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Swimming With the Current

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image of Russian History

Having accepted Richard Hellie's flattering invitation to prepare an "old geezer's memoir" for this journal, I read with special fascination those contributed in 1988-90 by Sam Baron, Bob Byrnes, Nick Riasanovsky, and Don Treadgold. They bear out what Horace Lunt said in the Summer 1987 Slavic Review: The story of the Slavic field in North America since World War II is complex as well as important, and those who know about various parts of it should publish their recollections while they can. Even we old-timers sometimes need to be reminded how much we depend today on structures that are new since we began our own professional lives: big centers of Russian studies and big libraries to back them up; foundations that care about our field; the USDE's Title VI and the State Department's Title VIII programs; the AAASS and its affiliates with their conventions; the NEH; NCSEER, IREX, the Kennan Institute; vital tools like the CDSP, ABSEES, and guides to archives; and Radio Liberty, the CIA, and other govemment and non-government agencies doing important research and publication in our field. My assignment here is to tell my own story, with particular attention to one of those teaching and research institutions in which I have had a hand: the University of Illinois's Russian and East European Center and its affiliated Slavic and East European Library, in the prairie towns of Champaign and Urbana. I hope to convey what I experienced as someone who in youth did not-unlike some of my colleagues-seem to be pointed toward academic life, but was swept along in directions he did not foresee.

Affiliations: 1: (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, U.S.A.


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