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COLLECTION Identifier: DCMC-2015-001

Helen Tisdel De Wollant Papers


Collection of diaries, autobiographical writings, letters, notes, official documents, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts documenting the life of Helen Tisdel De Wollant, an American who married a Russian diplomat and lived in Russia during the Revolution of 1905, the October 1917 Revolution, and the Russian Civil War.


  • 1870-1950 (inclusive)
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1930


Language of Materials

Collection materials are mostly in English. Some materials in Russian and/or French.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Prior appointment required.

Use Restriction

For restrictions on use, please consult the Librarian for the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Collection.


1 collection (2.57 linear feet (; 2 document cases,; 1 oversized folder,; 2 special-format boxes))
The collection documents HTDW's activities and experiences in Russia between 1898 and 1920, as well as her activities in Washington, D.C. between 1920 and 1950. Most notably, it contains an unpublished memoir, My Homes in Russia, 1898-1920, in which HTDW describes everyday life in the Russian countryside, in St. Petersburg during the February 1905 Revolution, and in Yalta, Crimea before and after the October Revolution. The memoir also focuses on the relationships between ethnicities and classes, the customs and views of the "common" people, the role of Orthodoxy in Russian life and culture, and HDTW’s and GADW’s first-hand encounters with Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra. In addition, the collection contains two versions of a detailed diary which HTDW kept from late 1917 through 1920. Transcribed and incorporated into the memoir, the diaries chronicle HTDW’s experiences as a member of the persecuted upper class in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, describing the anarchy, violence, searches, deprivations, and forced redistribution of wealth that characterized the Russian Civil War period, as well as the occupation of Crimea by various revolutionary factions and by the German forces at the end of World War I. Also included is correspondence with HTDW’s sisters, post-1920 correspondence with relatives who remained in Russia, and later correspondence pertaining to the possible publication of My Homes in Russia. Also included are personal notes and drafts; remittances for food relief packages sent by HTDW to friends and relatives in Russia in the 1920’s; official documents, among them a passport and GADW’s will; a sealing stamp; and photographs of HTDW in her youth.

Historical Note

Helen Tisdel De Wollant (HTDW) was born in 1868 in Washington, D.C. She married the Russian diplomat and writerGrigorii Aleksandrovich De-Vollan (alternative spelling De Wollant; GADW) in 1898, and they lived in Washington, D.C., Mexico City, St. Petersburg, and Yalta, among other places. She published several articles and assisted with the 1905 English translation of De-Vollan’s book on Japan, The Land of the Rising Sun. Following his death in 1916, she remained in Yalta until 1920. She died in 1955 in Washington, D.C.


The collection is arranged in four series:
  1. I. Diaries and memoir, My Homes in Russia, 1898-1920;
  2. II. Correspondence and personal notes, 1910-1935;
  3. III. Official documents and other materials; and
  4. IV. Photographs.
Arrangement for each series follows original order and is chronological whenever possible.

Custodial History

Helen Tisdel De Wollant left the collection to her niece Anne Moussot. The collection was donated by Anne Moussot’s niece, Elizabeth Humstone, in 2015.


  • De-Vollan, Grigorii. The Land of the Rising Sun. New York, Washington: Neale Publishing Company, 1905.
  • De Wollant, Helen Tisdel. "In the Caucasus Mountains." Self Culture XI (March-August 1900), 121-28.
  • ---. “Russian Women Eager for Education.” The Marion Daily Mirror (Marion, Ohio), March 07, 1907. Evening edition.
  • ---. “A Sketch of Crimea.” Modern Culture XIV (February 1902), 285-94.

General note

  1. Americans--Russia.
  2. Americans--Soviet Union.
  3. De Wollant, Helen Tisdel--Homes and Haunts--Russia.
  4. Crimea (Ukraine)--History--20th century.
  5. Russia--History--February Revolution, 1917--Personal narratives, American.
  6. Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921--Personal narratives, American.
General note
  1. Alexandra, Empress, consort of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, 1872-1918
  2. De-Vollan, Grigorii, 1847-
  3. De Wollant, Helen Tisdel, 1868-1955
  4. Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, 1868-1918
  5. Nicolay, Helen, 1866-1954
  6. Rasputin, Grigorii Efimovich, 1869-1916
  7. Spofford, Florence P. (Florence Partridge), 1862-
  8. Walker, Flora A.

Processing Information

Processed by Svetlana Rukhelman, 2016.
Link to catalog
De Wollant, Helen Tisdel. Helen Tisdel De Wollant Papers, circa 1870-1950 (inclusive), 1910-1930 (bulk): Guide
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Collection, H.C. Fung Library

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