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Microform Collection: Leaders of the Russian Revolution

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Leaders of the Russian Revolution contains microfilm and microfiche copies of the archives of the following nine figures important to the early history of Soviet Russia. Scholars can consult these sources in the Microtext Reading Room, which is in the basement of Sterling Memorial Library.

Sterling Memorial Library's hours of operation

[Photograph of Pavel Borisovich Axelrod]


The Russian revolution : a CBS Legacy book distributed by The MacMillan Company New York, 1967, p. 92. 

One of the founders of the "Geneva Group for the Federation of Labour." Together with the St. Petersburg-based "Union for Struggle of the Liberation of the Working Class," this was the foundation of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDRP). In 1903 the latter split into the split into the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions, with Axelrod becoming a major figure in the latter. Over the next 25 years, he was the outstanding ideologist, though not the most influential political leader of Menshevism. In Stockholm when the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, Axelrod elected to remain abroad, and died in exile.

The material in the Axelrod Collection dates from 1878 to 1924 and consists of autographs of his published and unpublished articles, correspondence, including that with other leading politicians, and photographs. There are 33 microfiche in the collection.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:4

[Photograph of Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin]


Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia.Moskva : Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1953, v. 19, p. 420. 

Kalinin was a member of the St. Petersburg-based "Union for Struggle of the Liberation of the Working Class" and a founder of the RDSRP. One of the very few leading Bolsheviks to come from a working-class background, he was first arrested and exiled for his revolutionary activities in 1899.

After the October 1917 coup, Kalinin was active in the Petrograd Communist Party. In 1919, he replaced Iakov Sverdlov and Chairman of the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Communist Party, and during the Civil War organised the "October Revolution Agitation Train," whose task was to recruit peasants and workers to the Reds. From 1925 until his death in 1946 (from natural causes), Kalinin was a member of the Politburo and occupied numerous party posts. 

Yale owns 124 reels of the Kalinin Collection. Much of it donated by members of his family, the archive includes photographs; diary entries;transcripts of speeches; autographs of articles; correspondence with family members, officials in the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NARKOMINDEL), and letters of complaint from peasants and workers; notes on his book about Stalin; material about collectivisation, the literacy campaign, the formation of the Jewish Autonomous Region in Eastern Siberia (Birobidjan), and Intourist.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Film B14405

[Photograph of Sergei Mironovich Kirov]


Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia.Moskva : Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1953, v. 21, p. 112. 

Born Sergei Kostrikov, Kirov joined the Bolsheviks in 1905 and was active in its revolutionary activities. After October 1917, he took a leading role in establishing Soviet power, first in the central Russian province of Tver and then in the North Caucasus. Between 1922 and 1925, Kirov was Secretary of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party, and was subsequently appointed Party boss in Leningrad. His assassination in 1934 appears to have come on orders of Stalin.

There are 45 reels in the collection, which covers the period from 1893 until his death. It includes his poems and literary essays, articles, personal and political correspondence (including letters with Stalin, Chicherin and Ordzhonokidze), speeches, autobiographical material, and material connected with his assassination.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Film B13998

[Photograph of L. Martov]

MARTOV, L. (1873-1923)

Martov at the end of 1922. From Getzler, Israel. Martove: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat. Cambridge: Melbourne University Press, 1967. Frontispiece.

Nom de guerre of Iulii Osipovich Tsederbaum, one of the leaders of the Menshevik Party. One of the initiators of the Bund, Martov was first arrested and exiled for revolutionary activity at the age of 18. He soon renounced the idea of a separate Jewish socialist party and, along with Lenin, helped found the "Union for Struggle of the Liberation of the Working Class." At first he worked closely with Lenin, and was particularly active on the editorial board of Iskra, but the men parted ways in 1903, and Martov became a key figure in the rival Menshevik Party. 

As the leader of the group which advocated a gradual transition to socialism, Martov often disagreed with Lenin's more impatient brand of revolutionary agitation. After October 1917, the two were very much at odds over the new Bolshevik government's use of force against dissenters. Nevertheless, Martov was permitted to be elected to the Moscow Soviet and continued to publish articles in the Menshevik press until his arrest by the Cheka in 1918. Two years later, he exiled himself to Germany, where he died in 1923.The documents in the Martov archive, which consist of 34 fiche, cover 1896 through 1923. They include autograph articles, private and political correspondence, and biographical material. The fiche complement that in the Nikolaevskii Collection, also held in the Microtext Room. 

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:1

[Photograph of Viacheslav Ivanovich Molotov]


Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia.Moskva : Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1953, v. 28, p. 152. 

Molotov (from molot, or hammer) was the pseudonym of Viacheslav Skriabin, a shopkeeper's son who became involved in Bolshevik politics during the 1905 Revolution. In October 1917, he was one of the leaders of the Petrograd Soviet, beginning a long and successful career in the Soviet hierarchy, which included appointments as head of the Ukrainian Communist Party in the early 1920's, full membership in the Politburo in 1926, and Commissar for Foreign Affairs from 1939 through 1949. It was in the latter capacity that Molotov signed a treaty of neutrality with Nazi Germany in 1939, which kept the Soviet Union out of World War II for two years. After the death of Stalin in 1953, Molotov's authority began to wane, and in 1957 was demoted to the post of Ambassador to Mongolia by Khrushchev. 

The archives consist of 111 fiche copied from material collected by the Communist Party or donated by his family. Starting with tsarist police reports on Molotov's activities in Kazan, Irkustk and Vologda, the Molotov papers include speeches, articles and letters, as well as photographs and other personal documents.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:3

[Photograph of Grigorii Konstantinovich Ordzhonokidze]


Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia.Moskva : Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1953, v. 31, p. 172. 

Like Stalin, Ordzhonokidze was a Georgian, and one of the few non-Russians to attain high rank in Stalin's government. He was active in the Bolshevik Party from 1903, and was exiled for his underground activities. During the Civil War, Ordzhonokidze was a key figure in establishing Soviet power in the Caucasus. After the consolidation of Soviet power, he turned his attention to economic affairs, and played a major role in the forced march to industrialisation during the 1920's and 1930's. In the mid-1930's, Ordzhonokidze sought to restrain Stalin's excesses, which may have played a role in his mysterious death in 1937.

The documents recorded on the 90 reels of the collection comprise telegrams, notes, lectures and articles, as well as correspondence with leading Soviet figures and institutions, such as Lenin, Stalin, Kirov, Dzerzhinskii, Chicherin, the Soviet of Peoples' Commissars (Sovnarkom), and the Cheka. The material covers 1902 through 1937, most of it donated by his wife.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Film B14417

[Photograph of Lev Davidovich Trotskii]


From The Russian Revolution: A CBS Legacy Book. Distributed by the Macmillan Company, 1967.

Trotskii, born Lev Bronstein, came from a prosperous Jewish family. From the age of 18 he was involved in revolutionary activity, and his involvement with the abortive 1905 Revolution as head of the Petrograd Soviet led to a temporary exile. In May 1917, Trotskii returned to Petrograd, and took an active part in preparations for the Bolshevik coup. After the October seizure of power, he became a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee, and as Commissar for War created the Red Army. His opposition to Stalin after Lenin's death lead to his deportation and subsequent assassination.

The Trotskii archive consists of 1129 fiche with private and political correspondence, Okhrana reports, as well as drafts of speeches, articles and books with autograph notes and corrections.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:6

[Photograph of Vera Ivanovna Zasulich]


From Getzler, Israel. Martove: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat. Cambridge: Melbourne University Press, 1967. Page facing 51.

Vera Zasulich came to prominence with her attempt to assassinate General Trepov, head of the St. Petersburg police, in 1878. Although acquitted, she fled to London, where she was one of the founders of the Russian Marxist school. Sharing lodgings with Trotskii and Martov, Zasulich collaborated on the paper Iskra. After the split in the RSDRP, Zasulich sided with the Mensheviks and died in relative obscurity after her return to Russia.

The Zasulich collection comprises 34 microfiche, ranging from 1880 to 1916. It comprises personalia, letters to and from fellow revolutionaries, such as Friedrich Engels, and private correspondence.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:2

[Photograph of Andrei Aleksandrovich Zhdanov]


Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia.Moskva : Bolshaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1953, v. 15, p. 604. 

A lapsed banker with bourgeois origins, Zhdanov joined the Bolsheviks during the First World War. He was active as a party organiser in Shchadrinsk and Tver, rising steadily in the ranks of the Communist Party thereafter. After Kirov's assassination in 1934, Zhdanov became Leningrad party boss. However, he is best known for his role in the imposition of "socialist realism" on Soviet literature.

The material in this archive dates from 1909 through 1946, and includes memoranda, articles, photographs, personal and official correspondence, and memoirs, copied onto 517 fiches and 35 reels.

LOCATION: SML, Microform (Non-Circulating)
CALL NUMBER: Fiche B2506:5, Film B13997