Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Alexander Erlich papers, 1953-1985

Summary Information


Regarded by his peers as an expert in the field, Professor Alexander Erlich devoted more than three decades to the study of the economic conditions and policies of the Soviet Union. This collection consists primarily of correspondence, manuscripts, and research notes relating to his work and his career at Columbia University.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0399
Bib ID 4079326 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Erlich, Alexander
Title Alexander Erlich papers, 1953-1985
Physical Description .42 linear feet (1 document box)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in reverse chronological order.



The Alexander Erlich Papers span his thirty-year career as an economics professor and lecturer at Columbia University and Barnard College. Contained in the collection are a biographical file written by Columbia University upon Erlich's death, letters of recommendation written by Erlich, correspondence, manuscripts, and Erlich's research and lecture notes. The correspondence, dated from 1981-1984, is primarily professional in nature, though often familiar in tone, consisting mostly of intra- and interdepartmental communication at Columbia and correspondence between Erlich and various publishers regarding his review of and contribution to work on the economic situation of the Soviet Union. The three manuscripts contained in the collection include the introduction to an untitled work by Michael Ellman, which Erlich reviewed and which is referred to in correspondence dated from October-December 1982; fragments of Erlich's 1960 seminal work, The Soviet Industrialization Debate, 1924-1928, with hand-written annotations; and a complete copy of Erlich's PhD dissertation, submitted in January 1953. The research and lecture notes contain various economic equations and tables, some of which are written in Russian, Erlich's first language.

Related / Analytical Title

The Soviet industrialization controversy.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Alexander Erlich Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed John Roe 09/11/89.

Papers Reprocessed Christina Manzella (Pratt SILS 2011) 06/--/10.

Finding aid Written Christina Manzella (Pratt SILS 2011) 06/--/10.

Revision Description

2010-07-29 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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:"
Economists -- United States -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Erlich, Alexander Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Industrial management -- Soviet Union -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Industrialization -- Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

AAlexander Erlich was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1912. In 1918, shortly after the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution, his family immigrated to Poland where his father, Henryk, became a leader of the Jewish Labor Fund. After the execution of his father in 1941, Erlich and his family fled to the United States.

Influenced by his father's work and the political atmosphere of his youth, Erlich began his study of economics at Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin and the Free Polish University in Warsaw. He completed these studies after moving to the US, earning his PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York City in 1953. His doctoral dissertation, The Soviet Industrialization Controversy, was the basis for his best known work, The Soviet Industrial Debate, 1924-1928, published in 1960.

His lifelong devotion to the study of Soviet economic conditions and policies found Erlich a home at Columbia University. Beginning as a visiting lecturer in 1955, he received a tenured position as professor in 1959. He retired in 1981 only to return as a part-time lecturer and professor at Columbia University and Barnard College in 1982. Erlich died of a heart attack in January 1985 at the age of 72.