New letters acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives are from the papers of Princess Nina Chavchavadze, daughter of Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich and great-granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia.

The letters of Princess Nina Chavchavadze were written by or addressed to members of her family: her father, who was killed by the Bolsheviks early in 1919; his wife, Grand Duchess Mariia Georgievna (daughter of King George I of Greece and his Russian wife, Queen Olga); and their daughters, Nina and Kseniia. These letters join other holdings of correspondence and documents of the Grand Duke’s family and the greater Romanov family at the Library & Archives.

The first group of letters emanate from the Grand Duke and are addressed to Princess Nina. This group is closely related to a set of correspondence between the Grand Duke and his other daughter, Kseniia, already held by the Library & Archives. Nevertheless, a good deal of the content is original and describes the Grand Duke’s experiences at General Headquarters in Mogilev in 1916. Little of this concerns military operations: most of the letters describe general conditions, plans for visiting Yalta and other towns far from the front, visits with wounded officers, and family matters. These letters are an excellent complement to the existing Queen Olga photographic collection, also held at the Library & Archives, which contains a large number of photographs of the grand duke from this precise period.

A second group of letters emanate from the Grand Duke’s wife, Grand Duchess Mariia Georgievna, and are addressed to her daughter, Princess Nina, whom she usually addresses as “Tootsie.” Some of the letters are addressed to Princess Nina’s husband, Prince Pavel Chavchavadze. These letters are all in English and cover a broader span of time than the first group, from 1913 to 1933. Most of them are entirely personal in nature and describe Mariia Georgievna’s travels, meetings with fellow aristocrats around Europe, and daily experiences. Nevertheless, the ones written between 1914 and 1918 provide a glimpse into the life of the Russian community in England, where Grand Duchess Mariia and her daughters found themselves during the First World War.

The third group of letters are very much connected with the events of the First World War and consist primarily of letters to Princess Nina from wounded Russian soldiers, prisoners of war, and various British friends and acquaintances. Her mother had established a military hospital and convalescent home in and around Harrogate, England, where she also worked as a nurse. Princesses Nina and Kseniia also assisted at the hospital and helped take care of Allied officers, as well as wounded Russian servicemen or escaped prisoners of war, some of whom wrote touching letters to Princess Nina to thank her for her kindness. This correspondence will undoubtedly be of great interest to those interested in personal experiences of the war. A smaller set of postwar letters include communications between Princess Nina and her husband, Prince Pavel Chavchavadze (married in 1922).

Anatol Shmelev Hoover Headshot

Anatol Shmelev

Robert Conquest Curator for Russia and Eurasia / Research Fellow

Anatol Shmelev is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Robert Conquest Curator of the Russia and Eurasia Collection at Hoover’s Library & Archives, and the project archivist for its Radio…

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