Andrei Sakharov Archives at Harvard University

Centered on the papers of physicist Andrei Sakharov, with extensive material on Sakharov's scientific career, personal life, and human rights activities, as well as the papers of other human rights activists.
Elena Bonner and Andreĭ Sakharov. Gorky, 1984. Taken after the hunger strike.
Houghton Library


Many diverse collections make up the Andrei Sakharov Archives at Harvard University. At the center are the papers of Sakharov himself, the brilliant physicist often called “the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb.”

Sakharov’s papers document his campaign to limit the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons, his human rights activities, and his influential role in the development of perestroika, a movement to restructure the Soviet economic and political system. The papers also contain extensive material on Sakharov's scientific career and his personal life.

The perimeter of Talgar Special Psychiatric Hospital, Alma-Ata. Peter Reddaway Photograph Collection.
The perimeter of Talgar Special Psychiatric Hospital, Alma-Ata. Peter Reddaway Photograph Collection.
Houghton Library

His human rights activities, however, are the organizing principle behind the Sakharov Archives, which seeks to document the activities of those involved in the Soviet Union’s human rights movement.

The collections comprising the archives were transferred to Harvard from Brandeis University in 2004, the gift of Elena Bonner. The Sakharov Archives are jointly administered by Houghton Library and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

The Harvard collection is complemented, and partially duplicated, by materials in the Andrei Sakharov Archive in Moscow.

Collections in Harvard's Sakharov Archives

In addition to Sakharov’s own papers, the Sakharov Archives at Harvard University include:

Adrei Amal'rik Papers

Amal'rik, 1938–1980, was a Soviet dissident, historian, and dramatist. This collection includes correspondence, biographical materials, political writings, and lectures.

Elena Bonner Papers

Bonner, 1923–2011, was a human rights activist and writer, and the wife of Andrei Sakharov. This collection includes correspondence circa 1975–1999, working manuscripts for Alone Together and Mothers and Daughters, and biographical materials.

Martin Dewhirst Papers

Dewhirst is a specialist in 20th-century Russian literature and history. His papers, circa 1917–1999, include copies of articles from Russian newspapers, samizdat, and other material compiled by Dewhirst on Soviet dissidents and intelligentsia, the gulags, and other topics.


Manuscript page of Vasily Grossman. Все течет [Vse techet]. Typescript with autograph manuscript corrections, 1963.
Vasily Grossman. Все течет [Vse techet]. Typescript with autograph manuscript corrections, 1963.
Houghton Library

Vasilii Semenovich Grossman Papers

Grossman, 1905–1964, was a Soviet writer and journalist. At the outbreak of World War II, he became a war correspondent, writing eyewitness accounts of a number of major battles, the liberation of Treblinka, and of conditions at the fronts and in the liberated territories.

After the war, the manuscript of his novel Life and Fate was seized by the KGB and banned from publication. The novel was first published in 1980 in Switzerland, and in 1988 in the Soviet Union.

His papers, collected by his biographers John and Carol Garrard, include documents and research materials related to Grossman and his family, circa 1902–2013, with an emphasis on 1923–1994.

Ludmila Gurevich Papers

The Gurevich family papers, circa 1900–1950, primarily document the life of Grigorii Gurevich, 1883–1952, editor-in-chief of the Novaia Derevnia publishing house, who spent several terms in labor camps.

The papers include his letters to his family and his memoir, as well as correspondence among other family members.

Also included are some writings of Roman Eiges, 1840–1926, a doctor who corresponded with Tolstoy.

Human Rights Collection

This collection, circa 1968–2003, includes materials relating to various human rights organizations, as well as materials on individual cases of human rights violations both in the USSR and in other countries.

Organizations represented include Amnesty International and the Committee of Concerned Scientists.

Individual cases documented include Anatolii Manchenko, Tatiana Yelikanova, Yuri Orlov, Sergei Kovalev, and others.

Edward Kline Papers

The papers of Kline, an editor, writer, and former president of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (USA), are dated 1968–1992.

Peter Reddaway Photograph Collection

Reddaway formed this collection as part of his work documenting Soviet human rights movements.

The collection includes images of Soviet dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov, political prisoners in Gulag camps, penal facilities, and psychiatric prison-hospitals.

Many of the photographs were published in newspapers, magazines, and books, including The Chronicle of Current Events.

Additional Collections

Smaller collections in the archive include the papers of:

There is also microfilm of documents relating to human rights in Lithuania; Solidarity publications from Poland; and documents relating to the trial of Sergei Kovalev. The audiovisual collection includes audiotapes and videotapes.

Accessing These Materials

All collections in the Sakharov Archives can be found in the HOLLIS catalog. Some have more detailed listings. Follow the finding aid link in HOLLIS where available.

Most collections in the archives are stored offsite and require a minimum 24-hour notice in advance of use.

There may be a limit on the number of boxes that can be retrieved per day. Consult with Houghton Library staff for more information.

Those collections described as “unprocessed” in HOLLIS are available for research use, but require prior permission.