Scholars of all things Russian are celebrating Carolina’s acquisition of an enormous cache of Russian émigré documents, a collection that will take years to catalog and decades to study. The Andre Savine Collection, named for the Paris book dealer who assembled it, probably exceeds 20,000 items, including books and original manuscripts, diaries, military memoirs, and union materials. The collection is invaluable not only for its size but for its concentration on Russia’s twentieth-century diaspora, a turbulent exodus following the Bolshevik Revolution.
Nadia Zilper, curator of Slavic and East European Collections, and of the Savine Collection, first met Savine on a trip to Paris in 1986. “It is part of a librarian’s job to seek out these kinds of collections,” Zilper says, adding that while she took care to cultivate “a good professional relationship” with the bookseller, she didn’t actually learn of the collection until after the man’s death. Upon Savine’s passing in 1999, his widow decided against trying to keep the Savine bookstore open on her own. Mme. Savine called Zilper and asked whether Carolina might wish to purchase the trove. A donation from Van and Kay Weatherspoon of Charlotte financed the acquisition.