A friend then sent them to what was then called Hoover Library, with the proviso that the crates remain unopened for 30 years.
But 30 years wasn't long enough.
As Bertrand Patenaude writes in "A Wealth of Ideas:"
"When the thirty-year term expired, in 1956, Maklakoff ñ who may not counted on living a long life, and who apparently had no desire to go out with a bang ñ requested that the files remain sealed until three months after his death, which came on July 17, 1957."
The files are a treasure trove of information because the Paris Okhrana office had absorbed the files all the other secret police bureaus abroad. The Okhrana had been spying on Russian dissidents abroad and Russian exiles.
It's stories like that that make "A Wealth of Ideas" a good read in addition to having stunning illustrations of the archives of the Hoover Institution.
"A Wealth of Ideas" by Hoover scholar Patenaude documents the vast archives and tells the story of how the documents were collected. The book is more than a look at the archives, though. The documents, posters and photographs have to be explained in context.
Patenaude, a historian, told the story of the archives by telling the story of the upheavals, wars and revolutions of the 20th century.
The original idea had been to do a book merely highlighting the archives. "I wanted a history that had some academic heft to it," Patenaude said.
The book has heft, literally and figuratively. The handsome, coffee-table volume has 300 color prints, with Patendaude's writing telling the story in a clear, engaging manner.
Herbert Hoover, Stanford class of 1897, was a geologist who became a book collector, sending volumes back to Stanford from his travels around the world. Later, he headed the post-World War I American Relief Administration that helped save war-weary Europe from starvation. And he kept sending back books.
(He later became president, of course.)
The collection Hoover started became the Hoover Library and later, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.
There are similar stories to the one involving Maklakoff.
How about hiding archives in a chicken coop?
Boris Ivanovich Nicolaevsky helped set up a Soviet archive after the Russian Revolution, collecting documents of historical significance. But Nicolaevsky was a Menshevik, rivals to Lenin's Bolsheviks, and was arrested in 1921 and expelled from the country.
While abroad, in Berlin, he collected documents, including from the Soviet archives. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Nicolaevsky and his growing collection of documents fled to Paris. And when France fell in World War II, he hid the documents in a chicken coop.
"The Boris Nicolaevsky Papers is arguably the single most important collection on Russia in the Hoover Archives," writes Patenuade. "The product of more than 40 years of vigorous collecting, it contains, in some 800 manuscript boxes, a wealth of primary documents from many diverse sources and of various kinds, including correspondence, speeches, memoirs, writings, minutes of meetings and photographs."
The Hoover Archives may be most famous for its Russian collection, but the archives cover much of the 20th century, including the turmoil in China leading to the Chinese revolution. The documents are priceless for researchers, while the photographs and stunning posters bring different eras vividly alive, including World War II.
And there were mysteries unlocked along the way, one that stretched over 60 years.
During a famine in 1921, the Soviet government reluctantly accepted American relief help. One of the aid workers was Frank A. Golder, who had been in Russia and trained as a historian at Harvard. While distributing food there almost two years, he collected "books, manuscripts, periodicals, government documents, personal papers and posters" which were shipped back to Stanford.
Golder also befriended Soviet officials, who helped him acquire official documents and "complete runs of many newspapers and magazines."
Included in the personal papers was a diary of the Russian Revolution by Moscow historian Yuri Got'e. Golder persuaded Got'e to give him the dairy for safekeeping, so it was sent to Stanford. But Golder died in 1929 and he had been careful, in shipping the diary, to hid the identity of its author.
It wasn't until 1982 when Edward Kasinec, director of the Slavonic Division of the New York Public Library, determined that Got'e was the author. It was published in 1988.
There are some surprises, too.
David Starr Jordan is famous as Stanford's founding president, but he was also an ardent pacifist who spoke out strongly against sending American troops to Europe in World War, even after the United States had declared war.
Jordan wrote former President Theodore Roosevelt, head of a commission trying to find an alternative to entering the war. But it was too late, because war had been declared.
Roosevelt wrote Jordan back, accusing him of being a supporter of German militarism by proposing "to take action against this country, and humanity."
Roosevelt's typewritten letter is part of the archives and in "A Wealth of Ideas."
This story contains 907 words.
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