Title: Boris I. Nicolaevsky collection,
Date (inclusive): 1801-1982
Collection Number: 63013
Nicolaevsky, Boris I., 1887-1966
Physical Description: 795 manuscript boxes, 1 cubic foot box, 4 oversize boxes, 16 cardfile boxes, 1 album box, 1 motion picture film reel
(340.5 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Correspondence, memoranda, writings, speeches, memoirs, minutes of meetings, conference proceedings, leaflets, resolutions,
bulletins, reports, clippings, newspapers, other printed matter, and photographs, relating to Karl Marx and the international
socialist movement; the First, Second, Third and Fourth Intenationals; Russian revolutionary, anarchist and socialist movements,
especially the Rossiiskaia sotsial- demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia (RSDRP) and its Menshevik wing; the Partiia sotsialistov-revoliutsionerov
(PSR); the Russian Revolution and Civil War; Russian politics and government in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; communism
in the Soviet Union; Russian emigre politics; the Vlasov movement during World War II; and Russian displaced persons after
World War II. Includes records of the RSDRP, the PSR, and other organizations; and papers of Rafail Abramovich, Pavel Aksel'rod,
Viktor Chernov, Leon Trotsky, Iraklii TSereteli, and many others. Also includes papers of B. I. Nicolaevsky.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Language: Mainly in
This work was made possible in part through a grant from the Division of Research Programs of the National Endowment for the
Microfilm use only. The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives
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For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
Finding aid published as:
Guide to the Boris I. Nicolaevsky Collection in the Hoover Institution archives,
compiled by Anna M. Bourguina and Michael Jakobson, Stanford, California: Hoover Institution, 1989
All rights in published finding aid reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written
permission of the publisher.
[Identification of item], Boris I. Nicolaevsky collection, [Box number], Hoover Institution
Alternative Form Available
Also available on microfilm (796 reels).
Among the Hoover Institution Archives' many rich holdings in the area of Russian and Soviet studies, the single most valuable
may well be the Boris I. Nicolaevsky Collection. The product of over forty years of vigorous collecting, it brings together
a wealth of material from many diverse sources, contained in 811 boxes and amounting to 330 linear feet. It includes personal
papers of such outstanding Russian historical figures as Mikhail Bakunin, Petr Lavrov, Georgii Plekhanov, Paul Axelrod, Julius
Martov, Iraklii Tsereteli, Viktor Chernov and Leon Trotsky. The collection as a whole provides unparalleled documentation
of the nineteenth and twentieth century Russian revolutionary movements, including the anarchists, the populists, and the
Socialist Revolutionary Party (PSR), and especially centers on the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDRP). It also
covers political, social and economic conditions in Russia and the Soviet Union, Russian émigré life and politics both before
and after 1917, and the international socialist movement. Specific topics covered include the tsarist government, the 1905
revolution, the Imperial Duma, the February and October 1917 revolutions, the Civil War, the Vlasov movement during World
War II, and Russian displaced persons after World War II. A smaller portion of the collection provides valuable historical
source material on non-Russian subjects, specifically on the history and activities of the First, Second, Third and Fourth
Internationals, and the labor and socialist movements in Europe and the United States. The materials comprising the collection
include letters, memoranda, writings, speeches, memoirs, minutes of meetings, pamphlets, occasional serial issues, underground
leaflets, other rare printed ephemera, photographs, and other primary source documents.
The origins of the Nicolaevsky Collection are best understood within the context of the eventful life of Boris Ivanovich Nicolaevsky
Nicolaevsky was born in 1887 in the small town of Belebei, in what is now the Bashkir Autonomous Republic, the son of an Orthodox
priest. At an early age, he was caught up in the Social Democratic movement, in 1904 formally joined the RSDRP, and soon gravitated
toward its Menshevik wing. Over the next years, Nicolaevsky's activity as a revolutionary organizer and journalist was interrupted
only by periodic arrests and sentences to prison or internal exile.
Following the revolution of 1917, his interest turned increasingly in the direction of archival work. He was appointed to
a commission to investigate the files of the tsarist secret police, helped to set up an official Soviet archive, and served
from 1919 to 1921 as director of the Historical Revolutionary Archive in Moscow. In the latter year, Nicolaevsky was among
a number of leading Mensheviks arrested by the Soviet regime. After a year in prison, he departed for exile in Berlin in 1922.
Even then, Nicolaevsky's connection with the Soviet archives was not severed. He served from 1924 to 1931 as Berlin representative
of the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, collecting material for the institute. In addition, Nicolaevsky also became a steady
contributor to the Menshevik newspaper in exile,
Sotsialisticheskii vestnik. Over the decades, his meticulous research found an outlet not only in innumerable articles in that journal and others, but
also in four scholarly books:
Aseff the Spy: Russian Terrorist and Police Stool (1934);
Karl Marx, Man and Fighter (1936, co-authored with Otto Maenchen-Helfen);
Forced Labor in Soviet Russia (1947, co-authored with David J. Dallin); and
Power and the Soviet Elite (1965, a collection of essays).
With the Nazi advent to power in Germany in 1933, Nicolaevsky moved on to Paris. At this time he accomplished a major coup
by engineering the shipment of invaluable archives of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) out of the country. He formed
a new relationship with the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, soon becoming its Paris representative,
and bringing into its home and Paris offices important holdings from the SPD Archive and other sources. When this material
was threatened by the German invasion of France and the Netherlands, Nicolaevsky was instrumental in saving much of it. He
fled to New York at the end of 1940 to take charge of papers he had sent out of the country ahead of him. Other materials,
secreted in France throughout World War II, were reclaimed at the close of hostilities. Still another portion of the collection,
however, did fall into Nazi hands and was never recovered.
In the United States, Nicolaevsky promptly established himself as director of the American Labor Archives and Research Institute
in New York. He continued his collecting activities, as well as his journalistic and scholarly writing. Some of the valuable
printed materials he had assembled were sold to the Indiana University Library in 1955. The bulk of his collection was acquired
by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University at the end of 1963. In addition to the Nicolaevsky Collection established
in the Hoover Institution Archives, many printed items were integrated into the Hoover Institution Library, adding greatly
to already rich Russian area holdings. Nicolaevsky himself served as curator of his collection at the Hoover Institution until
his death in 1966.
The Nicolaevsky Collection is divided into 280 subgroups or series. Most of these subgroups are established on the basis of
provenance, and consist either of personal papers of individuals, or records and/or issuances of organizations. In many cases,
subgroups also contain notes by Nicolaevsky about the person or organization in question.
Thirty-nine subgroups are based on internal records and/or issuances of organizations. Of these, documentation of the Russian
Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDRP) is of outstanding importance. The material (53 boxes) encompasses minutes, conference
proceedings, leaflets, underground publications, other issuances, and internal letters from the time of the formation of the
party to the Russian Revolution. Documentation on the Menshevik wing of the party is particularly good, and is indeed more
detailed than that in any other source outside the Soviet Union. There is extensive material not only on the Mensheviks' early
history, but also on their delegation in exile from the 1920s on. Related subgroups include resolutions, letters, statutes,
minutes and leaflets of the Soiuz russkikh sotsial-demokratov (13 boxes); letters, reports and leaflets of the New York Group
of the RSDRP, 1900-1917 (1 box); leaflets and reports of the Bund, the Jewish affiliate of the RSDRP (1 box); and letters
and writings issued by the Latvian Social Democratic Party (1 box).
Next in importance among records of organizations are those of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (PSR), consisting of minutes,
resolutions, theses, letters, issuances and other material from the 1880s up to World War II, including substantial documentation
of both the pre-1917 and subsequent exile periods (11 boxes).
Other records of Russian revolutionary organizations are more fragmentary, but include those of the nineteenth-century Narodnaia
Volia (1 box of leaflets, pamphlets, programs and other issuances).
Another perspective on Russian revolutionary activities is provided by three boxes of police reports by the tsarist Ministry
of the Interior. From the period of the Russian Revolution and Civil War itself comes one box of instructions, bulletins,
and writings of the Soviet secret police, Cheka (VCHK).
Thoughts and activities of the Russian émigré community during the 1920s and 1930s are reflected in correspondence and manuscripts
of the Paris journal
Poslednie novosti (17 boxes), and the Berlin journals
Novaia russkaia kniga (4 boxes) and
Letopis' revoliutsii (2 boxes). The post-World War II Narodno-trudovoi soiuz solidaristov is represented by two boxes of issuances, programs, and
Records of non-Russian socialist organizations include two boxes of correspondence of the German SPD, 1891-1922, mainly relating
to its Dietz Verlag publishing house.
There are, in addition, a number of other organizational records, primarily of Russian revolutionary of émigré groups, but
also including records of police agencies, Civil War governmental agencies and editorial boards of journals.
The 144 subgroups constituting personal papers of individuals make up by far the largest portion of the collection. Dozens
members of the RSDRP account in turn for the largest share of the personal papers. Among the prominent party leaders whose
papers are included are: Georgii Plekhanov (1 box), Paul Axelrod (11 boxes), Julius Martov (3 boxes), Aleksandr Potresov (2
boxes), Georgii Chicherin (1 box), Iraklii Tsereteli (11 boxes), Noi Zhordaniia (1 box), Rafail Abramovich (28 boxes), Nikolai
Volskii-Valentinov (2 boxes), and Vladimir Voitinskii (2 boxes). The papers of Leon Trotsky and of his son Lev Sedov, dating
almost entirely from the period after Trotsky's expulsion from the Soviet Union, are especially noteworthy, in part because
of their extent (76 boxes).
Among materials of PSR members, the papers of Viktor Chernov (17 boxes) and the memoirs of Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia
(1 box) are of particular importance.
Other Russian revolutionists whose papers are in the collection include: the anarchists Mikhail Bakunin (4 boxes) and Prince
Petr Kropotkin (1 box); Vera Figner, leader of Narodnaia Volia (1 box); and Petr Lavrov, leader of Zemlia i volia (2 boxes).
Russian liberalism is represented by papers of Paul Miliukov (1 box), and of Prince David Bebutov (8 boxes), both leaders
of the Constitutional Democratic Party (KDP); of Petr Struve (1 box); and of Ekaterina Kuskova and her husband Sergei Prokopovich
Papers of Iurii Semenov (4 boxes), representative abroad of Generals Denikin and Vrangel' during the Russian Civil War, provide
coverage of the White governments of that period.
There are also papers of writers and scholars, including such notable literary figures as Maxim Gorky (1 box), Leonid Andreev
(5 boxes), Ivan Bunin (1 box), and Nina Berberova (11 boxes), as well as of the historians Vladimir Burtsev (5 boxes) and
Solomon Schwarz (1 box).
Papers of non-Russian individuals or of Russian émigrés primarily concerned with non-Russian subjects constitute another category.
Notable among these are papers of Angelica Balabanova (1 box), secretary of the Communist International and subsequently Italian
Socialist Party leader; Nahum Stone (10 boxes), American labor economist; Jules Guesde (1 box), French socialist leader; and
Hermann Schlüter (1 box), German-American socialist. The two latter subgroups both include original writings of Friedrich
Dozens of other subgroups consist of papers of: members of the RSDRP, the PSR, and other revolutionary groups, going back
well into the nineteenth century; members of the KDP; officials of the tsarist,
Provisional, White Civil War, and Soviet, governments; police officials; prisoners; writers; historians; journalists; and
non-Russians, mainly socialists, living in the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, and Yugoslavia.
In addition to subgroups constituting records of organizations or papers of individuals, another large block of 81 subgroups
was established on the basis of topic. Each such subgroup contains material collected directly by Nicolaevsky and/or acquired
by him from diverse sources, but having in common some unifying subject or theme. Types of material frequently found in this
block of subgroups include collected memoirs, letters, reports, printed matter, and notes by Nicolaevsky himself. Among such
subgroups are those devoted to: the life of Karl Marx and the international socialist movement of his time; the history of
the composition and exposure as forgery of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion; the condition of Jews in Russian society;
the role of Freemasons in Russian history; Russian revolutionists and provocateurs; intelligence and secret police activities
under both the tsarist and Soviet governments; activities of the Duma; the Russian Revolution and Civil War; the Kronstadt
rebellion of 1921; forced labor, prisons and prison camps in the Soviet Union; the Vlasov movement during World War II; postwar
Russian refugees and displaced persons; and the history of socialist movements in France, Germany and the United States.
There are a small number of remaining subgroups. These include nine established on the basis of physical form (notably audio-visual
materials, miscellaneous issues of politico-satirical journals, and bibliographical materials). There are also the personal
papers of Nicolaevsky himself, in five subgroups, including Nicolaevsky's personal correspondence, his published and manuscript
speeches and writings, and, of particular note, his unfinished documentary history of the Bolshevik Center of 1908-1912. There
are also a subgroup of materials documenting the growth of the collection itself and a subgroup of the personal papers of
Anna Bourguina, Nicolaevsky's longtime collaborator, and, as his widow, successor to the curatorship of the collection.
In one way or another, Russians who had left their homeland were intermediaries in passing on to Nicolaevsky the great bulk
of the material composing the Nicolaevsky Collection. He obtained roughly 23 percent of the collection (186 boxes) from fellow
Mensheviks, 7 percent from members of the PSR (58 boxes), 6 percent from members of other revolutionary organizations (46
boxes), 10 percent from former Soviet officials (82 boxes, mainly accounted for by the Trotsky papers), 12 percent from refugees
from the Russian Revolution and Civil War who had not been identified with revolutionary organizations (96 boxes), and 9 percent
from World War II-era refugees from the Soviet Union (71 boxes). Non-Russian sources, mainly socialists from other countries,
contributed 10 percent (78 boxes), while Nicolaevsky directly collected from publicly available sources, or originated through
his own correspondence and writing, the remaining 23 percent (194 boxes).
The collection is divided into two parts, reflecting a marked discontinuity in its processing history. Part I constitutes
somewhat more than half of the collection (456 boxes, or 56 percent of the total), and contains a disproportionate number
of the subgroups (229 of 280). This part was arranged by Anna Bourguina, Nicolaevsky's widow, who succeeded him as curator
of the collection upon his death in 1966, and who retained that position until her own death in 1982. She assigned a unique
identifying number to each subgroup (numbers 1-246, seventeen numbers within that sequence being unused). Subgroups were numbered
in arbitrary order. Moreover, in many cases, material in Part I that might logically have formed a single subgroup was broken
up into two or more subgroups simply because it was processed at different times. Thus Subgroups 6, 9, and 66 are all made
up of records of the RSDRP and are designated as RSDRP-I, RSDRP-II and RSDRP-III. Bourguina organized the material within
each subgroup in a somewhat arbitrary fashion, assigning each file folder a sequential identifying number within its subgroup.
Her register to this part of the collection, which was in Russian, featured subgroup and file folder numbers prominently,
and, over the years, many scholars employed these in citations.
Following Bourguina's death, Michael Jakobson undertook a revision of the register to Part I, rendering it into English, and
adding clarified descriptions and more detailed breakdowns in many places. The container list in the present register, beginning
on page 1, indicates on the left-hand side of the page newly assigned box and folder numbers that run consecutively through
the 811 boxes of the collection, continuing from one subgroup to another. Bourguina's overall arrangement of Part I, however,
was retained intact. Her numerical designation of subgroups appears as part of the title of each subgroup and as part of the
running head at the top of each page. Bourguina's file folder numbers are also retained and appear in parentheses at the end
of each entry, toward the right-hand side of the page. For example, Subgroup 15, papers of Iraklii Tsereteli, includes a file
of letters to Tsereteli from Rafail Abramovich, which Bourguina designated as 15-7, the seventh file of Subgroup 15. A glance
at the numerical running heads at page-top level quickly brings one to the beginning of Subgroup 15 on page 35. Another glance
down the right-hand side of the page easily locates the parenthetical notation 15-7, which is seen to be in Box 29, folder
7 of the collection. Absence of a parenthetical number at the end of an entry in Part I normally indicates an added breakdown
in detail made by Jakobson beyond Bourguina's original treatment.
One subgroup in Part I calls for particular mention. This is Subgroup 231, papers of Leon Trotsky and Lev Sedov. Since these
papers had not been made publicly available for research up to the time of the revision of the register, Bourguina's file
folder designations were disregarded and the subgroup was rearranged by Jakobson in a systematic manner and with especial
detail. Pierre Broué and Jean van Heijenoort provided assistance in a portion of this work.
Fifteen smaller subgroups in Part I had not been broken down by Bourguina beyond the subgroup level and were fully processed
Part II of the Nicolaevsky Collection, amounting to approximately 44 percent of the whole (51 subgroups in 356 boxes), was,
with very minor exceptions mentioned in the register, totally unarranged at the time of Bourguina's death. A grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities in 1986 permitted this half of the collection to be processed. The work was carried
out by Michael Jakobson, who established Subgroups 247-297 in accordance with modern archival principles and arranged each
subgroup systematically. Olga Dunlop assisted in arrangement of Subgroup 283. In some instances, material in Part II was closely
related to one or more subgroups in Part I. Thus, for instance, in addition to the three subgroups of RSDRP records in Part
I, there is also an RSDRP-IV (Subgroup 279) in Part II.
In addition to the container list, which runs from page 1 to page 617, there are two other important components of the register.
The subgroup list, which appears on pages ix through xxxiv, provides a concise overview of the entire collection, with a brief
description of each subgroup, its inclusive dates, and its physical size. Browsing the subgroup list will often be useful
in suggesting portions of the collection likely to be relevant to a given area of interest.
The index, which covers pages 618-755, provides a single alphabetic listing of proper names and specific topics mentioned
in the container list. All references in the index are to page numbers of the container list. Use of the index will be particularly
helpful in locating information on a specific person or organization. Nadya Stoy assisted in preparation of the index.
All names of Russian organizations are given in Russian rather than English in the register, for example, Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia
rabochaia partiia rather than Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. The thorny problem of the spelling of names of Russian
individuals has been resolved by employing Library of Congress transliterations of the Cyrillic uniformly, for example, Aksel'rod
rather than Axelrod, SHvarts rather than Schwarz, Trotskii rather than Trotsky, and Burgina rather than Bourguina. Only one
exception has been made, in the case of the established name of the collection itself. Nicolaevsky rather than Nikolaevskii
is used throughout.
Charles G. Palm
Associate Director, Hoover Institution
1 For a detailed account of Nicolaevsky's life, upon which the summary above is based, see Alexander and Janet Rabinowitch,
with Ladis K. D. Kristof, eds.,
Revolution and Politics in Russia: Essays in Memory of B. I. Nicolaevsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972), especially the Foreword by Alexander Rabinowitch (pp. vii-xii), Ladis K. D.
Kristof's essay B. I. Nicolaevsky: The Formative Years (pp. 3-32), and Philip E. Moseley's essay Boris Nicolaevsky: The American
Years (pp. 33-38). The transcripts of a series of interviews with Nicolaevsky on his early life were published posthumously
in Leopold H. Haimson,
The Making of Three Russian Revolutionaries: Voices from the Menshevik Past (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 214-292.
2 For further description of this material see Dale Reed and Michael Jakobson, Trotsky Papers at the Hoover Institution: One
Chapter of an Archival Mystery Story,
American Historical Review 92 (April 1987): 363-375.
Russians in foreign countries.
World War, 1939-1945.
World War, 1939-1945--Collaborationists.
World War, 1939-1945--Refugees.
World War, 1939-1945--Soviet Union.
Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921.
Soviet Union--Politics and government.
Marx, Karl, 1818-1883.
International Workingmen's Association.
International Socialist Congress.
Labour and Socialist International.
Russkaia osvoboditel'naia armiia.
Chernov, V. M. (Viktor Mikhailovich), 1873-1952.
TSereteli, Iraklii Georgievich, 1882-1959.
Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia.
Abramovich, Rafail Abramovich, 1880-1963.
Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940.
Aksel'rod, P. B. (Pavel Borisovich), 1850-1928.