Any overview of the Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress (LC) should begin with a reference to the work of Alexis Babine, who more than a hundred years ago, in 1905, published what seems to have been the first formal description of the collection, The Yudin Library, Krasnoiarsk (Eastern Siberia).1 The title and text of Babine's brief but detailed book are presented in Russian and English; the captions to the thirty-two illustrations appear in English only. Facing the English and Russian title pages are a now well-known standing photographic portrait of a white-bearded Yudin and a photograph of the exterior of Yudin's library in Krasnoiarsk or, more precisely, in Tarakanovo.2
Babine's book provides a brief biography of "Mr. Yudin," describes the Tarakanovo library building, Yudin's methods for acquiring his books and manuscripts, and their arrangement on the shelves (and elsewhere), and discusses briefly the subjects and genres that are the collection's strengths. These include, of course, virtually all areas of Russian history and geography, including much local history, especially of Siberia; bibliography; Russian literature; full runs of important or rare Russian serials; and an impressive selection of rare books and manuscripts. The arts and sciences, including archeology, and books in foreign languages are touched on as well. Babine cites and provides photographs of pages from a number of intriguing selections from the Yudin Library. He ends his discussion with mention of publications that Yudin himself produced or sponsored, including the first three volumes of Russkiia knigi [Russian books],3 which was intended as a comprehensive Russian bibliography but was discontinued for lack of funding.
Alexis Babine himself has become an almost mythic figure to the small circle of Library of Congress staff who have worked over the years with the Yudin Collection. Babine is first mentioned in The Report of the Librarian of Congress for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1902 under "Specialists": "The increased appropriation granted by Congress has enabled the Library to secure several additions to its corps of specialists . . . Such additions notably strengthen the judgment of the Library in departments of knowledge where it has been deficient . . . . Among these may be mentioned . . . Mr. Alexis Vassilyevich Babine, A.B. and A.M., a native Russian, especially versed in Slavic literature, experienced in American library methods as a cataloguer for six years at the library of Cornell University (of which he is a graduate), as librarian for two years of the University of Indiana, and as associate librarian for three years of Leland Stanford University . . . ."4 The next mention of Babine is in the Report of the Librarian of Congress for 1905 under "Service": "Mr. Alexis V. Babine, our specialist in Russian literature, resigned last spring to become a member of the Associated Press at St. Petersburg."5
Between the time of Babine's first arrival at the Library of Congress and his resignation three years later, Yudin had offered his library for sale, and in the fall of 1903 Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam asked Babine, already in Russia on other Library business, to travel to Krasnoiarsk to inspect Yudin's collection.6 It was Babine who negotiated the purchase of the Yudin library and then, in the winter of 1906 (despite his official resignation the previous year), oversaw the packing and shipping of Yudin's 80,000 volumes from Krasnoiarsk to Washington. Babine's correspondence with Herbert Putnam regarding the Yudin Collection and other matters is available to readers as part of the "Papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine," a collection of 250 items in the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division.7
Babine's papers shed light as well on his work, adventures, and privations in Russia during the Revolution, as superintendent of schools for the Vologda Territory, as instructor at the Saratov State University, and as assistant to the American mission in Moscow.8 Babine was also the author of lectures and articles about the Bolsheviks, of a two-volume Russian-language history of the United States,9 and of translations of Russian short stories.
Babine left Russia in 1922, after the death of his parents, and returned to the United States and work at the Cornell University library. In 1927 he appeared again in the Report of the Librarian of Congress, under "Slavic Section": "Dr. Peter A. Speek, for some years past in charge of the Slavic section, retired from our service on October 1 . . . . His place has been taken by Alexis V. Babine, at an earlier period a member of our staff, who returned to it last June, after a long residence in Russia . . . . As it was he who 20 years ago, in visits to Krasnoiarsk (Siberia), carried through our negotiations for the Yudin collection, and finally directed the packing and shipment of it, he will now be assuming a responsibility distinctly appropriate."10
But this new tenure, like the first, was to last only three years. Babine passed away in May 1930, at the age of sixty-four, at a sanitarium in Rockville, Maryland. The typescript of a somewhat affectionate obituary tribute to Babine by Frederick E. Brasch, then chief of science collections at the Library of Congress, is preserved in the Library of Congress's General Collections.11 The obituary includes a number of interesting biographical details, including mention of Babine's idealistic views on education and democracy in the United States, as well as his purported struggles with the English language and, in contrast, his mastery of Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Brasch refers to Babine at the time of his death as "chief of the Slavic Division of the Library of Congress, scholar and librarian."12
Edward Kasinec published an insightful biographical essay on Babine in his collection Slavic Books and Bookmen.13 The essay fills a number of gaps, particularly relating to Babine's professional life, and includes a striking full-page photographic portrait of Babine from the collection in the Manuscript Division in the Library of Congress.14 Kasinec discusses the roles of Herbert Putnam and Babine in the acquisition of the Yudin Collection and concludes his essay with notes on mostly unpublished sources on Babine.
In 2002, Evgenii G. Pivovarov, a young scholar associated with St. Petersburg State University and sponsored by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), published a full-length Russian-language biography of Babine.15 Pivovarov's biography is based in large part on research he conducted during several months in the European Division of the Library of Congress. His study includes a photographic portrait of a young Babine, many details about Babine's travels on behalf of the Library of Congress and his work with the Yudin library, some English-language notes, and extensive bibliographies in Russian and English, including many Library of Congress sources. It includes as well a copy of the finding aid to the "Papers of Alexis Vasilevich Babine" prepared by the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress.
In his 1905 description of the Yudin Library, Babine had written, "This collection is so remarkable, both for its size and its quality, and is so little known even in Russia, that a professional librarian who had occasion to spend a few days among its treasures feels justified in briefly introducing it to the literary and the library world."16 As a cataloger and librarian at the Library of Congress a hundred years later, I feel compelled to echo Babine's assertion. I shall attempt not to duplicate his descriptions or selections but to provide my own impressions of the small part of the Yudin Collection with which I've had occasion to work. Part of what is remarkable about the Yudin Collection, besides its size and variety, is the evident care that was taken in choosing many items of quality, both in terms of the editions selected, including often more than one edition or variant of a title, and the rarity of many of the books.
A good number of titles from Yudin's library already were listed as rare in Sopikov's 1904 bibliography.17 In my experience at the Library of Congress, a "Yudin book" has several times turned out to be the only copy held at LC, or even in the United States, of a work sought by a researcher. Of course, this is the case for many Russian-language titles, but it has been true also for books in other languages. Of the fifteen items from the Yudin Collection that Andrew Rogalski examined in his paper, he could locate only one at another U.S. library.
The importance of many of Yudin's eighteenth-century editions may be confirmed in the standard bibliographies of Russian literature or Russian imprints of that period.18
One wonders if Yudin, who did not receive a formal education, was responsible for so many incisive selections and how much he was aided by the judgment of his primary book dealer, V. I. Klochkov, and other agents. According to D. D. Tuneeff, who wrote a biographical sketch of Yudin in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Library of Congress's acquisition of the Yudin Collection,19 Yudin's passion for book collecting began in childhood, as did his amassing of the funds to spend on books. (In his youth he twice won the lottery.) Yudin was guided too by scholars like Vengerov and other bibliophiles of his day. Tuneeff wrote, "This contact with the most educated and famous men of his time helped to develop his own judgment when selecting books, especially where new editions were concerned. Consequently, his collection includes many copies of books which, at the time of their issue, did not attract public attention and were soon out of print."20
Illustrations must have been of interest to Yudin, as his library had so many fine examples of portraits, caricatures, architectural drawings, landscapes, and maps. The illustrations are woodcuts, engravings and etchings, hand-colored plates, lithographs, and even photographs. His collection would be an excellent source for studies of Russian illustrators and the development of illustration techniques in Russia.
In the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, Yudin's copies of works on popular British or European illustrators or albums of Russian photographs sometimes stand out for their excellent condition. Tuneeff commented too on Yudin's reluctance to lend his books or to admit readers, including a number of the prominent Siberian exiles of the time, to his library. (Lenin was an exception).21 His reason may have been to avoid wear on his fine editions. In some cases, when there is another copy of the same work in LC's holdings, Yudin's copy is better because it is complete or because it has better quality prints of the photographs or illustrations. (Of course, not all of Yudin's books are complete.)
Among the Yudin items in LC's Prints & Photographs Division are Bartolomeo Pinelli's Istoria Romana [Roman history], a collection of 101 large-format engravings dated 1816 to 1819 and probably published in Rome, and M. Butin's Pis'ma iz Ameriki [Letters from America] (St. Petersburg, 1872), illustrated with albumen photographs of United States landmarks. Sets of lithographs from the Yudin Collection include an album of 200 drawings from about the year 1800 described as "Anatomical plates published for artists"; Modnaia mebel' [Fashionable furniture] (1869), fourteen lithographs depicting furniture of the mid-nineteenth century; and Volga, ten lithographs by N. P. Osipov dated 1894, showing views of the Volga River, moonlight, boatmen, ice, a steamship, and so on.22
Yudin's copy of La Vraye Science de la Pourtraicture [The true science of portraiture] by Jean Cousin (Paris, 1676), illustrated with ten plates of woodcuts and metal cuts, is missing four leaves. Near the end it has a note handwritten in pre-Revolutionary Russian orthography: "Prochee nedostaet, da vziat' negdie; kniga siia riedko popadaetsia" [the rest is wanting, and there is nowhere to get it; this book is rarely found].
Illustrated books of all kinds abound as well among the Yudin books shelved in the General Collections of the Library of Congress. These include a variety of souvenir albums and guidebooks to cities and towns in all parts of Russia, mostly from the nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth century. There are also many official (government) and unofficial accounts, often in multiple volumes, of expeditions for purposes of trade, industry, or other exploration. These often are accompanied by maps, plans, and landscapes, and sometimes by portraits of local inhabitants (see above).
In the Law Library of Congress, Yudin's contributions to the collection of eighteenth-century Russian law books are impressive. Of the 123 titles in the Eighteenth Century Russian Law Collection, twenty-three belonged to Yudin, and sometimes in more than one copy.23
The Law Library holds multiple eighteenth-century editions of the 1649 Ulozhenie Alekseia Mikhailovicha [Law code of Aleksei Mikhailovich], and Yudin's copies are among the best (again, according to bibliographers' notes on the particular editions and "issues" or variants Yudin collected but also because of their fine condition). It was also Yudin who contributed the rare contemporary published account and transcript of Peter the Great's trial of his own son, Aleksei, for treason.24
Yudin's contributions to the Library's law collection include at least one seventeenth-century work, Dissertatio de Ratione Status in Imperio Nostro Romano-Germanico [Treatise concerning the justification of political power in our Roman-Germanic Empire], an influential attack on Habsburg abuses of power. There are also a large number of nineteenth-century titles. As in other parts of the Library of Congress, there are no doubt many more Yudin books in the Law Library than can be identified as yet in the Library's online catalog.
An online search of Library of Congress Music Division holdings presently yields only two catalog records for works identified as having belonged to Yudin. One is a ballroom dance manual written for school athletic programs and for young men in military academies, Metodicheskoe rukovodstvo k obucheniiu tantsam v sredne-uchebnykh zavedeniiakh [Methodological handbook for learning dances in middle schools), by A. D. Chistiakov (St. Petersburg, 1893), including many photographs. In the Geography and Map Division there are presently ten items identified in the Library of Congress online catalog as having belonged to Yudin. These include a facsimile of an early panoramic map of Iaroslavl'; a map of Eniseisk in manuscript, hand colored; a chromolithographic plan of St. Petersburg; a historical atlas of Russia; archeological maps of Simbirsk and Tambov; and a relief map of East Asia.
There are purported to be 4,173 Yudin titles in the custody of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division (RBSCD) of the Library of Congress.25 This number may have come from online searches performed in the early 1990s on LC's computer mainframe MUMS/SCORPIO catalog. Staff inventories of the Rare Book Yudin Collection put the number of volumes at about 4,800. Yudin books were placed in the custody of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division for the same reasons that other books were placed there: either because they were published before 1801 or because of some other rare or special feature that a librarian or reader happened to notice.
The physical evidence offered by the books in Yudin's collection awaits investigation by a league of scholars. The books themselves reveal much about the development of Russian printing and bookmaking practices, including importation of European methods and materials. Bindings include eighteenth-century yellow calf or goatskin tooled in gold, shiny brown so-called "russia" leather, and blue-and-white or brown-and-white mottled composition-book boards. There are marbled endpapers characteristic of different periods of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century book design and handmade paste-paper endpapers in startling colors, with lovely hand-stamped patterns. Some of Yudin's books display the light- to medium-blue paper that was so popular in Russia during the same period. The paper was blue because blue cloth rags (sometimes denim) were used to make it.26 See the illustrations from the title page and first page of text from the trial of Aleksei Petrovich, above, for an example of how blue paper was employed in one case.
Other important physical evidence in Yudin's library reveals the provenance of many of the books. First are Yudin's own markings. And primary among these is his blind stamp, usually affixed to page 13 of a volume (when there is a page 13), and comprised of the Cyrillic letter IU inside a circle. Yudin also had a green ink stamp and a few book labels, including a small pink rectangle and a smaller white ticket, all of which I've seen only rarely. Then there is the large, illustrated bookplate that Yudin approved for use in his collection at the Library of Congress. This bookplate includes a portrait of Yudin and drawings of his library building in Tarakanovo and of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. There are two versions of the bookplate, the second one printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office.27
There are also many bookplates and bookseller's labels in the Yudin Collection from the shop of V. I. Klochkov. These range from tiny white tickets tipped in or affixed in the back of the book to large, eye-catching bookplates with art nouveau illustrations.
Another source represented by bookplates, or in this case, shelf labels (simple, unillustrated paper labels providing a bookcase and shelf location) in the Yudin Collection is the Biblioteka Astasheva. Astashev's books identified so far are all eighteenth- or very early nineteenth-century works. They include a collection of Peter the Great's decrees, a biography of Augustus II, King of Poland, French fiction, French history, a Church Slavic dictionary, and a Russian agricultural almanac. Perhaps this library belonged to the Astashev family associated with an early nineteenth-century estate in Tomsk, now a house-museum.28
At least a few volumes are in special bindings whose covers have stamping or tooling declaring them part of Yudin's library. One of these is the 1888 edition of Radishchev's Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu [A journey from Petersburg to Moscow] (St. Petersburg: Tip. A. S. Suvorina), which has a printed limited edition statement declaring it Copy no.15, on large-format Japanese paper, belonging to Yudin. The elaborate, dark brown morocco doublure binding with gilt frames and flourishes is stamped also in gold at the base of the spine: "Domashniaia Biblioteka G. V. IUdina" [Home library of G. V. Iudin]. Inside the front cover, the binding is "signed" (stamped in gold) Jules Meyer. Another Jules Meyer binding in the Yudin Collection is on Yudin's copy of Lettres Galantes et Philosophiques de Deux Nonnes [The gallant and philosophical letters of two nuns], an erotic work with a fictitious imprint. It is worth noting that Jules Meyer bindings appear as well in LC's Russian Imperial Collection on two works by Octave Uzanne, L'eventail [The fan] (Paris: A. Quantin, 1882), and L'ombrelle, le gant, le manchon [The umbrella, the glove, and the sleeve] (Paris: A. Quantin, 1883).
A key to Yudin's library is the extensive, handwritten card catalog that Yudin donated to the Library of Congress at the time of the transfer of his collection. The Rare Book and Special Collections Division holds what remains of the original red-silk covered boxes containing many bundles of thin slips of paper, not uniformly cut, that are the catalog cards. The bundles of cards are tied with mostly pink ribbon. The bibliographic information is written in at least several different hands and with different inks. Perhaps an equal number of these cards reside in many drawers of a large wooden card file in the European Division stacks. This second group of catalog cards was affixed to large index cards years ago by an unknown library employee. It has long been my hope that we at LC could undertake a project to compare all of Yudin's catalog cards with our online and other catalogs and identify at last, in our catalog, which books belonged to the Yudin library. The Library of Congress did catalog much of Yudin's collection in the course of the twentieth century, but most of the cataloging was done in the catalog-card era, and a good deal of the information was not transferred into the online catalog. Relatively few records, either in the old card catalog or online, identify books as belonging to the Yudin Collection.
Another means of identifying Library of Congress books belonging to Yudin is the LC accession number penciled onto the verso of the title page of many, but not all, of Yudin's books. That number is 104837, and it is followed in each case with the last two digits of the year that each book was accessioned, ranging from 1906 through 1908. Why the year 1906 is assigned is something of a puzzle, as the books did not arrive until 1907.
A card file in the Rare Book Reading Room contains cards for about three hundred titles in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division identified in the days before the automated catalog as belonging to Yudin's library. There are two sets of the same cards in this "Yudin Collection" drawer of the Special Aspects card file cabinet; the first set is in alphabetical dictionary catalog order, and the second is a shelflist in call number order. Almost all of the Yudin books in the custody of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division are identified in the general Rare Book Reading Room's card shelflist, not as a whole, but each card filed in call number order among all the cards for all the books in RBSCD up to the mid-1990s. For a book in the Yudin Collection, the catalog card will have Yudin or Yudin Coll printed or written by hand usually under the call number. Similarly, in the general card shelflist of the Library of Congress, known as the Main Shelflist, some Yudin books are identified as such, or at least have the Yudin accession number (104837) penciled on the front or back of the card.
It appears to me that a considerable number of the books that belonged to the Yudin library have no markings to indicate that source, neither Yudin's blind stamp, nor Klochkov's ticket, nor even a Library of Congress accession number. In some cases, as with the interesting collection of erotica that at LC has long been considered part of the Yudin Collection, one can conjecture that for political or other reasons Yudin chose not to put his personal identification on the books. In other cases, it seems likely that the sheer size of Yudin's collection prevented the marking of every item. And some labels and bookplates have no doubt been lost when books have been bound or rebound at LC. These are all more reasons that an examination of Yudin's original card file would be a service to the scholarly community and would honor Yudin's wish, expressed in letters to Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam, to keep his books together and to provide them a catalog.29
In his 1907 report on the Yudin Collection, Putnam had written, "The collection has not yet been tested by the use of investigators. A full estimate of its resources must await such a test."30 The Yudin Collection still awaits investigation.
In the 1907 annual report of the Library of Congress (LC), under a special heading for the Yudin Library, Librarian Herbert Putnam wrote, "The most important accession to the Library [of Congress], the private library of Mr. Gennadius Vasilievich Yudin, of Krasnoiarsk, Siberia, ranks legally as a purchase, since a sum was paid out in its acquisition. But as the sum paid scarcely exceeded a third of what the owner himself had expended in the accumulation of it over a period of thirty years, and as his chief inducement to part with it was the desire to have it render a useful public service in our National Library, I prefer to record it as primarily a gift, and it has thus been described to the public."31 Putnam goes on to paraphrase Alexis Babine's text from his 1905 book on the Yudin Collection, reproducing even the photographic portrait of Yudin and the photograph of the library near Krasnoiarsk that appear in Babine's book.
Putnam publishes here as well English translations of two letters he received from Yudin concerning the collection and its transfer to the Library of Congress. In the first of these letters, dated January 26/February 8, 1904, Yudin wrote (in the Librarian's Report translation), "If I had sufficient financial means at my disposal and my affairs were in their former flourishing condition, I would in my declining years give my books, after a Russian custom, to one of our public institutions or present them to the Library of Congress with the sole idea of establishing closer relations between the two nations . . ."32
In his Slavic Books and Bookmen, Edward Kasinec wrote about the acquisition of the Yudin Collection: "The significance of this purchase cannot be overstated. Certainly in size (and perhaps in quality), the Yudin Library is the most important personal collection of Russica ever assembled by a single person. Its acquisition by the Library of Congress at the time was visionary . . . "33