This post was written by Hannah Connell, King’s College London. It is part of a series of posts on researchers’ experiences in libraries and archives.

Working with the British Library’s holdings of Russian-language periodicals in the Slavonic collections, I am tracing the outlines of the Russian émigré community in London through exploring their interests and perspectives on contemporary events through periodical publications. This community has had a distinct presence in UK publishing since the 1850s.

I am identifying the publications held by the British Library from an online database of Russian-language émigré periodicals. The British Library’s collections are not held on open shelves, so taking the time to understand the ways in which the catalogue metadata has been created has helped me to discover new sources. The transliteration of Cyrillic has changed over time, so the way in the Slavonic collections have been catalogued has changed dramatically too.  Understanding these changes not only makes individual items easier to find, it allows some insight into how attitudes towards this material have developed over time.

The British Library’s collections of Russian-language émigré periodicals include political pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers and journals, among other items. Working with this broad collection of items allows me to comment upon the different forms of publication and the émigré audience they address, and to compare the development of these forms over time.









The Russian Gazette, 23 October, 1920, LOU.LON 686 [1920] and the Biulleten’ Russkogo obshchestva pomoshchi bezhentsam v Velikobritanii (Newsletter for the Russian Refugee Relief Association in Great Britain), 15 December, 1949, LOU.LON 669 [1949]

This collections-based research has helped me to gain an understanding of the place of the Russian periodical community in the wider context of émigré publishing of the twentieth century. My knowledge of the cultural and historical context of Russian emigration in this period has led me to use these materials to map the activities of the Russian-speaking community through print, while my understanding of the British Library’s cataloguing processes helps me to discover the connections between English-language and Russian-language periodicals, and understand the way in which these documents now form an important record of the diverse heritage of the UK.