Biography and History

Lana Peters was born Svetlana Stalina, the only daughter and last surviving child of the Soviet ruler Josef Stalin. She changed her last name to her mother's (her mother was Nadezhda Alliluyeva) after her father died in 1953.

Svetlana Alliluyeva married twice in the Soviet Union (in 1943 to Grigory Morozov and in 1949 to Yuri Zhdanov) and had two children. Both marriages dissolved quickly, and she met the Indian Communist Brajesh Singh in 1963. After his death in 1967, Alliluyeva approached the United States embassy in New Delhi and stated her desire to defect from the Soviet Union. She lived in Princeton, New Jersey, assisted by former ambassador to the USSR George F. Kennan. In 1970, she married William Wesley Peters. Mr. Peters had been chief apprentice to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and spent sometime in Scottsdale, Arizona, before divorcing and moving back to New Jersey.

In Princeton, Alliluyeva (now Lana Peters) met Mildred Harford, her daughter Olga's teacher. The two maintained a friendship via correspondence as Peters and her daughter moved to California, England, and in 1984, back to the Soviet Union where she publicly denouced the west.

In April 1986, they returned to the United States, with no opposition by the Soviet authorities. Peters died in Wisconsin in 2011.

Source: From the finding aid for MC265

  • Mildred Harford Correspondence with Lana Peters (Svetlana Alliluyeva). 1973-2007 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC265

    This collection contains letters, cards, photographs and clippings from Lana Peters (Svetlana Alliluyeva) to her friend Mildred Harford. After defecting from the Soviet Union, Peters lived a transitory life in the United States, at one point denouncing the west and returning to the USSR, and eventually retunring to the United States, where she died in 2011.