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Mark Weinbaum papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 106

Scope and Contents

The Mark Weinbaum Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, and other materials documenting Weinbaum's work as editor of Novoe Russkoe Slovo and president of the Literary Fund. Most papers date from the period between 1930 and 1971, but the collection spans the years 1896-1973. Except where indicated, all the papers are in Russian.

The papers are divided into three series; Correspondence (Boxes 1-10), Writings (Boxes 11-13), Other Papers (Box 14), plus one box of Oversize and one box of Restricted Fragile Papers.

Series I, Correspondence is divided into three subseries: Incoming, Outgoing, and Third Party. It contains the editorial correspondence of Novoe Russkoe Slovo, the correspondence of Mark Weinbaum in his capacity as president of the Literary Fund, and correspondence with people seeking Weinbaum's help, protection, and intercession, concerning problems with immigration, employment, sale of art collections, or book publishing. Some correspondents just sought his moral support. There are some letters of an exclusively personal nature, although for the most part, the correspondents are colleagues, contributors, or people connected with Weinbaum's journalistic, literary, and philanthropic activities who are also personal friends. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the period after World War II.

The Incoming correspondence comprises by far the largest part of the series. Aside from "Letter general" folders, it includes letters from over two hundred individually listed correspondents. The most significant portion of the material relates to Novoe Russkoe Slovo. The subseries includes both letters intended for publication and letters addressed to Mark Weinbaum personally, some of which may have been published in whole or in part. Novoe Russkoe Slovo was used by émigrés as a forum to debate issues crucial to their self-definition and the search for the meaning of their exile. Interpretations of history, specifically the Russian revolutionary period, the sources and meaning of the reign of Stalin, the position to be taken vis-à-vis the Soviet régime, as well as the complicated issue of the possibility of alliance with Hitler against Stalin are the subjects of fierce polemics.

Mark Aldanov's novel Samoubiistvo, for example, which he discusses in his letters and which was published serially in Novoe Russkoe Slovo, was intended to give a literary interpretation of the revolution in Russia against the background of World War I in Europe, and gives, according to Aldanov, the first fictional portrait of Lenin. History and politics are the major subjects of the correspondence of Ksen'ia Denikina (the widow of Anton Denikin), Aleksandr Kerensky, Ekaterina Kuskova, Ioann Shakhovskoi, A. Petrishchev, Vladimir Lebedev, and others. Discussion of varying attitudes toward the Soviet régime and differing definitions of the Anti-Communist struggle was further complicated in the 1950s during the McCarthy era, when Russians in the United States felt particular pressure to make their politics clear in print. This is reflected, for example, in a letter from Nina Berberova written on January 27, 1954, in which she wishes to set the record straight with regards to a false comment by an unnamed contributor to the paper, to the effect that she had been arrested on political grounds in France in 1944, after the departure of the Germans. She goes on to say: "In the U. S., an unsupported accusation that a person has communist sympathies has for some time been punishable by law. The same is true for accusations of national socialism. I ask you to convey this to your colleague and also to inform him that I consider him a slanderer and a liar."

Many at this time experienced difficulties with immigration, and there is much information in the correspondence on the plight of displaced persons in refugee camps in Western Europe and their struggle to migrate to the United States. Also in letters from this period, some correspondents, including Kuskova, Denikina, Kerenskii and Weinbaum himself, openly discuss the imminent possibility of a Soviet-American war.

The period after World War II was also a time when some émigrés in Europe turned "vekhi", that is, chose to take Soviet passports and some even to return to Russia. Rumors spread that I. A. Bunin visited the Soviet embassy in Paris to discuss the possibility of his return. Several correspondents mention this incident. The rumors infuriated Bunin. His letters are bitter in tone and are characterized by the same harsh evaluations of his contemporaries as his Vospominaniia. His grudges were apparently not wholly unjustified. Boris Zaitsev, in a letter dating from after Bunin's death, writes; "They (Soviet literary scholarship) think over there that Bunin was half 'theirs'. That what kept him here was the 'milieu'. In fact, it was this very 'milieu' that pushed him to that awkward visit to the Soviet ambassador which unmasked both sides and later caused Bunin so many difficult moments."

Aside from providing insights into controversial issues of émigré life against the background of United States and international politics, the correspondence is a rich source of biographical and historical information. There are several warm, personal letters from Marc Chagall with an enclosed copy of a brief but powerful speech which he gave in 1965 at Notre Dame University. The correspondence of Mark Aldanov includes letters written by him as editor of Novyi Zhurnal, as well as those which discuss his own literary activities and mutual friends. Among other things, there are descriptions of the deaths of Nedezhda Teffi and Bunin.

The letters of Georgii Adamovich contain a description of his meeting with Anna Akhmatova during her brief visit to Paris in 1965. He writes that Akhmatova was troubled by the émigré press because what was written about her poetry in the West caused her problems at home. Adamovich conveys her message to Weinbaum: "I ask you not to oppose me to other Soviet writers, to make any kind of hints, to pity me, to say that I am some kind of victim, etc., etc. All this is reflected on my position and can lead to God knows what. And for me, what I've already lived through is enough." Adamovich adjures Weinbaum to tread carefully when it comes to Akhmatova and begs him not to publish any details of her trip to the West. Of interest also is the correspondence of Svetlana Allilueva, the daughter of Stalin, dating from the first years after her defection to the West. She feels that her experience is being trivialized in the press and writes about her controversial book, Tol'ko odin god: "I want to emphasize that I wrote the book not to 'give a picturesque account of the life of an Indian village', but in order to explain how and why it happens to Soviet citizens - even as nontypical as I am - that they drop everything, forget everything, and plunge, tightly shutting their eyes, no matter where, only to escape Soviet life, in which, for a normal person, it is impossible to breathe." There is also revealing correspondence from Rodion Berezov, a Soviet writer known by the name of Akul'shin before his defection, and the Yugoslavian dissident Mikhailo Mikhailov.

Others write regarding the fate of their articles, deadlines, financial matters, or copy editing. Some correspondence concerns the business of the Literary Fund, both from beneficiaries and contributors, as well as people writing to bring the names and circumstances of those in need to the attention of the organization. There are also a number of idiosyncratic correspondents, such as letters from someone calling himself Bishop Iliodor, a charismatic leader of a nonexistent church, who demands press recognition, and letters from a man in Israel inquiring about how to put his skills at making grimaces (of which he sends photographs) to lucrative use in the United States.

The Outgoing letters consist primarily of carbon copies of Weinbaum's brief replies to his correspondents and should be examined in conjunction with the appropriate incoming letters. There are also a number of letters written by Weinbaum's correspondents to third parties.

Series II, Writings , consists primarily of pieces submitted for publication in Novoe Russkoe Slovo. They include short articles, essays, and poems, as well as serialized longer works by more than fifty authors. Among these are a typescript of a short novel by Mark Aldanov entitled Pavlin'e pero; a novel by Platon Barkhatov, Sovetskaia katorga; a holograph collection of fairy tales for children by Natal'ia Kodrianskaia; typescripts of memoirs of the artist Konstantin Korovin; a published collection of poems and prose entitled Na putiakh i pereput'iakh by Aleksandr Voloshin; and a travelogue by Vladimir Veidle entitled Venetsiia 1968.

The series contains two typescript articles by Ivan Bunin, extensively corrected and annotated in the author's hand. The first, "K moim vospominaniiam," is a kind of addendum to his memoirs in which he relates anecdotes about the writers Maksim Gorky and Leonid Andreev, and rails against contemporary critics who, he claims, slander and unjustly persecute him. The second, entitled "Tretii Tolstoi," is about the Soviet writer Aleksei Tolstoi. It paints the author as a cynic who never really embraced Bolshevik ideals, but returned to the Soviet Union after getting into hopeless debt in Paris, lured by the prospect of an easy life. In the same article, Bunin gives a passionate and colorful account of the first reading of Aleksandr Blok's poem "Dvenadtsat'" (The Twelve).

Also included among the writings is Georgii Adamovich's review of Aldanov's Samoubiistvo, and articles by such major Russian publicists in the United States as Sergei Kuznetsov, Vladimir Nekrasov, and Sergei Rafal'skii, plus holograph poems by Lidiia Alekseeva and Alexei Remizov and a holograph literary portrait of Aldanov by IUrii Trubetskoi.

Series III, Other Papers , holds newspaper clippings, photographs, printed materials, and artwork. Included are oil portrait of Weinbaum by the artist Kira Scriabina, an inscribed photograph of Ekaterina Bakunina, a sketch of Fedor Chaliapin, and several notes and lists in Aleksei Remizov's fanciful hand. The series also contains a typescript tribute to Mark Weinbaum written by his wife to accompany the archive when she gave it to Yale.

The Oversize papers consist of newspaper clippings from Series II. Restricted Fragile Papers (Box 16) contain fragile originals of letters, writings, and newspaper clippings, plus a fragile book for which no preservation photocopy was made.


  • 1896 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

Restricted Fragile Papers in box 16 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Mark Weinbaum Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Mrs. Mark Weinbaum in 1974.


7.25 Linear Feet ((16 boxes) + 1 art storage item)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, and other materials documenting Weinbaum's work as editor of Novoe Russkoe Slovo and president of the Literary Fund.

MARK WEINBAUM, 1890-1973

Mark Efimovich Weinbaum (otherwise transliterated Veinbaum), the prominent journalist, philanthropist, and editor in chief of Novoe Russkoe Slovo, was born in the provincial town of ProskurovProskurov (then part of the Russian Empire, now known as Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine) on October 20, 1890, into a well-off, intellectual family. His father was a lawyer and a journalist. Weinbaum graduated from the School of Commerce in 1913 and travelled to the United States, arriving in New York in December. He planned to stay for six months before going on to the university and had intended to follow in his father's footsteps and study law. The outbreak of World War I and the subsequent revolutionary events in Russia prevented his return. He remained in New York, where he attended City College and New York University. He started to work for Russkoe Slovo, then under the editorship of I. K. Okuntsev, in 1914.

The bi-weekly newspaper, founded in 1910, had a tiny readership among the population of pre-revolutionary Russian immigrants. With the outbreak of war, circulation rose dramatically and the frequency of publication increased to six times a week. A Sunday edition was added later.

Weinbaum left in 1917 in order to found along with Okuntsev and his assistant, I. H. Veruiushchii, his own newspaper, Russkii Golos. However, he returned in 1922, when disagreements over editorial policy in Russkii golos made it impossible for him to continue as its editor. The paper subsequently became Communist. Russkoe slovo, on the other hand, had since 1920 been under the sole direction of Victor Shimkin who renamed it Novoe Russkoe Slovo, and established it on a democratic platform. He asked Weinbaum to come back initially as manager, then co-editor and partner. He became editor in chief in 1925 and he remained in that position until his death.

In addition to editorial work, Weinbaum contributed regularly to the paper, writing historical articles, essays, and political commentary under the heading "Na raznye temy" (On Various Themes). He also wrote for such English language publications as The Nation and The New Republic, as well as The Sun, The Globe, and the Herald Tribune. He was a member of the Overseas Press Club, the Academy of Political Science, and the Film Critics Circle of the Foreign Language Press. He was also president of the Literary Fund, a philanthropic organization that provided emergency aid and support to Russian émigré writers, artists, musicians, and scientists in extreme need, both in the United States and overseas. The Literary Fund at times rescued Ivan Bunin and later his widow, Aleksei Remizov, Boris Zaitsev, and many others. Weinbaum also helped immigrants by acting as an advovate for displaced persons seeking to escape repatriation following World War II and interceding for immigrants facing deportation during the McCarthy era. There were several cases in which he was instrumental in saving illegal immigrants from being sent back to face Soviet prison camps.

After World War II, the center of Russian émigré life shifted from Paris to the United States. Novoe Russkoe Slovo, under the editorship of Weinbaum, along with the quarterly literary magazine Novyi Zhurnal, gave expression to this life, becoming the primary newspaper of the Russian diaspora, and drawing to itself the majority of the more talented émigré writers and publicists. Among contributors to the paper were Ekaterina Kuskova, Mark Aldanov, Aleksei Remizov, and Nadezhda Teffi. The paper also published invaluable reports and articles by "new" immigrants on the reality of Soviet concentration camps and of life behind the Iron Curtain, providing information which was inaccesible to the West until the influx of post-war refugees.

In his capacity as editor in chief, as well as in his work for the Literary Fund, Mark Weinbaum knew and corresponded with many of the most important figures in the Russian immigration. Among his close friends were Ivan Bunin, Mark Aldanov, Boris Zaitsev, Aleksei Remizov, Savelii Sorin, Serge Koussevitsky, and Marc Chagall.

Mark Weinbaum died on March 19, 1973, in New York, at the age of eighty two. Bibliography Andreev, Nikolai. "Ob osobennostiakh i osnovnykh etapakh razvitiia russkoi literatury za rubezhom." In Russkaia literatura v emigratsii, edited by N.P. Poltoratskii. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1972. Struve, Gleb. Russkaia literatura v izgnanii. Paris: YMCA Press, 1984. Weinbaum, Mark. Na raznye temy. New York: Novoye Russkoye Slovo, 1956. Weinbaum, Rose. "Notes about Mark Weinbaum." Mark Weinbaum Papers, GEN MSS 106, Box 14, folder 602.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Slavic names, titles, and quotations in their original languages have been transliterated in accordance with Library of Congress guidelines. All translations in the "Description of the Papers" are by the archivist.

Guide to the Mark Weinbaum Papers
Under Revision
by Anastasia Zhodzishskaya
June 1992
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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