The Yudin Collection, a private library of approximately 80,000 volumes purchased in November 1906 by the Library of Congress (LC) from Siberian collector, bibliophile, and merchant Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin (1840-1912), arrived at LC in April 1907, after a long journey via rail and sea from Krasnoiarsk, Siberia. Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, in his 1907 report on the Library, termed the collection "the most important accession to the Library" of the year, "so ample a collection, so well balanced." 1 This paper will discuss what happened to the collection after its arrival at LC in April 1907 and examine claims made in the 1990s that the Library deliberately destroyed all or most of the collection. I will also mention other aspects of how the collection has been handled since its arrival in Washington one hundred years ago.
There is a large body of descriptive, scholarly, and polemical literature about Yudin and the Yudin Collection,2 and interesting materials continue to be written about them. 3 November 16, 2006 (Gregorian Calendar) marked the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the sales contract, dated November 3, 1906 (Julian, or "old style" Calendar) between Yudin and the Library of Congress whereby LC purchased the collection. For this occasion the Library mounted in its European Reading Room an exhibition of works from and about the Yudin Collection, and this author organized a panel, held on November 17, 2006, at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. Five people made presentations on various aspects of the collection, its acquisition, and subsequent treatment by LC.4
There is a wide variety of sources available to track the history of the Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress after its arrival in 1907. Except for the published annual reports of the Librarian of Congress, these sources are unpublished and available only on-site at LC. The Library's Archives, under the jurisdiction of the Manuscript Division, hold the official correspondence files relating to the purchase of the collection and relations with Yudin until his death in 1912. A number of these documents have been photocopied and maintained in the European Division files, which also contain a large number of manuscript items relating to the history of the collection, particularly internal memoranda relating to cataloging the collection and the 1960s disposal of a number of duplicates from the Yudin Collection.
The Yudin volumes themselves are a rich source of information on the collection: many bear the Yudin Collection bookplate and, on the verso of title pages, the LC accession number (104837) for the collection. In addition, many books from the Yudin Collection bear stamps or labels of the bookdealers who supplied Yudin with his books--chief among them St. Petersburg dealer Vasilii Ivanovich Klochkov. Yudin's own card catalogs of his collection, discussed in detail below, reflect most fully what was actually in the collection as it was received at LC in 1907. Catalog records in the form of printed cards or MARC records show when LC cataloged individual items in the Yudin Collection (although Yudin provenance is not mentioned in these records).5 The ultimate disposition of individual items from the Yudin Collection--for example, when specific items were dispersed from the former Slavic Section to various LC custodial units, or when a particular duplicate may have been sent to another library--is not recorded in the LC archives, bibliographic records, or internal memoranda.
Finally, LC staff and particularly catalogers prove a rich source of information about the collection: having had years of hands-on experience cataloging Yudin books or upgrading Yudin catalog records, these catalogers know better than anyone now alive the details and intricacies of Yudin bookplates, labels, stamps, and interpreting several generations of cataloging data to provide insights into the fate of the Yudin Collection at LC.
When the Yudin Collection arrived in Washington in April 1907, it was unpacked and ultimately shelved in a vacant room in the east attic. The Jefferson Building had opened to the public in November 1897 and at the time was called simply the Library of Congress (or Congressional Library) building. There are several photographs of this room, showing the Yudin Collection on the shelves, in the published Russian translation of Herbert Small's guide to the Library building (a translation financed by Yudin himself).6
The rapidly growing Library of Congress quickly filled up all stack space in the new building, and two of the original four interior light courts were filled in to provide additional shelf space. An external addition to the original LC building was constructed in the late 1920s and early 1930s to provide space for a Rare Book Reading Room (on the second floor), an expansion area for the growing card catalog (first floor), and a loading dock (ground floor), necessitating the temporary relocation of the Slavic Section and the Yudin books. Upon moving back to the new space in February 1934, the Slavic Section annual report noted that it now had over three miles of shelf space in its new quarters.7
The temporary loss to construction of the Slavic Section space in the east attic and then the abolition of the Slavic Section itself in 1943/448 were most likely the immediate reasons the Yudin Collection was split up and dispersed to appropriate custodial divisions throughout the Library. It should be noted that in dispersing the collection to a number of units within the Library, LC went against Yudin's wishes that the collection be kept together as a separate collection and housed in its own separate room. It is in fact very rare for the Library of Congress, or other American libraries, to keep large collections literally together and house them in a separate room.9
The dispersal of the Yudin collection in the 1930s and 1940s followed the pattern that was standard practice then as now, based on the rarity, format, and reference potential of each item. Many books and journals published before 1800 went to the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, as did selected nineteenth and early twentieth century rare books.10 Materials in special formats were sent to the appropriate custodial division. Maps and atlases went to the Geography & Map Division; materials on law and legal matters went to the Law Library of Congress; music scores and musicological books were sent to the Music Division.11 A few collections of prints and engravings were sent to the Prints & Photographs Division. Important reference works such as encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and bibliographies were assigned to the Slavic Section's reading room. The vast majority of books and long runs of periodicals from the Yudin Collection--those neither considered especially rare nor in non-book formats--went to the Library's General Collections, the "main stacks" of the Library.12
For reasons not completely understood today but apparently considered logical at the time and possibly done to honor the value of the original Yudin Collection, many Russian books received at LC after 1907, from whatever source, were considered in some sense a continuation of the original Yudin Collection. Many of these books therefore received the Yudin bookplate and some also an LC bookplate with the words "Yudin Collection" imprinted on it. Obviously, a book published in 1912, or 1925, could not have been part of a collection purchased in November 1906 that arrived at the Library in April 1907. It remains unclear exactly why this practice was followed, and for so long, apparently into the late 1920s. I was unable to find any documentation in the LC Archives about why this practice was done or when or why it was stopped.
The Library received Yudin's own handwritten card catalog of his collection along with the books. There were two separate sections of this catalog: an alphabetical author/title section, and one that reflected the way the books had been arranged on the shelves in Yudin's own library (this arrangement itself reflecting a combination of broad subject categories, language categories, and the order in which Yudin had received the books from his suppliers). During the years when the Yudin Collection was maintained as a separate collection housed in the Slavic Section in the east attic, this catalog, especially the author/title part, was presumably the only access to the contents of the collection, other than physically browsing items on the shelves.
The status of the catalog today is somewhat confusing. Like the collection itself, the catalog has been split up. The alphabetical, author/title part of the catalog is currently housed in the European Division. Based on statistical samples I did in early 2007, there are approximately 38,000-40,000 cards in the 64 drawers of this catalog.13
The original cards in the author/title section, each 3.5" x 4.5" and written in an elegant "library hand," were glued onto 4" x 6" index cards, provided with headings in the Roman alphabet (personal or corporate author, or the first few words of the title in the case of title main entry), arranged in A-Z Roman alphabetical order, and subsequently microfilmed.14 The original of this part of the catalog remains in the custody of the European Division, is housed on its deck in the Jefferson Building stacks, and is available upon request to readers interested in the collection. The 38,000-40,000 title figure, incidentally, is probably a good indication of the number of bibliographic titles or discrete units (as opposed to volumes, which numbered around 80,000) in the Yudin Collection as sold to LC.
The Rare Book and Special Collections Division currently holds another section of the catalog, still stored in its original boxes.15 It is unclear whether the copy in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division is complete.16 The cards in this section of the catalog are the 3.5" x 4.5" size used by Yudin and his scribes and represent what the Russians would call a "topograficheskii katalog"--a shelflist reflecting how the volumes themselves were arranged, in fixed locations, on the shelves of Yudin's own library. Each card indicates a case number (shkaf), a shelf number (polka), and an item number (No., usually left blank).
As noted above, Yudin's own original handwritten card catalog, particularly the author/title (main entry) section, served as the only access to the collection for several decades, other than browsing the items themselves on the shelves. The Library gradually began providing standard LC cataloging for items as they were integrated into the special collections divisions and the Library's General Collections, a process that was not complete (except for a number of pamphlets, not ordinarily given full cataloging at the Library) until the 1990s.
The catalog records that LC ultimately produced for Yudin titles, over the course of several decades, were never explicitly flagged as being from the Yudin collection. As a result, there is no way, in either the old card catalogs or the newer computer catalog, to retrieve listings of cataloged Yudin books. In LC's first generation online catalog, MUMS/SCORPIO, used until December 1999, that subset of Yudin books in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division was flagged with a "Yudin" provenance note as the result of a special project to upgrade those catalog records. However, in the late 1999 changeover to the current Voyager online catalog, most of these notes were stripped out of the bibliographic records and are no longer present.17 As a result, it is unfortunately not possible today to do provenance searches in LC's online catalog to retrieve the majority of books in the original Yudin Collection.18
Several large-scale efforts to catalog the collection were made beginning in the 1960s and continued into the early 1990s. European Division files contain many internal memos detailing proposals to catalog the Yudin "remnant."19 The Yudin Collection contained thousands of pamphlets (defined at LC as publications under fifty pages in length) and offprints of periodical articles. This large subset of Yudin materials has been divided into two sections, those published pre-1865 and those published after 1864. The latter category has had a finding aid produced, and many of the pamphlets themselves have been microfilmed.20 The pre-1865 pamphlets, however, currently in the custody of the European Division, are unprocessed and comprise the only subset of Yudin materials to remain uncataloged.21
Yudin's collection often had two or more copies of the same book. In the midst of a large initiative at LC beginning in the mid-1960s to finish cataloging the bulk of the collection, a number of these extra copies were designated as "surplus duplicates," deaccessioned from the LC collection, and subsequently offered to LC's exchange partner libraries or for sale to antiquarian book dealers (LC's standard practice is to retain only one copy of foreign items, except in the case of important reference materials). Obviously, in retrospect, this never should have been done--exceptions to the "one copy" policy are routinely made whereby second (third, etc.) copies of books in special collections are kept. The total number of volumes deaccessioned is probably in the range of 3,500-4,500, but cannot be documented precisely.
The disposal of Yudin duplicates became a controversial issue almost as soon as it began. People at other libraries--including libraries in the Soviet Union--began to wonder why they had received, ultimately from LC, books from the original Yudin Collection. This ultimately fueled speculation that LC was getting rid of the collection. Because of the controversy, LC tightened up procedures for treatment of Yudin duplicates in 1971, and the practice was in effect halted as of the early 1970s.22
The largest single block of "duplicate" Yudin books known to this author, possibly as many as two to three thousand volumes, is owned by a private collector in Maryland, who in early 2007 donated a number of them to the Slavic Library at the University of Illinois/Urbana. The collector, Raymond Arent, acquired the Yudin duplicates from the University of Miami Library (Florida) between 1975 and 1979 after that library, having received many Yudin duplicates through the Library of Congress' gift and exchange program, decided to divest itself of some of its existing Russian holdings due to space limitations.23
The claim that LC had deliberately destroyed part or even all of the Yudin Collection came to a head in the early 1990s. The only real proponent of this claim was Emmanuel Sztein, who in 1991 published an article detailing his accusations in the Moscow literary journal Znamia.24 A year later the journal published responses to Sztein's claims by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and by Yudin relative Inna Alekseevna Polovnikova. Among other criticisms of LC, Sztein claimed that during the Cold War American hostility to Russia and the USSR was so high that Russian collections at LC, chief among them the Yudin Collection, were deliberately and systematically destroyed, and the Soviet Union consciously ignored. In fact, of course, just the opposite was true: concern and even paranoia about the USSR, particularly after the October 1957 launch of Sputnik, fueled unprecedented growth of Russian, Slavic, and East European studies and development of corresponding library collections not only at LC, but at a number of large academic libraries throughout the U.S.25
Why did Sztein's claims, that LC had destroyed some or even all of the collection, seem at least partially credible? First of all, some volumes, particularly imprints from the late 19th century with deteriorating paper, had been microfilmed as part of LC's ongoing, systematic preservation program. The originals were, as is standard practice, in fact discarded once they had been filmed, since most were severely damaged by the microfilming process itself. Too, as mentioned above, catalog records (whether in card or electronic form) for the vast majority of titles in the Yudin Collection did not indicate Yudin provenance. A provenance search in LC's current online catalog, Voyager, yields fewer than two thousand records. This means, not that the rest of the collection isn't at LC any more, but rather that most catalog records for Yudin bibliographic entities are not properly flagged as to their provenance.
In addition, the fact that LC's bookstacks are closed to the public means that staff cannot take visitors into the stacks to see, particularly in sections such as the DKs (Russian history) or the AP50s (general Russian periodicals), how many Yudin volumes are present in these call number ranges and in fact throughout the Library's General Collections. Finally, some books with the Yudin bookplate did end up in other collections and even back in Russia, because of the "surplus duplicate" disposal discussed above.26
In the glasnost' and perestroika years of the late 1980s, LC was contacted for the first time in decades by descendants and relatives of Yudin. The first contact was in late 1988, from Irina Konstantinovna Iudina.27 This author met with her in St. Petersburg in September 1989 to discuss the status of the Yudin Collection at LC. She showed me several photographs that had been in her branch of the family for almost a century. In addition, we were contacted by letter in September 1989 by Inna Alekseevna Polovnikova, a great-grand niece of Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin.28 Mrs. Polovnikova, a retired geologist and spectroscopist now living in St. Petersburg, has published two books on Yudin based on original archival research and access to family records.29 I met with her at the Library of Congress' Moscow Office in September 1993. After several unsuccessful attempts to fund a trip for her to Washington, she visited LC for two weeks in November 2006, her trip funded by the "Bank Moskva." During her stay in Washington she researched Yudin and his collection, utilizing primarily Yudin materials in the LC archives (Manuscript Division) and a large collection of Yudin materials in the European Division.
For various reasons, known and unknown, the Library did not honor Yudin's wish that the collection be kept together in its own room, or that a book catalog of the entire collection be published. Given current Library priorities, it is unlikely that the collection will ever be regrouped together as a physical collection, although a virtual reconstruction would certainly be possible, using Yudin's catalog of his collection.
The Yudin collection, nonetheless, remains the critical, essential core of LC's large Russian holdings, estimated now to number at least 800,000 volumes, and is heavily used to this day.30 Of the original collection, around 76,000 volumes remain at the Library and represent approximately 38,000-40,000 bibliographic titles. Researchers using LC holdings particularly appreciate the long, usually complete, runs of pre-revolutionary bound periodicals and "thick" literary journals that LC has in the original hard-copy editions from the Yudin Collection; most American libraries own these incompletely or only in microform. It goes without saying that volumes from the Yudin Collection will continue to support scholarly research on Russia for generations to come.