Collection GEN MSS 313 - Romanov collection

Identity area

Reference code



Romanov collection


  • 1894-1935 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Total Boxes: 15; Linear Feet: 12.8

Context area

Name of creator

Romanov, House of

Biographical history

Archival history

Gift of Robert D. Brewster, 1951, 1983. The letters to Anna Vyrubova (in Series I) and the photo albums (in Series II) were acquired by Brewster from Anna Vyrubova, a friend of the Romanov family.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection consists of letters, photographs, artwork, and autographs by or pertaining to the imperial family. Most of the correspondence is from members of the Russian imperial family to their friends Anna Vyrubova and Lili Dehn, and chiefly concerns details of everyday existence in captivity at T︠S︡arskoe Selo (T︠S︡arskoselʹskiĭ dvoret︠s︡), Tobol'sk, and Ekaterinburg, and news about mutual friends, with little specific reference to historical events. There are also a few letters to the Romanovs or third parties from members of the imperial entourage, including Grigori Rasputin. The six albums of family photographs (1908-1915) and accompanying loose photographs consist mainly of snapshots of the family's leisure activities and individual and group portraits. These are accompanied by an autograph album and a few pieces of artwork.

Description of the papers:
The Romanov Collection, 1894-1935, consists of letters, photographs, artwork, and autographs by or pertaining to the Russian imperial family, from the years 1894-1935. The vast majority of the material, however, dates from the period 1907-1918. The collection is organized into three series: Correspondence, Photographs, Other Papers. In addition to the original source materials, some folders contain research notes such as transcriptions, translations, attributions, and background information, which have been contributed by scholars over the years. While the accuracy of these notes cannot be guaranteed, they have been retained with the relevant materials as witnesses to established interpretations.

Series I. Correspondence (1913-1928) (Box 1) consists chiefly of letters written by members of the imperial family to their close friends, lady-in-waiting Anna Vyrubova (née Taneeva) and Lili Dehn, who remained in Petrograd by orders of the government when the imperial family was removed to Tobol'sk. These letters document the family's arrest at TSarskoe Selo, exile to Tobol'sk, and relocation to Ekaterinburg, where they met their death on 16-17 July 1918. The final letter is dated after April 1918, almost three months before the death of the imperial family. Their letters chiefly concern details of the imperial family's everyday existence, news about mutual friends, and expressions of hope and despair, with little specific reference to the historical events taking place around them. In order to mask the senders' identity, the letters were often signed with an initial, a nickname, or, in Alexandra's case, a cross. In addition, some letters were apparently dictated to servants who then signed them with their own name (e.g., one letter is signed "Annushka" Box 1 folder 22). In these cases the traditional attribution has been followed.

There are several letters to Vyrubova from other members of the imperial entourage: one letter from the Tsarevich's tutor Pierre Gilliard, one letter from a relative of the imperial family, Anna Pavlovna Romanova, and three letters from Aleksei Volkov, Alexandra's valet, who accompanied the family to Ekaterinburg and escaped.

Also included in Series I are three miscellaneous letters: to Empress Alexandra from her lady-in-waiting Anastasiia Gendrikova; from Nicholas II to A. N. Naryshkina; and a historic letter from Grigorii Rasputin to the Emperor warning him against becoming entangled in the First World War.

Series II. Photographs (1894-1935) (Boxes 2-8) includes six photograph albums of the imperial family (numbered 2 through 7) and individual photographs of royal personages and related individuals, such as Rasputin's daughter Mariia. The albums mainly contain snapshots of the imperial family's leisure activities, ranging from hunting and tennis to sightseeing, at or near their palaces around Petersburg, their summer home Levadiia in the Crimea, Siberia, and Germany. Also included are some photos of the Emperor at state visits and parades, and of the Empress attending to men wounded in the First World War. Interspersed between these are photos of the family aboard the imperial yacht Standart. Many of the photos were taken and annotated by Anna Vyrubova; others were taken by members of the imperial family themselves. The albums are numbered 2 through 7; Album 1 is not in the collection. A detailed listing of Albums 2 and 3 is given in the Appendix. Further information about the origin of these albums can be found in The Romanov family album. Introduction by Robert K. Massie; picture research by Marilyn Pfeifer Swezey; assembled by Anna Vyrubova. (New York: Vendome Press, 1982).

Series III. Other Papers (1910-1918) (Box 9) includes one autograph album, containing the signatures of the entire royal family as well as many members of court, and several pieces of artwork by Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Irina Aleksandrovna.

The Restricted Fragile Papers housed in boxes 10-15 consist of the original photo albums from Series II; photographic facsimiles of the albums have been placed in the main files for general reference use.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

This collection is open for research.

Restricted fragile papers in boxes Boxes 10-15 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

This collection may be housed off-site at Yale’s Library Shelving Facility (LSF). To determine if all or part of this collection is housed off-site please check the library’s online catalog, Orbis; material for which the location is given as “LSF” must be requested 36 hours in advance. Please consult with Beinecke Access Services for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • Russian

Script of material

  • Cyrillic
  • Latin

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

GEN MSS 775, Robert K. Massie papers relating to Nicholas and Alexandra, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
MS 359 Spiridovitch (Aleksandr Ivanovich) Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Personal papers of the Romanov Family in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

Related descriptions

Publication note

The Romanov family album. Introduction by Robert K. Massie; picture research by Marilyn Pfeifer Swezey; assembled by Anna Vyrubova. (New York: Vendome Press, 1982).

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Freie Universität Berlin

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English


  • Latin

Archivist's note

Anna Bohn

Accession area

Related subjects

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