Within its growing Mongolian Collection, the Penn Libraries includes the collection of Georgij Zagadinow. This collection embodies the Libraries’ strategic priorities to collect and preserve global voices, and to make accessible materials related to Philadelphia’s culture and community and to transnational communities and identities.
Zagadinow, a Kalmyk immigrant to Philadelphia, who spent much of his life working on a Kalmyk-English dictionary—collecting relevant materials, corresponding with experts all over the world, and drafting the world’s first dictionary of Kalmyk into English, while also promoting Kalmyk culture in greater Philadelphia. This unique collection came to Penn in 2016 through a gift of Georgij Zagadinow’s daughter Patricia Aptaker.
The library that he assembled at his home in northeast Philadelphia includes books in Kalmyk, Russian, Mongolian, and German, many of which are exceedingly unusual.
This unique collection combines books and journals of tremendous linguistic diversity with rare items, including Zagadinow’s research notes, correspondence, reference materials, and a full draft of his dictionary. While Zagadinow’s dictionary work drew on extensive historical sources and linguistic studies, he also assembled a wide range of literary and other sources from Soviet Kalmykia, as well as extensive documentation of the Kalmyk communities in the United States.
This collection provides deep resources for scholars of Mongolian language and literature and of Altaic linguistics. And it contains truly rare primary sources for students of Inner Asian studies, post-World War II migration, and US immigration history.