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The book fund

The RME Research Library is the largest carefully completed museum book collection on ethnography. It comprises 110, 000 printed editions in Russian and foreign languages and is a sample of books and journals on the ethnography of the peoples of Russia and neighboring countries.

The Largest Museum Library

 The RME Research Library is the largest carefully completed museum book collection on ethnography. It comprises 110, 000 printed editions in Russian and foreign languages and is a sample of books and journals on the ethnography of the peoples of Russia and neighboring countries. It is supplemented by the publications on archeology, anthropology, folklore studies, art history, religious studies, and linguistic.  Moreover, the library has well completed collection of books on museum studies, collection of geographical maps, collection of lubki images numbering more than 1000 papers and postcards on ethnographic thematics.  

Gifts and Donations

The Museum Library was established in the January of 1902. Initially it was replenished by public donations, gifts of museums and libraries, acquisitions from private persons. Large contribution to the Library was made by museum employees from personal collections.

In the early 1920s the Library significantly grew due to replenishments of book from private collections nationalized by state. The library of the Grand Duke Georgy Mikhailovich containing 2000 books and maps and the library of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovih are of particular interest among them.

The most important among later gifts are the books from collections of the RME fellows: E.N.Sudenetskaya, B.Z. Gamburg, D.A. Sergeev, I.V.Dubov handed to the museum in 1980s.

The Royal Decrees

The lion share of fund comprise the books in Russian published in XVIII-XX cc.

The Library keeps the decrees of Peter the Great, Catherine II, Alexander I published in XVIII-XIX cc, the unique copy of  “The Tsar Alexis Mixailovich Code of Law” published by the Academy of Science in 1737,  the  richly illustrated book "Coronations of the Russian tsars from the Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich to the Emperor Alexander III" (SPb, 1883).

The Books of Travelers

Among the books about travels and research expeditions the bibliographical rarities are the first edition of the book “The Description of the Land Kamchatka” by Stepan Krasheninnikov (SPb., 1755) and  the first comprehensive work on the ethnography of the peoples of Russia  “The Description of all the peoples living the  Russian state by I.G. Georgi(SPb., 1799). Moreover, the Library has the books of the XVIII-XIX centuries  explorers: G. F. Miller, P. S. Pallass, L.I. Levshin, R.K. Mak lavishly illustrated with maps any many woodcuts depicting dwelling, clothes and traditional occupations of local population.

Research Works of Ethnographers

The Library is also rich in books on ethnography written by the scholars of the late XIX–XX cc. For example, the book “About the Inorodotsy of the  Amursky Krai”  by L. I. Schrenk an and the work “ Caucasian expedition sketches”  by the artist T.Gorschelt  (SPb 1896) representing the types and scenes of the life of the mountain peoples are of significant interest. 

The 18-volume publication “The Peoples of the World” (M., 1954-1966), kept in the Library, the works of the N. N. Miklouho-Maclay Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology which have been publishing since 1947 to present time, ethnographic atlases on Russians, the peoples of Siberia, the peoples of the Baltic regions and others are valuable for an ethnographer. All these compound works are result of long-termed research of entire teams of ethnographers.

The Books about Folk Art

The museum book fund contain the pieces of oral poetry and  its researches  such as the publications of P. V. Kireevsky, A. N. Afanasiev, I. P. Sakharov, P.N. Rybnikov and other renowned scholars.

The Library has rich collection of books and illustrated albums on the folk decorative applied arts and crafts published in XIX-ХХ cc.

The Rare Editions in Foreign Languages

The books in foreign languages of the XVI-XX centuries comprise more than 13000 keeping items. The works of book art of the old publishing houses the Dutch company Elsevier and the Venetian family of the Aldine and the rarest edition of the most famous book about Russia “The description of travel to Muscovy and through Muscovy to Persia and back” by Adam Olearius published in 1656 are of particular value among them. The richly illustrated and gorgeously published in French album “The ethnographic description of the peoples of Russia” by Pauli in 1862 is also bibliographic rarity. 

The Unique Cartographic Collection

The Library cartographic collection numbers more than 1 100 maps published in XVIII-XX cc. The most interesting items are “The Atlas of the Russian Empire for the Use of Youth” (SPb, 1794), the first Russian complete “Atlas of Russian Empire Consisting of Nineteenth Special Maps Representing the Russian Empire with Neighboring Lands …’’published in 1745, “The Map of Russia and the Tribes Inhabiting It" (SPb, 1866), "The Ethnographic Map of the European Russia” by A.F. Rittih and many others.

420 Names of Periodicals

The Library possesses large and valuable collection of national and foreign periodicals (420 names) of different scientific communities, educational institutions, committees, organizations. The proceedings of the Russian Geographical Society, the Imperial Society of Devotees of Natural Science, Anthropology and Ethnography, The RAS Division of Russian Language and Literature, of the Society of Russian History and Antiquities are the most valuable for the ethnographic science. The sets of specialized ethnographic journals of XIX – early XX cc. and modern journal on ethnography and related disciplines have value of its own.

Reference Literature

The collection of the reference-bibliographic literature which comprises more than 1200 keeping items occupies important place in the Library. The rarity among them are “The Attempt of Terminological Dictionary of Agriculture, Plant Industry, Trades and People’s Daily Life” of V. Burnashov  (1843-1844 ) and many others valuable reference editions.

In the museum library fund there are almost all the bibliographical indexes published in XIX-ХХ cc., among which one should mention “The Bibliographical Index of Russian Ethnographic Literature about the Outer Life of the People of Russia" (SPb, 1913), composed by D. K. Zelenin.

The Examples of Binding Mastery

The museum book fund contains editions which are unique examples of binding art and artistic design with use of leather, velvet and silk. For example, the book “The Byzantine Enamels” by A.V. Zvenigorodsky with binding of white leather with gold embossing made in the Byzantine style.

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