A splendid buffet : the June 2020 Slavonic item of the month

This month, I wanted to draw attention to a growing open access resource called Prozhito which provides diaries written by the great and the good and the ordinary.  At the time of writing, Prozhito (“Lived”, the passive past participle) contains diaries in Russian by 5755 authors, in Ukrainian by 104, and in Belarusian by 58.

A volunteer-led initiative which started in 2014, Prozhito has since 2019 been a joint project with the European University in St Petersburg.  The latter’s English-language summary of the project is here.  The Russian-language Prozhito “About” page is here.

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The geneticist in Russia : the March 2020 Slavonic item of the month

March has already finished?  This blog post is late??  It is not so easy to tell at the moment…  The subject of this post, the early geneticist William Bateson (1861-1926), might have considered my disorganisation a “trait”.  What must he have thought of the avant-garde when he visited Soviet Russia?

The avant-garde at work

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S3-figures and the January 2020 Slavonic items of the month

The introduction to the 1945 ‘Select classes classification’

The University Library’s classification schemes can sometimes seem designed to hinder rather than aid the reader.  This post looks at some recent and lovely East European additions to the S3-figure class and briefly explains its history and current use.

In the past, the Library produced publications about specific classification schemes, chiefly for staff but apparently also for sale (many have prices printed on them!).  From my predecessor as head of department, David Lowe, I inherited a third edition of Select books classification, published in 1945 in a print run of 100 copies following a first edition in 1925 and a second very shortly thereafter in 1926.

The S3-figure class was designed for ‘select books’ which didn’t already fall into one of the other ‘select classes’ covered by the pamphlet.  Most commonly, a ‘select book’ was, and still is, something extensively illustrated or very heavy (archaeology books and art catalogues often tick both boxes) which the Library would want to provide access to only in a supervised reading room.  The class traditionally held only hardbacks but we now add sturdy paperbacks to the sequence too.  The S3-figure class was originally applied in combination with a simplified version of the open-shelf 3-figure scheme, so a book about Russian history which would count as ‘select’ would have been given a classmark starting with S586 (since 586 is the main Russian history class).  About 15 years ago, the decision was made to stop the subject classification of S3-figure books, and now the classmark is standardly S950 and otherwise reflects only size and date of publications with a running number (eg S950.c.201.1).  As is the case with many classes in the UL, then, readers need to use the subject headings in catalogue records to trace subjects for titles added to the S3-figure class since that time.  This post looks at three new additions to the class which relate to East European art. Continue reading

369 plans of St Petersburg : the July 2018 Slavonic item of the month

UL staff hand provided to show scale.

The University Library has recently acquired a huge facsimile set of architectural plans of St Petersburg dating from the 1730s and 1740s.  Arkhtekturnye chertezhi i plany Sankt-Peterburga (2017) consists of two 52 x 37 centimetre cases of loose-leaf pages showing plans made for Friedrich Wilhelm von Bergholz, and a smaller commentary book.  The publication is Russian but the plans and drawings come from the Nationalmuseum in Sweden, so the new purchase was made with money from the Slavonic and Scandinavian accessions budgets.

St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703.  Bergholz spent several years in the 1720s visiting Russia from the Duchy of Holstein, and the drawings of the new city he later commissioned and which are reprinted in this new set will be of particular interest to those looking at the early history of St Petersburg.  The commentary volume gives the following English summary on its cover:

Drawings and blueprints of buildings, panoramas of streets and embankments of St. Petersburg and its suburbs from 1730s -1740s come from the collection of F.W. Bergholtz that was kept in the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts, Stockholm. The blueprints (253 originals on 369 tablets) are mostly reproduced to scale, faithfully representing the color as well as notes made by Bergholtz himself. Almost all of them were not previously published.

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Illustrations for Soviet children (and postcards for Christmas!) : the December 2016 Slavonic item of the month

‘Kniga dlia detei 1881-1939’ (Books for children, 1881-1939; S950.a.200.4173-4174) is a huge two-volume set which contains reproductions of excerpts from beautifully illustrated Russian children’s books.  It was produced in 2009 but is a only a recent arrival in the University Library.

The two volumes (right) and a winter scene (left).

The set is based on the collection of a New York Russian emigre.  Aleksandr Lur’e (or Sasha Lurye) has collected hundreds upon hundreds of late imperial and early Soviet children’s books, a great many of which researchers would struggle to track down in libraries today.  The two volumes follow a roughly chronological order in terms of the books their sections study. Continue reading