Several weeks after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of a sovereign and independent Ukraine came an international call of support from Ukrainian cultural heritage professionals to help identify and archive at-risk sites and collections while the country was under attack. They also identified a list of materials needed to help transport, pack and protect their collections. The Hoover Institution Library & Archives attempted to connect with organizations to understand what the greatest needs were, and like other organizations who wanted to be of aid, had to overcome challenges such as logistics, ensuring the delivery of materials, and knowing that actions would make a direct impact.
In April, the Shadows Project, an online forum devoted to the preservation of and popularizing Ukrainian cultural heritage amongst the next generation of Ukrainians, co-founded by Stanford student Catarina Buchatskiy (‘24), launched an initiative with the aim of providing direct support to museums and cultural institutions across Ukraine by supplying them with materials and supplies. Buchatskiy who met Amy Zegart, the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow, during a National Security Affairs Fellows Mentorship Program, reached out to her to inquire with the Hoover Institution about the possibility of organizing coordinated support with the Library & Archives.
Founded in 1919, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives emerged from Herbert Hoover’s firsthand experience administering relief operations during World War I. The founding collections include the extensive files of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, the U.S. Food Administration, and the American Relief Administration in Europe and Russia. Over time, the Library & Archives has chronicled, through its collections, the historical struggles for freedom and has long been a beacon for emigres and dissidents and others.
The Library & Archives was able to leverage the years of staff experience with preservation/conservation and organizing logistics in Europe. After the Shadows Project, Buchatskiy identified the most needed materials (which are also the most impactful and difficult for other aid organizations to provide), staff coordinated efforts to source and acquire, for delivery, fireproof cabinets, blankets, generators, and other emergency preservation material to protect archival and other cultural materials in Ukraine. The Shadows Project and the Library & Archives also worked with a nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine, to warehouse materials in preparation for transit to Ukraine. By late May, the materials successfully arrived at their final destination.
The Library & Archives has been honored to support, along with many others, conservation efforts in Ukraine and continues to monitor the progress and needs in Ukraine and hopes to continue working with organizations like the Shadows Project and others to develop more robust, resilient, and creative systems that will help museums, libraries, and archives during times of crises.
(Photos courtesy of Catarina Buchatskiy, 2022)