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Documenting and Preserving Histories and Legacies

Zilper, Nadia

Researchers on the Russian Diaspora in the United States face many problems in identifying and accessing materials. Émigrés often struggled financially, and preservation of their own legacy was often the least of their worries. Children born to the members of the "waves" typically assimilated in the US, and did not understand the value of family papers. Yet through the efforts of devoted people such as André Savine and others, many materials of the Russian Diaspora in the United States managed to survive, and collections of these materials were formed at various US institutions. These collections are most often poorly identified and/or frequently not cataloged in their entirety; thus, for practical purposes, they are inaccessible. Russian Diaspora materials are rare, and the people and/or organizations that produced them often not well known, making the creation of comprehensive catalog records are essential for identifying these materials. There is a strong call for an online inventory of Russian Diaspora collections and, given the somewhat poor condition of numerous items in these collections, there is also a compelling argument for developing a comprehensive full-text database of these materials. To this end, UNC Chapel Hill is building a Mellon-funded full-text database based on the Russian Diaspora materials in the André Savine Collection. The name of this database is Russia Beyond Russia (RBR). The presenter plans to propose the creation of a "Global Russia Beyond Russia Digital Library (GRBR)."

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