Collection - Russian Imperial Collection

Identity area

Reference code


Russian Imperial Collection


  • 18th - 20th century (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2,600 volumes book collection

Context area

Name of creator

Romanov, House of

Biographical history

Archival history

In the early 1930s, 2,600 volumes from the book collections of the Romanov family were purchased by the Library of Congress through a New York book dealer. Variously called the Winter Palace Collection, the Tsar's Library, and (more accurately) the Russian Imperial Collection, these elaborately bound volumes have been assigned, for the most part, to the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection includes eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents, biographies, works of literature, and military, social, and administrative histories, and reflects the reading interests of the imperial family and the types of publications they received as gifts. Books in English, French, and German are well represented, although the majority of the publications are in Russian. The volumes carry the bookplates of Alexander III, his wife Maria Fedorovna, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fedorovna, their son Aleksei Nikolaevich, and other family members.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • 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

Two other divisions maintain significant portions of the original purchase. The music from the collection -- largely nineteenth century Russian scores -- has been integrated into the rare book collection of the Music Division and includes a presentation copy of the first edition of the full score of Glinka's Ruslan i Liudmila (1878), prepared as two volumes and bound with an added dedicatory leaf, and the 1894 edition of Rimsky-Korsakov's first opera Pskovitianka. The 1931 Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress highlights the most important music items.

The Law Library received copies of military laws, laws regarding the abolition of serfdom, revisions of civil and criminal laws, and various texts on special legal subjects. The legal titles are listed in the 1931 Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress and are now part of the holdings of Russian legal sources and literature in the European Law Division.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Library of Congress, Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress, 1931, p. 38-42, 137-142, 223-225; 1932, p. 29, 111-115.

Notes area

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English


  • Latin


Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections, website, URL:

Archivist's note

Anna Bohn, FUB

Accession area

Related subjects

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