Summary Information
Title: Ivan Elagin Papers
Collection Number: UA.90.F85
Creator: Elagin, Ivan, 1918-1987

Collection Dates: 1937-1990
Extent: 4.1 linear feet (9 boxes)

Language: Russian

This is a collection of the papers of Ivan Elagin, a poet and professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh mostly dating from 1960 to his death in 1987. Elagin was one of the most prominent of the Russian émigré poets of the mid twentieth century. The collection consists of personal files of his life and work and correspondence files with other literary figures.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

June 2009

Finding aid prepared by Marianne Kasica with assistance from Faye Leibowitz

Ivan Elagin was born Ivan Venediktovich Matveiev in Vladivostok, Russia on December 1, 1918. His father was the Futurist poet Venedikt Mart. His grandfather was N.P. Matveiev, a publisher and journalist. Elagin began his academic career studying Medicine at the Soviet Institute of Higher Learning in Kiev in the 1930’s. In 1941 his studies were interrupted by war and he served as a medic in the military. Following World War II, he lived in several displaced persons camps around Europe and wrote his first volume of poetry, Po doroge ottuda; stikhi published in Munich. His poems focused on the theme of the estranged and bewildered émigré. In 1950 he immigrated to the United States where he continued his education and his career as a poet and translator. All of his literary work was written under the name Elagin and published in Russian.

Elagin’s education in the U.S. was at Columbia University and then New York University where he completed his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages. In 1970 he accepted an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh and was made full professor in 1978. He also taught at the prestigious summer program in Russian language and culture at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Elagin had married Olga Anstey on June 17, 1938. They had two children: Inna who was born on October 8, 1943 and died of pneumonia in January of 1944 and Helen (Yelena) who was born on January 8, 1945. Elagin and Olga divorced in 1950 after their move to New York. He then married Irena Ivanovna Danngeizer on April 19, 1958. Their son Sergei was born in 1967. Ivan Elagin died of pancreatic cancer on February 8, 1987 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The collection is divided into four series. First are personal papers and letters. The second and largest series of the collection is the correspondence files. These are letters from poets, artists and figures connected to Russian literature and arts. The third series is literary works. These are some original works, translations, the Laguna Beach poetry reading and part of Elagin’s dissertation. In addition there are several audio and video tapes. The final series contains class lecture notes from Elagin’s classes at the University of Pittsburgh and Middlebury College. Elagin’s book collection also came to the Archives and contains 105 books, pamphlets and journal issues that are inscribed by their authors. Topically these books are mostly poetry.


Series I. Personal files and letters

Series II. Letters from authors and poets

Series III. Literary works

Series IV. Instruction materials

Subject Terms

  • Poets, Russian -- United States
  • Russian poetry -- 20th century
  • Russian-American poetry -- 20th century

Corporate Names
  • University of Pittsburgh. -- Faculty

Personal Names
  • Elagin, Ivan, 1918-1987

  • Correspondence
  • Lecture notes
  • Manuscripts (Document genre)

  • Faculty papers
  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

The Elagin Papers were acquired by the University Library System from Elagin’s widow, Irene Matveiev, in 1992. The book collection was acquired from his daughter, Helen Matveiev, also in 1992. The book collection consisted of mostly books of poetry from other Russian poets and all are inscribed by the authors. Both collections were deposited in the Special Collections Department in Hillman Library in 1991. The Papers and the book collection were transferred to the University Archives by Charles Aston in 2008.

Preferred Citation:

Ivan Elagin Papers, UA.90.F85, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Marianne Kasica in 2009 from an inventory created by Karen Rondestvedt. Assistance with the processing of the papers was given by Faye Leibowitz and Hannah Bergman. Michael Lowry assisted with the book collection.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Separated Material:
The book collection was separated, cataloged and sent to library remote storage. A list of the books is available at the Archives Reading Room. Two folders, “Orlov, Aleksei” and “TSGALI (Central Government Archive of Literature and the Arts in the USSR)” were found to be empty at the time of processing and were removed from the collection.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Personal Files and letters, 1938-1947

Scope and Content Notes:

This series consists of correspondence, clippings and files that are principally about Elagin’s family and personal life.

Box 1
Folder 01-02 Invitations to readings and lectures, undated
Folder 3 Photocopies of personal documents, undated
Folder 4 Photocopies of perquisition minutes of the Kiev NKVD, undated
Folder 5 Letters to Elagin during his illness, undated
Folder 6 Letters to Irena after Elagin’s death, undated
Folder 07-08 Articles about Elagin after his death, undated
Folder 9 Curriculum Vitae, undated
Folder 10 Letters from Olga Anstey to Bella Kaznachey, 1937-1941
Folder 11-13 Newspaper clippings, undated
Folder 14 Displaced Persons Camp in Schleissheim, Germany, (photograph) 1947
Folder 15 West Point, undated
Folder 16 Poetry Society of America, undated
Folder 17 Spiritual Needs Committee, undated

Series II. Letters from authors, artists and others, undated

Scope and Content Notes:

This is a collection of letters, postcards, essays and drawings from various authors such as Evtushenko, Filipov and Solzhenitsyn and artists such as Hollerbach and Bongart. Many of these people were also émigrés.

Box 2
Folder 1 Adamovich, Georgii, undated
Folder 2 Alekseev, Anatolii, undated
Folder 3 Artemov, Aleksandr, undated
Folder 4 Belavina, Nonna, undated
Folder 5 Bobritskii, Yurii, undated
Folder 6 Berberova, Nina, undated
Folder 7 Berezov, Rodion (Akul’shin), undated
Folder 8 Bobyshev, Dimitrii, undated
Folder 9 Bogachinskaia, Inna, undated
Folder 10 Bodryi, Nikolai (Matveiev, Elagin's father's brother), undated
Folder 11 Bol'shukhin, Yurii, undated
Folder 12 Bongart, Sergei, undated
Folder 13 Brodsky, Joseph (Brodskii, Iosif ), undated
Folder 14 Bunin, Ivan (letters to Olga Anstey) , undated
Folder 15 Burkin, Ivan, undated
Folder 16-17 Burliuk, David (Includes issues of “Color and Rhyme”), undated
Folder 18 Chinnov, Igor, undated
Folder 19 Chirkov, Aleksandr , undated
Folder 20 Duke, Vernon (Vladimir Dukelskii), undated
Folder 21 Eberhart, Richard, undated
Folder 22 Ėtkind, E. G. (Efim Grigorʹevich), undated
Folder 23 Yevtushenko, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich, undated
Folder 24 Fesenko, Tatiana, undated
Folder 25 Filippov, Boris Andreevich, undated
Folder 26 Gendlin, Leonard, undated
Folder 27 Gorbanevskaia, Natalia, undated
Folder 28 Gul, Roman (Goul), undated
Folder 29 Green, Militsa, undated
Folder 30 Guerra, Rene, undated
Folder 31 Hinrichs, Jan Paul, undated
Folder 32 Hollerbach, Serge (Includes drafts of drawings for book), undated
Folder 33 Joffe, Yuri (Ioffe, Yurii), undated
Folder 34 Ivanov, Sergei, undated
Folder 35 Ivask, IUrii, undated
Folder 36 Klenovskii, Dimitrii, undated
Folder 37 Klionsky, Marc, undated
Folder 38 Korzhavin, Naum, undated
Folder 39 Kreps, Mikhail, undated
Folder 40 Ktorova, Alla, undated
Folder 41 Kublanovskiĭ, IUrii, undated
Folder 42 Kuznetsova, Galina, undated
Folder 43 Klimov, Evgenii, undated
Folder 44 Legkaia, Iraida (Pushkarev), undated
Folder 45 Liubin, Evgenii, undated
Folder 46 Losev, Aleksei, undated
Folder 47 Maksimov, Sergei, undated
Folder 48 Maltseva, Nadezhda, undated
Folder 49 Mantulin, Valentin N., undated
Folder 50 Maramzin, Vladimir Rafailovich, undated
Folder 51 Margolins, The (collective letter from Tel-Aviv), undated
Folder 52 Markov, Vladimir (includes his "Nightmare Cantata"), undated
Folder 53 Mechik, Donat, undated
Folder 54 Morrison, R.H., undated
Folder 55 Morshen, Nikolai (Marchenko), undated

Box 3
Folder 1 Nartsissov, Boris, undated
Folder 2 Odoevtseva, Irina Vladimirovna, undated
Folder 3 Panin, Gennadii, undated
Folder 4 Rannit, Aleksis, undated
Folder 5 Rachko, Marina , undated
Folder 6 Rzhevskiĭ, Leonid Denisovich, undated
Folder 7 Sapozhnikova, Inna, undated
Folder 8 Savolainen, Luidmila (Savin, Ivan), undated
Folder 9 Sedykh, Andrei, undated
Folder 10 Sechkarev, V., undated
Folder 11 Sinkevich, Valentina, undated
Folder 12 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isaevich, undated
Folder 13 Stepun, Fedor, undated
Folder 14 Tarasenkov, Dimitrii, undated
Folder 15 Ulianov, Nikolai, undated
Folder 16 Wierzyński, Kazimierz (Vezhinskii), undated
Folder 17 Vitkovskiĭ, Evgeniĭ Vladimirovich, undated
Folder 18 Vladimirova, Liia, undated
Folder 19 Voznesenskaia, Yulya, undated
Folder 20 Wolfe, Bertram D., undated
Folder 21 Yablonskii, Andrei, undated
Folder 22 IUpp, Mikhail, undated
Folder 23 Popovskiĭ, Mark Aleksandrovich, undated
Folder 24 Pomeransev, K. (Pomerantsev), undated
Folder 25 Gorbanevskaia Natalia, undated
Folder 26 Ioann, |c Archbishop of San Francisco and Western United States (Dimitri Alexeevich Shakhovskoi, undated
Folder 27 Turasova, Natalia (Tarassow), undated
Folder 28 Betaki, Vasilii , undated
Folder 29 Voznesensky, Andre, undated

Series III. Literary Works, undated

Scope and Content Notes:

This is a collection of original and translations of Elagin’s work and his translations of other people’s works. Many of these were collected by Irena Matveiev and made part of this collection of papers. Included here is Boris Pasternak’s "Ya propel kak zver' v zagone" Elagin's translation back to Russian from an English translation done before the Russian original was published in the West. There are also two audiotapes titled "Elagin Program, for Russian SVC" and "Russian: Elagin Poetry, for: Russian, SVC" and three videotapes: "Ivan Elagin Reading His Poetry," "Ivan Elagin Reads His Poetry: Introduced by John Glad," and "Excerpts from John Glad's Interviews."

Folder 30 Handwritten Draft of Last Poem, undated
Folder 31 Part of Elagin’s dissertation, essay on poetry in translation, undated
Folder 32 Elagin’s translation of Reavy’s poems, undated
Folder 33 Pasternak, Boris, poem and translation, undated
Folder 34 Parody, undated
Folder 35-36 Scrapbooks of articles, photographs and news clippings including Laguna Beach, undated
Folder 37 Laguna Beach show and American film actors, undated

Box 4
Folder 01-06 American Poets in Elagin's Translations, undated
Folder 07-08 Elagin’s poems translated by Helen Matveiev and others, undated

Box 5
Folder 01-02 Audiotapes, undated
Folder 03-05 Videotapes, undated
Ivan Elagin Reads His Poetry: Introduced by John Glad, undated
  • Digitization in progress.
Folder 12 CD from Primorye Krai Public Library Literary Evening

An event in Vladivostok commemorating Elagin and a reading of his poetry.

Series IV. Instructional Materials, undated

Scope and Content Notes:

This series is comprised primarily of typed index cards containing information about Russian literary figures and Russian literature. The index cards relate to course lectures Elagin presented at the University of Pittsburgh and the Middlebury College Summer Russian Language Program. The Russian literary figures covered in these cards include: Ostrovskii, Gogol, Lermontov, Zhukovskii, Nekrasov, Pushkin, Blok, Esenin, Mayakovskii, Sukhovo-Kobylin, Chekhov and Tolstoy. Some files relate to literary concepts such as criticism, satire and drama. In addition to index cards, the series includes a file of typescript and manuscript sheets relating to Russian literature. These include part of a paper by IU. Mann about Gogol’s “Mervye dushy (i.e. Dead souls), course outlines for Middlebury College Russian literature courses, a copy of a bibliography or library reserve list by Jane Harris on “Approaches to literary criticism and methodology,” and other documents. Most of the materials in these files are in Russian, with a very small number in English.

Folder 6 Instructional Materials typescript sheets, undated

Box 6
Folder 1 Ostrovsky, undated
Folder 2 Gogol, undated
Folder 3 Lermontov, Zhukocskii, Romanticism, undated

Box 7
Folder 1 Nekrasov, Evgenii Onegin, undated
Folder 2 Pushkin, undated
Folder 3 Literature in Movies, undated

Box 8
Folder 1 Folklore, Autobiography, undated
Folder 2 Critiques, undated

Box 9
Folder 1 Satire, undated
Folder 2 Blok and friends (Esenin and Mayakovskii), undated
Folder 3 Drama, Chekov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Middlebury College, undated