Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov Papers, circa 1900-1953

Summary Information


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.

At a Glance

Call No.: BA#0519
Bib ID 4078275 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Zenzinov, V. (Vladimir), 1880-1953
Title Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov Papers, circa 1900-1953
Physical Description 30 Linear Feet (50 boxes; 6 packages of oversized materials; 1 folder of 5 Fondaminskiĭ photos in map case)
Language(s) Russian , English .

This collection is located on-site.



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.

Preferred Citation

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.

Related Materials

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.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

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

Processing Information

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.

Revision Description

2020-04-17 PDF finding aid converted to EAD and biographical note revised by CLB and KSD.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Letters (correspondence) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memoirs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Monographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Berberova, N. (Nina) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Breshko-Breshkovskai︠a︡, Ekaterina Konstantinovna, 1844-1934 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bunin, Ivan Alekseevich, 1870-1953 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chernov, V. M. (Viktor Mikhaĭlovich), 1873-1952 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dobuzhinskiĭ, Mstislav Valerianovich, 1875-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration -- Europe -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration -- Soviet Union -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration -- United States -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gippius, Z. N. (Zinaida Nikolaevna), 1869-1945 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ivask, I͡Uriĭ Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich, 1881-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1899-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Partīi︠a︡ sot︠s︡īalistov-revoli︠u︡t︠s︡īonerov Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Political refugees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russo-Finnish War, 1939-1940 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sedykh, Andreĭ, 1902-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Siberia, Eastern (Russia) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- Politics and government Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Struve, Gleb Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tolstoy, Alexandra, 1884-1979 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Vernadsky, George, 1887-1973 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

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.