Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Aleksandr Kazem-Bek Papers, 1898-2014

Summary Information


The Aleksandr Kazem-Bek Papers consist of correspondence, family and personal documents, writings, lectures, notes, manuscripts, photographs, printed materials, and research materials related to the life and professional and political activities of Aleksandr Kazem-Bek – Russian émigré social and political activist, founder and leader of the "Union of Young Russia" ("Mladorossy"), professor of Russian language and literature, and journalist. The collection contains significant documents of the "Mladorossy" movement.

At a Glance

Call No.: BA#0528
Bib ID 7756884 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Kazem-Bek, Aleksandr, 1902-1977
Title Aleksandr Kazem-Bek Papers, 1898-2014
Physical Description 39.98 linear feet (19 document boxes, 16 flat boxes)
Language(s) English , Russian , French .

This collection has no access restrictions. The newspapers stored in oversize flat boxes shouldn't be removed from mylars.

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 is arranged in eight series.



The bulk of the collection comprises Aleksandr Kazem-Bek's professional and personal correspondence, his writings, documents and publications related to his professional academic work and his social and political activity as a leader of the Mladoross party, and an extensive collection of printed materials including Russian émigré periodicals. There are also personal documents, biographical materials, and photographs.

Kazem-Bek corresponded with many leaders of Russian emigration including scholars, political figures, writers, composers, etc. Among them are Mark Aldanov, Roman Jakobson, Mikhael Karpovich, Arthur Lourie, Philip Mosely, De Witt Clinton Poole, John R. Mott, and others.

The collection contains Kazem-Bek's writing including published and unpublished books, autobiography and memoires, articles for various periodicals, lectures, interviews, etc. Files include drafts, notes, and research materials. There are also writings by other authors, among which manuscripts of Nikolai Berdiaev, Boris Likhachev, Nikolai Vakar, and others.

There are also personal documents of Aleksandr Kazem-Bek and members of his family, as well as biographical materials.

A significant part of these papers is the materials related to the Mladoross party ("Union of Young Russia"). Among them are the party's publications, governing and operating documents, including the rare ones, and extensive collection of periodicals.

Aleksandr Kazem-Bek's name has several spelling variations – he is often referred to as Alexander Kazem-Bek, Alexander Kazem-Beg, or Alexandre Kazem Beg.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no access restrictions. The newspapers stored in oversize flat boxes shouldn't be removed from mylars.

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.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Aleksandr Kazem-Bek Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Addition was received in 2014.

No further accruals are expected.


Acquisition, 1960s

Addition: Gift, 2014

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

March, 2009: Papers processed and finding aid written by Alexandra Kotar, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Slavic Department, Class of 2010

May-July 2018: Addition of 2014 was incorporated and the collection was reprocessed by Katia Davidenko. New materials were checked against the existing papers and multiply copies were discarded. Newspapers were placed in mylars and rehoused due to their fragile condition. Possibility of use of the newspaper part of the collection is limited. Further preservation and conservation actions are needed.

Finding aid was re-written accordingly in July 2018 by Katia Davidenko.

Revision Description

2010-05-08 File created.

2018-07-18 EAD updated during reprocessing.

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:"
Aldanov, Mark Aleksandrovich, 1886-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Aleksiĭ, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, 1877-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Avinoff, Andrey, 1884-1949 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Berdi︠a︡ev, Nikolaĭ, 1874-1948 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chavchavadze, Paul Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration -- France -- Russians -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration -- United States -- Russians -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Grebenshchikov, Georgīĭ, 1882-1964 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gusev-Orenburgskiĭ, S. I. (Sergeĭ Ivanovich), 1867-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ivask, I͡Uriĭ Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jakobson, Roman, 1896-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Karpovich, Michael, 1888-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Knupffer, George Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Konovalov, Aleksandr Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Likhachev, B. T. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lourié, Arthur, 1892-1966 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mladorosskai︠a︡ partii︠a︡ Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mott, John R. (John Raleigh), 1865-1955 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Muromt͡seva-Bunina, V. N. (Vera Nikolaevna) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Orthodox Church in America Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poole, D. C. (Dewitt Clinton), 1828-1917 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Raeff, Marc Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russian -- Emigre -- Journalism -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russian -- Emigre -- Periodicals -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russian Americans -- Political activity -- Periodicals -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russians -- France -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russians -- United States -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sablin, Evgeniĭ Vasilʹevich, 1875-1949 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sedykh, Andreĭ, 1902-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shteĭger, Anatoliĭ, 1907-1944 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Slonim, Marc, 1894-1976 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Timasheff, Nicholas S. (Nicholas Sergeyevitch), 1886-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Vakar, Nicholas P. (Nicholas Platonovich), 1894-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- Russians -- Emigre Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zenkovsky, Serge A. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Aleksandr L'vovich Kazem-Bek, Russian émigré social and political activist, founder and leader of the "Union of Young Russia" ("Mladorossy"), professor of Russian language and literature, journalist, was born in Kazan on the 15th (2nd old style) of February, 1902, into an old noble family of Persian (Azeri) origin. His great grandfather, the first Aleksandr Kazem-Bek, was one of the founders of Oriental studies in Russia, professor of Kazan and St. Petersburg universities. His father, Lev Kazem-Bek, a graduate of the Corp of Pages, was a Director of the State Bank in Kaluga and the Peasants' Land Bank in Reval (Tallinn).

In 1919, during the civil war, Aleksandr Kazem-Bek joined the White Army, and after the collapse of the White movement, left Russia with his family in 1920. He lived in Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Poland and eventually settled in France.

In 1921 he married Svetlana Ellis and had two children – daughter Nadine (1926) and son Aleksandr (1930).

In Munich, the "Union of Young Russia" was established in 1923 and Aleksandr Kazem-Bek was elected its president. The members of the Union were called "Mladorossy" and its slogan was "Neither Reds, nor Whites, but Russian". Kazem-Bek was reelected as a president of the movement in 1924 and held this post until the Mladoross party was dissolved in 1940. The movement had branches in many countries, including France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and others.

Before emigration, Aleksandr Kazem-Bek studied law at the University of Rostov. He continued his education emigration and did post-graduate study at the University of Belgrade; Technische Hochschule in Munich (1922-1923) and then in Paris at the Hautes Etudes Sociales et Politiques (1924-1925). From 1930 to 1932 he attended the Academy of Religion and Philosophy in Paris, which was led by Nikolai Berdiaev.

For several years Kazem-Bek worked at the Foreign Exchange department of the Credit Foncier de Monaco in Monte Carlo, until his return to Paris in 1929 as an established political activist of Europe's Russian émigré community. Besides being a head of the Mladoross movement, he played a leading role in youth organizations such as Russian Student Christian Movement (Russian YMCA), Boy Scouts, etc. He directed the publication of Russian language magazines and newspapers and was an active contributor to various notable émigré newspapers, including Mladoross' publications, such as Bodrost', Mladorosskaia Iskra, and others.

From the beginning of the World War II Kazem-Bek was an outspoken critic of Hitler. After the fall of France he was arrested and imprisoned in a concentration camp in Vernet. He was released in October 1940 and in 1941 he and his family left Europe and arrived to the United States. First Kazem-Bek worked at the Bank of America in San-Francisco (1942-1943) and later he commenced his career in academic circles, first as Russian language instructor at the Army Specialized Training Program at Yale University. In 1944-1946 he was a head of the Book Department of the YMCA's War Prisoners Aid program. In 1946 he became a member of the faculty of Connecticut College (New London) as Assistant Professor in Russian. He was a visiting professor of Russian language in the summer school of Middlebury College in Vermont. In 1954 he was a lecturing professor at the Government of India School of Foreign Language at New Delhi.

In the US Aleksandr Kazem-Bek continued his activity as social, political, and religious leader of the emigration. Among fulfilling other duties, he edited and published hundreds of essays and articles in periodical publications (mainly in Russian), including in the San Francisco-based Russian émigré newspaper Novaia Zaria.

In 1957 Kazem-Bek unexpectedly returned to the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival to Moscow, newspaper Pravda published his letter of contrition with anti-American statements. During the last twenty years of his life, Kazem-Bek worked for the Moscow Patriarchate both in the area of public relations and as a staff member of the Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii.

Aleksandr Kazem-Bek died in the Soviet Union on February 21, 1977, and is buried near the Church of the Transfiguration in Lukino (village near Moscow).