Merle Fainsod (1907–1972) was educated at Washington University in St Louis and Harvard University, where he gained his doctorate in 1936. He taught at Harvard from 1933 until his death. He was Professor of Government in 1946–64, Director of the Russian Research Center in 1959–64, and Carl H. Pforzheimer Professor Director of Harvard University Library in 1964–72. He also served on a number of public bodies and was Price Executive for the Office of Price Administration in 1941–42. Most of his writings were in the area of Russian history and government. They included International Socialism and the World War(1935), and Smolensk Under Soviet Rule (1959).

International Socialism and the World War (1935)

Smolensk Under Soviet Rule (1959).


Following his death, Fainsod’s papers and books were placed in Harvard University Library. The Australian librarian Andrew Osborn had been on the staff of Harvard University Library for over 30 years and through his intervention the National Library was given first offer on duplicates in the Fainsod Collection. The material selected by the Library was purchased from Harvard University Library in 1974.


Printed Material

The collection consists of about 1700 books, pamphlets and reports. They comprise about 400 Slavic monographs, about 700 pamphlets on the economics and politics of Europe from the 1930s to the 1970s, and miscellaneous Harvard departmental reports and academic papers.


Fainsod assembled a very large collection of roneoed and typescript reports, seminar papers, conference papers, essays and theses. The largest group consists of papers relating to the Soviet Union produced by the Russian Research Center at Harvard University between 1950 and 1971, particularly a series of substantial reports of the Soviet Social System Project in 1952–54. Other groupings are international relations and security, China, the politics and economies of developing countries and public administration. A few of the papers have covering letters sent to Fainsod.


The books and pamphlets have been integrated in the general collection. Copies of the accession slips are kept with the Registry file. The manuscripts are housed in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 4988.


Obituary of Merle Fainsod, New York Times12 February 1972, p 32.

Who was who in Americavolume 5, Chicago, 1973