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Arina S. and Aleksandr I. Ginzburg Papers

Identifier: MSE/REE 0004

Scope and Contents

The archive includes the personal papers of Arina S. and Aleksandr I. Ginzburg before and after their emigration to France in 1980. It reflects their life as leading dissidents and human rights activists in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s and as journalists in Paris during the 1980s and 1990s.

The most significant part of the collection centers on Aleksandr Ginzburg's second arrest and subsequent imprisonment. In addition to photographs and original documents from the trial, the collection contains voluminous correspondence (almost 2000 letters, 5000 leaves) between Aleksandr Ginzburg, members of his family, and many leading writers, dissidents, and cultural figures of the period, including Natalia Gorbanevskaia, Pavel Litvinov, Lev Kopelev, Natalia D. Svetlova (Solzhenitsyna), Larisa Bogoraz, and Yulii Daniel. Also included are letters and postcards from Iurii Galanskov and other political prisoners as well as the friends of Arina Ginzburg. The correspondence chronicles the life of the independent Russian intelligentsia, including political prisoners, from the end of the 1960s through the mid-1970s and reflects their views and reactions to important cultural and international events that had not been covered by the official Soviet press, most prominently the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. The correspondence captures the formation of the dissident movement in the USSR and illustrates the everyday lives of its leading personalities, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his family.

The collection also includes material relating to Arina and Aleksandr Ginzburg's work as human rights activists, the first executors of the legendary Solzhenitsyn Public Fund (1974-1980), and as journalists in Paris from 1980 to 1997. Included here are: letters from leading dissidents, writers, and families of political prisoners who benefited from the Fund's financial assistance; documents of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group relating to the suppression of religious freedom in the USSR; material relating to Aleksandr Ginzburg's third arrest and imprisonment; numerous photographs; Arina Ginzburg's audio recordings for the Voice of America Russian Service; and finally, documents relating to Arina and Aleksandr Ginzburg's interactions with Russkaia Mysl / La Pensée Russe.


  • Creation: circa 1950s-2016


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Arina Sergeevna Ginzburg (née Lavrova, also known as Irina Zholkovskaia, b. 1937- ) is a prominent dissident, human rights activist, journalist, and the second administrator of the Solzhenitsyn Fund (1977-1980). She was the wife of Aleksandr (Alik) Ilich Ginzburg (1936-2002), one of the central figures of the Soviet dissident and human rights movement from its inception. From 1960 to 1979, Aleksandr Ginzburg served over nine years in prisons and labor camps, spread over three terms of imprisonment, for his "anti-Soviet" activities.

Aleksandr Ginzburg was born in Moscow and raised by his mother, Liudmila Ilinichna Ginzburg (1908-1981). He studied journalism at Moscow State University when he gained fame among the Russian intelligentsia for launching the first uncensored samizdat poetry journal, Sintaksis (1959-1960). The three published issues of Sintaksis included works by contemporary Moscow and Leningrad poets. In 1960, while working on the journal's fourth issue, Ginzburg was arrested on fabricated charges and expelled from Moscow University. He was sentenced to a two-year camp term.

Ginzburg was arrested again in 1967 for his role in the samizdat publication of the Belaia Kniga/The White Book which documented the 1966 political show trial of the Russian writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Iulii Daniel, who published their works in the West without Soviet authorization. Ginzburg and his three "accomplices" (Vera Lashkova, Iurii Galanskov, and Aleksei Dobrovolskii) were charged with anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation. Ginzburg was sentenced to five years in prison camp, which he served first in the Mordovia camps and then in the strict-regime Vladimir Prison. At the time of Ginzburg's second arrest, Arina Zholkovskaia was his fiancée. She worked as a teacher of Russian language and literature at Moscow State University, a job from which she was expelled in 1968. Aleksandr and Arina married in August 1969 in a labor camp in Mordovia.

After his release in 1972, Ginzburg settled in Tarusa, where he later became the first executor of the Solzhenitsyn Public Fund (1974-1977), at the request of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Fund was created by the Nobel Prize novelist to help Soviet political and religious prisoners and their families. Ginzburg was also a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group (1976), which monitored and reported on human rights violations in the Soviet Union. Because of this work, Ginzburg was arrested again in 1977. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. In April of 1979 he, along with three other political prisoners, was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and exchanged in New York for two convicted Soviet spies. During Aleksandr Ginzburg's third arrest and imprisonment, Arina Ginzburg took up the administration of the Solzhenitsyn Fund and continued this work until her emigration to the West in January of 1980.

After a brief stay in the United States, primarily with the Solzhenitsyn family in Vermont, Arina and Aleksandr Ginzburg along with their two children, Aleksandr Jr (b. 1972) and Aleksei (b. 1975) moved to Paris. During the 1980s and 1990s, Aleksandr Ginzburg frequently lectured on human rights and served as an international representative of the AFL-CIO (1980-1985). He also headed the Russian Cultural Center in Montgeron (1982-1988) and worked as a journalist for Russkaia Mysl / La Pensée Russe, the leading Russian émigré paper in Paris. Arina Ginzburg worked as an associate editor for Russkaia Mysl until her and Aleksandr Ginzburg's dismissal in 1997. During the 1980s and 1990s she also worked as a contributing journalist for the Russian Service of the Voice of America.

Aleksandr Ginzburg died in Paris in July 2002.


19.5 Cubic Feet (Over 3500 items; 11 cartons, 7 containers.)

Language of Materials




The papers consist of documents, letters, photographs, audiocassettes, and some printed material. The greater part of the collection contains materials relating to Aleksandr Ginzburg's second arrest and imprisonment (1967-1972), including almost 2,000 letters and original trial documents. The collection also includes material relating to Aleksandr Ginzburg's third arrest and imprisonment (1977-1979), documents of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, and material relating to Arina and Aleksandr Ginzburg's work with Russkaia Mysl / La Pensée Russe in Paris. There are also almost 150 audiocassettes that record interviews and reports, and over 500 photographs which document the dissident movement of the 1970s and 1980s.


The collection consists of 14 series. All are organized chronologically, with only a few exceptions -- for example, the letters in series 2 and 5 are arranged alphabetically by sender. The series are as follows:

Series 1 (folders 1-19): Aleksandr I. and Arina S. Ginzburg miscellaneous documents;

Series 2-4 (folders 20-226): Aleksandr Ginzburg's second arrest and imprisonment, including documents and correspondence with Aleksandr and Arina Ginzburg, 1968-1972;

Series 5 (folders 227-467): General correspondence, 1972-2006;

Series 6 (folders 468-511): Aleksandr Ginzburg's third arrest, the Solzhenitsyn Public Fund, the Moscow Helsinki Group, and Sergei Shibaev materials;

Series 7 (folders 512-523): Aleksandr Ginzburg's lecture tour of American universities;

Series 8 (folders 524-559): Russkaia Mysl;

Series 9 (folders 560-579): Works by Aleksandr and Arina Ginzburg;

Series 10 (folders 580-592): Subject files on Solzhenitsyn, dissidents in the USSR, Sinyavsky, etc.;

Series 11 (folders 593-634): Works by others;

Series 12 (folders 635-695): Photographs;

Series 13 (folders 696-754): Audiovisual Materials;

Series 14 (folders 755-831): Personal Papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Arina S. and Aleksandr I. Ginzburg Papers were acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2013. The papers are arranged and described by Natasha Lyandres and Kenneth Kinslow. Finding aid 2017, by Natasha Lyandres, Kenneth Kinslow, and Brooke Corbin.

Related Materials

Researchers should also consult the Ginzburg collections at: the Hoover Institute at Stanford U., the Research Centre for East European Studies at the U. of Bremen in Germany, and the Memorial Society in Moscow.

Arina S. and Aleksandr I. Ginzburg Papers
Kenneth Kinslow
March 2017
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556