Thomas de Waal’s interview project started as most good oral history and archival projects do: with the unearthing of an object that triggers memories and curiosity. This time it was a box of dusty cassettes.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the acquisition of the papers of Lev Loseff (1937-2009), noted Russian émigré poet, literary critic, professor of Russian Literature at Dartmouth College, and a lifelong friend and authoritative biographer of Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996).
Brodsky & Loseff. (Photo: Loseff Family Collection)
Born Aleksei Lifshits, Loseff was the son of Vladimir Lifshits, a well-known Russian poet. He graduated from the Leningrad State University and soon after started writing poetry for Russian children’s magazines. In order not to be confused with his father, he changed his name to Lev Loseff.
The collection, which contains approximately 40 feet of linear material, is comprised of manuscripts, poems, correspondence, photographs, and autographed first editions of Loseff’s work, as well as a significant number of subject files on Joseph Brodsky. Brodsky’s correspondence, drawings, typed and holograph manuscripts, and books with inscriptions cover the period 1969 to 2001. Some of the photographs cover an even earlier period in Brodsky’s life in Soviet Russia. The collection also includes legal papers relating to Joseph Brodsky’s will.
“These papers represent an important addition to the already rich collection of Russian materials to the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture at RBML,” said Tanya Chebotarev, Curator of the Bakhmeteff Archive. “His correspondence with well-known Russian émigré intellectuals including Sergei Dovlatov, Ivan Elagin, Konstantin Kuzminsky, Leonid Rzhevsky is complimented by his research materials on these significant representatives of Russian Diaspora.”
Loseff immigrated to the U.S. in 1976, and spent several years in Ann Arbor working for the Ardis Publishers while obtaining his American doctoral degree. In 1979, he accepted a position at Dartmouth College where he worked until his death. He published 14 well-received collections of verse, as well as numerous works of literary criticism.
The collection offers valuable research opportunities on Russian émigré literary circles and Twentieth-century Soviet literary culture. The collection will also enhance the research and outreach activities of both the Harriman Institute and the East European Studies Center, both recipients of recent NEH Summer Institute grants for the study of America’s Russophone and East Central European diasporic communities. The Loseff collection constitutes an important complement to Brodsky materials already held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, The Russian National Library, St. Petersburg, and the Green Library, Stanford University.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.
On December 18, 2009, the four member Russian delegation led by Aleksandr Pavlovich Vershinin, General Director of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, has visited the Columbia University libraries. This visit was initiated by the Russian side of the team representing the Joint Project between the Library of Congress and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, the first Presidential Library in Russia.
Russian delegation represents one of five Joint Project Implementation Teams created within the framework of the Russian-American Working Group on Library Cooperation. The focus of these five groups is 1)Technology and Best Practices; 2) Content and Exchange of Materials; 3)Audio-Visual Collections; 4) Copyright and Related Rights; and 5)Specific Joint Digital Projects.
The Russian delegation met with Jim Neal, who introduced them with Columbia Libraries system in general. Then they were hosted by Columbia University Slavic bibliographer, Rob Davies, who made a Powerpoint presentation on the historical background of Columbia’s library, in a national context, 1903-1946.
Tanya Chebotarev, Bakhmeteff Curator, set up a small exhibit of Russian and East European materials which emphasized the vast variety of the Bakhmeteff Archive collecting activities. She also talked about the history and collection development policies of the second largest repository of Russian émigré materials in the United States. See photos.
Patricia Renfro and representatives from RBML, LDPD, Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching & Research, and the Center for Digital Research & Scholarship gave an overview of Columbia’s digitization program, special online teaching and learning projects, Courseworks, and other digital initiatives.
The group then had lunch at Faculty House with Jim Neal, Patricia Renfro, and former chair of the Baltic and Slavic Division at the NYPL, Edward Kasinec, who is now a fellow at the Harriman Institute.