The Subject of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in American Academic Libraries

By Bock, Julia | East European Quarterly, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview
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The Subject of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in American Academic Libraries

Bock, Julia, East European Quarterly


A version of this paper was presented at the Association of Hungarian Educators Conference in Indiana University at Bloomington, held on April 28, 2006, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The purpose of this paper is to identify collections on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in American academic libraries, and as a secondary aim, to provide a list of core publications presently available in print. By mapping collections related to the history of Hungary, the paper intends to orient researchers, where to turn for their research needs. While an obvious starting point is to search for relevant material in university libraries where the subjects of Hungarian and Eastern European history are in the curricula, there are special collections elsewhere, where scholars and emigres lived and donated their collections to local libraries. The occasion of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution triggered interest to collect information about active collections in the United States.

In my search I was looking for book, archival, and video collections, as well as articles and electronic materials.


1. The Thomson Educational index lists 17 American universities with East European curricula. Among them we see substantial current activities in collecting at Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, Indiana, Princeton, and University of Michigan.

2. Researching this topic specifically in middle size colleges' libraries reveals that they cannot keep up with the acquisition of new material. For example, in case of Baruch College, the most recent publication on the '56 Hungarian Revolution is 9 years old: this collection is losing its relevance.

3. Other locations where relevant material can be found finding territories are the areas where the Hungarian emigres settled after 1956; New York, New Jersey, Cleveland and Florida produced substantial collections in public libraries, museums, and other collections.

Without federal support special collections do not have a chance to survive financially and academically. Small archival and special collections offer special depth to existing collections through their cooperation with academic libraries, as in the case of the American Hungarian Foundation Library and Archives with Rutgers University, the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Museum with Cleveland State University, and the Hoover Institute with Stanford University. In all cases the special collections provide a special focus enriching an academic institution, while the University offers standard cataloging, online access, Web interface and greater visibility to an otherwise isolated collection.

4. State universities and other regional consortia established multi-campus catalog systems for resource sharing. With this development and the wide usage of electronically transmitted records, actual ownership becomes less important. The following list contains collections in decreasing order by size; the main characteristics of each collection are mentioned, including archival holdings.


The greatest accumulation of '56 material is in the New York tri-state area with 1,656 items: New York 879, New Jersey 392 and Connecticut 385 items.

New York--879 items

The New York Public Research Library with its 272 items.

Columbia University's 257 holdings are rich in content and show continued interest on maintaining a leading scholarly collection in East European studies. The collection offers different media: an archival collection from the '56 emigration community; 686 items 28 boxes; transcripts of Oral History project with 626 interviews; and the Bela Kiraly papers; microforms from Radio Free Europe, pamphlets; sound- and video recordings. However, they are in the process of digitizing all these materials with Hungarian colleagues from the Open Society Archive to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 invasion.

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