Peter Reddaway Samizdat collection
Scope and Contents
The Peter Reddaway collection contains political samizdat materials from the Soviet Union. It consists of approximately 151 boxes of unique materials or approximately 75 linear feet of materials. This includes thousands of sheets of original samizdat and approximately 27,000 sheets of copied samizdat, English-language translations of samizdat, original samizdat materials from the USSR, samizdat documents copied for distribution by Radio Free Europe/Radio liberty, correspondence, petitions, news sheets, articles, memoires, works of prose and poetry, published and unpublished book manuscripts, press releases, transcripts of trials, bills of indictment, newspaper clippings and other historical documents. It also contains a run of the Chronicle of Current Events in English and in Russian as well as 40 bound volumes of Russian-language samizdat documents compiled by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The most extensive materials found in the collection relate to the response of Soviet authorities to ideological dissent. These materials include a significant amount of materials focusing on psychiatric abuse, mental health reform and the persecution of religious groups. The collection covers the period from the mid 1960s to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with a few titles extending beyond 1991. Most materials in the collection are in Russian. When possible English translations of the documents are provided. There are documents in the collection in a variety of Western European languages, as well as in languages of the Soviet Republics. Most materials are on paper though there are some photographic negatives in the collection, as well as rolls of photographic film and film strips.
- Creation: Circa 1950s - 2010
Language of Materials
English and Russian
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Biographical / Historical
Peter Reddaway, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs of The George Washington University, is a prominent Soviet historian of the Cold War period and a central figure in the Russian samizdat distribution network. He was a prominent advocate of human rights who spoke out on behalf of the oppressed, and a preeminent collector of Soviet samizdat materials. His main scholarly expertise is in the politics and government of Russia and the other post-Soviet states, human rights, rights of minorities, religious freedom and psychiatric abuse. Professor Reddaway received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Cambridge University and did graduate work at Harvard and Moscow Universities and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Before joining GW in January 1989, he taught at the London School of Economics and then directed the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies. Professor Reddaway assembled one of the largest private collections of Soviet political samizdat spanning the period from the late 1960s to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Samizdat, from the Russian “sam” (“by oneself") and “izdatel'stvo” ("publishing house") means "self published" and designates prohibited publications created in secret and distributed via underground networks during the Soviet era. These materials were produced at great risk to the individuals and groups responsible for their creation and distribution. But, in the end, ongoing dissent helped to apprise others of conditions within the USSR and supported a coordinated effort to destabilize the authoritarian regime, including the sustained Western effort (by Radio Liberty and other organizations) to broadcast back into the Soviet Union the content of contraband samizdat smuggled out of the USSR. Access to this material, and the associated cultural output essential to substantively interpreting it, is critical to the understanding of the late 20th century and the various ways in which Soviet dissidents resisted the dominant political hegemony. The relevance of the collection goes beyond the study of the Soviet era to encompass the broader study of resistance to totalitarian regimes and dissent more generally.
70.5 Linear Feet
Samizdat, from the Russian "sam" ("by oneself") and "izdatel'stvo" ("publishing house,") means "self published" and designates prohibited publications created in secret and distributed via underground networks during the Soviet era. The Peter Reddaway samizdat collection contains original samizdat materials from the USSR, samizdat documents copied for distribution by Radio Free Europe/Radio liberty, correspondence, petitions, news sheets, articles, memoirs, works of prose and poetry, published and unpublished book manuscripts, press releases, transcripts of trials, bills of indictment, newspaper clippings and other historical documents. The relevance of the collection goes beyond the study of the Soviet era to encompass the broader study of resistance to totalitarian regimes and dissent more generally. The collection spans the period from mid 1960s to the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Organized into 11 series: Belle Lettres, Human Rights, Large Manuscript, Mainstream, Nationalities, Psychiatric Abuse, Religious, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Social Groups, Western Materials, and Miscellanea.
Materials are stored off-site and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Global Resources Center for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Peter Reddaway, June 23, 2010.
- Civil rights -- Soviet Union
- Dissenters -- Soviet Union
- Freedom of religion
- Human rights
- Jews -- Persecutions -- Soviet Union
- Jews -- Soviet Union -- Migrations
- Labor movement Russia (Federation)
- People with disabilities -- Soviet Union
- Political prisoners -- Soviet Union -- Biography
- Psychiatry -- Soviet Union
- Radio Free Europe
- Radio Liberty
- Self-determination, National
- Soviet Union Emigration and immigration
- Underground literature -- Soviet Union
- Women -- Soviet Union -- Social conditions
- Guide to the Peter Reddaway Samizdat collection, 1950-2010
- Finding aid prepared by Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English