Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Eastman, E. mss., 1923-1958, consist primarily of the correspondene and writings of Eliena Vassilyenva (Krylenko) Eastman, (Mrs. Max Eastman), 1895-1956, artist, and Max Eastman, 1883-1969, author.

Miss Krylenko, born in Lublin, Poland, was the daughter of a Russian government official. Her brother Nikolai was a lawyer who joined the Bolshevik Party. In 1918 she graduated from the Leningrad University law school but did not join the Party.

Employed as a private secretary to Maxim Litvinov in spite of her non-Party status, Miss Krylenko and Max Eastman met at the Genoa Conference in 1922 where Eastman was a special correspondent for the New York World. They renewed their acquaintance in Russia and were married in 1924. After a sojourn in Europe among other American ex-patriates they returned to the United States to live in 1927.

Miss Krylenko was interested in teaching dancing to children on Martha's Vineyard Island, in painting--she held several shows in New York and others in Paris and Boston--and in writing poetry which was published in The Freeman and Novy Zhurnal. In addition she taught for two years at the Walden School in New York and did translating work.

The correspondence was conducted during intervals in Russia--when Miss Krylenko commented on the death of Lenin, during Eastman's lecture tours in the United States, and during trips to Europe for Reader's Digest editorial projects--when Miss Krylenko heard Alcide de Gasperi give a campaign speech in 1951. In 1929 Eastman was in England to fulfill his obligations as guardian for the children of his sister Crystal (Eastman) Fuller. At this same time he furthered the gathering of pictures for his movie in preparation entitled Tzar to Lenin, which Miss Krylenko assisted in editing, by traveling to Paris and Berlin.

Some of the letters are in Russian and a few telegrams are in French, German, and Spanish. Occasionally drawings are appended to Miss Krylenko's letters: a dog, 1926, Mar. 20; cats, 1920, Feb., and 1930; a woman and dog, 1942.

The writings consist chiefly of sketches derived from her personal experiences in Russia and a few poems. In 1958 Max Eastman reread the letters, made notes about them and about Eliena, and compiled a chronology of their stay in Europe for 1924-1927.

Folders of biographical material and of clippings related to activities with dancing classes and art shows complete the collection.

Correspondents are Mary (Ritter) Beard, Josephine Bennett, Francis Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Charles Breck, Gina (Knee) Brook, Patricia (Taylor) Buckley, Witter Bynner, John Carroll, Amy Charak, Mady Christians, William Irving Clark, Edward Estlin Cummings, John Dewey, Pendleton Dudley, Daniel Eastman, Eliena Vassilyenva (Krylenko) Eastman, Max Eastman, Angna Enters, Ralph Erskine, Michael Farano, Lewis Stiles Gannett, Charles Bruce Gould, Charles Barney Harding, Eugene Higgins, Earl Francis Hofmann, Robert Sturgis Ingersoll, Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker, Isaac Don Levine, Samuel Morris Levitas, Diana B. Lewis, Jere Knight Lindtner, Mabel (Ganson) Dodge Luhan, Alexander Orlov, John Goldsmith Phillips, Frederick Bruce Robinson, Andrea Louise (Heinemann) Simon, Tess Slesinger, Boris Souvarine, Kay B. Stevens, Muriel Tourrenc, Irita (Brooks) Van Doren, Margit (Herzfeld) von Mises, DeWitt Wallace, Lila Belle (Acheson) Wallace, William Zorach.

Collection size: 626 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.