The Institution's archives possesses over 250 individual archives on Imperial Russia and the Provisional Government period, constituting the most significant accumulation of documentation on pre-1917 Russia anywhere outside of that country. The Nicolas de Basily Room is the centerpiece of the collection. It is the result of the generosity of Mrs.Lascelle de Basily, who created this memorial to her husband, Nicolas de Basily, a Russian diplomat and statesman who left Russia after the revolution of 1917. The room contains his extraordinary collection of portraits of Russian emperors, courtiers, diplomats, and statesmen; landscape paintings; miniatures; and other works of art. Most remarkable are the portraits of reigning sovereigns: Empress Elizabeth, Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great), her husband Peter III, their son Emperor Paul I, and Paul's son Emperor Alexander I.
Original manuscript materials on the Imperial Russian family are especially noteworthy. There are fifteen manuscript boxes of letters written by Mariia Feodorovna (empress-consort of Alexander III, emperor of Russia) to Alexandra (queen-consort of Edward VII, king of Great Britain), letters of Georgii Mikhailovich (grand duke of Russia), and letters of Kseniia Aleksandrovna (grand duchess of Russia and sister of Nicholas II, emperor of Russia). Other nobility represented in the collection include Princess Barbara Dolgorouky, Baroness Maria F. Meiendorf, the Cherkasskii family, and the Obolenskii family.
Diplomatic and political papers on pre-1917 Russia are extensive. They include among others the records of the Russian embassies in Paris (1917-1924) and Washington, D.C. (1900-1933); records of the Russian consulates and legations in various German cities (1828-1914); the Paris files of the Imperial Russian secret police (Okhrana); and papers of numerous Imperial Russian and Provisional Government officials, such as Nicolas Alexandrovich de Basily (deputy director of the Chancellery of Foreign Affairs, 1917), Sergei Dmitrievich Sazonov (minister of foreign affairs, 1910-1916), Vasilii Alekseevich Maklakov (ambassador of the Provisional Government to France, 1917-1924), Dimitrii Nikolaevich Liubimov (chief of staff of the Ministry of Interior, 1902-1906), Mikhail Vasil'evich Alekseev (chief of staff of the Russian Imperial Army), and Dimitrii Grigorevich Shcherbachev (general, Imperial Russian Army).
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