Skip to Main Content

Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress: A Resource Guide

Yudin's "Second Library," 1907-1912: Current Status of Research (2014)

This article was originally published in Slavic and East European Information Resources, 15:3 (2014): 161–166. The article, written by Harold M. Leich, former Russian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress, is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. It is reproduced here in its entirety.

Interest in the Yudin Collection has increased over the past several years, particularly on the occasion of the 100th anniversary, in 2006, of the purchase by the Library of Congress (LC) of Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin's large personal library, and its arrival in Washington, DC in April 1907.

More mysterious has been the topic of Yudin's so-called "second library." The term is usually used to refer to the several thousand volumes that Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin (1840–1912) collected after the sale of his first personal library to the Library of Congress in 1906/07.1 Since Yudin died in March 1912, the second library is assumed to have been complete within a year or so after his death, taking into account the books and periodicals that were being shipped to him at the time of his final illness and death. Thus, the basic components of the second library were the materials acquired between early 1907 (when the large first library was packed up and shipped to Washington) and Yudin's death on March 30, 1912 (new style) or in transit to him at the time of his death.

Contents of the Second Library

There has always been, however, some confusion and misunderstanding about the exact contents of the second library, and even about how many volumes it contained. In the first place, Yudin retained in Krasnoiarsk, rather than selling to LC in 1906/07, a number of books from his first library, for example, ones specially dedicated to him, books that had belonged to members of his family, books whose publication he himself had financed, and other items that for various reasons he did not wish to part with. Yudin had continued to acquire individual books, as well as entire collections, primarily from his chief supplier, Vasilii Ivanovich Klochkov, in St. Petersburg. In addition, there is wide variation in scholars' estimates of the number of volumes in the second library–ranging from 4,000 to 50,000 volumes.

Finally, to add another complicating factor, in the early 1970s the Library of Congress de-accessioned as "surplus duplicates" a number of volumes from the first library. Many of these ultimately returned to Russia, ending up at the Krasnoiarsk Region Universal Research Library, where as far as we know the bulk of the entire second collection is to be found today.2 The books returned by LC from the first collection are now considered part of the second Yudin library, having made the round-trip from Krasnoiarsk to Washington, DC and back to Krasnoiarsk again.3

1912 Correspondence with the Library of Congress

Nine months after Yudin's death in March 1912, his son Aleksei Gennadievich wrote to Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, offering for sale to the library the second Yudin collection. The letter, dated December 12, 1912 (old style), has survived only in an English translation done at LC, presumably by Aleksei Babin; Aleksei Gennadievich's original letter in Russian cannot be located. The letter has never been published and reads as follows:

I do not know whether you are aware of the death of my father, Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin, which occurred in Krasnoiarsk on March 17 (Russian calendar) of the current year, after a prolonged illness. I assume, however, that you know of it, since the Library of Congress has stopped sending its Reports and the catalogue-cards of the collection bought from him.

I beg to inform you that since the sale of his collection, in 1907, my late father had succeeded in compiling a new library of valuable books consisting of about 5000 names. Besides, he left a large collection of manuscripts and autographs which he valued more highly than the collection of books sold to the Library of Congress.

In view of the fact that you properly evaluated the collection and are considering it as a gift rather than a purchase; also in view of the fact that, outside of the books agreed to, you have received with the collection many duplicates of valuable books, thanks to the unwarranted demands of your representative, Mr. Babine, and the weakness of my father in yielding to them, I decided to approach you with the request to acquire for the Library of Congress the aforementioned collection of books and manuscripts, in memory of my late father, in order to at least partly reimburse us, the children of the deceased, the losses incurred by us thanks to his yieldingness, which made him sell his library for one-third of its cost.

I am ready to let the Library of Congress have the collection of books and manuscripts for the same sum for which my father sold the first collection, i.e. for fifty thousand dollars, without my assuming the cost of transportation or the traveling expenses of your representative to Siberia.4 Library of Congress Director Herbert Putnam responded several weeks later, in a letter dated January 30, 1913 (new style). The letter has never been published and reads as follows:

Your letter of December 12 duly reached us and has been read and considered with interest. It would indeed be gratifying to us to acquire the additional collection of printed books which you state that your Father has formed, in so far as this would not duplicate material already here. We should suppose, however, that a large portion of them would prove to be duplicate. The manuscripts and autographs to which you refer, we presume to be those which were already in his possession at the time the original collection of printed books was acquired by us. We have never, I believe, had a description of them, and so are unable to judge how far, if at all, they would be purely local in their interest. If we could be furnished with such a description, we could better judge as to whether we should be justified in negotiating their purchase. I may add that so far as the autographs alone are concerned, it is not the policy of the Library to purchase autographs on their own account, and in acquiring manuscripts, it considers chiefly the subject matter with which they deal and only where this proves to be important from an historical standpoint does it consider them within its field. Do any of the manuscripts relate to Alaska? In asking the above questions, I omit from consideration the question of price, which of course would have to be considered separately.5

There is no further correspondence between Yudin's sons and the Library of Congress from this period to be found in the LC archives. In fact, it would not be until 1988 that descendants of Gennadii Yudin would again write to the Director of the Library of Congress and re-establish direct contacts.6 As a result, the collection remained at the Yudin residence in Tarakanovo, a suburb of Krasnoiarsk, until it was nationalized in 1920, the year that Soviet power became established in Siberia, together with all Russian private library and archival collections, and sent to a central regional repository in Krasnoiarsk.

Yudin's Second Library in the Soviet Era

The fate of the second library after nationalization is the subject of some debate. Polovnikova's 2010 biography of Yudin gives details, which can be summarized here.7 By 1920 many disparate private library and archival collections from the Enisei Province had been consolidated into a regional book repository in Krasnoiarsk that held about 120,000 volumes. While most of the published items remained in Krasnoiarsk, some titles from the second Yudin collection were sent to Moscow or Leningrad (for example, much of Yudin's collection of erotica, now at the Rare Book Collection of the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg).8

With the establishment in December 1934 of the Krasnoiarsk Krai as an administrative unit of the USSR and the founding the next year of the Krasnoiarsk Regional Library, now the Krasnoiarsk Region Universal Research Library, books from Yudin's second library, to the extent that they could be identified, were separated out from the central repository of nationalized collections and sent to the newly-established library in Krasnoiarsk. In 1977 a separate Rare Books Division was established at the Krasnoiarsk library, and all identifiable Yudin books were put into the custody of that division, where they remain to this day as one of its most important and significant collections.

The Post-Soviet Era

In the post-Soviet era, the Krasnoiarsk Region Universal Research Library began publication of a multi-volume catalog of its Yudin Collection, primarily a catalog of books from Yudin's second library.9 The catalog is to a very large extent the result of the dedicated work by Aleksandra Borisovna Shindina over a period of many years. The catalog includes the "surplus duplicates" from the first library returned by LC to Russia in the early 1970s.

The ultimate hope, both in Krasnoiarsk and Washington, is for closer and deeper collaboration between LC and the library in Krasnoiarsk in reconstructing and possibly producing a "virtual" catalog of all Yudin's collections, wherever they are now located. Yudin relative Inna Alekseevna Polovnikova of St. Petersburg has been very active in this area, has visited the Library of Congress three times, and is frequently in Krasnoiarsk for research. In addition, a project at the Library of Congress continues slowly to reconstruct the original Yudin collection (the first library) as received at LC in 1907, using primarily the handwritten cards in the author catalog and shelf-list that Yudin's clerks compiled and which LC acquired with the collection. It is greatly to be hoped that the friendly and collaborative relationship that has evolved between LC, the Krasnoiarsk Library, and Yudin descendants in Russia will continue and broaden, to the obvious benefit of all.


  1. On Yudin's second library collection, see especially the recent detailed treatment of the topic: Inna Polovnikova, Gennadii Vasil'evich IUdin: zhizn', biblioteka (Moskva: Novosti, 2010), 248-288; and the introduction in A. B. Shindina, IUdinskoe sobranie Krasnoiarskoi kraevoi nauchnoi biblioteki: katalog (Krasnoiarsk: Krasnoiarskaia gos. kraevaia nauchnaia biblioteka, 1991), vol.1, pages 3-11. Back to text
  2. The library has a website at: External. Back to text.
  3. On this particular aspect of LC's handling of the Yudin duplicates, see the author's article, Harold M. Leich, "'So Ample a Collection, So Well Balanced': The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress," Slavic & East European Information Resources 9, no. 2 (2008), 127–142. Back to text.
  4. Aleksei Gennadievich Yudin to Herbert Putnam, December 12, 1912. Library of Congress Archives, Manuscript Division, Order Division Correspondence, Pre-1942 Subject File, Box 24. The original letter is missing in the archival file. Back to text.
  5. Aleksei Gennadievich Yudin to Herbert Putnam, January 30, 1913. Library of Congress Archives, Manuscript Division, Order Division Correspondence, Pre-1942 Subject File, Box 24. Back to text.
  6. Photocopies of letters from 1988 to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington from Inna Alekseevna Polovnikova and Elena Konstantinovna Yudina, both living in Leningrad, in the author's personal collection. Back to text.
  7. Polovnikova, I., Gennadii Vasil'evich IUdin, 248-288. Back to text.
  8. Shown to the author in September 2011 at the Rare Books Department, Russian National Library External, St. Petersburg. Back to text.
  9. A. B. Shindina, IUdinskoe sobranie Krasnoiarskoi kraevoi nauchnoi biblioteki: katalog (Krasnoiarsk: Krasnoiarskaia gos. kraevaia nauchnaia biblioteka, 1991- . The most recent volume in the LC collections is vol.11 (2012); the highest-numbered volume at LC is vol.14, issued in 2004. Back to text.