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USSR stamp, Propaganda for Perestroika, 1988, 5 kop.

USSR stamp, Propaganda for Perestroika, 1988, 5 kop.

Post Perestroika Miscellaneous Imprints

When the government of the former Soviet Union liberalized the publishing laws in 1989, the concept of "samizdat" acquired a new meaning. Formerly, samizdat was unofficial publishing, underground, "for the drawer." Now individuals and groups that once had no opportunities to be legitimately published in the centrally controlled publishing establishment of the former Soviet Union had a right and a chance to publish "sami." And this at a time of great political, social and economic change. However, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, decentralization, and privatization of the country and its institutions, academic and economic, the realities of publishing also changed: paper is expensive or scarce, major publishers publish only profitable titles, the academy and union of writers system no longer supports the publishing of its members to the extent they once did, publishers and printers fight for their share of the market, the distribution system collapsed.

The "Post Perestroika Miscellaneous Imprints" collection in Stanford University Libraries Special Collections is a growing collection that documents this moment in the history of the former Soviet Union and attempts to preserve for future scholars these often fragile publications that might otherwise be lost. They were acquired on the streets and in the kiosks of major cities and provincial towns, as well as from individuals. The collection reflects the changing interests and concerns of the people, their attempts to come to grips with the turmoil around them, and their battle to exercise their new freedom to publish despite the obstacles. The larger part of the collection consists of ephemeral serial publications in all formats: printed, xeroxed, hand-written, off-set, etc., some with original art and photographs. Many lived and died in one or two issues. They represent the expanding interests and self-conscious cultural, social and political concerns of today's Russia, and cover a broad range of topics, from the popular--self-help, astrology, erotica, rock-and-roll, science fiction-- to the serious--ecology, politics, education, religion and philosophy. Together they document another revolutionary moment in the history of Russia.

The collection also contains a selection of literature which appeared in very small runs and is soon out of print, and a collection of original typescripts, ephemera, and photographs.

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Interim Slavic and East European selector
Newspapers collection project manager
(650) 725-1177