Peacay sent me a link to the page New Digital Collection: Soviet Samizdat Periodicals:

The University of Toronto Libraries have launched a new digital collection, Soviet Samizdat Periodicals.

Soviet Samizdat Periodicals is a database of information about editions of classic Soviet samizdat, 1956-1986. The fully searchable database includes approximately 300 titles, representing all known types of samizdat periodical editions from this late Soviet era, including human rights bulletins, poetry anthologies, rock zines, religious and national editions. Researchers will find detailed bibliographic and archival information. The site also includes information about samizdat and dissidence for the general public. The website is intended to provide a forum for continuing discussion about this outstanding phenomenon of recent history.

Peacay warned me that “it appears right now to be down or throwing up connection errors so maybe it’s just going through some birthing bumps. Persist!” Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get through to the linked database; ordinarily I don’t post stuff I haven’t actually seen, but this is such an exciting development I’m going to put it out there and hope it isn’t a chimera. (If anyone from U Toronto knows something about this, maybe has a link that works, by all means chime in!)

Update. It turns out, now that the site is accessible, that it’s nothing but a catalog of samizdat publications with a few images of covers, not worth posting at all. I apologize; as some slight recompense, here’s The Hat That Talks, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, circa 1908 (click to enlarge photo and examine awning of hat store).


  1. Appears to be up and running now. It doesn’t contain the actual Samizdat materials though … just a catalog

  2. Oh, for Pete’s sake, you’re right. I should have read the description more carefully: “Soviet Samizdat Periodicals is a database of information about editions of classic Soviet samizdat…” Sorry about that. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
    But why the devil don’t they put the issues themselves online? Copyright, I guess. Bah.

  3. J. W. Brewer says

    I don’t expect the producers of the samizdats (whatever the Russian plural might be) expected anyone in the bad old days who incurred personal risk by making an additional copy to get a license and pay a royalty, nor did they expect the Soviet courts to assist them (parasites and/or hooligans as they would have been considered) with enforcing claims against infringers. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an issue, but . . .

  4. Yeah, I realize there’s an issue, and maybe it’s hard to find a way to deal with it, but it’s still a disappointment.

  5. Granted, a catalog isn’t as sexy as a full-text database, but it is still useful and interesting in that it tells us what exists and where it can be found. Besides, someone could use the metadata by itself to make interesting arguments, I imagine (by noting concentrations of publications around certain years, places, etc.)

  6. Oh, sure, I love catalogs myself, and it’s not like I’m mad they put it online; it’s just that it’s kind of disappointing when you were expecting more.

  7. just took an hour and a half of my time. Thanks.

  8. Heh. It can be addictive!

  9. Well, there’s an Антология самиздата that has examples of materials published in samizdat periodicals — not the same as actually seeing the periodicals, but valuable in its own right.

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