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The New York Public Library Examines the Russian Revolution In New Commemorative Display for 100th Anniversary


The Russian Revolution: American Perspectives Opens November 8 at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

October 31, 2017 — The revolution that shaped the twentieth century is the subject of a new commemorative display titled The Russian Revolution: American Perspectives at The New York Public Library's (NYPL) Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Curated by Susan Smith-Peter, Associate Professor of History at the College of Staten Island, the exhibition honors the 100th anniversary of the November revolution that transformed Russia into the former Soviet Union.

Featuring photographs and other printed material from the Library’s archives, the display chronicles the American experience of the uprising. It will be on display at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in the McGraw Rotunda on the third floor November 8 through November 19.

“The creation of the Soviet Union was an important moment in history that not only affected the Russian way of life, but had significant impact around the globe throughout its 74-year reign,” said Smith-Peter. “The New York Public Library, with its strong Russian collection and prolific archives of scrapbooks and photo albums, provided the perfect opportunity to tell the story of Americans who were eyewitnesses to the revolution and told the world about it.”

Smith-Peter, in collaboration with her Historical Methods graduate class at the College of Staten Island, selected materials for the display that narrate the story of the revolution from the perspective of Americans living there at the time. Materials on display include:

  • A poster from the revolutionary era showing the new ideology of the Bolsheviks;
  • Leaflet distributed by the Bolsheviks proclaiming  the Provisional Government had been overthrown;
  • The book Ten Days that Shook the World by John Reed
  • Photographs from American journalist Bessie Beatty in Russia, including one of the  Constituent Assembly, the democratically elected parliamentary body that resulted from the previous March Revolution in 1917 and contested the Bolshevik seizure of power;
  • Photo of David Francis, the senior American diplomat in Russia during the revolutionary period and latter half of World War I.

The Library will be hosting a free conference with Smith-Peter and scholars about the American reaction to the Russian Revolution on November 18 in the Berger Forum at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building from 1-4 p.m., featuring the following lectures:

  • “How to Teach a Revolution: Americans in 1917, Historians Today,” Susan Smith-Peter, Associate Professor of History, College of Staten Island/CUNY
  • “The Demise of a Historic Friendship and the Rise of an American Crusade for a Free Russia: American-Russian Relations, 1881-1917,” David Fogelsong, Professor of History, Rutgers University
  • “Russia's Revolution: Varying American Eyewitness Perspectives,” Ben Whisenhunt, Professor of History, College of DuPage
  • “The Russian Journey of an American Newspaperwoman: A Revolution in the Making in Bessie Beatty’s Bulletin Dispatches,” Dr. Lyubov Ginzburg, Independent Scholar
  • “’The Bolshevik of Wall Street’: William Boyce Thompson and the American Red Cross Mission to Russia, 1917-1918,” Peter Scasny, Graduate Student, College of Staten Island/ CUNY

The display will be available 10 AM to 6 PM. on Monday and Thursday to Saturday, from 10 AM to 7:30 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday.

Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.

Contact: Amy Geduldig | 212.592.7177 |

About The New York Public Library
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