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Processing the Hughes and Raevsky-Hughes Collection

Boxes of books sitting on a table in the center of a library

A series of tickets sppread out in a fan pattern on a table

By: Albina Jambulatova, '26
Date: March 13, 2023

It might surprise you to learn that there is a magical library in Amherst College that seems like something out of a movie. The Amherst Center for Russian Culture, situated on the second floor of Webster Hall, is a students’ paradise. That’s how much charm exists in the reading room, where I had the pleasure of working as a Collections Intern and making it my first place of employment. Fittingly, the library has much more to offer than simply books. The library itself is a quiet area filled with bookshelves and classic drawings. Across from the reading room is an outstanding gallery, and there is a vast collection of samovars, traditional urns for making tea, inside the reading room.

Robert P. Hughes and Olga Raevsky-Hughes, Professor Emeriti of Slavic Languages and Literatures at U.C. Berkeley, made a huge donation of approximately 4,500 books to the Amherst Center of Russian Culture. Sorting and cataloging books from the Hughes Donation has kindled a passionate drive for researching and broadening my knowledge of anything and everything. I discovered many exciting items, including The Journey to Italy by Alexandr Blok, Russian authors' journal entries, postcards of Orthodox Churches, Nikolai Berdiaev's publications, and lots of other books. The main thing I took away from our January sorting process is that I have never before seen such an extraordinary wealth of information and book holdings.

While sorting the books and going through them, we found 105 tickets from visits to the San Francisco Symphony and Opera, concert tickets from Munich, and a 1999 Matrix movie ticket. Along with the personal writings and postcards we found, these tickets offer a glimpse into the lives of the individuals who donated these materials.

The process of sorting the books has transformed me from the inside out. Going through the books enriched my knowledge of the world around me, and gave me new ideas about using literature as a guide for my travels in the future. But for now, there are a seemingly endless number of books on the shelves to read!

Two people working with boxes of books in a large library setting
Students working in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, situated on the second floor of Webster Hall.