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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Russ 13.9

Alexander H. Buchman photographs and film of Leon Trotsky and others


Photographs and film of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his supporters, taken at his place of exile in Mexico in 1939 and 1940, shortly before his death, along with additional material.


  • Creation: 1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to the photographs in this collection.

Items (103) and (104) are restricted: fragile; use surrogate. For access to original consult curatorial staff.


1.5 linear feet (2 boxes)
8.5 Gigabytes

Series I contains 102 black-and-white photographs, selected from about 700 negatives taken from about November 1939 to about mid-April 1940, and printed in 1982. The numbers on the reverse of the prints correspond to negative numbers from which the enlargements were made. Dates are approximate.

Series II includes: reels of Super-8 film enlarged from 8 mm original film, filmed November 1939-April 1940; digital videocassette copy; and a DVD copy for reader use.

Biographical / Historical

Leon Trotsky (1879-21 Aug. 1940) was a Russian revolutionary, Soviet leader, and Communist theorist. While in exile in Mexico, he lived at a villa at 19 Avenida Viena in Coyoacán, a southern suburb of Mexico City.

Alexander H. Buchman was an American engineer, Communist sympathizer, and amateur photographer. In 1939-1940, he spent five months at Trotsky's villa in Coyoacán, Mexico, serving as one of Trotsky's guards and also exhaustively documenting the lives of Trotsky and his family and friends.

Charles Cornell (1911-1989) was an American Communist and member of the Socialist Workers' Party. On the suggestion of the SWP he worked as one of Trotsky's bodyguards in Mexico from 1939 until Trotsky's assassination. Together with Joseph Hansen, Cornell overwhelmed Trotsky's assassin and surrendered him to the police.

Farrell Dobbs (1907-1983) was an American Trotskyist politician and trade unionist; he became a personal friend of Leon Trotsky, whom he visited in Mexico shortly before the latter's death in 1940.

Joseph Hansen (1910-1979) was an American Communist who worked as Trotsky's secretary and guard from 1937 until Trotsky's death in 1940. Together with Charles Cornell, Hansen prevented Trotsky's assassin, Ramón Mercader, from fleeing and handed him over to the police.

Alfred Rosmer (1877-1964) was an anarchist and revolutionary syndicalist, then a leader of the French Communist party and a friend and ideological supporter of Leon Trotsky.

Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was a Mexican painter and muralist, and a Communist sympathizer. When Trotsky first arrived in Mexico he stayed in Rivera's home in Coyoacán, then moved to another villa nearby.

Otto Rühle (1874-1943) was a German Left Communist active in opposition to both the First and Second World Wars, a founder in 1916 of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), and of the group and magazine Internationale, which posed a revolutionary internationalism against a world of warring states.

Otto Schüssler (1905-1982) was a German-born Communist who in 1932 became Trotsky's secretary and close collaborator. In the 1930s he carried on Trotskyist activities in Europe under the pseudonym Oskar Fischer. In 1939 he rejoined Trotsky in Mexico and worked as his secretary and bodyguard until the latter's assassination in August 1940. After this Schüssler remained in Mexico and continued to be active in the Mexican section of the Fourth International under the pseudonym Julián Suárez. He left politics in the late 1940s.

Natalia Sedova, or Natalia Sedova Trotskaia (1882-1962) was Leon Trotsky's second wife.

Esteban Volkov (born 1926) is the official name of Trotsky's grandson, born Vsevolod Volkov, nicknamed Sieva Volkov (or Seva Volkov). He was the son of Zinaida Volkova, Trotsky's eldest daughter, who committed suicide in 1933. As Stalin's agents gradually eliminated Trotsky's entire family, in 1939 Trotsky's friends brought Sieva to rejoin his grandfather in the relative safety of Mexico. Volkov grew up in Mexico and settled there, continuing to live in his grandfather's Coyoacán villa and, after it was turned into the Trotsky museum, serving as its custodian.


Organized in the following series:

  1. I. Alexander H. Buchman photographs of Leon Trotsky and others
  2. II. Leon Trotsky film

Series I is arranged in ascending order by photo negative number, as assigned by Buchman (stored in boxes 2 & 3). Series II stored in box 1.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

82M-60. Gift of Alexander H. Buchman, 2101 Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90026; received: 1982 April 21.

Related Materials

Copies of most of these photographs are also part of the Alexander H. Buchman Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University.

Buchman, Alexander H., 1911-2003. Alexander H. Buchman photographs and film of Leon Trotsky and others, 1982: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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