New Acquisitions

The Stalin Digital Archive (SDA)

StalinDigitalArchiveThe Library patrons now have access to the Stalin Digital Archive (SDA), a collaborative effort between the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) and Yale University Press (YUP) to create an electronic database of finding aids, to digitize documents and images, and to publish in different forms and media materials from the recently declassified Stalin archive in the holdings of RGASPI.

J. Arch Getty at UCLA in his introduction to the database writes:

Joseph Stalin’s life (1878–1953) coincided with the most momentous events of the twentieth century: two world wars, several revolutions in Russia and China, the Cold War, and the dawn of the nuclear age. Stalin was influential in the Chinese revolutions and communist victory, the Korean conflict, and the occupation of Eastern Europe. In terms of modern Russian history he played key roles in the revolutionary movement, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Soviet industrialization, the terror of the 1930s, World War II, and the Cold War.

It is therefore difficult to imagine a more important primary source for these events than Stalin’s personal archive, major portions of which are now declassified and available for study. Although specialists have known and used these documents for some time in the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow, the Stalin Digital Archive (SDA) will now make them available electronically, eliminating the need to travel to Moscow and rendering the documents searchable and printable, actions that are difficult even in the Moscow archive.

Moreover, the SDA will for the first time make these documents accessible to students and specialists in other fields for both research and teaching. The SDA will provide translations of hundreds of selected key documents from Russian into English. These translated documents will be accompanied by scholarly annotations.

The importance of Stalin’s archive might be seen in two ways, external and internal.Stalin Externally, Stalin’s papers provide us with unparalleled information on the development of key historical events from the point of view of a participant. Obviously, because he was a dictator, everything of importance came across his desk. For example, these materials fully document Soviet industrialization and agricultural collectivization from the late 1920s. There is practically a full series of economic reports to and orders from Stalin over many years. Foreign relations, both with Germans and potential allies in the 1930s and with Cold War opponents in the 1940s, received his close attention. It will be possible to rewrite and restudy the histories of such important events of a violent century.

One of the differences between the Nazi and Soviet regimes is the level of sensitive documentation. Although the Nazis were meticulous in keeping some kinds of records, at the top we have practically nothing in writing about many kinds of decisions. We have almost no “smoking gun” documents about the decision to exterminate Jews and others, and not much about the inner politics of Hitler’s court and the bureaucratic empires of his courtiers. In short, Hitler did not write much down, nor was he interested in documenting his decisions.

The Stalinists, on the other hand, were not ashamed of or worried about recording their most sensitive (and evil) decisions. During the Stalinist terror of the 1930s, we have Stalin’s correspondence with his secret police chiefs N. I. Ezhov and L. P. Beria in which he ordered the arrest, torture, and execution of various people. When in 1940 Stalin and the Politburo decided to shoot more than 20,000 captured Polish officers at Katyn, they recorded their decisions in memos and resolutions, complete with justifications. Compared with that of the Nazis, the documentation on Soviet repression is full and rich, and some of the most important elements of it came from Stalin’s desk and trademark blue pencil.

In addition to enhancing our ability to study major events of the twentieth century with new materials, Stalin’s archive also has a fascinating internal, personal component. It shows us the nature and evolution of Stalin’s own thought, opinions, and decision-making process.

Consider, for example, the more than 300 books in his personal library. Stalin once told his lieutenants that if they weren’t reading several hundred pages a week, they were illiterate. The record shows that Stalin was a voracious reader of a wide variety of subjects who made detailed notations in the margins of what he read. His opinions about political, literary, and philosophical works are fascinating and revealing about how he thought.

Similarly, the archive contains hundreds of manuscripts sent to Stalin by others for his corrections and comments. He often answered them in written letters, but just as often he made detailed marginalia that show his reactions. Both types of reactions are preserved in his archives. Similarly, although most of his articles and speeches have been published, the drafts and rewrites of them are in his archive and show the evolution of his thinking as well as his consideration of word choice and discursive strategy.

The archive contains a wealth of Stalin’s correspondence with his lieutenants on important and secret subjects. These letters and telegrams show Stalin’s opinions of Lenin, other Bolshevik leaders, and world figures as well as his reflections on policy choices. When writing to his closest Politburo assistants, he was informal and often quite unguarded.

We have nothing like this level of documentation for Hitler or other twentieth-century dictators, and the scope of SDA documents is comparable with the archival source bases we have for world leaders in more-open societies. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that study of these documents will enrich, if not revolutionize, our understanding of the Soviet Union.


Library publishes ‘Homer in Print’ catalogue

Homer in Print: A Catalogue of the Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana at the University of Chicago Library, is now available for consultation or check out at the Library and for purchase from the University of Chicago Press.

Homer in Print cover

Homer in Print cover art. Jacket design by Jerry Kelly, using a roundel by Bruce Rogers from his 1932 edition of the Odyssey.

Homer in Print traces the print transmission and literary reception of the Iliad and the Odyssey from the 15th through the 20th century. Over 175 mini-essays provide new details of each included edition’s textual, intellectual, and publishing history. Three long-form essays contributed by scholars Glenn W. Most and David Wray, and collector M. C. Lang,  place these editions within a wider context, exploring their role in ancient and modern philology, translation studies, and the history of printing. An extensive and strikingly illustrated testament to the power and popularity of Homer over the past 500 years, Homer in Print is an essential text for students and teachers of classics, classical reception, comparative literature, and book history. This volume, a product of new research and sharp scholarship, evidences Homer’s ability to captivate the imaginations of poets, editors, and readers throughout the centuries.

Edited by Glenn W. Most and Alice Schreyer and published by the University of Chicago Library, the Homer in Print catalogue and the collection it documents provide the foundation for the upcoming exhibition Homer in Print: The Transmission and Reception of Homer’s Works, on view at the Special Collections Research Center from January 13 to March 15, 2014.

Online access to The Times of India

Times of India masthead.The University of Chicago Library now provides online access to the historical backfile of The Times of India, one of the Subcontinent’s most important English-language newspapers.  Library users can browse single issues and search all content (articles, editorials, and advertisements) published 1838-2003.

 A link to the resource is available at here.  Coverage includes: Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce (1838-1859), The Bombay Times and Standard (1860-1861), and The Times of India (1861-2003).

This new resource will be of interest across all disciplines.  Social scientists and humanists will value the coverage of events from the late stages of the East India Company through colonial and into post-colonial India.  It is a valuable resource for the study of law, business, economics, the arts, popular culture, international relations, social services, and public policy, as well as the biological and physical sciences.

 Our one-year trial subscription will allow us to assess levels of usage and make the case for a permanent subscription.

 Please contact James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia, or Laura Ring, Assistant Southern Asia Librarian, if you have comments on The Times of India or if you would like assistance.

Library purchases access to Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online

Hebrew text and name of productThe Library has purchased access to the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, edited by Geoffrey Khan and published by Brill. Access to the online version begins immediately. Best described by the publisher, “The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day. The encyclopedia contains overview articles that provide a readable synopsis of current knowledge of the major periods and varieties of the Hebrew language as well as thematically-organized entries which provide further information on individual topics. With over 950 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields.” The online version allows for electronic access, full text searching and navigation between entries by hyperlinks.

Library purchases access to important digitized Tibetan texts

Tibetan Buddhist TextAs of June 6, the Library provides access to Collections 8-10 of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC). These collections were purchased this spring with a combination of funds donated by the Library Society and the Divinity School, as well as a price reduction offered by the TBRC. With this purchase, the University community has access to all the collections available from the TBRC. Each collection consists of 1,000 volumes and covers the full range of genres and topics. The high-quality scans are zoomable and searchable. Many of the texts that have been digitized were printed in the pre-modern era, allowing users to study the physical qualities of the texts as manuscripts, and not simply its content. The volumes are available through the Center’s website for institutional subscribers and are also delivered to subscribing institutions as electronic files.

The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) was founded and directed by the late Dr. E. Gene Smith (1936-2010), the former Director of the Library of Congress Field Office in New Delhi and an acclaimed Tibetologist, in order “to seek out, preserve, organize, and make available Tibetan literature.”   The texts have been converted to electronic format and proofread according to very exacting standards by a staff consisting of Tibetologists and librarians. They have become the standard for research.  Image of text being scanned The Center “is dedicated to the preservation, organization and dissemination of Tibetan literature. Using the latest digital technologies, TBRC is ensuring that the treasures of this incredible body of literature will never be lost.” (

Tibetan texts are indispensable tools for research on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, history, ritual, art, and linguistics.   In recent years the University of Chicago has expanded its program of training in the languages of Southern Asia.   Under the direction of Matthew Kapstein, Numata Visiting Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and the History of Religions, Christian K. Wedemeyer, Associate Professor of the History of Religions, and Daniel Arnold, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, the University offers a comprehensive curriculum in Tibetan studies for both undergraduate and graduate students. For the past two years, Karma Ngodup, a native Tibetan speaker and pioneer in the use of digital tools for Tibetan language pedagogy, has lectured in beginning and intermediate modern literary and spoken Tibetan, making the University of Chicago one of a handful of institutions at which undergraduates can study Tibetan language.

Grimm Tales without Words: New takes on old tales

To supplImage from bookement the Library’s strengths in graphic novels, the Joseph Regenstein Library has recently acquired Grimms Märchen ohne Worte [Grimm’s Fairy Tales without Words] by Frank Flöthmann.  This innovative collection retells selections from the Grimm Brothers Kinder und Hausmärchen using highly stylized graphical representations.  In this collection of tales, featuring familiar tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, all dialogue is replaced with symbols, some of which require creative interpretation but reward the reader with many amusing surprises.

grimm001 Flöthmann’s adaptation plays around with faithfulness to the original text.  For instance, in the adaptation of the Frog Prince, the princess is playing with a soccer ball rather than a golden bauble, modernizing the tale to better relate to a modern audience.  The adaptation, however, often stays true to the blood and violence of the original tales.  For example, the adaptation of Cinderella still features the mutilation of the feet of Cinderella’s stepsisters, a detail left out of many modern adaptations.

The overall collection is highly amusing with interesting twists on familiar tales.  Flöthmann has a good graphical sense and plays with panel order and graphical representation.  These adaptations highlight the importance of language to the tales in a creative way and leave the reader with new insights into these classic stories.

Special Collections Research Center acquires comic artist R. Crumb’s Jazz Trading Cards

The Special Collections Research Center has acquired a second printing copy of artist R. Crumb’s “Early Jazz Greats” trading cards, first printed in 1982 for Yazoo Records.  The set includes 36 cards featuring original images by Crumb and short biographies of early Jazz musicians, including both household names and relative unknowns.  Crumb’s love of early Jazz music comes through in his artwork, often reproduced from black and white photographs of the period.  The set includes a number of musicians with ties to Chicago like Benny Goodman, Roy Palmer and Junie C. Cobb.  Crumb followed this set with “Heroes of the Blues” and “Pioneers of Country Music”, and the set joins a number of works by Crumb in the Special Collections Research Center.

Cover of Early Jazz Greats

Benny Goodman Trading CardRoy Palmer

Eastern Hemisphere maps donated by Nokia-Siemens to Chicago, Northwestern libraries

Nokia-Siemens Networks of Arlington Heights, Illinois, has donated an extraordinary set of approximately 24,200 sheet maps to the University of Chicago Library. The maps were selected from a larger collection as part of a collaboration with Northwestern University.

Carte d'Algérie 1:25 000

Carte d’Algérie 1:25 000. A small fragment of one sheet in this multi-sheet set now held at the University of Chicago Library.

The maps are nearly all topographic maps. They show buildings and settlements, infrastructure, vegetation, hydrography, relief and, in some cases, land use. Scales range from 1:5,000 to 1:500,000. The maps date from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Many of the maps are from countries where topographic mapping is normally restricted. The collection includes, for example, local 1:50,000 maps of much of Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, and South Korea, and Soviet 1:50,000 maps of all or part of Poland, Greece, and Turkey. Even beyond the likely cost, it would be essentially impossible to recreate this collection by purchases.

The maps were originally used mostly to site cellphone towers. They were collected by Motorola before its acquisition by Nokia-Siemens Networks. According to Malcolm Matthews of Nokia-Siemens, the company began to use satellite imagery and GIS in the late 1990s rather than sheet maps. A decision was made in 2012 to offer the maps to local research libraries.

The collection is being shared with Northwestern University, with each institution receiving maps that are most appropriate for its collection. Northwestern has taken most of the maps of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and the University of Chicago Map Collection has taken most of the maps of North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, the former Soviet states, and South, Southeast, and East Asia.

With this donation, the University of Chicago Library Map Collection’s holdings of sheet maps will likely reach 460,000.  Our Map Collection has been adding approximately 2,500 sheets per year over the last decade, so taking on more than 24,000 sheets at one time represents a substantial addition. A major shift to accommodate the new maps was necessary. Its chief component was the compression of U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps to create space in the Eastern Hemisphere cases. More than 300,000 maps have been moved in the last two months.

Processing the maps is also a major task that is currently underway. It will take several months to process the maps. In the meantime, there is a rough list of acquisitions and the maps can be accessed. Researchers who need to consult this list and to access the new maps should contact me at

As the maps are being processed, they have already found a University of Chicago user. One of the Map Collection’s student employees is writing a bachelor’s essay on Amman and is consulting a 16-sheet set of excellent 1:10,000 maps of Amman in the 1980s and 1990s. This set of maps is not held by any other library and is not for sale in Jordan.  This project suggests just the beginning of the enormous research potential the maps offer to University of Chicago faculty and students. 

Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online and Armed Conflict Database

The Library Society has recently funded the Library’s purchase of two new databases that have broad applications for research and study across disciplines and regions: Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online and Armed Conflict Database.  Each can be accessed through Lens, the Database Finder or from links on a variety of Library Guides.

Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online
Edited by Alexander Lubotsky

The Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online reconstructs the lexicon for the most important languages and language branches of Indo-European. It is a rich and voluminous online reference source for historical and general linguists. Dictionaries can be cross-searched, with an advance search for each individual dictionary enabling the user to perform more complex research queries. Each entry is accompanied by grammatical information, meanings, etymological commentary, reconstructions, cognates and often extensive bibliographical information. New content will be added on an annual basis.

The online edition includes etymological dictionaries of Latin, Greek, Slavic, Proto-Celtic, Old-Frisian, Armenian, Hittite, Luvian, the Iranian Verb, and Proto-Nostratic. Etymological dictionaries of Proto-Germanic and Persian are forthcoming. 

Armed Conflict Database

Map of armed conflicts

In order to keep up to date on conflict-related matters around the world, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has produced the Armed Conflict Database. It is a project that aims to provide an interactive and user-friendly source of information on armed conflicts worldwide.

As with the IISS Chart of Armed Conflict, the database seeks to cover international and internal conflicts, as well as terrorism. It provides information on 70 armed conflicts, including terrorism, refugees and returnees, Internally Displaced Persons, weapons used, fatalities, historical backgrounds, annual updates and timelines.

With the Armed Conflict Database, users can generate reports and download data as well as browse through year-by-year analyses and fact sheets online. Users are able to generate reports on conflict data back to 1997 and correlate reports from various years, conflicts, regions and topics. The database includes conflict reports from 2000-2001 onwards.

New Library videogame collection

As emerging disciplines develop at the University of Chicago, the Library creates new collections and services to support them. Recent examples in the humanities include the addition of zines and poetry chapbooks made in Chicago, the expansion of the graphic novel collections, and most recently, a new collection of videogames that responds to faculty and student research needs


Adventure (Atari VCS, 1979, Atari Inc.)

This new collection of videogames, which will soon be available for checkout from the Mansueto Library, establishes a core teaching collection for faculty and students working on transmedia, new media or comparative media studies, as well as reflecting an emerging research interest on campus in game programming, the sociology of games, videogame music, and other areas that touch on videogames, gaming and gamers. As interest develops, the collection will continue to be shaped by research and disciplinary needs as well as budgetary considerations.

The formation of the videogame collection has offered the opportunity for an exciting collaboration between the new Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the Library. The Logan Digital Media Center (DMC) has agreed, as part of its mission to make equipment and facilities available to University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty for artistic creation and teaching, by keeping game consoles in its Equipment Cage. They may be borrowed from the DMC according to their policies.

To retrieve videogames from Mansueto Library for checkout, Library users can locate the desired game title in the Catalog or Lens and place a retrieval request as they would for any other item in Mansueto.