Russian War Relief
Further and ample discussions arises on the account of whether an electronic book is a complete substitute for a paper book. Possibly, there is something to this, but over time, it could happen. But, along with all of the “what with”'s and numerous arguments of the supporters of electronic publications, in our view, the paper book is the medium of that, which an electronic publication lacks. And specifically - the soul and inimitable aura of the book. Touching the yellowed pages of old editions, questions always come up inquiring what stands behind them, what of the history of its creation, to whom did one or another book belong? The author instilled his/her entire soul into it when creating it. The editor did everything necessary and applied the best polygraphic methods to formulate and publish the book. And the book lover, receiving a long-awaited publication, carefully preserved it. And occasionally, gifted it to some else. And so gradually, the book acquired its own history.
Truthfully speaking, a book is the finest gift. So we would like to tell you about one such interesting gift. The gift about which the discussion proceeds has an old history. Prior to our tale, it would be relevant to recall that during the post military unrest, the most important source of replenishing the library repositories on the territory of the former Soviet Union were gifts from official institutions as well as private individuals. Such gifts are also in our repositories. A great number of the gifted editions of course have historical and cultural value.
One such collection in the English language with giftgivers' notations and stamps has drawn our attention for a long time. It came to the repository through a exchange-reserve collection from the M. I. Rudomino All Russian State Library of International Literature. Due to lack of time and routine everyday activities, the task of more detailed work on the collection was put off until later. And one push in the form of publications of Russian colleagues was enough to turn us back to researching it.
It became apparent that in 1945-1946, the philanthropic organization Russian War Relief accomplished a large scale action - “Books for Russia”. American volunteers gathered almost a million books which were sent to the heroic soviet people. The books were collected from all of America. Universities, libraries, schools and churches joined the action. Even President Harry Truman took part in this action. He donated a 40 volume collection of the works of George Washington.
This fact of selfless contribution of the american people was kept silent for a long time. And only 65 years afterwards it became known to the broader community. At last, 12 Russian libraries are attempting to make a combined catalogue of the books received within the confines of that past act. We hope that the information about the analogous Kherson editions will also become an opportunity to the Russian colleagues.
Thirty-two duplicate editions are preserved in our library with the characteristic label-stickers “To the herioc people of the Soviet Union. From the people of America via the Russian War Relief”. The geographic limits of the giftgivers' addresses from America are extensive – from the East Coast to its Western States. The list of cities from which the gifts came is quite diverse – San Francisco, Rochester, Washington DC, Algona, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Toledo, Claremont, Boston, Milwaukee and so forth.
Present on the books are stamps, notes, and autographs visually confirming the fact that the action was massive. Indeed – in the difficult post war years the boundless layers of American society, united in one philanthropic gust, attempted to provide not only material help, but moral support for the soviet people. First of all, it is appropriate to note the activity of the aforementioned philanthropic committee providing assistance to Russia (American Society for Russian Relief) with its numerous affiliates in different cities. Educational institutions (Cambridge High School, Taylor School in Cleveland, Rutland High School Boys, University of Toledo, Ohio), libraries (Woodruff Memorial Library, La Junta, Colorado) and moreso, a women's church society (Maids and Matrons, 1st Congregational Church, Tacoma, Washington) which would not be left on the sideline in this process.
The defined chronological framework of the gifted books is the second half of the XIX-beginning of the XX centuries (1856-1921). These are usually creative works of American and English authors that are world renown as well as those of lesser distinction. Public works and scientific landmarks also surfaced. So in looking at the gifted books, one can put together a certain image about the reading preferences of the American public in the postwar period. And it must be said, that they didn't vary much from the tastes of admirers of the book on the other side of the continent. Throughout all of time, the world has been enchanted by the adventurous fairies in the works of Jules Vernes and Robert Stevenson, the far-sightedness and penetration of the romances of Herbert Wells and Edward Hale, the romantic aura of the poetry of Shakespeare and poems of Walter Scott and so forth.
It is also necessary to note the very presentable outward appearance of the books. It is likely that for shipping, not only were the best works selected but editions that were prepared with quality and artistry. In this regard, one very interesting copy has an ex libris on the fly-leaf. It was received from Cambridge High School. The ex libris can be looked upon as an original advertising for the reading or bookcrossing. On it is the image of boy holding an open book in his hands. However, the inscription above him announces that he would be happy to share the book with a friend but it is necessary to return it.
For a certain period of time, the collection experienced an active demand by readers, but now these near-museum exponents hold an honored place in the collection of rare and valuable editions and serve as research material. We would be very happy if our information would be useful for someone. To the point, several of the stamps and notations have a return address. So, who knows, perhaps some fundamental research is still ahead, and the history of these books is not finished.
Alphabetical listing of books:
Stamps and labels of organizations, societies and institutions
1. Algona, Iova. (16)
2. American Society for Russian Relief, inc. Massachusetts committee. 284 Dartmouth st. Boston, 16. (9, 27)
3. American Society for Russian Relief, inc. 140 Central Ave. Lynn, Mass. Tel. Ly. 2-7475. (15)
4. American Society for Russian Relief, inc. 1635 Eight Ave. Seattle 1, Washington. (19)
5. American Society for Russian Relief, inc. 727 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, 2, California. (20)
6. American Society for Russian Relief, inc. 924 – 17th St., N.W. – Washington D.C. (18)
7. Gift of Cambridge High School Cambridge, Wisconsin. (30)
8. From Russian War Relief, inc. 153 East 2nd South, Salt Lake City, UTAH. (11)
9. Maids and Matrons, 1st Congregational Church, Tacoma, Wash. (22)
10. Russian Relief Inc. 59 Cannon St. Bridgeport, Conn. (32, 21)
11. Post intermediate. (24)
12. Rutland, Vermont. [Billeted] by Boys of Rutland from school. (28)
13. Taylor school Cleveland. United States. (31)
14. University of Toledo Ohio. (6)
15. Williamsbridge Committee for Russian War Relief. 3766 Barnes Avenue, 713 a Burke Avenue, Bronx 67. N.Y. (12)
16. Woodruff Memorial Library. La Junta, Colorado. (8, 12)
Personal autographs and stamps
1. Aberle, David. St. Paul, Minnesota. (7)
2. Beck, Clyde. Detroit. (13)
3. Cort, Boyis. 576 Washington, st. Brookline, Mass. (1)
4. Howe, Jane. 449 w.11th street. Claremont, California. (29)
5. Kas, T.D. Sutherland, Iowa. (5)
6. Kershnev, Harold. Readmy, St., USA. (26)
7. Kimberly, Dick. (25)
8. [Melman], Mary R. Roshester, N.Y. (23)
9. Payne, William. Private library. Roshester, N.Y. (2)
10. Rorabaugh, Sally. Wichita, Kansas. (14)
11. Schneicler, Lois. 2330 W. National, Milwaukee, wis. U.S.A. (17)
12. Perry, Edgar. Private library. 163 East, 2hd South, Salt Lake Sity, UTAH. (3)
13. Stanley, H.M. [нрзб.], Iowa. (10)