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Alexander Fedorovich Dolgopolov Collection, ca. 1800-ca. 1960

Identifier: MS DOL

Content Description

The material in the Dolgopolov Collection mirrors the varied interests of Alexander Dolgopolov. It is a collection which reflects Mr. Dolgopolov's personal experiences during and after the Russian Revolution. Russian history, especially military history, is the major strength of the collection. The White Movement during the Russian Revolution receives detailed coverage in biographies of the White military leaders, squadron histories and general chronologies of military events. Other aspects of military history which receive substantial coverage are Napoleon's Russian Invasion of 1812, the Crimean War, the Russo-Turkish war and World War I. The collection included histories of ground forces as well as histories of forces at sea. It also provides information on Russian weapons through the ages. Though the major emphasis of the collection is Russian military history, the collection is not limited to this topic. Dolgopolov's interest in explorers and geographers is apparent in the volumes which deal with early explorers of the Northwest Coast of North America, Alaska and Siberia--people like Vitus Bering and Grigorii Shelikhov. The ethnology of the early peoples inhabiting these areas is covered as are changes in the areas brought about by the entry of the Russian-America Company. The world of Russian art also is revealed in the Dolgopolov volumes. Many titles are included on Russian artists, as well as volumes on folk art, silversmithing, goldsmithing, porcelain and costumes. It is difficult to illustrate the truly eclectic nature of the collection in a few short paragraphs. From a history of the Russian postal system to a number of books on Russian coins to a five-volume Russian-language dictionary, the collection provides a broad view of Russian history and culture. Among items of special note are the Rezanov volumes. Six volumes from the Rezanov library, a collection of books presented by Court Chamberlain Nikolai Rezanov to the Russian colonists in Kodiak during the era of the Russian-America Company, are included in the Dolgopolov collection. These volumes are representative of the Russian influence in Alaska and provide a concrete tie with Alaska's past.


  • circa 1800 - circa 1960



Biographical / Historical

Alexander Dolgopolov was born in Russia in 1899, into a Don cossak's family. His father's profession was that of a civil engineer. Alex loved fishing, hunting and fast rides on a spirited horse in the wide open steppes of cossack land. In time, he grew up to be a lad of six feet, three inches. In 1918 the bloody revolution in Russia interfered with his education at the Engineering Institute of Architecture and Construction in the city of Rostov-on-the-Don. After witnessing and hearing the atrocities committed on innocent people in his city and the surrounding area by Red-Communist bands, he volunteered into the organized anti-Communist movement, the White Army of General Kornilov. Several times he was ordered on secret assignments into the areas controlled by the Reds, to contact undercover White organizations prior to the attack by Kornilov forces. It is officially recorded that Dolgopolov, with the devil-may-care attitude of teenagers in the Kornilov Army, dared to walk alone into the headquarters of the Red Army regiment and boldly demand their surrender. And ... surrender they did! In November 1920, the White Army resistance in the south of Russia collapsed. The Supreme Commander, General Wrangell (a grandson of Baron Ferdinand Wrangell, a Governor of Alaska from 1830 to 1835), evacuated most of the combatants from the Crimea in merchant marine and navy ships of the Black Sea. In Istanbul, Turkey, Alexander with several of his friends shared a small shack in the Russian cemetery. They barely existed on anything they could sell, earn, or had been given. In 1923, he and other Russians were fortunate in obtaining visas for permanent residence in the United States. A benevolent French organization chartered an antiquated Greek freighter to transport the immigrants to the Port of New York, where the ship was sold for scrap metal. Here Alex obtained his first job, in a Manhattan restaurant, as a dishwasher and later as one of many assistants to a chef. The plentiful and wholesome food available to employees put some flesh on his frame of skin and bones. After residing for a few years in New York, Alexander bought a second-hand Model-T Ford. Joined by a friend, he unhurriedly traveled to the West and Hollywood, admiring scenery and getting acquainted with his newly adopted country. The practical training Alex received at the Engineering Institute in Russia proved to his advantage in obtaining employment at a motion picture studio in the prop and special-effects departments. Alex told the following story about himself. Upon his arrival in Hollywood, he was advised to seek employment in a motion picture studio. In the office, they asked him what he could do. He told them, "Anything you wish in wood or metal, but something which not everyone can figure out how to make," and laughingly added, "Of course, you have to provide me with tools and machinery." His answer seemed rather unusual to the people in the employment office. They exchanged glances, and, to expose a braggart, he was led into a machine shop. In a short time he finished what was required of him, and from then on he was in their employ until his retirement. Steady employment at the studio enabled Alex to pursue his inborn collector's passion to acquire things which interested him. His interests were multifaceted, but mainly pertained to Russian history, its culture, coins, and medals. Soon his greatest fascination was centered on the Russian penetration into Alaska, California, and Hawaii. From then on, he was preoccupied in systematic collections of historical publications and material dealing with the Russian period in the early history of the United States. Dolgopolov not only collected books, but he studied them and knew their contents. His accumulated knowledge made him known as an authority on Russian history and culture. Serious scholar-historians had ready access to his collection and his personal knowledge. Several close associates included Dr. Richard Pierce of Queens University in Canada, an eminent authority on the Russian period on the West Coast of America; Professor Nickolas Rokitiansky of De Anza College in California, specializing in the history of Fort Ross; and Professor Victor Petrov, author of several books and articles on the history of Russians in the United States. Alex was affiliated with several historical publications. He was an honorary editor of the ALASKA JOURNAL; founder and editor of the Russian monthly RODNYE DALI, covering a great variety of subjects; and PERVOPOKHODNICK, devoted to historical facts and reminiscences of the White Army campaigns during the revolutionary strife in Russia. Among the historical associations which Alex organized were the Russian War Veterans' Club, in Los Angeles, and Friends of Fort Ross. He was also a member of the Laguna Historical Society. Various research projects challenged him. Once he spent his entire summer vacation with Kashia Pomo Indians, still living in the Fort Ross area, and recorded close to thirty Russian words having similar meanings, as well as many other Russian words with minor changes in their usage. Dolgopolov made several trips and visited all the major former Russian settlements in Alaska and gathered needed information. In company with Dr. Pierce, he embarked on an unsuccessful attempt to find buried Russian iron plates on the shores of Alaska. Alexander's phenomenal memory enabled him to speak for hours, citing events, places, dates, and names; he often delivered a lecture of a historical nature without any preparation, but with a deep knowledge of the subject and an interesting presentation. He was a rabid anti-communist, because he was there and he knew them personally. His sister Olga died from starvation in the Ukraine (south of Russia) and his two step-brothers also met death. The youngest brother escaped at night from a Soviet freighter anchored in a Japanese bay. He swam ashore seeking asylum, but was delivered by the Japanese to the Soviet authorities and died facing a firing squad. Alex's other brother was conscripted into the Red Army by the Communist government and was killed in a battle with White Army forces. Dolgopolov was of sturdy build, unassuming and good-natured. He did not like to argue, claiming that argument does not resolve an issue--only knowledge fortified by facts could do that. After his arrival in Hollywood he met Galina Gavrilovna Nikitina, daughter of a former Russian Army officer. He courted her and they were married. She suffered from arthritis and in time became a complete invalid. Soaring medical and nursing bills were more than his monthly salary could meet, so he had to sell parts of his collection of coins and medals. When he retired on his pension, Alexander personally took complete care of his household and wife until her death in 1967. Three years later, he met the widow of a former Russian Navy officer, Ashia Tarr, and she became his wife. They lived happily together, and he referred to this time as "the best in his life." But Dolgopolov had suffered for years from bad circulation in his feet, a condition brought on by frostbite during a Russian winter military campaign. This condition eventually led to the blood clot that reached his heart, which caused his death on March 12, 1977. Since Alexander Dolgopolov did not specify the disposition of his library, it was left up to his widow, Ashia Doll. She decided, with her relatives' good advice, not to sell her late husband's collection of books, but to keep it intact and establish with this collection a memorial to his lifelong work. The Alaska Historical Library in Juneau, Alaska, presented a proposal which was acceptable to Mrs. Doll, so her wish for a living memorial to Alexander Dolgopolov became a reality. The contents of this memorial collection will enrich the treasures of knowledge and add to the research material of the Alaska Historical Library. written by Dr. V.V. Ushanoff, D.D.S., Laguna Beach, California


22 Linear Feet (2199 books ; 126 Publications or boxes of publications ; 69 Boxes of Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials ; 24 folders (649 items) Art Prints and Maps )

Language of Materials





Existence and Location of Copies

The Dolgopolov Collection originally was intended for placement at Fort Ross, California. The California Department of Parks and Recreation first moved it for safekeeping to their offices in Sacramento. Later the collection was officially donated to the Alaska State Library, so staff at the California Department of Parks and Recreation helped with arrangements for an orderly transfer. Fort Ross materials in the collection which are not available at the California Department of Parks and Recreation will be copied for their use.

Processing Information

Dr. V.V. Ushanoff assisted library staff with the plan for processing the collection. The overall preparation of this guide and indexing procedure has been the responsibility of Patricia Wilson. She provided entries for all materials in Russian, the language which comprises the major part of the collection; also details on procedure. Linda Tobiska prepared the English language entries; she also organized the manuscript and miscellaneous materials.

Entry information for the guide was taken from title pages whenever possible. All the items are listed by author(when included); otherwise by title. The author's name is transliterated according to the Library of Congress standard listed in CATALOGING SERVICE BULLETIN 119 (see Transliteration Table, p. xiv). Cross reference from variant spellings of the most common personal names are included. Both the transliterated Russian title and the English translation are provided when the translation differs from the transliterated title. Abbreviations are included in the listing which follows the sample entry. The "Dol" number is the number assigned to each item in the collection and is needed to retrieve the material. Notes are included for those titles where additional information helps to explain the scope of the work, and special note is made of titles related to Alaska. A maximum of five subject headings has been assigned to each entry. Many of these subject headings have been taken from existing cataloging, while others have been assigned based on Library of Congress subject headings. Some variations exist from Library of Congress headings to facilitate use here. For some English language titles, no subject headings sre given. These titles are fiction works. The subject heading "Russian fiction" has been given to fiction titles in Russian. The entry number is the number of the bibliographic entry in the body of the bibliography, while the DOL number is the shelf location number for the volume.

Finding Aid for the Alexander Fedorovich Dolgopolov Collection, ca. 1800-ca. 1960
Published Finding Aid by Patricia Wilson and Linda Tobiska, 1982 ; ArchivesSpace Finding Aid by Connie Hamann, May 2019
2019 May
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Original finding aid published by the Gastineau Channel Centennial Association and the Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries and Museums

Repository Details

Part of the Alaska State Library - Historical Collections Finding Aids Repository

PO Box 110571
Juneau AK 99811-0571 US
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