MS Russ 13.1

Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940. Leon Trotsky exile papers: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Russ 13.1
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940.
Title: Leon Trotsky exile papers,
Date(s): 1929-1940.
Date(s): 1937-1940.
Quantity: 1 collection (197 boxes (65 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection is in Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, Polish, and Czech.
Abstract: Papers of Russian revolutionary and Soviet leader Leon Trotsky from his period of exile in Coyoacán, Mexico.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Purchased from Leon and Natalia Trotsky; received: 1940, 1946, 1953.
The papers of Leon Trotsky were purchased by the Harvard College Library in 1940 and 1946 with funds provided by John Wood Blodgett, Jr. The preliminary arrangements for the sale and shipment of the archives were made by Trotsky himself; after his death, these were completed by his widow, Natalia Sedova Trotsky. The first shipment of papers contained all that survived for the years 1917 to 1937, with the exception of certain official papers retained by the Soviet Union at the time of Trotsky's deportation and of miscellaneous papers in his son's possession that were either lost, stolen, or impounded during the exile period. The second shipment, purchased from Mrs. Trotsky in 1946, contained the papers for the years 1937 through 1940. For administrative purposes the archives were divided into two parts: the pre-exile papers (1917-1928) and papers from the exile years (1929-1940). A stipulation was made by both Lev Trotsky and Mrs. Trotsky that the exile papers were not to be opened to the public until 1980.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Patrick K. Miehe

Explanation of the Cataloging of the Exile Papers:

Reference numbers and geographic abbreviations: The numbers to the extreme right of the items in the catalogue refer to the numbers of the original folders from which the items were removed. A description of the content of these folders can be found at the end of the collection. The geographic abbreviations to the extreme right of the items in the catalogue refer to the nationality of the item's author and/or the country in which the item was written. For letters written by Lev Trotsky, his secretaries, Lev Sedov, Natalia Sedova Trotsky, or the Fourth International Secretariat, the abbreviations refer to the nationality of the recipient and/or the country to which the letter was sent. A reference number and geographic abbreviation apply to both the item directly opposite them and to all ensuing items until the appearance of another reference number and geographic abbreviation. A key to the geographic abbreviations is below.
Fourth International heading: To keep large groups of related manuscripts together, all Trotskyite party papers in this collection have been catalogued under "Fourth International." Readers should bear in mind, however, that the Fourth International designation is applicable as official nomenclature only for papers composed after July of 1936.
Fourth International Secretariat: To supplement material listed under "Fourth International Secretariat," readers should also refer to correspondence and compositions by members of the Secretariat - notably Eugen Bauer, Pierre Frank, Jan Frankel, Ruth Fischer, Anton Grylewicz, Rudolf Klement, Alfonso Leonetti, Pierre Naville, Alfred Rosmer, Jean Rous, Lev Sedov, Pietro Tresso, and Erwin Wolf.
Pseudonyms: An alphabetical list of pseudonyms matched with their users' real names is below. An individual's pseudonyms are also listed at the end of each entry in the first section (Letters to Lev Trotsky). In instances where an individual is generally known by his pseudonym, the pseudonym has been retained as a catalogue heading.
Annotations: Heavy blue and red pencil markings and/or annotations on many items throughout the collection are by Lev Trotsky and occasionally by one of his secretaries.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Existence and Location of Copies:

Microfilm available through the Houghton Reading Room (38 reels). Microfilm reflects the pre-cataloged state of the papers.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Leon Trotsky Exile Papers (MS Russ 13.1). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Separated Materials

For the Soviet papers and related collections of Leon Trotsky see bMS Russ 13.

Biographical / Historical

Trotsky was a Russian revolutionary and Soviet leader.


The papers have been organized into three series: Please note that several item numbers were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid thus numbering is not always sequential.

Scope and Contents

Exile papers, 1929-1940, contain correspondence, compositions, a small amount of Dewey Commission (Commission of inquiry into the charges made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow trials) exhibit papers, and related ephemera. Correspondence includes letters to and from Trotsky, his wife Natalia, his son Lev Sedov, and his secretaries. Other correspondence is chiefly between members of the Fourth International Secretariat, other groups, and Soviet deportees. Writings include Trotsky's articles, reviews, statements, minutes of meetings, memoranda and notes, and printer's copy of the diary he kept in France and Norway in 1935; and similar writings of members of the Fourth International. Household papers contain secretarial notes, records of correspondence, photographs, and other items pertaining to the Trotsky household, particularly in Coyoacán, Mexico. Travel and legal documents, contracts, royalty reports and miscellaneous receipts are also included in the collection.

Geographic Abbreviations:

Other abbreviations

Lev Trotsky's secretaries and their periods of service:


Political Abbreviations:

Appendix: Notes concerning the microfilm of the Leon Trotsky Exile Papers

The following notes were written in September 2008 by Joshua Rubenstein, a long time Associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International.
This set of microfilm was put together before the collection was cataloged. The reels themselves (there are dozens), have never been cataloged so that, in general, it is not known what is on each of the reels. But Mr. Rubenstein was able to view five of the reels, and discovered a particular pattern to each reel. These notes provide some guidance for future readers of the micofilm of the Exile Papers, but more work is needed.

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