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MS Fr 375-375.1

Souvarine, Boris. Boris Souvarine papers, 1915-1984: 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 Fr 375-375.1
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Souvarine, Boris.
Title: Boris Souvarine papers,
Date(s): 1915-1984 (inclusive)
Date(s): 1940-1984 (bulk).
Quantity: 41.6 linear feet (126 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in French, Russian, and English.
Abstract: Papers of Boris Souvarine, a founder of the French Communist Party and a Bolshevik delegate to the Comintern until expelled in the mid-1920s. He was a leading Sovietologist and anti-communist. Includes correspondence, compositions, source files, and biographical materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

88M-29 and 91M-3. Gift of Mrs. Ginette de B. Merrill; received: 30 May 1985 and 1991.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to the bulk of this material.
bMS Fr 375.1 (1) and (2) are restricted until published.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Boris Souvarine Papers, 1915-1984 (MS Fr 375 -375.1). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Additional Boris Souvarine material available at: The Graduate Institute Library, Geneva, Switzerland

Biographical / Historical

Boris Konstantinovich Souvarine, the self-educated pioneering Sovietologist, was born in Kiev, Russia but brought to France as a small boy. He was the only foreign communist to have been a member of all three leading bodies of the Comintern for three years in succession. His most well known work was the first biography of Joseph Stalin, published in 1935 as Staline, Aperçu Historique Bolchévisme. For the next sixty years he was a leading Sovietologist and anti-communist, founder of L'Institut d'Histoire Sociale (Paris), as well as an author, editor, historian, journalist and publisher.


Arranged into the following six series:

Scope and Contents

The papers contain correspondence with colleagues and friends (very little from family), compositions, and source files containing printed matter concerning east-west relations. Generally, the original arrangement of materials has been retained. Consequently there is a large section entitled: Compositions arranged by subject. This section reflects Souvarine's original subject categories but the order within each category has been reorganized in the repository into: letters, compositions, and printed materials. Cross-references have been made to all relevant sections within the larger index. An alphabetical listing of the topical groups assembled in this section can be found at the end of the index in appendix 1.
The bulk of the letters date from 1940 to 1984, with some earlier and later. A large early section pertains to Souvarine's years as a communist and to his time spent as a member of the Comintern (see section IV-B, International correspondence). Much of this material, however, are copies that Souvarine gathered for his own research purposes. There are a very few letters from Boris Souvarine to others and those that do exist are mostly drafts. It should be noted that Souvarine's library (including both books and manuscripts) was pillaged by the Nazis during World War II and consequently scattered over Europe (see section IV-B, Nazi pillage). There is a noteworthy collection of letters and compositions by Simone Weil, as well as materials from countless other important figures of the French and Russian political and cultural scene during the twentieth century.
Over half of the collection can be classified as printed materials which consist of source files of clippings, pamphlets, books and offprints that Souvarine assembled for his own use.
The papers have been annotated by Souvarine's step-daughter, Mrs. Ginette de B. Merrill. Numerous penciled notes in her handwriting can be found throughout. These notes have mostly not been mentioned in the cataloging. Much of the identification of names could not have been made without her assistance.

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