Modern Books & Manuscripts Collection

The Andrei Sakharov Archives at Harvard University


Photograph of Anderi Sakharov

Andreĭ Sakharov. Photograph; Gorky, 1975. Taken in the
apartment of Yuri Tuvin on the day the Nobel Peace Prize
was awarded. MS Russ 79 (7034) Houghton Library.

Image of signature

Andreĭ Sakharov's signature. Letter to [Petrovsky], 1973.
MS Russ 79 (3727) Houghton Library.

At the center of the varied collections comprising the Sakharov Archives at Harvard University are the papers of Andreǐ Sakharov (1921–1989), the brilliant physicist often called “the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb.”  While containing extensive material on his scientific career and his personal life, Sakharov’s papers also document his campaign to limit the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons, his human rights activities, and his influential role in the development of perestroika. It is these human rights activities that are the organizing principle behind the whole of the Sakharov Archives, which are concerned with documenting the activities of those involved in the Soviet Union’s human rights movement.

The collections comprising the Sakharov Archives were transferred to Harvard from Brandeis University in 2004, the gift of Elena Bonner.  The Sakharov Archives are jointly administered by the Modern Books and Manuscripts Department of Houghton Library and The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

The Harvard collection is complemented, and partially duplicated, by materials in the Andrei Sakharov Archive in Moscow. Descriptive guides for the Moscow collection are available both in English and Russian.

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Description of the Collections

In addition to Sakharov’s own papers, the Sakharov Archives at Harvard University include the papers of:
Image of Elena Bonner.

Elena Bonner. Photograph, Gorky, 1984.
MS Russ 79 (7199) Houghton Library.

  • Amal'rik, Andrei, 1938-1980. Andrei Amal'rik papers,
    ca. 1965-1980. 23 boxes (9.2 linear ft.)
    Soviet dissident, historian, and dramatist.  Includes correspondence, biographical materials, political writings, and lectures.
  • Bonner, Elena, 1923- . Elena Bonner papers, ca. 1930-2003.
    23 boxes (11.75 linear ft.)
    Human rights activist and writer; wife of Andrei Sakharov.  Includes correspondence, ca. 1975-1999; working manuscripts for Alone Together and Mothers and Daughters; and biographical materials.
  • Dewhirst, Martin. Martin Dewhirst papers, ca. 1917-1999.
    37 boxes (15 linear ft.)
    History Research Fellow, University of Glasgow; specialist in 20th-century Russian literature. Includes photocopies of articles from Russian newspapers, samizdat, and other material compiled by Dewhirst on topics such as Soviet dissidents and intelligentsia,  the gulags, and other topics.
  • Grossman, Vasilii Semenovich, 1905-1964. John and Carol Garrard collection of Vasilii Semenovich Grossman papers, 1902-2013 , (bulk) 1923-1994. 3 boxes, 1 roll (3 linear feet)
    Soviet writer and journalist. At the outbreak of World War II, Grossman became a war correspondent writing eyewitness accounts of a number of major battles, of the liberation of Treblinka, and of conditions at the fronts and in the liberated territories. After the war, the manuscript of his novel Life and fate was seized by the KGB and banned from publication. The novel was first published in 1980 in Switzerland, and in 1988 in the Soviet Union. The collection includes documents and research materials related to Grossman and his family, collected by his biographers, John and Carol Garrard.
  • Gurevich, Ludmila. Ludmila Gurevich family papers, ca. 1900-1950.
    The Gurevich family papers primarily documents the life of Grigorii Gurevich (1883-1952), editor-in-chief of Novaia Derevnia publishing house, who spent several terms in labor camps; the papers include his letters to his family and his memoir, as well as correspondence among other family members.  Also includes some writings of Roman Eiges (1840-1926), a doctor who corresponded with Tolstoy.
  • Image of Elena Bonner and Andrei Sakharov.

    Elena Bonner and Andreĭ Sakharov.
    Photograph; Gorky, 1984.
    Taken after the hunger strike.
    MS Russ 79 (7197) Houghton Library.

  • Human Rights Collection, ca. 1968-2003.
    97 boxes (38.8 linear ft.)
    Includes materials relating to various human rights organizations, and materials on individual cases of human rights violations both in the USSR and in other countries.  Organizations represented include Amnesty International and the Committee of Concerned Scientists.  Individual cases documented include Anatolii Manchenko, Tatiana Yelikanova, Yuri Orlov, Sergei Kovalev, and others.
  • Kline, Edward. Edward Kline papers, ca. 1968-1992.
    22 boxes (14.75 linear ft.)
    Editor, writer, President of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (USA)
  • Reddaway, Peter, collector. Peter Reddaway photograph collection, 1968-1988. 5 boxes (2 linear ft.)
    Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, emeritus, George Washington University.  Photographs of Soviet dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov, political prisoners in Gulag camps, penal facilities, and psychiatric prison-hospitals. Reddaway formed this collection as part of his work documenting Soviet human rights movements. Many of the photographs were published in newspapers, magazines, and books, including The Chronicle of Current Events (Amnesty International, London), edited by Peter Reddaway.

Smaller collections include the papers of Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovskii (1942- ); Walter Clemens; Irina Grivnina; Vera Livchak; Aleksei Semenov; and Olga Swintsowa.

There is also microfilm of documents relating to human rights in Lithuania; Solidarity publications from Poland; and documents relating to the trial of Sergei Kovalev. The Audiovisual collection includes audiotapes and videotapes.

Image of speech draft

Andreĭ Sakharov.  Draft of Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech,  [1975].  MS Russ 79 (680) Houghton Library.
© Elena Bonner.

Image of speech draft

Andreĭ Sakharov.   Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech, edited and read in Oslo by Elena Bonner, 1975.  Gift of Yuri Tuvin.  
MS Russ 79 (713) Houghton Library. © Elena Bonner.

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Andreĭ Sakharov.  From drawings and
letters for his grandchildren, undated. 
MS Russ 79 (6870) Houghton Library.
© Elena Bonner.

All collections have summary descriptions in Harvard’s online catalog, HOLLIS and can be retrieved by selecting Search Type “Title beginning with” and typing “Andrei Sakharov Archives at Harvard University” (omit quotation marks).  Additionally, some collections (the Andrei Sakharov papers; the Reddaway collection of photographs; and the Vera Livchak collection of clippings on Sakharov and Bonner) have more detailed listings.  Follow the link from the HOLLIS record, or go directly to OASIS and search or browse by name.  Researchers are advised to consult these finding aids in advance of their visit.

All collections are stored offsite in the Harvard Depository, and require a minimum 24-hour notice in advance of use.  Additionally, there may be a limit on the number of boxes that can be retrieved per day; consult with Reading Room staff for more information.

Those collections described as “Unprocessed” in HOLLIS are available for research use in the Houghton Reading Room, but require prior permission from the Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts (e-mail). Copying restrictions apply. For further information about research at Houghton Library please see the Library’s home page.

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