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ITEM Identifier: DCMC-2017-001

Gregory I. Samoylenko papers


A collection of notes, documents, manuscripts, realia, photographs, and an unfinished memoir pertaining to the life of Gregory I. Samoylenko, a Russian emigre to the United States who lived in Russia during the revolutions of 1917 and fought for the White Army in the Russian Civil War.


  • 1890-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1917 - 1930

Language of Materials

The bulk of the collection is in Russian and English, with additional materials in French, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research by appointment only.


2 linear feet
The bulk of the collection consists of two parts: a collection of drafts, notes, and typescripts begun in the 1920s that were intended to serve as the basis for a future memoir; and official documents that pertain to Samoylenko’s studies, military service, and employment prior to his emigration to the United States in 1922. The unfinished memoir documents Samoylenko’s childhood in turn-of-the-century Russia and briefly touches upon his experience during the revolutions of 1917 as a cadet training to become a naval aviator in Petrograd and later Baku. The collection also contains photographs from before and after Samoylenko’s emigration, newspaper clippings, immigration documents, and various realia including Samoylenko’s Cross of St. George medal awarded for valor.

Biographical / Historical

Gregory I. Samoylenko was born in the village of Temirgoevskaia, Russia in 1897. In 1917, while training to become a naval aviator at Petrograd Polytechnic Institute, he witnessed and chronicled the first days of the February Revolution. Transferred from Petrograd, he continued his studies at the Baku School of Naval Aviation in Azerbaijan, where he witnessed the effects of the October Revolution. He later joined the Volunteer Army, which fought against the Bolsheviks on the Southern front during the Russian Civil War. In 1920 he made his way to Constantinople, where he found work first as a chauffeur and then as a ship’s mechanic and captain for the French oil-shipping company, the Comptoir Franco-Oriental du Napthe. Samoylenko immigrated to the United States in 1922 and began working for the Lynn, Massachusetts branch of the General Electric Company while studying toward a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which he earned in 1928. In 1929, he was hired as an engineer by the Boston Edison Company where he remained until retiring in 1962. Samoylenko married Olive Grace Olson on June 20, 1931 and had two children, John Gregory Samoylenko and Marsha Samoylenko. He died on May 28, 1976 in Newton, Massachusetts.

Following his emigration, Samoylenko began drafting an autobiography, “My Slavic Saga,” intended to detail his experience during the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent civil war. Never completed, the manuscripts and typescripts included in this collection provide a personal account of Samoylenko’s childhood as a peasant in the Russian Empire and a brief eyewitness account of the February Revolution and its immediate aftermath in Petrograd and along the Finnish border. The documents in series 2 further evidence his active participation in the Russian Civil War.


The collection is arranged in three series: I. Notes and Typescripts for Autobiography II. Official Documents and Other Materials III. Visual Materials and Realia

Custodial History

Acquired via gift from Marsha Samoylenko Denison, March 23, 2017.

Related Materials

Denison, Marsha Samoylenko and Gregoire Ivanovich Samoylenko. Grisha’s Loop: From the Bolshevik Revolution to America. Outskirts Press, 2016.

Denison, Marsha Samoylenko and Gregoire Ivanovich Samoylenko. Grisha’s Loop: From the Bolshevik Revolution to America. Outskirts Press, 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by James Browning, 2019. Encoding and digital finding aid by Michael Endick, 2021.
Gregory I. Samoylenko papers, 1890-2010 (inclusive), 1917-1930 (bulk) : Guide
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Collection, H.C. Fung Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the H.C. Fung Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University Repository

CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge St
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 496-0485