Manuscript Department of Pushkinsky Dom is one of the largest archive depositories, indispensable for all researches in the field of Russian literature and cultural life. After 1918 (before that it had no clear functional aim and constituted part of the library) and till 1930, when the academic research institute was founded, this department played the leading role. It provided other sub-Departments and departments of the Institute with materials, consultations and references.
However, the first writer’s manuscripts to appear in Pushkinskij Dom were not Pushkin’s but A.N.Plescheev’s letters from exile, addressed to V.D.Dandeville. They were donated in 1908 by the poet’s son A.A.Plescheev.
Practically immediately after its creation Pushlkinsky Dom launched a veritable struggle to acquire all available outstanding collections; this battle proceeded with variable success, depending on financial circumstances. Among the largest acquisitions was the collection of a famous bibliophile and publisher P.A.Efremov († 1907), remarkable for its unity and wholeness. It comprised more than 20,000 volumes. All of them - editions of Russian writers of the XVIII-XIX centuries, almanacs and collections, dating from XVIII century, abundant systematically collected materials on the history of Russian literature, bibliographical reference books, rich, primarily Pushkin’s, iconography and a great number of valuable autographs. The authoritative commission including, among others, academicians A.A.Shakhmatov and S.F.Oldenburg, certified that the collection was worth 30,000 rubles asked by Efremov’s widow. However, the necessary sum was not raised and the valuable collection was sold (for 26,000 rubles) to the book-seller Felten and was broken. Only some time later Pushkinsky Dom raised 5,000 rubles and managed to ransom from the book-seller some of the rare materials of the XIX century – most importantly, manuscripts and letters of A.S.Pushkin, G.R.Derzhavin, N.M.Karamzin, A.S.Griboedov, N.A.Nekrasov and others.
Soon afterwards Pushkinsky Dom received a most valuable book and manuscript collection of the poet, literature critic, editor, rector of Petersburg University P.A.Pletnev, who had been closely associated with all major figures of Russian literature world, including Pushkin. It was his collection that brought to Pushkinsky Dom many autographs of A.S.Pushkin, N.V.Gogol, V.A.Zhukovsky, I.S.Aksakov, F.I.Tyutchev and others.
Not only separate autographs, but whole archive funds of Russian writers and public cultural figures came to Pushkinsky Dom within the enormous collection of a famous collector P.Y.Dashkov. Alongside with thousands of manuscripts of A.S.Pushkin, L.N.Tolstoy, A.F.Pisemsky, A.Grigorijev, A.N.Gertsen, A.A.Fet, I.S.Turgenev and others, it brought archives of N.I.Grech, N.S.Leskov, P.I.Melnikov-Pechersky, 65 volumes of V.P.Zotov’s archive, the 85-volume A.V.Starchevsky’s fund. All in all Dashkov’s collections consists of 525,000 volumes – dozens of thousands of pages.
In terms of its chronological structure the pre-Pushkin epoch is represented within Pushkinsky Dom Manuscript Department both with whole archive complexes, that had formed in the funds of the later times (of the journalist and publisher N.I.Grech, historian M.I.Semevsky, historian and archeographer P.I.Bartenev) and with personal funds. In 1999 we prepared and published the annotated index «Personal Funds in the Manuscript Department of Pushkinsky Dom» (naturally, it does not include the numerous funds that have not been processed and subjected to proper inventory yet). These are, to list the most important ones, G.R.Derzhavin’s archive: the poet’s manuscripts, materials for the Dictionary of Russian Academy, documents concerning the time of his rule in Olonetskaya Region, in Kommerz-Kollegium, papers on Derzhavin’s estates. Letters of N.M.Karamzin, G.R.Derzhavin, V.V.Kapnist, and A.S.Shishkov are collected in D.I.Khvostov’s archive.
I.A.Krylov’s fund is also worth of attention – it comprises dozens of manuscripts of his fables and various documents, letters addressed to the fabulist by his contemporaries (M.N.Zagoskin, I.I.Lazhechnikov, A.N.Olenin and others). A major collection of materials is kept in the fund of a Russian writer and encyclopedic scholar of the XVIII century A.T.Bolotov – his diaries, essays of scholarly nature, daily notes and journals. And, naturally, different redactions of his memoirs «Life and Adventures of Andrej Bolotov, Described by Himself for the Progeny».
Worth of interest is also the fund of A.P. and E.P.Shuvalovs. Alongside with letters of A.P.Shuvalov it also contains 84 letters from J.-F.Lagarpe, as well as letters addressed to E.P.Shuvalova by such figures as A.V.Suvorov, P.I.Bagration, Emperor Alexander I.
Pushkin fund has naturally always been the privileged sphere of interest. Its foundation was put in 1911, with the letter of the poet to his future wife N.N.Goncharova that was donated by V.B.Bertenson. Later it also included autographs and documents from other collections – of P.A.Pletnev, P.Y.Dashkov. Y.K.Grot, Countess Z.I.Yusupova and, of course, A.F.Onegin. After the government decree of 1938 and the decision of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1948) practically the whole of Pushkin’s manuscript heritage was concentrated in Pushkinsky Dom. Not it comprises 7,734 items, including 1,773 items (that is more than 12,000 pages) of Pushkin’s autographs per se. More than 50 of the poet’s autographs (marginalia, notes, underlines) can be found in the volumes of his book collection.
This fund also includes drafts and final versions of manuscripts of Pushkin’s short and long poems – «The Gypsies» and «The Bronze Horseman», «Eugene Onegin», prosaic and historic works, like «The History of Pugachov» and «The History of Peter the Great», Pushkin’s letters (627) and letters addressed to Pushkin (over 500), his diary, sketches, etc. The collection also comprises, in the form of separate funds, documents concerning the poet’s life and artistic career – information referring to his ancestors, his stay in the Lyceum and of his Lyceum friends, business papers dealing with his public service, police intelligence, duel with Dantes, the case on trusteeship over his children and estate after his death, materials on the Pskov Pushkin reserve, translations of his works, art and musical materials, bibliographical indexes, and so on. Naturally, this fund also includes all the materials concerning perpetuation of his memory.
All these materials are subjected to description, commentary and publication in general, special and serial editions. In fact the fund to a large extent provides material for study not only to Russian but also to the world Pushkin scholarship.
Pushkin epoch in general is also well-represented: especially important are the funds of V.A.Zhukovsky, K.N.Batyushkov, and the archive of E.A.Baratynsky. It is also the locus of concentration of a considerable portion of Lermontov heritage, including manuscripts of «Mtsyri», «The Demon», «The Spaniards», numerous short poems, as well as materials concerning his biography, military service, duels with de Barant and Martynov.
The value of N.V.Gogol’s manuscripts is growing ever higher as there are very few of them still existing – however, the collection of his letters is quite abundant; in includes more than 300 letters addressed to A.S.Pushkin, S.P.Shevyryov, A.V.Nikitenko and other addressees.
Literally colossal are archives of the Aksakov family – Sergei Timofeevich and his sons Konstantin and Ivan, of the Bakunins – the father Alexandr Mikhailovich and the son, a famous anarchist Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin.
In general Pushkinsky Dom archives are not limited exclusively to literature matters. In fact the whole public and cultural Russian life of several centuries is represented in the collection of historians D.N.Bantysh-Kamensky and P.G.Butkov, the cellist and musical public figure M.Y.Viljegorsky and others.
Remarkable acquisitions were the archive of A.A.Blok and his library, donated to Pushkinsky Dom according to the will of L.D.Mendeleeva-Blok, as well as M.A.Voloshin’s archive, given in its totality by his widow.
Naturally, the scale of archive representation of different writers and public figures is not equal. Enormous are the funds of Y.P.Polonsky, the poet of the second half of the XIX century (nearly 3,000 items), of F.M.Dostoevsky (around 1,500 items), V.M.Garshin, N.S.Leskov, I.S.Turgenev, P.I.Melnikov-Pechersky and others. However, we do not have in our possession manuscripts funds of A.P.Chekhov and L.N.Tolstoy, concentrated in other archives, though the study of life and art of these writers would have been complicated without the access to some of Pushkinsky Dom funds. In fact this can be said about the study of practically all major public figures of several epochs of Russian life. Pushkinsky Dom collections are indispensable for the reconstruction of the whole landscape of life and art of such outstanding cultural figures of the end of the XIX – early XX centuries as composers A.S.Arensky, M.A.Balakirev, P.I.Chaikovsky, sculptor I.Y.Gintsburg, artist E.G.Guro…
There are funds that are still being intensively replenished – they include archive funds dealing with life and art of such poets and prose writers of the XX century, as Vyacheslav Ivanov, A.L.Volynsky, M.A.Bulgakov, M.M.Zoschenko, A.A.Prokofiev. V. Sayanov’s archive is enormous. The large archive of P.N.Luknitsky was acquired piecemeal, it includes materials concerning primarily and most importantly M.I.Tsvetaeva, A.A.Akhmatova, N.S.Gumilev. Our contemporaries have also donated their personal archives, and are still doing this – among them are Y.V.Bondarev, A.G.Bitov, V.I.Belov and others.
Pushkinsky Dom collection abundantly represents not only literature but also literature scholarship, first of all within collections of major figures of the Academy of Sciences of XIX -XX centuries. These include archives of the Academy president, the Great Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (K.R.), its Vice-Presidents Y.K.Grot and L.N.Maikov. Among the academicians’ archives – of A.N.Pypin, A.A.Shakhmatov, V.N.Perets and others - especially important is the enormous fund of the outstanding Russian philologist academician A.N.Veselovsky, materials from which have only recently become the subject of a number of publications prepared in Pushkinsky Dom and devoted to the great scholar. There are also many archive collections of the scholars who were not directly connected with the Academy of Sciences, like, for example, M.K.Lemke.
Manuscript Department possesses collection of its founding fathers – academician N.A.Kotlyarevsky, P.N.Sakulin, N.K.Piksanov, V.P.Adrianova-Perets, M.P.Alexeev. We have recently received academician D.S.Likhachev’s archive that is already being researched.
The Manuscript Department material can tell a lot about the connections that Russian literature has established with the world, mainly Western, culture. First of all, there is abundant epistolary exchange. Major complexes of foreign documents, like, for example, epistolary exchange of Romaine Rolland with «Vremya» Publishing House, are rather scanty. However, collections of autographs are quite numerous. These are autographs of English writers, including G.Byron, W.Scott, C.Dickens. H. Wells, B. Shaw; of French writers – Voltaire, Diderot, O. de Balzac, G.Verne, G. de Maupassant, of great German men of letters – J.-W.Goethe, F.Schiller, H.Heine, J.-H.Herder, F.Shloegel… There are autographs and other materials concerning major figures of world science (Ch. Darvin, H. Helmholts, F. Nansen, S. Sismondi…) and world political figures (Napoleon I, G.Garibaldi, O.Bismarck, B. Disraeli, A.Tier…).
Europeen musical culture is represented with materials reflecting life and work of L. van Beethoven, R.Wagner, F.Schubert, G.Rossini and others. There also are autographs of J.-S. Bach and W.-A. Mozart.
A special department within Manuscript Department is formed by Collection of Old Russian Relics («Drevlekhranilische») that covers literature heritage of the XII - XVII centuries.
This part of Pushkinsky Dom, the face of which is turned to the old times, is at the same time one of the most recently founded, it bears the name of an outstanding devotee of Russian culture Vladimir Ivanovich Malyshev. Malyshev and his team took great pains and devoted enormous efforts to create a vast collection of hand-copies of the works of the great Old Russian writer Avakum, his letters and petitions. The collection is crowned with the autograph of his famous «Life».
It is not by chance that archeographical expeditions have carried their research work primarily in the region of Russian North. The reason is that there, specifically in the communes of Old Believers, Old Russian books were piously preserved, passed over from one generation to another, copied by hand with special care and exactitude. Every year over 200 new and unknown manuscripts were added to the funds of Collection of Old Russian Relics.
Among the numerous existing book collections dating to the epoch of Old Russia – belonging to the tsars, princes and monasteries – Collection of Old Russian Relics of Pushkinsky Dom occupies a special and absolutely exclusive place. It possesses such monuments of Old Russian book culture as the parchment New Testament of XIV century or the New Testament copied by hand by tsarevna Sofia, richly illustrated with miniatures, made by masters from the Kremlin Armoury; «The Pinega Chronicle» of the XVII century containing data on Russian explorers of Siberia; Patriarch Nikon’s autographs and so on. But what important is not only that Collection possesses such rarities of the high book culture (they are well represented in other archives of Moscow and St. Petersburg as well). The main issue is that it is a collection of popular culture that is a remarkable selection of books that belonged to peasants’ inhabiting in the North of Russia. Thanks to Malyshev and his followers there was made a phenomenal discovery – the book world of peasant life. It turned out that book – printed or copied in hand – was a necessary element of popular life. Peasant, hunter, seaman always carried it around with him. This sort of literature is represented in Collection of Old Russian Relics in all its wealth and variety. It includes chronicles, spiritual verses, works on medicine and geography, stories of travels to other countries, legends of Kiev epic heroes. Peasants from the regions of the North Dvina, the Mezen, Vologda and Karelia were equally literate in Church Slavonic and in civil reading and writing.
A special place within the funds of Collection of Old Russian Relics is held by materials that form a specific context of book culture – peasants’ letters, diaries, documents from family archives – taken together they present a picture of rich spiritual popular life. Probably it was this special character of Collection of Old Russian Relics that attracted to it attention of many people having donated not only separate books and manuscripts (it should be noted that Collection funds, with several rare exceptions, were formed on the basis of donations), but also whole private collections – of academician V.N.Perets, historians and students of local lore M.I.Uspensky, K.P. and A.G.Temp, I.N.Zavoloko and many others, whose names and priority right are preserved with great care. It was I. N.Zavoloko who donated «The Pustozersky Collection» with autographs of the works of Archpriest Avakum and monk Epifany, this unique gift was later followed with his whole collection of books and manuscripts of the XVI - XVIII centuries.
The All-Russian conferences – «Malyshev Readings» (there have already been held 25 of them) – concentrate and develop primarily the experience of study of archives held at Collection of Old Russian Relics.
During World War II, when many of the Institute employees went to the front, the work of the Institute was not terminated – it continued both in the besieged city and in the places of evacuation. Already by July 1941 the manuscripts of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol and others were taken away to Novosibirsk. Pushkin’s library and materials of the Phonogram Archive were in Ekaterinburg. Kazan housed numerous museum exhibits and the most valuable part of book collections.
In the result of the research workers’ selfless efforts, first of all, due to the efforts of the person in charge of the evacuation and preservation of the funds L.M.Dobrovolsky, all these evacuated items had safely returned to the Institute by the end of 1945.
During the siege a tiny group of workers that stayed in the city, headed by V.A.Manuilov, preserved everything that could not be evacuated. As for Manuscript Department (headed by M.I. Steblin-Kamensky) it was even enlarged at the expense of numerous private collections saved by Pushkinsky Dom scholars. Already in 1944 they unveiled the exhibition devoted to the 100th anniversary of I.A.Krylov’s birth, and by 1946 all the main museum exhibitions had been restored to their original condition.
More than sixty years ago within Manuscript Department there was formed a folklore archive. The foundation was made by materials brought from expeditions held in the 1920s by the folklorists of the State Institute of the History of Arts. Later they were supplemented by the expedition notes taken by researches from the Leningrad and Gorky Universities, Leningrad Conservatory and other research centers from Leningrad, Petrozavodsk and Novgorod that traveled to Northern and Central regions of the USSR. Pushkinsky Dom also became the place of concentration for numerous folklore collections and archives, both personal and institutional. Now this department comprises about 300 funds – this is the most important collection of materials on Russian popular art in this country and in the world. However, it covers not only Russian art. The folklore archive of Pushkinsky Dom preserves notes brought from Byelorussia, Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Yakutia, Slovenia and other places. Among personal collections one should specially note collections of E.E.Lineva, O.E.Ozarovskaya, S.S.Nekhorosheva and others.
The research work with these funds is to a large extent supplemented with reference system of the folklore archive, extensive collection of photographs and selection of cheap popular prints («luboks»).
The folklore department also includes the Phonogram Archive, one of the richest in the world that preserves, among other valuable things, recordings of S.I.Taneev, A.S.Arensky, the voice of L.N.Tolstoy and the recently found recording of P.I.Chaikovsky’s voice.
One should specially note the reference-bibliographical sources of Pushkinsky Dom that to a certain extent supply researchers of Russian as well as world culture. First of all, these are card indexes of S.A.Vengerov that cover Russian literature of the XVIII - XX centuries and contain information from magazines, newspapers and books, mostly of the bibliographical nature. All these materials were received by Pushkinsky Dom in 1932 from the Institute for Book Study and later were supplemented with data referring primarily to XIX - XX centuries.
Card indexes of B.L.Modzalevsky and L.B.Modzalevsk, V.I.Saitov and others are priceless. Materials from these and other card indexes, bibliographies and catalogues regularly add to publications of Manuscript Department, both of general and special character.