Author Archives: Robert Davis

2014 NEH Summer Institute Award Announced: “America’s East Central Europeans.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced that it will support yet another prestigious Summer Institute for College & University Teachers, this entitled “America’s East Central Europeans: Migration & Memory” which will run from June 9-29, 2014.  Principal Investigator Alan Timberlake, Director of Columbia’s East Central European Center, will be assisted by Co-Directors Edward Kasinec (Harriman Institute) and Robert Davis (Global Studies, Columbia University Libraries). 


During the Institute, the twenty-five NEH Summer Scholars selected, together with an array of some fifty master teachers, scholars, and social services and community representatives will address three core questions: First, what are some of the methodological and conceptual issues (e.g., ethnic identity maintenance, inter-generational and inter-ethnic relations) to consider in any approach to the study of the East Central European emigrations?  Second, what were some of the particular characteristics, motivations, and experiences of these immigrants?  Finally, can we create a sophisticated narrative synthesis of the “East Central European Experience” in America that could be integrated into broader courses on American politics and immigration, sociology, and ethnic studies, or that could constitute “stand alone” courses in teaching curricula?  


East Central Europe is large and diverse, and so the Co-Directors have chosen to examine only a selection of ethnic categories.  Specific institute units are devoted to Baltic (Estonian & Latvian), Western Slavic (Czech/Polish/Slovak), South Slavic (Croatian & Serbian), Hungarian, and East Central European Jewish immigration to the United States following World War I, during the interwar period, after World War II, and in the post-Communist period.  In addition to discussing the core questions noted above, the institute also looks at and discusses topics ranging from community organization, political influence, and everyday life of people of East Central European backgrounds in the U.S. over the course of the last century. 


The 2014 Institute continues the Co-Directors’ cycle of NEH Summer Institutes emphasizing curricular enhancement and enrichment of syllabi in a number of disciplines.   As in previous institutes, it is expected that while the specific focus is on East Central European migration, the issues addressed will resonate for those studying other immigrant groups.  Therefore, the Co-Directors will strive to reach out to other area studies specialties—Latin Americanists, Asianists, Islamicists, Africanists, etc.—for potential Summer Scholar applicants.  Our essential goal is to enrich the historical narrative of immigration to America by identifying both unique aspects and commonalities among the diverse groups studied, and to strategize how to better weave these strands into the warp and weft of American immigration and global history. 


This will be the third Summer Institute awarded to Harriman, the previous taking place in June 2011 and June 2013.   It will be the sixth co-directed by Messrs. Kasinec & Davis.


College & university teachers, researchers, independent scholars, museum curators and libraries are encouraged to apply for this competitive program.  Successful applications are notified by April 1.   In the fall of 2013, full information as to application procedures, requirements, daily schedule, and on-campus housing will be disseminated via the Institute website at 


Information on, and video from previous Summer Institutes are archived at the URL above.

New E-Resources for Slavic & East European Studies

A number of major electronic resources were purchased for Columbia students and faculty in June, at the close of the FY:


  • The “Iskusstvo Kino Digital Archive” captures the complete run (1931-2012) of this esteemed monthly publication in a complete online archive, in full-image and fully searchable text.
  • The “Slavic Humanities Index Database” indexes some 150 major scholarly and cultural journals and series produced in Eastern Europe (most especially Ukraine) from 1994 to the present. The Database contains more than 165,000 records and is continuously updated.


The URL of the resource itself is found at:,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=e5h

  • The “Jewish Theater Under Stalinism” database contains digitized documents from the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) in Moscow concerning the Moscow State Jewish Theater and the affiliated Moscow State Jewish Theater School (MGETU).


  • “The Stalin Digital Archive” database is the result of many years of collaboration between Yale University Press and the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI).   RGASPI documents from Stalin’s personal papers will eventually number over 400,000 pages.  The SDA also includes access to the complete Annals of Communism series, with twenty-five volumes of scholarly commentary, annotation, and interpretation of documents from state and party archives selected by teams of Western and Russian editors.

 If you have questions, contact Rob Davis in Global Studies.

Recent Slavic & East European Antiquarian Acquisitions

In recent months, the 2CUL Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies made a number of significant antiquarian purchases for library partners Cornell & Columbia.

  • Cornell purchased two stunningly illustrated Hungarian artist books by Tibor Galle (1896-1944).   Linoleumok.  Masodik konyv. (Budapest, [1925]), an extremely rare portfolio of striking expressionist prints.  No other copy is recorded in any public collection.

The other Galle title, 11 Eredeti linoleum-merszete (Budapest: Juventus: 1923), limited to an edition of 100 copies, contains eleven images combining modernist impulses with romantic nationalism.

Both titles are available in the Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections at the Carl A. Kroch Library.

  • This past May, Columbia acquired a remarkable collection of 160 examples of Russian sheet music, with illustrated covers, dating principally from the 1920s.  Among the artists represented are Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) and Iliazd (Ilia Zdanevich, 1894-1975), as well as virtually all of the major sheet music illustrators of the period.  Composers represented include Emmerich Kálmán (1882-1953), the Hungarian-born composer who would later immigrate to the United States, fleeing post-Anschluss Vienna; Nikolai Roslavets (1881-1944), the Ukrainian Modernist composer whose works were subsequently banned in 1930s Soviet Russia; and “father of the Blues” W.C. Handy (1873-1958), to name but a few.



Top, “Ekstentrik” with music by Maiman; bottom, “I would See You Often,” with music by Mervol’f.

  • In June, Columbia purchased Vlastislav Hofman’s (1884-1964) F.M. Dostojevskij: Cyklus třiceti kreseb. (Praha: F. Borovy, 1917).  Containing thirty full-page plates, the title is a great rarity, made unique by the presence of  two of Hofman’s original sketches tipped in.  Hofman was trained as an architect, but was a talented graphic artist and set designer as well, strongly

influenced by Cubism.   This item was purchased in honor of Robert Belknap, Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages, former Director of the Russian Institute, and former Director of University Seminars, in recognition of his contributions to Dostoyevsky scholarship, his many kindnesses to generations of students, and his exemplary service to Columbia University.

Top, illustration to “The Double,”; below, “Dostoyevsky in Siberia.”

  • From dealers and collectors in New York, Columbia acquired a woodblock-illustrated Church Slavic Menaion (Moscow: Pechatnyi Dvor.1646), previously lent to the Bakhmeteff Archive’s exhibition Quatercentenary of the House of Romanov, as well as nine Russian and Czech titles dating primarily from the 1920s, including Aleksei Kruchenyk’s (1886-1968) Chornaia taina Esenina (M., 1926), and a beautifully illustrated copy of August Strindberg’s Královna Kristýna ([Prague], 1922) coincidentally also illustrated by Vlastislav Hofman.


Both Columbia and Cornell have also benefited from a number of significant donations:

  • More than 3,000 Romanian imprints, as well as some 2,000 Classical Music LPs from Eastern Europe were donated to Cornell by Professor Mircea Pitici.  The collection, from his family home in Sibiu, was packed and transshipped (1.5 tons of material!) to Ithaca in August 2013.  Included are complete collections of historical documents, works by important Romanian authors, and art albums.
  • Burton Miller donated to Columbia a collection of microfilms from the collections of the Russian State Library, including (among other titles) all fifteen District volumes of the household census of the rural population of Kursk guberniia (1882-1887) carried out by the provincial zemstvo, the sixteenth summary volume, several issues of the survey of the state of the province published annually by the governor’s chancellery (1892-1907), and all the numbers of a short-lived agricultural journal, also put out under the zemstvo‘s auspices between 1898 and 1906.
  • David Mortimer, President of the American Assembly, donated thirty titles from the Library of his mother, Kathleen Harriman Mortimer (1917-2011), some dating from her residency in Moscow from 1943-45, and including many inscribed to her father, Ambassador W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986).  Among the items donated are Charl’z Spenser Chaplin (M.: Goskinoizdat, 1945) and D.U. Griffit (M.: Goskinoizdat, 1944); Kartinnyia gallerei Evropy : sobranie zamiechatel’nykh proizvedenii shkol Evropy(St.Pb: Vol’f, 1862-1864), all great rarities in North American collections, as well as one curiosity–Brezhnev’s Malaia zemlia (M.: Politizdat, 1978) inscribed by the author to Ambassador Harriman.

NEH Summer Scholars Named for “America’s Russian-speaking Immigrants and Refugees”

The Institute Selection Committee has named twenty-five Summer Scholars to take part in this June’s “America’s Russian-Speaking Immigrants & Refugees,” a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College & University Teachers, Co-Directed by Robert Davis of Global Studies and Edward Kasinec of the Harriman Institute.  The Institute takes place on the campus of Columbia University from June 9 to June 29, 2013.

Selected from a large pool of more than eighty candidates, Summer Scholars hail from fifteen states and a wide variety of  institutions: Vitaly Chernetsky, Miami University (Ohio); Tanya Chebotarev, Columbia University; David Chroust, Texas A & M; Phyllis Conn, St. John’s University (New York); Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony; Andrew Janco, University of Chicago; Bettina Jungen, Amherst College; Scott Kenworthy, Miami University (Ohio); Yakov Klots, Williams College; Natasha Kolchevska, University of New Mexico; Margarita Levantovskaya, University of California, San Diego; Matthew Miller, Northwestern College; Suzanne Orr, Sam Houston State University; Tatiana Osipovich, Lewis & Clark College; Karen Rosenberg, Independent Scholar; Claudia Sadowski-Smith, Arizona State University; Margaret Samu, Yeshiva University/Stern College; Erik Scott, University of Kansas; Vladimir von Tsurikov, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (New York); Kristen Welsh, Hobart & William Smith Colleges; Anna Winestein, Boston University; Natalie Zelensky, Colby College; and graduate students Michael Darnell, Columbia University; Jay Oppenheim, CUNY Graduate Center; and Roman Utkin, Yale University..

Over a three-week period, this select group will engage in a lively dialogue with an extraordinary array of upwards of fifty master teachers, scholars, and social services and community representatives of the last three waves of emigration (and with the children of the first).  The Summer Scholars will consider the substance of the terms “diaspora,” “transnational,” “accommodation,” and “memory” through the specific prism of the four distinct waves—First (1917-40), Second (1947-55), Third (1967-89), and Fourth (1989 to the present)— of Russian-speaking immigrants to America.  Can we create a sophisticated narrative synthesis of the “Russophone Experience” in America that could be integrated into broader courses on American politics and immigration, sociology, anthropology, and ethnic studies?  Could this synthesis be applied to the experience of other immigrant groups?

A full description, daily schedule, and application information is found at:  This site will be constantly updated in the weeks leading up to, and following the Institute period, and will eventually include video of daily roundtable presentations.

The 400th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty Marked at Columbia University Libraries

Last month, Columbia University Libraries hosted “In Search of Empire: The 400th Anniversary of the House of Romanov,” an international conference that drew standing room only crowds to Room 203 Butler Library.

Organized by Professor Irina Reyfman of the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, and Bakhmeteff Archive Curator Tanya Chebotarev, the conference was the first of many in commemoration of the Romanovs during this anniversary year.  The conference program may be found at

The conference also marked the opening of  “The Quartercentenary of the House of Romanov,” an exhibition organized by Ms. Chebotarev.   Located in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Kempner Galleries, the exhibit ranges from works on paper—such as a 17th century tsarist charter issued by the first Romanov Tsar, or the coronation album of Empress Elizabeth—to ephemera, such as a delicate parasol used by the last Empress, Aleksandra Fedorovna.  The exhibit runs until June 28.  See:

The Columbia conference, as well as others planned elsewhere were touched upon in Eve M. Kahn’s New York Times article “The Romanov legacy Finds New Life,” March 7, p. C28.  The article quotes Ms. Chebotarev, as well as conference presenters Edward Kasinec (Harriman Institute, Columbia) and Fr. Vladimir von Tsurikov (Holy Trinity Monastery).