University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

The Maya Aleksandrovna Ulanovskaia Papers

MSE/REE 0009

Maya Aleksandrovna Ulanovskaia (b. 1932 in New York; Russian: Майя Александровна Улановская) is a dissident, writer, librarian, and translator of English, Hebrew, and Yiddish into Russian. She currently lives in Jerusalem, Israel. Ulanovskaia was an older daughter of the disillusioned Communist revolutionaries, Nadezhda (Ester) Markovna (nee Purits) (1903—1986) and Aleksandr Petrovich Ulanovskii (1891-1970), who worked for Soviet military counterintelligence, including a stint in the United States during 1931-1934. Among his many assignments, Ulanovskii recruited the famous American journalist and Communist Party member Whittaker Chambers to become a Soviet spy.

Maya A. Ulanovskaia was born in New York City, but in 1934 returned to Moscow with her mother; her father continued his espionage work, now against Nazi Germany, in Copenhagen. In October 1950, a year after her father's arrest and two years after her mother was arrested and sent to the Gulag, M.A. Ulanovskaia, at the time a student at the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, joined an anti-Stalin Communist youth organization. She was arrested in 1951 and sentenced to 25 years of hard labor in the Gulag. Released in 1956, Ulanovskaia returned to Moscow where she worked as a librarian and actively participated in the emerging dissident and human rights movement. She immigrated to Israel in 1973 with her husband, Anatolii Aleksandrovich Iakobson (1935-1978), a prominent dissident and one of the first editors of the important samizdat digest Chronicle of current events. In 1982 Ulanovskaia, together with her mother, published a book of memoirs entitled Istoriia odnoi sem'i (One Family's Story) which gone through three editions. The last and most complete edition was published in St. Petersburg in 2005.

The collection consists of: personal papers and documents of M.A. Ulanovskaia, including birth certificate, Soviet exit visa, marriage certificate, amnesty and rehabilitation certificates, university diploma; correspondence with publishers during the 1980s and 90s concerning the publication of Istoriia odnoi sem'i; correspondence with such authors as Arthur Koestler concerning the translation of their works into Russian; correspondence with patrons of the Slavonic division of the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem, where Ulanovskaia worked from 1974 through the early 2000s; correspondence with leading Soviet dissidents and her memoirs about some of them; original typescript of Istoriia odnoj sem'i; copies of extensive correspondence with her mother and father while the three were serving sentences in the Gulag; family photographs.