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Bulgarian Collections in the Library of Congress

Research Activities and Resources on Bulgaria in North America (1977)

This paper, written by Paul L. Horecky, former Chief of the European Division from 1972-1977, was presented at the Second Congress of the Bulgarian Historical Society in Sofia, Bulgaria, October 1977. It is reproduced here in its entirety as one source documenting Bulgarian-related activities at the Library of Congress.

I think it is quite in tune with the overall theme of this august gathering — coinciding as it does with the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarsko istorichesko druzhestvo — to give you a capsule account, a sort of tour d'horizons, on Bulgarian studies and research in North America. Speaking more or less as a Slavic generalist, though with a lively interest in matters Bulgarian, before a distinguished forum of historians for whom the systematic and neatly organized chronological approach is an essential characteristic of their discipline, I know that I should start out with the history of Bulgarian studies in the U.S. Fortunately, the excellent essay on the subject by my friend and colleague Michael Petrovich in the just-published volume Bulgaria Past and Present, bringing together the contributions to the First International Conference on Bulgarian Studies held at Madison, Wisconsin in 1973, makes this task superfluous, so that I can dwell on giving you, in broad strokes, a reasonably up-to-date picture of the state of the art — research in progress, teaching activities, publications, exchanges, and research resources.

It would be an exaggeration to say that Khristo Botev and Georgi Sava Rakovski are household words in the U.S.A., that American translations of Bulgarian writings are rolling en masse off the presses, or that classrooms are bulging with students eager to learn the Bulgarian language. Compared with the magnitude and the dimensions of your countries' studies of Bulgaria, we in the United States are engaged in a "mini-bulgaristika." But, at the same time, it is fair to say that in the past decade or so Bulgarian studies in our country have made impressive strides and that in the academic field Bulgaria is far from being the terra incognita it was some 40 or 50 years ago. This progress is largely due to a fraternity of dedicated scholars, students, and free-lancers, who have displayed an esprit de corps and initiative perhaps more intense than in the case for other areas of Southeastern Europe.

Today we have several universities with active ongoing research projects and programs on Bulgaria. At the University of Washington, where Professor Peter F. Sugar has done solid work on the history of East Central and Southeastern Europe and promoted an extensive monographic series on that subject, Professor James E. Augerot, in turn, has established a strong program in linguistics and literature, joining other traditionally active institutions in Balkan studies in these fields such as Harvard, and Chicago, and at Yale Professor Riccardo P. Picchio has given recent impetus to these activities. At the University of Pittsburgh, Professor James Clarke has trained several graduate students, and there has been a strong interest in expanding the Bulgarian/Southeast European activities at their Center of International Studies. Bulgarian language instruction being an indispensable prerequisite for subsequent scholarly pursuits, the Universities of Pittsburgh and Yale offered summer courses in Bulgarian last year.

Sustained efforts of the American academic establishment to gain a rightful place in the sun for the hitherto rather undeveloped Bulgarian studies have resulted in recent years in the training of perhaps 10 or more young PhDs and in the production of original dissertations such as Thomas Meininger's "The Formation of a Nationalist Intelligentsia, 1835–1878"; Assen G. Dimoff's "Bulgarian Attitudes Toward Russia as Revealed by the Bulgarian Renaissance Press"; John D. Bell's "The Agrarian Movement in Bulgaria, 1899–1918"; and quite a few others.

At Indiana University the marital scholarly team of the Jelavichs, as well as Professor Taaffe, have been pursuing their work in Balkan history and geography, respectively. The Halperns, another marital team at the University of Massachusetts, have returned recently from a one-year research stay in Bulgaria, he having focused on sociology and she on folklore. Professor Slovak at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana has begun to undertake some 19th century studies. At the University of California at Santa Barbara, there is Dimitrije Djordjevic, and his graduate student, Nikolai G. Altankov, who conducted a massive study of Bulgarians in North America. The University of Wisconsin, with Professor Michael B. Petrovich as the indefatigible moving spirit of Bulgarian studies, has at present at least two graduate students completing their PhDs one in history and the other in archaeology; the University of California at Los Angeles, which has welcomed visiting Bulgarian scholars, has pursued work in the social sciences, in some fine arts, and is strong as well in providing the Ottoman focus Significant work in political science pertaining to Bulgaria has been carried out by William Welsh at the University of Iowa.

Besides these most active institutions, a number of individuals have directed their scholarly attention to diverse facets of Bulgarian studies. Ernest A. Scatton (New York State University at Albany) author of the book on Bulgarian phonology, is developing a Bulgarian reference grammar for use by American students and scholars (such works existing now only in Bulgarian and Russian); and, along similar lines, Charles E. Gribble of Ohio State University is completing a Bulgarian reading course using the linguistic similarity between Bulgarian and Russian as a convenient vehicle for facilitating the study of Bulgarian. Frederick B. Chary, whose book The Bulgarian Jews and the Final Solution, 1940–1944 appeared in 1972 and who was recently in Bulgaria for the second time, now works on the Bulgarski zemedelski naroden suiuz. Charles A. Moser (George Washington University) completed his political biography of George M. Dimitrov; Mark Pinson, at present at Tel Aviv University, works on mid-19th Bulgarian history; Marin V. Pundeff (California State University at Northridge) concentrates on the biographic and institutional aspects of Bulgarian history; Irwin Sanders (Boston University) is updating his sociological study of the Balkans and had a graduate student in Bulgaria; Philip Shashko (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee), who has published about 10 articles on mid-19th century Bulgarian history; Traian Stoianovich (Rutgers University) continues his long-standing interest in the Balkans; John R. Lampe (University of Maryland) has written an economic history of the Balkans; and L.S. Dellin (University of Vermont) has been a student of Bulgarian foreign trade. Of course, these listings are far from comprehensive, but they go to illustrate that American "Bulgaristika" has come a long way and is quite alive.

Specialized conferences and sessions on Bulgarian themes provide another indicator of the growth of American academic interest in your country and the Balkan area at large, both present and past. Back in 1971 a three-day conference on "Twentieth Century Bulgarian Literature" was organized under the auspices of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A veritable milestone in the intellectual focus on Bulgarian affairs was the First International Conference on Bulgarian Studies held in May 1973 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Some 70 scholars, representing delegations from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States presented and discussed papers ranging over a variety of disciplines, with history being given its due place. The agenda of this conference, though perforce not free of lively debate and differences of opinion and interpretation, is now available in print as a 400-page volume. Special panels and sessions on Bulgarian themes have become in recent years a not infrequent feature of professional conferences of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS), the American Historical Association, and similar learned societies. To exemplify this point, at the 8th National Convention of the AAASS, which concluded in St. Louis on the very day our conference here opened, several special papers dealt directly with Bulgarian or Ottoman topics, such as "Contributions of the Bulgarian-Americans to the U.S," "The Army and National Policy in 19th Century Bulgaria," "The Intelligentsia and the Peasant in Bulgaria." A separate panel on "The Bulgarian April Uprising: Retrospect in its Centennial Year, 1876–1976," was exclusively given over to Bulgarian studies.

Among events scheduled for the near future are a symposium of folk arts in Bulgaria by Duquesne University's Tamburitzans Institute of Folk Arts at the end of this month and in the Spring of 1977 a panel at the University of Vermont on the centenary of the Bulgarian uprising and the American Bicentennial. Both will be with binational representation.

A vital role in strengthening and advancing Bulgarian and East European studies in the United States and promoting cultural cooperation and exchange has been played by several learned organizations, chiefly the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) through their Joint Committee on Eastern Europe; the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS), which is the representative professional organization in the United States for scholars and students specializing in the study of the USSR, East Central and Southeastern Europe; and the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).

Thus, ACLS has been offering development grants in support of the organization of conferences in the U.S. and for the preparation and publication of commissioned works needed for the development of the field. Selected examples in the latter category embrace compilation of two volumes describing the principal research resources for the Eastern European area available in North America and in Western European major repositories, and the writing of a volume on "Byzantium and the Balkans in the Middle Ages, 400–1453" by Speros Vryonis. Moreover, ACLS has also given a helping hand in generating studies on Slavic and East European ethnic groups in the U.S. and has made available research, travel, and language study grants.

IREX, acting as the principal instrumentality for exchange relations with the USSR and Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, reports a gradual and sizable improvement of exchanges in the past five years, as evidenced by the increase of the exchange with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences during that period from 15 to 20 man-months and the expansion in 1975 of the number of fellowships to the Slavonic Seminar in Sofia from 5 to 8. Through these mutual efforts it has become possible for American scholars and graduate students to conduct historical research in Bulgaria on topics ranging from "industrial development of Bulgaria, 1878–1912," to the "development of Bulgarian and Serbian Socialist-Radicals Movement, 1860–1885", and, in turn, for Bulgarian scholars to investigate in the United States such subjects as "problems of architecture in an advanced society," "problems of connections of model and probability logic." In numerical terms this accelerated pace in the exchange movement between our two countries is reflected in a total of over 90 Bulgarian and American participants over a five-year period (not counting occasional separate arrangements between learned institutions) and in the opportunity for at least 20 Americans to study your language on the spot.

Incidentally, one of the reasons for my travel to Southeastern Europe is to explore, in your country, in Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary, possibilities of expanding exchanges of publications and, perhaps, of librarians between university libraries in the United States and their counterparts in the aforementioned countries. If some among those present here have thoughts or suggestions on this matter, I will be very pleased to discuss this subject with you.

Let me now turn to a brief discussion of the resources in the major libraries and archives in the United States and in Canada which are, of course, an important factor in sustaining Bulgarian studies. In doing so I can limit myself to a sketchy survey because the Clio Press in Santa Barbara, California, is just about to release East Central and Southeast Europe; a Handbook of Library and Archival Resources in North America, which is a cooperative work undertaken with ACLS sponsorship under my chief editorship, with the participation of some 40 research libraries, archives, and institutions. Major collections for the nine countries covered therein are analyzed and described in essay form and the principal Bulgarian holdings are included, so that those among you who plan on research visits to North America can conveniently refer to this guide for more detailed information.

Canadian research collections on Bulgaria are of relatively modest size, led by the University of Toronto with a total of 2,000 volumes, of which 600 are on history, and there are about five other university libraries with lesser strength. I propose to focus therefore on Bulgarian material in the United States and to start with the Library of Congress, with which I happen to be associated. I take this approach not in a spirit of partisanship, but because the Library of Congress is indisputably the leading repository of materials for Bulgarian studies in the Western hemisphere.

The first contact of the Library of Congress with Bulgarian institutions goes back to around 1904, when an exchange of official publications was inaugurated. In the following years exchanges have been initiated with all leading scholarly institutions of Bulgaria. As a result of systematic collecting activities, through both exchange and purchase — significantly intensified in the past years — the Library's Bulgarica have grown to almost 30,000 monographs, a sizable newspaper collection including some 25 current newspapers, and close to 1,000 periodicals. While all fields of knowledge are covered (except for clinical medicine and technical agriculture, which are within the domain of the National Libraries of Agriculture and Medicine in Washington, D.C.), the largest segments of publications are in philology and literature and in history — those fields of study in Bulgaria boasting the longest academic tradition and many of your country's finest scholars.

As an indication of the Library's interest in Bulgaria's learning and publications, I might mention the arrangement concluded in 1969 as part of the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging, under which the Library of Congress receives from your Cyril and Methodius Library at least one copy of each book of potential scholarly value currently published in Bulgaria. As soon as your National Library receives the legal deposit copy it selects and airmails these books about every week. Each volume is accompanied by the corresponding catalog card prepared in Sofia in order to accelerate the Library of Congress cataloging and preparation of printed cards which are distributed on a subscription basis to major American libraries, which use these cards as a source of bibliographic and acquisitions information. The current annual receipt of Bulgarian monographs averages almost 2,500 books, which, as you will realize, is close to 50% of your current book production. Books and cataloging services are paid for in dollar currency, which can be used at the discretion of your national library to fill its own needs.

Among the Bulgarian treasures in the Rare Book Division of the Library of Congress is an outstanding collection of approximately 700 books published in the modern Bulgarian language between 1806–1877 — obviously outside of Bulgaria because of the oppressive policies of the then Ottoman rulers. This collection, one of the most extensive in the Western world, surpasses that of Harvard (which has approximately 120 books for that period) and is of paramount value for the study of the so-called Renaissance period of Bulgarian history, because it reflects the intellectual and social development of the Bulgarian nation prior to the explosive events of the 1870s. The extent of LC holdings also demonstrates the recuperative powers and resources of the Bulgarian nation which, under Turkish domination since the 15th century, had been completely isolated from the main stream of intellectual life in Europe. Represented in the collection is almost 40% of the total production of the Bulgarian books during that period; Valerii Pogorelov's noted bibliography (Opis na starite pechatani bulgarski knigi, 1802–1877) estimates this total production close [to] 1,800 items, and the more recent work by Man'o Stoianov (Bulgarska vuzrozhdenska knizhnina; analitichen repertoar na bulgarskite knigi i periodichni izdaniia, 1806–1878) at 1,910. A wide range of Bulgaria's early writers, educators, religionists, and revolutionists for this period are represented in the Library of Congress collection — Bishop Sofronii of Vratsa by his Kyriakodromium, Petur Beron (Petur Kh. Berovich), Ioakim Gruev, the Aprilov and Gabrovo materials, Dragan Tsankov, and many others. This literature, dealing with a variety of subjects — history, geography, primers, textbooks, religious writings, books on how to conduct business and how to bring up children, bylaws of societies and organizations (e.g., Ustav na Bulgarskoto knizhovno druzhestvo, Braila, 1868) testifies to the basic needs and the intellectual curiosity of the Bulgarian society at the time of its national rebirth. It appears that over 40 titles of books, pamphlets and periodicals in LC's collections are not recorded in Pogorelov. A detailed description of this collection by Charles Jelavich, appeared in the May 1957 issue of LC's Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions.

Other specialized materials in LC of interest to historical research on Bulgaria are papers of various American statesmen, diplomats, and others who have dealt with Bulgarian questions since World War II (e.g., President Wilson, Secretaries of State Lansing and Hall, Ambassador Lawrence Steinhart); pictorial materials on the Balkan Wars of 1912 to 1913 in the Prints and Photographs Division; and a substantial collection of maps and atlases in the Geography and Map Division, the earliest of which is Antonio Zatta's Le provincie di Bulgaria e Rumelia tratte dalla Carta dell Imperio Ottoman del Sigr. Rizzi Zanoni (Venice, 1781).

Other U.S. academic repositories with well-established Bulgarian research collections, generally ranging from 6,000–9,000 volumes, are Harvard (with extensive coverage of Bulgarian history, literature, and folklore) and its Dumbarton Oaks Library in Washington, D.C., specializing in research materials on the Southern Slavs in the Medieval period; the Hoover Institution, which emphasizes political and social history; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which adds some 600 volumes per year to its Bulgarian collection; the University of Chicago with special strength in language, literature and folklore; and last, but not least, Columbia University at New York with its extensive Bulgarian collections. There are at least 6 other university libraries with lesser strength, though with respectable Bulgarian collections.

A notable record center for historical research on Bulgaria is the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Dispatches from diplomatic offices to the State Department from Bulgaria began in 1889, and from consular offices in Sofia starting in 1901. The National Archives also makes available the captured records of the German Foreign Office, which date from 1855 and are now in microfilm. They closely parallel the U.S. State Department records, although the Germans had a much keener interest in Eastern Europe. The German dispatches include a broad spectrum of data on political, diplomatic, military, economic, and social matters. For Bulgaria, they date from 1879.

During World War I, several U.S. agencies began studying a multitude of aspects of Eastern European areas to prepare reports for the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. After 1910, internal memoranda and correspondence of the State Department with its diplomatic and consular offices, with other government agencies, and with foreign embassies and legations were arranged according to a decimal-subject classification system. For instance, there is a special records collection on the development of railroads in Bulgaria. In addition to extensive German Foreign Office records of Eastern Europe for the inter-war period, the National Archives has the following captured records: those of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1936–1944, and of the Reich Ministry of Economics, which inventoried the resources of Eastern Europe; the papers and diaries of German diplomats, of Mussolini, and of Count Ciano, which cover diplomatic, military, and economic relations with Eastern Europe; and Italian records, 1934–1943, including plans for the attack on the Balkans. The U.S. Naval Records collections, records of Naval Intelligence Attachés, and of army agencies often contain references to the Balkans.

For the Second World War, State Department records are voluminous, and here the Department's documentary publication Foreign Relations of the United States and the National Archives' two-volume guide Federal Records of World War II (1950–1951) are useful finding aids. The German, Italian, and Hungarian captured records are especially significant for World War II research. They include materials from the respective Ministries, military missions, and special occupation agencies. Finally, the records of the Nuremberg Trials and Subsequent Proceedings provide ample documentation on Nazi aggression, exploitation, and genocide in Eastern Europe. As to files for the post-World War II period, access may be restricted or closed to research.

What are the principal USA-produced bibliographic controls over Bulgarian publications? Under the sponsorship of the Slavic and Central European Division, Library of Congress, Marin Pundeff in 1965 compiled Bulgaria; a Bibliographic Guide, which, reprinted in 1968 by Arno Press in New York, discusses Bulgarian reference works and a select number of important publications in various fields and languages. Southeastern Europe; A Guide to Basic Publications, edited by me and published in 1969 by the University of Chicago Press, presents selectively, and with annotations, writings of particular relevance to the political, socio-economic and intellectual life of Southeastern Europe. Some 50 scholars and specialists contributed to this work, and Bulgaria is represented by ca. 500 entries. The American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies, published since 1957 and, beginning with the 1973 volume regularly prepared by the Slavic and Central European Division of the Library of Congress, is sponsored and distributed by the AAASS. Covering Albania, [the] Baltic States, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Greece and Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia (as well as the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and Finland, as they relate historically to the aforementioned countries), this annual bibliography is an inventory of North American research in the form of books, articles, reports, dissertations, and book reviews published anywhere by U.S. and Canadian authors, chiefly in English but also in other languages. The volume for 1974, recently off the press comprises over 5,300 entries.

If allowance is made for some differences in presentation and in geographic and temporal scope, this bibliography is comparable to your Bibliographie d' Etudes Balkaniques, an immensely useful research tool for which students of the Balkan area owe a debt of gratitude to your Institute of Balkan Studies under the most capable leadership of Professors Todorov, Traikov, and their staff. Over the years we have exchanged bibliographical data for these two publications, and I believe that both sides have benefited from this cooperation.

An analysis of the contents of the last five annual issues of our LC bibliography reveals that for those years a total of 379 entries dealing with Bulgaria, the Ottoman and the Byzantine periods were listed. As dedicated disciples of Clio, you may appreciate the fact that 205 of these books, articles, reviews, and dissertations, i.e., more than one half, were devoted to history.

I would like to touch in passing on the question of translations. According to the latest available UNESCO Statistical Yearbook, an annual average of about 40 books originally published in the various English-speaking countries were translated between 1970 and 1972 into Bulgarian, most of them in the categories of science and technology. By comparison, the aggregate of U.S.-published translations from Bulgarian does not reach your corresponding volume. The situation, however, is attributable to a multiplicity of factors, particularly the readers' preferences and tastes and our generally unsubsidized private publishing system which has to respond to the demand of the market, and, last but not least, the dearth of qualified translators for certain types of publications.

A few remarks in conclusion about the principal reviews and journals which serve as a medium of communication and information for American and Canadian scholars with a professional interest in Balkanica and Bulgarica. First, thanks to the enthusiasm and energy of Professor Meininger, the Newsletter of the Bulgarian Studies Group has been published twice a year since 1971 and carries a wealth of news and informational data on ongoing research in the field, new publications, meetings, and exchanges. A similar newsletter appearing irregularly serves as a platform for the American Association for Southeastern Studies. A few years ago, this group launched, as an outlet for scholarly work, the first volume of Balkanistica; Occasional Papers in South-East European Studies, which, inter alia, featured an article by Kemal H. Karpat on "Ottoman Relations with the Balkan Nations after 1683." Through the initiative of Professor Charles Schlacks, Jr., the University of Pittsburgh initiated two journals relating to the area: Southeastern Europe has been appearing semiannually since 1973, with interdisciplinary coverage; and Byzantine Studies appears as one volume with two to four parts annually. Last but not least, the older established journals of Slavic and East European affairs, such as the American Slavic and East European Review / Slavic Review, the East European Quarterly, and Canadian Slavonic Papers feature from time to time articles, reports, and book reviews on various facets of the past and present of the Balkans and Bulgaria.

Thank you for your attention to my admittedly impressionistic report.