@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection RP.BZ.AV - Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev Research Papers and Photographs, ca. 1930s-1953

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Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev Research Papers and Photographs, ca. 1930s-1953


  • ca. 1930s-1953 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

9 series of manuscripts, typescripts, offprints, newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, etc., housed in 11 boxes containing 83 folders
10 Photographs
2 Photograph postcards

Context area

Name of creator

Vasilev, A. A. (Aleksandr Aleksandrovich) (1867-1953)

Biographical history

Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev (1867–1953) was considered the foremost authority on Byzantine history and culture in the mid-20th century. His History of the Byzantine Empire (vols. 1–2, 1928) remains one of a few comprehensive accounts of the entire Byzantine history. Vasiliev studied under one of the earliest professional Byzantinists, Vasily Vasilievsky, at the University of St. Petersburg and later taught the Arabic language there. Between 1897 and 1900, he continued his education in Paris. In 1902, he accompanied Nicholas Marr on his trip to the St. Catherine Monastery in the Sinai. During his stay at the Tartu University (1904–1912), Vasiliev prepared and published an influential monograph, Byzantium and the Arabs (1907). He also worked in the Russian Archaeology Institute, established by Fyodor Uspensky in Constantinople. In 1912, he moved to the St. Petersburg University as a professor. He was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1919. In 1925, during his visit to Paris, Vasiliev was persuaded by Michael Rostovtzeff to emigrate to the West. It was Rostovtzeff who ensured a position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for him. Several decades later, Vasiliev moved to work at Dumbarton Oaks, where he was a Senior Scholar between 1944 and 1948 and thereafter a Scholar Emeritus. Towards the end of his life, he was elected President of the Nikodim Kondakov Institute in Prague and of the Association Internationale des Etudes Byzantines.

Archival history

These papers came to Dumbarton Oaks from an unknown source at an unknown date.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Alexander A. Vasiliev Papers contain his notes, correspondence, manuscript drafts, typescripts, newspaper clippings, reprints of journal articles by him and others, and an appointment calendar. Primary to the collection is Vasiliev's reseach on Trebizond.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The collection is arranged in in 9 series of 83 folders housed in 11 boxes.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

These papers can be used for research and publication purposes. An appointment is required for access. For appointment and queries contact James N. Carder, Archivist, carderj@doaks.org.

Conditions governing reproduction

Appointment is required for access to the collection. For appointment and queries, contact the Archivist, carderj@doaks.org, 202-339-6429, James N. Carder, 1703 32nd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. Duplication of the collection may be governed by copyright, condition, and other restrictions.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian

Script of material

  • Cyrillic
  • Latin

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Many items are in poor condition and deteriorating. Highly acidic paper items are interleaved with acid-free paper.

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Related units of description

The Dumbarton Oaks Archives also has holdings of Vasiliev’s 1951 correspondence and miscellaneous office papers and related materials. Dumbarton Oaks Archives vertical files, Byzantine Studies, Vasiliev, Alexander A., office correspondence, 1951.
The Dumbarton Oaks Archives also has 3 photographs of Vasiliev. Dumbarton Oaks Archives photograph storage vertical files, AR.PH.Misc.91, 92, and 208.

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard



Level of detail



  • English



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Preferred Citation: Alexander Alexandrovich Vasiliev Research Papers and Photographs, ca. 1930s-1953, RP.BZ.AV, Dumbarton Oaks Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



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