Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Russ 155

Jean Van Heijenoort papers on Leon Trotsky


Contains Van Heijenoort's notes regarding his work on Leon Trotsky, as well as photographs of Trotsky and his family collected by Van Heijenoort.


  • Creation: 1922-1986

Language of Materials

French, English, Russian, Spanish, German

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


1.25 linear feet (2 boxes)

Contains materials relating to Jean Van Heijenoort's work on and with Leon Trotsky. Series I contains reference lists, articles, notes, copied letters, as well as drafts and galleys of Van Heijenoort's writings on Trotsky and translation and publication of letters between Leon and Natalia Trotsky. Series II contains photographs and some negatives of Trotsky, his family and friends, including Frida Kahlo and other figures. The photographs date primarily from Trotsky's time after leaving the USSR, with the majority being images from Mexico.

Biographical / Historical

Jean Van Heijenoort (1912-1986) was a personal secretary to Leon Trotsky from 1932-1939, living in Coyoacan during much of that time. He then moved to the United States, where he was an American Trotskyist activist until 1947. Van Heijenoort was trained as a logical mathematician and finished a PhD at New York University in 1949, publishing several academic books on the topic. He wrote about his time with Trotsky in the book With Trotsky in Exile: From Prinkip to Coyoacan, and continued to research Trotsky until his death. Van Heijenoort was murdered in Mexico City in 1946.


Arranged into two series: I. Papers and II. Photographs and negatives.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2014M-103. Gift, Laure van Heijenoort, 2014 December.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2019.

Van Heijenoort, Jean, 1912-1986. Jean Van Heijenoort papers on Leon Trotsky, 1922-1986 (MS Russ 155): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2019 May 23
Description rules
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.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440