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Collection Overview

Mandelʹshtam, Osip , 1891-1938
Osip Mandelʹshtam Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1900s-1970s (mostly 1914-1937)
6 boxes and 2.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-6


Osip Mandelʹshtam was a Russian poet, novelist, essayist and critic. A member of the Guild of Poets, a radical faction of the acmeist movement in poetry, he criticized the literary conformity demanded by Russia's new communist government. The collection consists of Russian-language works, correspondence, and printed matter of Mandelʹshtam. It contains holograph and typed manuscripts of his poems, reviews, articles, and essays, often in draft form representing different stages of his work, many of which are in the hand of his wife, Nadezhda, who acted as his amanuensis.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of Russian-language works, correspondence, and printed matter of Osip Emil'evich Mandelʹshtam. The collection contains holograph and typed manuscripts of his poems, reviews, articles, and essays, often in draft form representing different stages of his work, many of which are in the hand of his wife, Nadezhda, who acted as his amanuensis. Among the works are the following collections of poetry: Kamen, Tristia, Poems (1928), New Poems, and Voronezh Notebooks. Prose works include Fourth Prose, Journey to Armenia, Conversation About Dante, and The Egyptian Stamp. A copy of Kamen belonging to S. P. Kablukov and Poems (1928) inscribed to N. E. Shtempel are also in the collection. In addition, there are official documents; correspondence as well as notations by Nadezhda on Mandelʹshtam's political situation; letters from Mandelʹshtam to Nadezhda [Khazina]; and letters from Soviet poet Anna Akhmatova, a letter from Arthur Miller, and others, some of which contain references to the Writer's Union.

Abbreviations: OM = Osip Emil'evich Mandelʹshtam, NM = Nadezhda Iakovlevna Mandelʹshtam

Transliteration: Titles are cited in accordance with Library of Congress transliteration rules. In addition, Russian titles are cited in the poetry index, as well as on folders.

Poem numbering: To facilitate research, material for each poem found in manuscripts is identified by the number under which the poem is listed in the most complete edition of Osip Mandelʹshtam's Collected Works (the edition is hereafter referred to as the New York edition):

Sobranie sochinenii. Edited by Gleb Struve, Nikita Struve and Boris Filippov. New York: Inter-Language Literary Associates; Paris: YMCA-Press, 1964-1981.

vol. I (Poetry). Introductions by Clarence Brown and Gleb Struve. Second edition, revised and expanded, 1967.

vol. II (Prose). Introductions by Boris Filippov. 1966. Second edition, revised and expanded, 1971.

vol.III (Essays and Letters). Introductions by George Ivask, Nikita Struve and Boris Filippov, 1969.

vol. IV (Supplement Volume), 1981.

For poems, variants and fragments not found in the New York edition, the title/first line is followed by "no. ?".


Prose: titles are cited as given in manuscripts, earlier manuscript descriptions, or published texts; if an item has a working title that was changed in final version, that title is cited in square brackets; if an item is incomplete, unpublished and unidentified, first line in square brackets is cited as title.

Poetry: untitled poems identified by first line; fragments of poems (drafts of individual stanzas, lines, etc.) not listed in the New York edition as variants under a separate number are cited by italicized title/first line in square brackets of listed poem/variant under a separate number they refer to.

Dates: Dates in the date column are cited as given in manuscripts and copies, and indicate the time when the item was written, not the time the copy was made.

Prose and letters: if no date is given in manuscript/copy, date written is, wherever possible, taken from earlier descriptions, the New York edition, or, in case of letters, sometimes deduced from contents; it is cited in square brackets.

Poetry: since in many cases different manuscripts and copies of the same poem give conflicting day/month references, the date in the date column is cited exactly as in this or that particular manuscript/copy. If no date is given, undated is entered in the date column. If only month and/or day is given, the year is deduced from other sources and cited in square brackets.

Manuscripts vs. Copies: Distinctions are made (always based on earlier descriptions - primarily I. Semenko's) between manuscripts in the hand of Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam (made from the author's drafts and revised by him, dictated by the author, etc.) and copies in her hand. Also, distinctions are made between NM's copies made in OM's lifetime and copies made after his death in 1938.


The collection has been foldered strictly in the order in which it was found. Most of the material had been previously processed and described. Many items were identified and grouped by Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam; part of the collection was organized by Nikolai Khardzhiev; much of the work on collating and describing poetry and prose manuscripts was done by Irina Semenko. The present inventory draws almost exclusively on these earlier descriptions. In several cases, however, no description was available, and attempts were made to organize certain items (without disturbing the original order of item envelopes) and identify them. Thus, Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam's correspondence (Box 3, Folders 102-104) has been itemized and chronologically arranged within the three envelopes in which it was originally placed. Some additional corrections (Boxes 1 & 3) have been made by Pavel Polian (Nerler) in December 1999.

Material for some items was frequently found in different parts of the collection, therefore, for prose, cross-reference has been made to relevant folders. Besides, for poetry and for prose, respective indexes to titles and first lines have been compiled. For letters, there are indexes to addressees and senders.

Collection Creator Biography:


Osip Mandelʹshtam was a Russian poet, novelist, essayist and critic. A member of the Guild of Poets, a radical faction of the acmeist movement in poetry, he criticized the literary conformity demanded by Russia's new communist government. In 1918, he narrowly escpaed execution after destroying a stack of death warrants belonging to a government official. In 1934, Mandelʹshtam was arrested after reading an anti-Stalin poem to a group of friends, one of whom informed on him. He spent three years in exile. He obtained his release in 1937 with the help of Boris Pasternak and other artists who intervened on his behalf, but was rearrested in 1938. The date and place of his death are uncertain, but many biographers believe he died in 1938 in a prison camp near Vladivostok, Siberia.

Collection History


The Papers of Osip Mandelʹshtam (1891-1938) were entrusted by the poet's widow Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam to Prof. Nikita Struve to be taken out of the Soviet Union in two valises and temporarily kept in Paris until they could be given to Prof. Clarence Brown of Princeton University. In 1976 Prof. Elliott Mossman of the University of Pennsylvania, acting as an agent for Princeton University, assisted by securing the papers from Struve, who had taken them to Paris. While Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam proposed either giving the papers to Princeton University or Clarence Brown personally, Professor Brown did not wish to own them personally and therefore had University counsel Thomas H. Wright prepare a deed of gift for Nadezhda Mandelʹshtam's signature.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Yevgeny Pavlov in 1997. Finding aid written by Yevgeny Pavlov in 1997.

During 2022, restrictions on original materials where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Trustees of Princeton University hold the copyright for materials in this collection that were created by Osip Mandel'shtam. Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Osip Mandelʹshtam Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-6