FALL 2013

Recent Database Purchases: Stalin and Churchill Archives

Boston College Libraries recently purchased the digital papers of two major political figures of the 20th Century: Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

Stalin Digital Archive is the result of years of collaboration between the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) and Yale University Press. It provides unprecedented access to historically significant content, covering 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's personal papers provide us with unparalleled information on the development of key historical events from the point of view of the major participant and decision maker.

Everything of importance came across Stalin's desk -- from documents on Soviet industrialization and agricultural collectivization from the late 1920s to material on foreign relations with Germany and potential allies in the 1930s or with Cold War opponents in the 1940s, just to name a few. According to the publishers, one of the archive's most interesting and valuable features is that, unlike some of the 20th Century's other dictatorial regimes such as the Nazis, "Stalinists... 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." (J. Arch Getty).

The RGASPI documents from Stalin's personal papers will eventually number over 400,000 pages. Additional highlights include: communications during the Great Purges, relations with Western intellectuals and leaders, and private notations on many Soviet leaders.

Churchill Archive offers for the first time electronic access to the personal and official papers of Winston S. Churchill. Provided by Bloomsbury Publishing and drawing from the collections of the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge University, this new resource offers increased access and new insight into Churchill himself and the 20th Century events in which he played such a key role. It includes more than 800,000 pages of original documents, produced between 1874 and 1965, ranging from Churchill's personal correspondence to his official exchanges with kings, presidents, politicians, and military leaders.

The site can be searched by keyword or browsed by a special taxonomy drawn from the existing Churchill Archives Centre catalogue. These include browsing by:

The database offers Churchill scholars, and all scholars of history, political science, and the 20th Century, a nearly century-long window into the history of imperial Britain, the first and second world wars, Anglo-American relations, the dawning of the cold war, and more.

Nina Bogdanovsky
Subject Specialist, O'Neill Library
Elliot Brandow
Subject Specialist, O'Neill Library