Pollard, 1962]. Actually compiled by Zolotarev.

Klevenskii - Klevenskii, M.M. Russkaia podpolnaia i zarubezhnaia pechat: bibliograficheskii ukazatel. l: Donarodovolcheskii period, 1831-1879. M., 1935.

Korman - Korman, Zanna. Materialy do bibliografii druków socjalistycznych na ziemiach polskich w latach 1866-1918. Wyd. 2. Warszawa, 1949.

Lenin - Moscow. Institut marksizma-leninizma. Khronologicheskii ukazatel proizvedenii V.I. Lenina. M., 1959-62. 2 v.

Masanov - Masanov, Ivan Filippovich. Slovar psevdonimov russkikh pisatelei. M., 1956-60, 4 v.

NYPL - New York Public Library. Dictionary Catalogue of the Slavonic Collection. Boston, 1959. 26 v.

PRR - Pervaia russkaia revoliutsiia; ukazatel literatury. M., 1930.

Spiridovich Spiridovich, A. Histoire du terrorisme russe, 1886-1917. Paris, 1930.

Trudy N.A. Rubakina Fridman, V.E. et al., "Trudy N.A. Rubakina" in Moscow. Gosudarstvennaia biblioteka SSSR im. V.I. Lenina. Otdel rukopisei. Zapiski Otdela rukopisei, 26 (1963) 151-206.

Vaganian Vaganian, V.A. Opyt bibliografii G.V. Plekhanova. M., 1923.

Venturi Venturi, Franco. Roots of Revolution; a History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia. New York, 1960.

Volnaia russkaia poeziia Volnaia russkaia poeziia vtoroi poloviny XIX veka. [Vstup. statia S.A. Reisera] Leningrad, 1959.

Zaleski Zaleski, Eugene. Les mouvements ouvriers et socialistes: La Russie. Paris, 1956. 2 v.