Post-perestroika miscellaneous imprints collection


When the government of the Soviet Union liberalized the publishing laws in 1989, the concept of samizdat acquired a new meaning. Formerly, samizdat was unofficial publishing, underground, "for the drawer." Now individuals and groups that once had no opportunities to be legitimately published in the centrally controlled publishing establishment of the Soviet Union had a right and a chance to publish sami [themselves]. This opportunity became available at a time of great political, social and economic change. However, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, decentralization and privatization of the country and its institutions--academic and economic--the realities of publishing also changed: paper has become expensive or scarce; major publishers publish only profitable titles; the academy and the Writers Union system no longer support its members' publishing to the extent they once did; publishers and printers fight for their share of the market; and the former distribution system has collapsed.


The "Post-perestroika miscellaneous imprints" collection in Stanford University Libraries Special Collections is a collection that documents this moment in the history of the former Soviet Union (late 1989 to approximately the mid-1990s) and attempts to preserve for future scholars these often fragile publications that might otherwise be lost. They were acquired on the streets and in the kiosks of major cities and provincial towns, as well as from individuals. The collection reflects the changing interests and concerns of the people, their attempts to come to grips with the turmoil around them, and their battle to exercise their new freedom to publish despite the obstacles. The larger part of the collection consists of ephemeral serial publications in all formats: printed, xeroxed, hand-written, offset, etc., some with original art and photographs. Many lived and died in one or two issues. They represent the expanding interests and self-conscious cultural, social and political concerns of Russia at the time, and cover a broad range of topics, from the popular--self-help, astrology, erotica, rock-and-roll, science fiction--to the serious--ecology, politics, education, religion and philosophy. Together they document another revolutionary moment in the history of Russia.

The collection also contains a selection of literature that appeared in very small runs and was soon out of print, and a collection of original typescripts, ephemera, and photographs.


All items in the collection are listed in SearchWorks. You can find them with this search: "Post-perestroika miscellaneous imprints." You can also find the items under their individual titles. Since they are in the Rare Books Collection, you can view them only in the Special Collections Field Reading Room. Please request items at least 2 days before you plan to visit to allow retrieval from off-site storage.