Guide to Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1927-1959 UA.40.19

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ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection
Creator
University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Russian Nationality Room Committee.
Collection Number
UA.40.19
Date
1927-1959
Extent
2.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
Language
Materials are mostly written in English, though some materials are in Russian, both in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
Abstract
The Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection details the design, funding, and construction of the Russian Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning. One of the first rooms to be completed, the Russian Nationality Room was presented alongside the Scottish, German and Swedish Nationality Rooms on July 8th, 1938. Additionally, this collection contains documents from events pertinent to the Russian-American community in Pittsburgh, including Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1959 visit to the University of Pittsburgh.

Preferred Citation

Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1927-1959, UA.40.19, University Archives, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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History

The Russian Nationality Room was designed by Dr. Andrey Avinoff, the then-director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and an advisory professor at the University of Pittsburgh. The Russian Nationality Room Committee, chaired by Dr. Avinoff, worked with Nationality Rooms advisor Ruth Crawford Mitchell to bring his vision for the room to life. This was achieved through private donations, as well as several benefit events from 1927 to 1939, including concerts, dances and teas. The room was completed with a funding deficit that was resolved through more fundraising and benefits after its presentation to the University on July 8, 1938, along with the Scottish, German and Swedish rooms.

The Russian Nationality Room contains a tapestry designed by Dr. Avinoff, referred to as the “Vishivka” of St. George, a common icon found throughout pre-Soviet Union Russia symbolizing youth. The “Vishivka,” which means embroidery in Russian, was originally set to be completed by Dr. Avinoff’s mother, but after she passed away in 1932, the work was completed by Madame Shoumatoff (Dr. Avinoff’s sister), Princess Obolensky, and Helen Viner. Materials for the vishivka were donated by Miss Helen C. Frick.

The style of the room, in addition to the vishivka, was designed to reflect sixteenth and seventeenth century peasant art and was completed locally when possible. The furniture was a joint effort between John Luhowiak, a Ukrainian from the South Hills of Pittsburgh, and the R.W. Irwin Company. Luhowiak provided carving unique to each piece of furniture, while the R.W. Irwin Company built the furniture and provided the finish. In addition, Luhowiak carved the triptych, which houses the blackboard, with finish provided by the R.W. Irwin Company. Dr. Avinoff designed the light fixtures, which were completed by Hyman Blum. The work on the stained glass windows was completed by Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studios.

Other notable members of the Russian Room Committee include Michael V. Smirnoff, secretary, and Michael Kormos and Paul Barna, who helped with the fundraising.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection is comprised of materials related to the design, funding and construction of the Russian Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning. The majority of these records date from the beginning of design in 1927 to the completion and dedication of the room in 1938; however, there are few records that date up to 1959. The documents consist of correspondence, primarily between committee members, Ruth Crawford Mitchell, Dr. Andrey Avinoff, and chair maker Russell Mitchell; meeting minutes; agendas; memoranda; a “running memo” of actions taken in the design and completion of the room; financial statements; written descriptions of the room and its components; publicity material; newspaper clippings; photographs; sketches; blueprints; and event information, such as programs, invitations, and guest lists. Other documents pertain to the Russian Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, Countess Tolstoy’s visit to Pittsburgh, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to the University in 1959.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, September 2016

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Nationality Rooms Program Office in 1999.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Emily Ahlin in September 2016.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Nationality Rooms (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Russian Nationality Room Committee.
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.

Personal Name(s)

  • Avinoff, Andrey, 1884-1949
  • Mitchell, Ruth Crawford, 1890-

Subject(s)

  • Classrooms -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Russian Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • University of Pittsburgh

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Previous Citation

Russian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1927-1959, UA.40.19, University of Pittsburgh Archives

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Collection Inventory

  BoxFolder
Committee Correspondence, 1927 11

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1928 2

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1929 3

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1930 4

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1931 5

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1932 6

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1933 7

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1934 8

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1935 9

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1936 10

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1937 11

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  Folder
Committee Correspondence, 1938 12

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  Folder
Committee Minutes, Agendas and Memos, 1927-1938 13

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  Folder
Committee "Running Memo," 1928-1939 14

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  Folder
Committee Financial Statements, 1931-1938 15

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  Folder
Text of Various Printed Descriptions of the Room 16

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  Folder
Room Sketches and Photographs 17

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  Folder
Story of the Vishivka "St. George and the Dragon" 18

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  Folder
Committee Publicity Material 19

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  Folder
Newspaper Clippings 20

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  Folder
Christmas Reunion Program, 1942 21

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  Folder
Consecration of Bishop Daniel Ivancho, November 5, 1946 22

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  Folder
Souvenir Program for the Consecration of St. Gregory Church, June 24, 1951 23

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  Folder
Russian Room Committee Resolution, 1958 24

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  Folder
Countess Tolstoy Tea Guest List, November 23, 1958 25

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  Folder
Nikita Khrushchev Visits Pitt, September 24, 1959 26

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  Folder
Letter to Ruth Crawford Mitchell 27

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  BoxItem
Russian Room Large Blueprint 21

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  Item
Bench Blueprint, September 14, 1932 2-3

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  Item
Lectern Blueprint 4

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  Item
Chair Blueprint 5

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  Item
Blackboard Blueprint 6

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  Item
Pencil Sketch of Russian Room 7-8

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  Item
Photograph of Original Sketch by A. Avinoff 9

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  Item
Original Sketch by A. Avinoff 10

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  Item
Russian Room Sketch 11

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  Item
Original Sketch by D. Owen Stephens 12

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  Item
Picture of St. George and the Dragon 13

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  Item
Photograph of Russian Classroom 14

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  Item
Photograph of Russian Samovars 15

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  Item
Photograph of Russian Room Chair 16

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  Item
Photograph of St. George 17

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  Item
Photograph of Sunflower Panel Design 18

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  Item
Photograph of Peacock Chair Carving 19

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  Item
Photograph of Reindeer Chair Carving 20

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  Item
Photograph of Twin Birds Carving Above Blackboard 21

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  Item
Photograph of John Luhowiak Carving the Vishivka Frame 22

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  Item
Photograph of Hyman Blum Working on Light Fixtures in Russian Room 23

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  Item
Photograph of Committee Women at Easter Benefit 24

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  Item
Photograph of Helen Viner 25

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  Item
Photograph of Ruth Crawford Mitchell and Mrs. Kalnas at Easter Dinner 26

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  Item
Photograph of Metropolitan Theophilus, Chancellor Bowman and A. Avinoff, May 17, 1936 27

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  Item
Photograph of A. Avinoff and Russian Orthodox Clergy Inspecting Russian Room Furniture, May, 1936 28

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  Item
Photograph of A. Avinoff and Russian Orthodox Clergy 29

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  Item
Photograph of Russian Room Committee 30-31

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  Item
Photograph of Russian Room Committee Members Presenting Chancellor Bowman with Bread and Salt, July 8, 1938 32

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  Item
Photograph of University Students in Russian Room, 1938 33

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  Item
Photographs of Presentation of Nationality Rooms Book to Bishop Daniel Ivancho, February 10, 1950 34-36

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  Item
Photograph of Memorial to A. Avinoff, May 17, 1950 37

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  Box
Russian Nationality Room Committee Archives Boxes 3

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