The Tobenkin Soviet Pamphlet Collection
A selection of pamphlets from the collection have been digitized by the UT Libraries. View them here.
In the course of his extensive travels through the Soviet Union, the writer and journalist Elias Tobenkin (1882-1963) acquired a collection of materials relating to the Soviet Union during the period between the two world wars. Among these materials was a unique collection of pamphlets printed and distributed with the goal of educating the general public on a variety of topics ranging from managing a kolkhoz to general hygiene to child-rearing. Tobenkin's collection was acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, where these pamphlets were put in acid-free binders and placed on shelves uncatalogued. HRC could not provide the staff necessary to process them any further, and they remained on the shelves for many years, just as they were.
In the late 1980s or early 1990s, bibliographers from The University of Texas Libraries were invited by HRC to look at certain materials that the HRC felt they could no longer retain, in order to select whatever the bibliographers felt could be good additions to the Libraries collections. Among the materials offered were the pamphlets from the Tobenkin Collection. The Libraries Slavic bibliographer, Don Arthur, selected those to be transferred, and shortly afterward began to catalog them. A brief description of the Tobenkin Collection itself can be seen on HRC’s web page (scroll down to Russian & Soviet), but it does not describe the pamphlets.
The pamphlets are especially interesting because many are publications intended for the instruction of workers and professionals in certain fields important for the welfare and development of Soviet society, such as child care or nursing, and instructions to workers about various aspects of their jobs; others warned about anti-Soviet activities of certain groups of people, or of the possibilities of hostile activities from abroad, such as gas attacks from the air; still others gave instruction and advice in certain aspects of personal legal matters or other helpful matters.