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Leeds Russian Archive Collections


The Leeds Russian Archive, established in 1982, comprises around 650 collections of manuscripts, photographs, and other archival material related to Anglo-Russian contacts in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Leeds Russian Archive was awarded Designation status in 2005.

What's in the archive

Within the Russian Archive, you can find the papers of members of the British community in Russia, as well as travellers and diplomats, governesses and soldiers.

The Archive also contains papers from British professional and other organisations such as:

British Universities Association of Slavists and the National Association for Soviet and Eastern European Studies, which merged to form the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Association of Teachers of Russia

Great Britain-USSR Association.

Those interested in Russian and Russian-emigre history, literature and culture, can find the private and literary papers of Russian writers such as Leonid Andreev (1871–1919) and Ivan Bunin (1870–1953), as well as the papers of the Russian railway engineer Yuri Lomonossoff (1876–1952), who occupied prominent positions under both the Tsarist and Bolshevik regimes.

The Archive also contains the archive of the Paris-based Russian refugee organisation Zemgor.

In addition, there are over 10,000 books, journals, newspapers and other printed matter supplementary to the main archival collection.


The Ivan Bunin Estate (University of Leeds, Great Britain)

I A Bunin's so-called "Paris Archive" was mostly created between the writer's emigration from Russia in 1920 and his death in Paris in 1953. Bunin considered several repositories as possible permanent homes for his archive. One was the Russian Historical Archive Abroad in the Prague-based Russian Free University, but he rejected this option after the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938-39. A second possibility which Bunin considered was the Turgenev Library in Paris. However, he had not taken a final decision to proceed by the time of the Nazi invasion of France in 1940. The donation or long-term loan of the papers to the Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture at Columbia University in New York was discussed in 1951. However, Bunin changed his mind in favour of an outright sale of his archive. He was offered $1000, but evidently regarded this offer as derisory and allowed his contact with Columbia University to lapse.

In the event Bunin bequeathed his papers to his wife. On Bunina's death in 1961, the Bunin papers and her own archive and household effects were inherited by L F Zurov, with an interest in the Bunin and Bunina Estates going to another long-standing family friend, Olga Zhirova, who died in 1964. Zurov was made responsible for administering the archives and combined estates.

In his will Zurov named Dr M E Greene of Edinburgh as his heir. After his death in 1971, Dr Greene therefore inherited the Bunins' archives as well as that of Zurov and their combined household effects.

The I A Bunin, V N Bunina and L F Zurov Collections were donated by Dr Greene to the University of Leeds between 1983 and 1991. Following Dr Greene's death, her family made an additional extremely generous gift to the University of Leeds of the interest in the Bunin, Bunina and Zurov Estates that Dr Greene had retained and her family had inherited.

The University of Leeds is therefore responsible for the administration both of the Bunin, Bunina and Zurov Collections, as bodies of documents, and of the copyrights and intellectual property rights associated with them, which extend to material written by Bunin, Bunina and Zurov held by individuals and repositories elsewhere.

Legal documentation held in the Bunin, Zurov and Greene Collections and Leeds Russian Archive administrative archive. (French documents are also deposited in Paris notarial registries):

MS 1066/1264 Brakorazvodnoe svidetel'stvo (1922) (divorce certificate of I A Bunin and A N Tsakni)
MS 1066/1265 Vypis' iz metricheskoi knigi (1922) (marriage certificate of I A Bunin and V N Muromtseva)
MS 1066/1266 [Testament] (1924) ((I A Bunin) last will and testament)
MS 1066/1283-1286 Procuration générale (1951) (power of attorney for V N Bunina)
MS 1066/1291 Dépôt de grosse d'envoi en possession (1954) (probate concerning estate of I A Bunin)
MS 1068/1687-1690 Bunina V N (1961) (deposition of last will and testament)
MS 1068/1672 Dukhovnoe zaveshchanie (1961) ((L F Zurov) testament)
MS 1068/1702 Zhirova O A (1965) (notarial deed concerning death)
MS 1065/507, 519-523 (L F Zurov 1961 will and probate to M E Greene, November 1971)
MS 1065/309, 313 (M E Greene deed of gift to University of Leeds, March 1985)
Leeds Russian Archive administrative archive (Agreement with M E Greene's heirs for the transfer of their two-thirds interest in Bunin's literary estate to the University of Leeds, 2000)