Keston Archive and Library
Electronic Access to the Keston Collection:
All of the books donated to Baylor University by the Keston Institute are being entered into the university library catalog and placed in appropriate libraries across campus. All books can be located through Bearcat by using a keyword search for "Keston Collection".
Search Keston Collection
The Keston Digital Archive:
Archival material, including rare documents and photos, have been digitized and are stored in a digital archive.
About the Archive & Library:
The Keston Archive and Library is a collection of materials about religious persecution under Communist regimes. It contains paintings, artifacts, photos, books, journals, rare transcripts and documents, and underground publications (samizdat).
The library is currently estimated to hold 10,000 books in English, Russian, German, French, Polish, Italian and other European languages. Its section on religion in Russia contains probably the world's most extensive collection of atheist and anti-religious books published in the Soviet Union. While holdings on Russian and East European church history since the Second World War form the core of the library, there is also a significant number of items in the area of religious persecution under non-European communist regimes, including those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
The periodical section of the library currently holds more than 100 journal titles. Some of the journals are in Romanian, Lithuanian, Polish and Dutch, and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The main division in the Archive is between the samizdat collections and the "press archive." The Russian religious samizdat collection is of exceptional interest. It consists of more than 4,000 items including correspondence, petitions, newssheets, symposia and memoirs. Among the religious groups and individuals represented are Adventists, Baptists, Jews, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics and Russian Orthodox. Items of special note include: transcript of the trial of Aida Skripnikova (Baptist), handwritten on sheets of cloth; 'Chronicles of the Lithuanian Catholic Church'; 'Bulletins of Evangelical Christians and Baptists in the USSR'; correspondence of the Vashchenko and Chmykhalov families (Pentecostal) regarding their campaign to emigrate from the USSR; bound volumes such as 'Moskovskii sbornik', a collection of articles on religion and the nation compiled by L.Borodin in 1974. A select bibliography of documents of religious samizdat in the archive has been published in the journal, Religion in Communist Lands. The latter includes listings of Czech, Polish and Romanian samizdat holdings.
The press archive consists of press cuttings, pamphlets, reports, and references to articles in periodicals. It is arranged thematically by country, by subject, by religion and by denomination. The main emphasis is on information relating to religious belief and practice. Sources include newspapers from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Soviet and East European official religious press, religious publications from East European émigré sources, religious and secular newspapers in English and other European languages, magazines and newsletters from missionary societies, academic journals, and religious news agencies.
We were able to obtain almost 500 documents relating to religious policy from Soviet archives. These include documents from the Archives of the KGB, the State Archives of Russia, and regional archives of the Council for Religious Affairs. Of special interest are documents relating to the controversy over the confiscation of church valuables in 1922 and documents relating to the closure of churches during the 1960s.
In addition to printed and manuscript material, the archive holds more than 150 videotapes, more than 500 sound recordings, and more than 3,000 rare and one-of-a-kind photographs. There is also a collection of 50 original Soviet anti-religious propaganda posters.
The goal of the Keston Center is to make its archive and library convenient for research and writing by scholars. The books are being catalogued with the Baylor University Libraries system which will make them searchable online. Photographs and files are arranged by country and by denomination in chronological and alphabetical order.
Our immediate goal is the preservation and storage of the rare materials and materials in need of care and repair. All samizdat and press archive files are being transferred to acid-free folders. The folders are stored in file cabinets in the archive room with adjustable microclimate.