The Library & Archives Year in Review

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The year 2015 brought global attention to the richness of the holdings at Hoover. The books and documents at Hoover Library & Archives served as the foundations for blockbuster films, renowned scholarship, well-attended exhibitions, and dramatic findings related to current events.

Highlights of the year at Library & Archives include

  • Hoover L&A began the year by making international headlines after Anatol Shmelev, curator for Russian and Eurasian collections, helped identify the rebels responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the Ukraine. Employing his knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian social media and his recent work with California’s Internet Archive, Shmelev was able to connect the plane crash to well-known Ukranian separatist leader Igor Girkin. Harvard historian Jill Lepore documented Shmelev’s archival detective work in an article in the January issue of The New Yorker.

  • On January 28, in a talk sponsored by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Princeton professor and Hoover research fellow Stephen Kotkin discussed his newly published book Stalin, Volume 1: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928. Based on extensive research at the Library & Archives, the book is the first volume of his trilogy on the life and times of the Soviet dictator. This first volume has been called "superb" (Wall Street Journal); "riveting" (New York Times); "exceptionally ambitious" (Atlantic); and "definitive" (The New Yorker).

  • In March, L&A acquired the papers of libertarian philosopher and economist Richard C. Cornuelle (1927–2011). Cornuelle was a wide-ranging thinker whose ideas were articulated in three seminal books: Reclaiming the American Dream (1965); De-Managing America (1976); and Healing America (1983).

  • On May 20, L&A hosted a special event featuring Gregg Bemis, a Stanford alumnus and owner of the famed Lusitania wreck sunk off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. In conjunction with the talk, L&A mounted an exhibition of rare materials related to the ship, including items retrieved by Bemis during dives to the wreck, and materials from our recently acquired Lindon Bates, Jr. collection. Hoover research fellow Bertrand Patenaude published an article about the sinking in the Hoover Digest.

  • In June L&A marked the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter in San Francisco with a special exhibition of rare UN materials at Ban Ki-moon’s June visit to Stanford, and the acquisition of the collection of Andrew De Metriff, one of the translators at the historic conference.

  • Featuring footage from Hoover L&A’s Firing Line collection, the documentary film Best of Enemies was released in July of 2015. The film explores the tempestuous relationship between William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal, who sparred in a multi-episode political debate during the 1968 presidential debate.

  • The film Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, released in theaters in October. The film tells the story of attorney turned CIA operative James B. Donovan, whose archive is housed at Hoover. The archive and the story of Donovan’s participation in the famed Abel-Powers spy exchange was featured in the fall issue of Hoover Digest.

  • In September Hoover received the personal library of Prince Simon Sidamon-Eristoff, a Georgian aristocrat who served in the Russian Imperial Army. The library is a rich resource on the history of Georgia, the Caucasus and the Russian Empire, with extraordinary, rare and unique titles covering all aspects of Georgian culture, including pamphlets and periodicals published by Georgian émigrés.

  • On October 29th the exhibition Double Exposure: Russia’s Secret Police Under the Last Tsars opened and displayed the archive of the famed Russian Imperial Secret Police, known as the Okhrana, for the first time in history. The Okhrana collection, consisting of once-secret files and photographs of many of the most wanted Russian revolutionaries of the early twentieth century, documents the tsarist government's surveillance of its political enemies throughout Europe, including many who would become leading figures of the Soviet regime after 1917—most notably Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin. The exhibition opening was marked by a reception and compelling discussion of modern surveillance and terrorism by scholar Shane Harris.

  • Hoover L&A co-sponsored the world’s largest ever international conference on Boris Pasternak from September 28 to October 2, 2016. The event brought together notable scholars from around the globe, including members of the Pasternak family, who donated rare Pasternak artifacts to Hoover L&A during their visit. To mark the conference, Hoover L&A mounted an exhibition of rare editions of Doctor Zhivago. During the event Silas Palmer fellow and Stanford undergraduate Benjamin Musachio presented his research on the reception of Doctor Zhivago by members of the US conservative press, including William F. Buckley. Subsequently his research was featured in an article published by The National Review.

  • L&A’s History & Policy series continued with numerous speakers of note, including Hoover senior fellow Sidney Drell, who reflected on his long personal and professional relationship with Nobel Prize-winning Russian physicist and humanitarian Andrei Sakharov. In May national fellow Piotr Kosicki discussed the relationship between Radio Free Europe and the Catholic Church.

  • Throughout 2015, L&A expanded the scope of its series of annual workshops. The Workshop for Totalitarian Regimes, now in its twelfth year, made great headway in research focused especially in the Middle East.  Speaker James Mulvenon delivered a lively keynote address that discussed US-China cyber relations. The Modern China Workshop focused on “China and Its Neighbors: What History Can Tell Policy Makers.” Duke University economist and Friedrich von Hayek expert Bruce Caldwell presented a talk on Hayek for the 2015 Workshop on Political Economy. His lecture was accompanied by an exhibition of recently acquired Hayek materials—including the economist’s baby book and rare photographs from his childhood.

  • Hoover L&A acquired notable collections related to espionage, including the papers of Andrzej Czechowicz, the best known communist-era spy who was an active agent while working for Radio Free Europe in the late 1960s. L&A also acquired the papers of William John Tonesk, a US intelligence officer with a distinguished career covering Eastern Europe and Asia. Tonesk served as a translator and later as a CIA officer, US deputy chief of protocol under Kennedy, and first secretary of the US embassy in Thailand.


In 2016 we look forward to a reprisal of our 2014 Potsdam Revisited concert at Lincoln Center in New York City; the opening of a new exhibition dedicated to William F. Buckley, Jr.’s Firing Line; and the expansion of our fellowship and outreach programs. In February, we will launch a new website component that will feature digitized artifacts and enhance access to collection material by remote users.

Following Stanford’s winter closure, the Library & Archives reading rooms will open on January 4, 2016. We look forward to greeting patrons and visitors in the new year!