YMCA Publishing Work with Russian Emigres: Preserving Culture in the Midst of Chaos
Melanie Doherty is a Project Archives Research and Reference Assistant at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. She joined the staff in February 2012 as a student assistant on a project to compile summary descriptions of collections in the YMCA Archives and stayed on after graduating in December 2013 to continue working on the project. This spring we invited her to utilize the knowledge of the collections she acquired through the project to curate of a small exhibit on a topic of her choice. The results are on display in the case outside the Archives through at least September 2014. Please stop by and take a look any time Andersen Library is open.
When I was given the opportunity to create an exhibit for the Kautz Family YMCA Archives I was very excited. I wanted to focus on a topic that really highlighted what the materials within the archive were able to express. I wished the exhibit to strike a chord with the viewer in a similar manner that a collection was able to strike a chord with me. I had worked with so many of the collections that I had what seemed like a million ideas. In order to narrow the exhibit down to one subject I focused on topics that had human interest at the heart of them but also showed great historical significance.
The exhibit narrates a story of the life of the Russian exile after the Russian Revolution and the importance of of reading material to those exiles. The Russian Revolution initiated a situation of turmoil for millions. Russia's citizens experienced starvation and repression. Between 900,000 and 2 million became exiles, among them writers, artists, engineers and people from every sort of social and educational background. Many were committed to preserving the pre-revolutionary Russian culture and way of life while living abroad. The means to do this, however, was out of their immediate reach as most left the majority of their possessions behind.