Black and white photograph of ARA staff administering vaccines to children in 1922 Petrograd.

Bread + Medicine

Saving Lives in a Time of Famine

Content warning

Bread + Medicine: Saving Lives in a Time of Famine tells a story about the illnesses that arise when there is mass starvation. It includes depictions and discussions of human suffering, death, recovery, and aspects of medical practice in the 1920s.

Use of historic language

The names of places and things can change over the course of history. For this exhibition, the spellings and terminology in use during the early 1920s have been maintained as that is how they appear in the primary source documents on display. It is reflective of the culture and context in which the material was created.

Bread + Medicine: Saving Lives in a Time of Famine
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Bread + Medicine: An Introduction

Discover the 1921 Great Famine in Soviet Russia and Ukraine and the American Relief Administration's role in saving lives.

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Doctors in Famine: Diseases + the ARA

Learn about the kinds of diseases that plagued famine victims, as well as the amazing ARA doctors and their colleagues who helped contain spreading epidemics.

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Relief from Disease: The ARA Medical Division at Work

Discover the planning and collaboration needed to fight a medical famine, restore sanitary conditions, and run a massive vaccination campaign.

Student Projects

A series that explores the stories Stanford University students discovered while researching the American Relief Administration Russian operations.

Photograph of Lizzie Bach with polarized section of her handwriting across her face all on a teal background

Forgetting Lizzie Bach

Daniel Wu ('23) shares the story of the only American woman to fill a regular ARA staff position in Soviet Russia during the 1921 famine.

Famine Fleet detail of the American relief ship Leo

Famine Fleet

Olga Ovcharskaia explores American relief to Russia during the 1891–92 famine and its connections to 20th century relations.

Photo of Isadora Duncan

Isadora's Bolshevik Days

Sorcha Whitley (’23) reveals why famed dancer Isadora Duncan ventured to Russia during their 1921 famine in this new digital story from Hoover Library & Archives.

Sample kosher ARA food remittance package

A Delicate Balance in Ukraine

Danielle Healy ('23) reflects on the ARA's Ukraine relief and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee collaboration.

Further Research

These unique digital stories feature the latest research on the ARA Russian operations by leading scholars from around the globe.

ARA poster contest graphic

America to the Starving People of Russia

Discover the ARA propaganda campaign developed in 1922 to remind Russians that American food and medicine relief were altruistic gifts to all those in need.  

sepia tone photo of corn distribution by the ARA in Russia

A True Picture of Famine and Revival

Learn about the life of American photojournalist Floyd Traynham, who created thousands of photographs documenting the 1921 famine and American relief mission during 1921–23.

Detail of Russian Famine cartoon 1921

Give Bread + Medicine: Maxim Gorky's Appeals

Learn how Maxim Gorky enticed the ARA to provide relief to famine stricken Soviet Russia in 1921.

Speaker Series

Watch recordings of the events held in conjunction with the Bread + Medicine exhibition.

Black and white photograph of children in an ARA kitchen, Vienna, circa 1919.

Not By Bread Alone

America's Fight Against Starvation In Europe, 1919–1923. 

Speakers: Mary Cox, Charles Laderman, and Bert Patenaude.

Color image of artwork for an ARA poster, 1922

America’s Famine Relief Mission In Soviet Russia At 100

Shifting Views From Lenin To Putin

Speakers: Julia Khmelevskaia, Anatol Shmelev, Bertrand Patenaude

Detail of a Russian poster showing starving people fleeing a famine sticken village

The Politics of Soviet Famines under Lenin and Stalin

Speakers: Norman M. Naimark, Bertrand M. Patenaude, and Amir Weiner. Moderator: Jovana Lazić Knežević.

Jeffrey Veidlinger and Norman Naimark

Ukraine in Civil War and Famine, 1918–1921

Join Jeffrey Veidlinger and Norman Naimark for a conversation about events in Ukraine in the years following the 1917 Russian Revolution

Tsaritsyn girl during famine eating

America's Gift to Famine-Stricken Russia (1922)

A silent film screening with live musical accompaniment and commentary provided by Bertrand Patenaude.

Detail of poster RUSU 1622 showing tractors harvesting grain

Humanitarian Crisis In Sudan And The Looming Famine

A talk by Alex de Waal, a leading authority on the history of modern famine, followed by a discussion moderated by Niall Ferguson.

Additional Resources
Bread + Medicine exhibition gallery view

Exhibition at Hoover Tower

Learn about the exhibition onsite at Stanford University September 19, 2022, through April 28, 2023, and guest curated by Bert Patenaude.

Detail of ARA photograph of Lincoln Hutchinson

Research Guide

Explore this curated guide to the many ARA related archival and library holdings at Hoover.

Hoover book club - Bread and Medicine

Hoover Book Club: Bread + Medicine

Listen to Bert Patenaude, in conversation with Bill Whalen, about the Hoover Institution Press book Bread + Medicine: American Famine Relief in Soviet Russia

Hoover Press
Bread and Medicine temporary cover image

Bread + Medicine

American Famine Relief in Soviet Russia, 1921-1923

Arriving in June 2023 is a remarkable new book from the Hoover Press authored by Hoover research fellow Bertrand M. Patenaude and scholar Joan Nabseth Stevenson. Telling the story of America's 1921–23 medical relief campaign in Soviet Russia, it is a companion publication to the Hoover Institution Library & Archives' exhibition and delves deeper into the history and science of a cardinal chapter in twentieth century humanitarian aid.

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