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At a Glance
This collection is organized into five series. Selected material cataloged; remainder arranged.
Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, subject files and printed material of Vladimir M. Zenzinov (1880-1953), writer, member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and émigré activist first in France and, after 1940, in the United States. The correspondence, primarily from the 1940s and early 1950s, is both personal and official, including letters addressed to Zenzinov as representative of the Liga borʹby za narodnui︠u︡ svobodu (The League of the Struggle for National Freedom) and as a member of the editorial staff of Za Svobodu. There are letters from each of the following correspondents: Nina Berberova, Ivan Bunin, Viktor Chernov, Mstislav Dobuzhinskii, Iurii Ivask, Aleksandr Kerenskii, Vladimir Nabokov, Gleb Struve, Aleksandra Tolstaia, Iakov Tsvihak, George Vernadsky, and Edmund Wilson. There are also several folders containing correspondence related to a specific event, particularly letters to and from Red Army soldiers found on the Finnish battlefield during the Russo-Finnish War ("Pis'ma v deistvuiushchuiu Krasniu Armiiu").
The manuscripts consist primarily of works by Zenzinov, including drafts of memoirs and monographs on the February revolution, Ivan Bunin, and the 1939-1940 Russo-Finnish War. Also included are manuscripts by other authors (Viktor Chernov, Zinaida Gippius, Vladimir Nabokov) and a large volume of miscellaneous notes by Zenzinov himself. The photographs are primarily of friends and relatives, including many of Amalia and Il'ia Fondaminskii. There are also photographs of Finland during the Russo-Finnish War and of Siberia in 1913. The subject files include extensive materials on Russian Displaced Persons after World War II, the Literaturnyi Fond (Literary Fund), the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the journal Za Svobodu. The printed material consists chiefly of miscellaneous clippings as well as of clippings of Zenzinov's published works.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located on-site.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
Socialist Revolutionary Party records: A small group of records of Zenzinov's political party, including correspondence from Zenzinov.
Vladimir Zenzinov Papers: Another, smaller group of Zenzinov's personal papers. At the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, Amherst, Massachusetts.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Papers: Source of acquisition--V.M. Zenzinov. Method of acquisition--Bequest; Date of acquisition--1953.
Papers: Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--1953.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers Accessioned 1953.
Papers Accessioned 1953.
Papers Processed 06/--/82.
The collection was intellectually arranged into five series at the same time that the finding aid was converted to EAD. No materials were physically moved. The biographical note was also expanded, and related materials notes were added.
2020-04-17 PDF finding aid converted to EAD and biographical note revised by CLB and KSD.
History / Biographical Note
Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov (1880-1953) was a writer, member of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party, and émigré socialist activist first in France and, after 1940, in the United States.
Born in Moscow in 1880, the son of a merchant, Zenzinov was educated in universities in Berlin, Halle, and Heidelberg. He joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party during his years in Germany, 1899-1904. He was arrested in Moscow at the beginning of the 1905 revolution and sentenced to five years in Siberia. However, because Siberia was unreachable as a result of the Russo-Japanese War, Arkhangelsk was substituted. Zenzinov escaped immediately upon his arrival in Arkhangelsk, traveling to Geneva, Switzerland before returning to St. Petersburg in 1906.
Zenzinov was arrested and banished to Siberia again in 1906. He escaped again in 1907, traveling around Asia by ship before returning to Russia. Upon his third arrest in 1910, he was sent to the far north of the Yakustk region of Siberia. Unable to escape from this remote location, he instead spent the next five years engaged in anthropological and ornithological studies of the area. Zenzinov published the results of these studies in several works in Russian, French, and English over the next two decades.
Zenzinov returned to Moscow in 1915. He lived in St. Petersburg from 1917 to 1918, participated in the February Revolution, was elected to the Constituent Assembly, and was briefly a director of the Provisional Government. He was arrested for the last time in the military coup of November 1918. Exiled to China, he departed for Europe via the United States.
This time Zenzinov remained abroad. He lived in Paris and Prague, settled in Berlin until Hitler's rise to power in 1933, and then returned to Paris. He published several books during these decades and wrote for a variety of socialist newspapers and journals. These publications included "Za Svobodu," "Volya Rossiya," "Golos Rossii," "Dni," "Novaya Rossiya," and "Sovremennye Zapiski."
Zenzinov traveled to Finland at the outbreak of World War II and witnessed the Soviet invasion in November 1939. He then moved to New York City. He wrote a book on the Soviet Union, "Vstrecha s Rossiei" (1945), based on the material he had collected in Finland. He also completed his memoirs, "Perezhitoe." He died in New York on October 20, 1953.