Slavic & East European Collection


The Yale University Library Slavic & East European Collection was created in 1896 with the donation of 6,000 volumes acquired by Joel Sumner Smith, the Associate Librarian of the Yale College Library. This foundational collection was carefully curated and brought to Yale a strong core of 19th century Slavic books and serials. Yale was among the first in the U.S. to systematically collect Slavic materials subsequently. While Russian language holdings constitute the majority of the collection (approximately 40%) and Polish holdings are also strong (close to 20%), all Slavic languages are represented, as well as publications in German, English, and other languages of western Europe published in the Slavic and East European imprint area.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

The Slavic & East European Collection supports the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures and the research and teaching occurring across the university in areas related to Russian and East European studies.  Research and teaching in these fields is concentrated primarily in the departments of history, history of art, anthropology, film and media studies, political science, comparative literature, and global affairs. The MacMillan Center for International & Area Studies’ European Studies Council M.A. program is another focal point for research in Russian and East European studies.

The primary subject areas collected are in the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on acquisition of materials from Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltics, and other countries in Eastern Europe. The Slavic & East European Collection is also responsible for collecting materials published in the fields of Russian and East European studies (primarily history and all humanities disciplines) published in North America, Europe, and other imprint areas outside of Russia and Eastern Europe.  Materials from the republics in central Asia are not actively collected, but may be acquired on request.


The Slavic & East European Collection’s mission is to acquire resources for the support of research and teaching in Russian and East European studies at Yale, which is particularly strong in history, literature, film, and other areas of the humanities.  There is increasing emphasis on acquisition of electronic resources, with a preference for electronic versions of serials. 

  • Dissertations, exhibition catalogs, government documents, pamphlets, maps, atlases, and audiovisual materials are acquired very selectively.
  • Translations into Russian and East European languages and textbooks are not normally acquired.
  • The Film Study Center is responsible for the acquisition of feature films from Russia and Eastern Europe. Documentaries from or about the region may be acquired on request.
  • Special collections material such as rare books, archives, manuscripts, or ephemera are not actively acquired by the Slavic & East European Collection, although the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library does acquire materials from the region.

Formats collected

  • Electronic resources (newspapers, journals, bibliographic indexes, digital archives, statistical data, databases, e-books, etc.)
  • Print monographs and monographic series
  • Print serials
  • Microforms
  • DVDs

Languages collected

The resources collected are primarily in Russian, Polish, and Czech; other languages being actively collected include Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. Materials in Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Finnish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, and Old Church Slavonic are selectively collected as well.

Chronological and geographical focus

The geographic focus is on the region, as defined in both current and historical terms. Materials for the study of the Russian and East European diaspora in the United States are acquired by the Librarian for American History.

External collaborations

The Slavic Collection is part of the East Coast Consortium of Slavic Collections.

Subject Librarian

Anna Arays
Librarian for Slavic & East European Studies
Slavic and East European Collections
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)
(203) 432-7795