LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 20, No.4 - Winter 1974
Editors of this issue: J.A. Rackauskas
Copyright © 1974 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
BALTIC ARCHIVAL MATERIALS AT THE HOOVER INSTITUTION ON WAR, REVOLUTION, AND PEACE
FRANZ G. LASSNER
Director of Archives
Hoover Institution on War,
Revolution, and Peace
The Hoover Institution Archives is one of the largest manuscript repositories in the United States. In terms of the significance of its collections, it is among the leading archives in the world. Furthermore, holdings are not national or regional in scope, but rather pertain to most of the world's historically important areas, such as the United States, Latin America, East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, etc. Many languages are represented. Indeed, the majority of holdings are not in English, with the greatest single group being in Eastern European languages.
In so far as research use is concerned, the Hoover Institution Archives is unquestionably one of the most important repositories anywhere. During 1972, about 300 researchers used materials in the Archives reading room. They represent 92 colleges and universities, and came from 26 other countries as well as the United States. The policy has been to make all of the holdings readily accessible and to encourage research whenever possible. Conditions for use of archival materials are designed for ease of use on the one hand, and for maintenance of necessary security on the other.
The Hoover Institution Archives traditionally has provided a place for records that otherwise might have been lost, destroyed, or inadequately maintained. Many persons who were and are active in public affairs, journalism, the military, industry, political life, etc., have placed their papers in the Hoover Institution, and organization as well as government archives also have been accessioned. Collections include the papers of heads of state and the archives of émigré and exile groups.
The tragic events in the Baltic area since the outbreak of the second world war have resulted in the loss and dispersion of much valuable archival material. Substantial record groups have, however, been acquired by the Hoover Institution, whose staff and research faculty already were interested in the Baltic throughout the inter-war period. The result has been that many materials pertaining to the period of independence of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, were secured, preserved, processed, and made available to the international scholarly community; and that a distinguished collection of Baltic materials was developed systematically.
Since many of the manuscript collections at the Hoover Institution tend to cover the entire period of 20th century history, it is best to discuss Baltic holdings in terms of countries rather than of particular historical epochs.
At the present time, the collections relating to Latvia are perhaps the most significant of the Baltic materials. Latvian diplomatic history is especially well-documented by the records of the Latvian Embassy in Stockholm, the papers of Vilis Sumans, Felix Cielen, Mikelis Valters, and Julijs Feldmans. The records of the Latvian Embassy in Stockholm consist of 14 manuscript boxes of diplomatic correspondence between the Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Riga, and between the Embassy and other Latvian legations in Europe, as well as reports, treaties, and other documents, from 1917 -1939. The Vilis Sumans and Felix Cielens collections are small — two manuscript boxes each — but together furnish significant documentation relating to the Latvian Embassy in Paris, at which both were Ministers during the period between the wars.
The Mikelis Vlaters collection contains secret memoranda written in 1939 and 1940, from Valters, who was Latvian Envoy in Belgium at the time, to General Janis Balodis, the Latvian Minister of War, as well as the minutes of the First and Second Conferences of Latvian Envoys Abroad, 1923 and 1935. A recently acquired archive is that of Julijs Feldmans, who served as the Permanent Latvian Delegate to the League of Nations, Minister to Switzerland, and the last Minister to the United States.
Other noteworthy Latvian materials are included in the Frank A. Golder and Thomas J. Orbison collections. Professor Golder, during the course of a European collecting trip in 1922 for the Hoover Institution, made copies of various manuscripts of prominent Latvians as well as documents of the Latvian government. These materials contain information on the prevailing situation during the early years of independence. The collection also includes an unpublished biography of Karl Ulmanis. Significant materials in the papers of Thomas J. Orbison, Chief of the Latvian Mission of the American Relief Administration, relate to the Bermondt affair and to other difficulties during the early years of the Latvian Republic.
The most significant collection of Estonian material is that of Kaarel R. Pusta. Pusta served the Estonian Republic as Paris Peace Conference delegate, Envoy to France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and other European countries, Chairman of the Delegation to the Baltic Conferences, 1920 - 22, Delegate to the League of Nations, and Foreign Minister, 1924 - 25. The Pusta collection consists of 20 manuscript boxes and documents Estonian diplomacy between the wars as well as Pusta's contribution to Estonian independence.
A significant historical treatment of the first years of • Estonian independence is an unpublished manuscript by M. Oiderman prepared under the auspices of the Estonian Foreign Office in the 1920's. A related group of materials among the papers of Alexander Keskuela, the Estonian socialist who was an intermediary between Lenin and the Germans during the first world war, illuminates the precarious position in which the Estonian people found themselves at the time.
A good insight into Estonian - Russian relations may be found in several interviews conducted in 1929 by H.H. Fisher, later Chairman of the Directors of the Hoover War Library, with prominent Estonian officials, such as George Meri, Director of the Press Bureau for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Professor Anton Piip, a former Foreign Minister.
Other items relating to Estonia, too numerous to mention individually, also are accessioned in the Hoover Institution Archives. They relate primarily to the early years of independence and to Estonian foreign affairs, particularly with Russia and the League of Nations. Unfortunately, archival documentation pertaining to Estonia during World War II has been more difficult to obtain.
Lithuanian materials at the Hoover Institution deal primarily with nationalism and the first years of independence. The Joseph J. Hertmanowicz collection contains material on the Lithuanian nationalist movement, 1916-26. Among the documents in this collection there is also a memorandum delivered in the United States in 1941 containing Hertmanowicz' argument for restoration of Lithuanian independence and recognition by the United States.
Other Lithuanian material includes portions of the Wlodzimierz Wiskowski collection, which illuminates Polish political activities in Lithuania; a 1929 interview between H. H. Fisher and Professor Zaunius concerning political conditions in Lithuania; and a collection of posters and broadsides issued in Lithuania by the Bolsheviks.
THE BALTIC AREA AS A WHOLE
In addition to documentation relating directly to individual countries, there are also several collections gathered by scholars which deal with the Baltic area as a whole. Professor Malbone Graham's research files consist of official publications, copies of documents, pamphlets, and other ephemeral material. The Frank A. Golder collection contains considerable documentation on the period during and immediately following World War I. The Joseph S. Roucek papers include research notes and manuscripts of writings relating to the educational system and political development of the Baltic states during the 1930's and 1940's.
Several other large collections, which contain important materials relating to the Baltic, also are accessioned. The files of the Paris office of the Imperial Russian Secret Police (Okhrana), for example, provide information on early revolutionary movements in all three Baltic countries. For the period of independence, data on the Baltic states can be found in the records of the American Relief Administration, and in the Vasili A. Maklakov, George D. Herron, Mikhail N. de Giers, and Nikolai Yudenich papers.
The Hoover Institution's Baltic holdings form an important body of research material and provide a sound basis for additional collecting activities. A systematic effort to acquire more materials is being made by staff members of the Hoover Institution Archives. Furthermore, much valuable help has been received as a result of the efforts and personal intercession of leading scholars in Baltic history. The collecting activity is worldwide, and includes the United States, Europe, and other areas. An International Associate of the Hoover Institution Archives travels frequently abroad, procuring available materials as well as developing new contacts.
Much additional work remains to be done to prevent the eventual disappearance of important Baltic documentation. Substantial quantities of diplomatic records, personal papers and memoirs, government archives, etc. are located throughout the free world. Some of these materials are in private hands and others have been collected by various temporary organizations. This unfortunately involves many risks. The placement of manuscript materials in an internationally known archive, with extensive and significant related documentation, that at the same time is an active research center at which effective security regulations also are maintained, is a more preferable solution.
The Hoover Institution is a most suitable repository for this purpose. Naturally, efforts to collect Baltic archival materials will continue, not only in order to make them available to the scholarly community, but also to preserve them as part of the Baltic's peoples' national heritage.