University of Hawaii at Manoa Library


Russian Collection


English language Russian history and literature materials were added to the library as early as 1910. In 1938 Dr. Klaus Mehnert was hired as the first Russian history professor and began the general study of Russians in Asia and the Pacific; began to add Russian language materials to the library; and in 1939 published The Russians in Hawaii, 1804-1819. The library continued under John A.White, Rex Wade, Donald Raleigh, and John J. Stephan to add Russian history and foreign relations materials, Siberian travel accounts, material on the Russian revolution, the history of the Soviet/Russian Far East, and Russia in Asia. Ella Wiswell developed the Russian language and literature collections between 1952 and 1968.

The strengths of the collection are in the humanities and social sciences. Some science material has been added in areas of university prominence-geology, volcanology, oceanography, and astronomy. The journal collection is largely post-1917. At present we hold approximately 40,000 titles (79,000 volumes). Materials are found throughout the library in their appropriate call numbers. The assignment of a full-time Russian bibliographer in 1970 assured the continued growth of the collection.

Russian courses are offered in the History and European Languages departments. Students may earn a BA in Russian language and literature; there is no Russian history undergraduate major, but the MA and PhD are available. There is no single department of Russian area studies, although there was a Russian Area Studies Committee on campus from 1969 to 1996. A Russian area studies certificate was given at the undergraduate level during this time.

In March of 1986 the Center for the Soviet Union in the Pacific Asian Region [SUPAR] was created and placed within the newly formed School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was renamed the Center for Russia in Asia [CeRA]. As of June 1999 CeRA has been recommended for closure when Robert Valliant, the present director, retires.

After 1991, the enrollments in Russian language plummeted across the U.S., as well as interest in Russian/Soviet history. Along with the University's severe budgetary problems in the late 1990's, the number of faculty dwindled. At present there are two Russian language and literature professors and one Russian history professor.


The subject selectors and/or the current imprint-buying The subject selectors and/or the current imprint-buying program acquire English language publications about Russia. Formerly, the Russian Bibliographer worked closely with the science and history selectors, as well as the Hawaiian and Pacific Collection staff.program acquire English language publications about Russia. Formerly, the Russian Bibliographer worked closely with the science and history selectors, as well as the Hawaiian and Pacific Collection staff.


Language: No limitations, but primarily Russian and English, and also German, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean. This is not a Slavic collection and therefore the collection does not acquire materials in the Czech, Bulgarian, Polish, Hungarian, and other eastern European languages. Materials about Eastern Europe in English are acquired.

Chronological: No limitations.

Geographic: The major emphasis is on Siberia and the Soviet Far East; Russian relations with Asian countries and the Pacific; and Russian materials about East, Southeast and South Asia. There is little material on Central Asia, Middle East, Latin America or Europe.

Date of Publication: Antiquaria and current imprints are equally important for areas of emphasis; current imprints are more important for Russian history and the language and literature fields. A particular strength was the receipt of current Russian language materials via blanket order plans from 1970 to 1995.

Types and Formats of Materials Collected: Monographs and other secondary literature in hard copy; periodicals, serials and on-going publications; conference proceedings; primary sources (infrequently available); critical editions; illustrated books; maps; gray literature such as Rand reports and in-house conference reports from Soviet institutions; microforms; reprints and facsimiles; government documents; United States dissertations and abstracts of Soviet dissertations on Asia; and some newspapers.

Textbooks:The collection acquires one copy of any text required in Russian classes. Russian language textbooks are added in areas of special emphasis and occasionally in the science area.

Electronic Format:

Treatment: No limitations, but history, geography, economics, current political analysis, language, literature, and bibliography are the primary treatments.

Major Microform Holdings: Approximately 1000 titles are held as microform; Readex microcard historical sources; and complete runs of several journals, some unique in the West. Soviet libraries were willing to microfilm almost anything after 1991.


Regional Soviet/Russian imprints, small press runs, and out of print materials are acquired primarily on exchange. There are about 20 exchanges with Russian libraries, of which 10 are very important. After 1991, we were lucky to establish exchanges with most of the major libraries in the Russian Far East (Magadan, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and Sakhalin).

We have a good collection of Russian materials on Hawaii and the Pacific, including copies of many archival documents, which were possible to acquire after 1991.

The most valuable of our treasures is the collection of Russian imprints from China and Japan. This is probably the third best collection in the world (Prague's RZIA and the California Bay area holdings being first and second). A catalog of this collection is due to be published by the Pashkov Dom of the Russian State Library in Moscow in 2001.

Collecting materials in the Russian language has for all practical purposes ceased. The Russian Bibliographer is due to retire in the near future.

Compiled by: Patricia Polansky
Date: December 2000

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