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Russian Refugees Aid Society

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2395
Held at: Russian Refugees Aid Society
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Full title: Russian Refugees Aid Society
Date(s): [1917]- 2000
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 32 volumes, 60 files, 7 drawers of cards, bundle of photographs.
Name of creator(s): Russian Refugees Aid Society | 1978-
Old Organisation of the Russian Red Cross Society in Great Britain | 1893
Russian Benevolent Society 1917 | 1948-1978


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Russian Red Cross in Great Britain (founded in 1893), was revitalised around 1920, and set out to provide relief for people exiled from Russia and their children who found sanctuary in Great Britain following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Those exiles were people of all walks of life, many of whom found it difficult to adapt to a new way of life in a foreign country. Further emigration of Russians to the Great Britain occurred following World War Two, and comprised people who had suffered under both German and Russian oppression, or were escaping forced repatriation within the USSR.

In 1948, the International Red Cross rules that only the national Red Cross can function in a country and asked the Society to change its name and discontinue the use of the Red Cross emblem. The name was altered to the 'Russian Benevolent Society 1917'.

In the 1960s, the Society purchased three number of houses in the Chiswick area of London, including 56 Woodstock Rd, and 6 Arbinger Rd, and 16 The Avenue. These were run as hostels, particularly for elderly, ill or disabled people formerly from Russia, and were Russian speaking communities. The society also provided small grants to people in need or to relieve immediate distress. Its chief fundraising activities were an Annual Christmas Bazaar and two general appeals for funds each year.

The Society operates as an independent, non-political charity, registered under the War Charities Act 1940. The name was altered to the Russian Refugees Aid Society in 1978. Very few Russians were allowed to leave the USSR until its collapse in 1991. Since then the Society's focus has altered to providing immediate relief to refugees from the former Soviet republics, and assisting them in dealing with government authorities.


Scope and content/abstract:

Archives of the Russian Refugees Aid Society (RRAS) and its predecessors comprising:

minutes of the Russian Red Cross 1938-1952; Executive Committee (and Bazaar Committee) of the Russian Benevolent Society, 1952-1958; Executive Committee, AGMs 1964-1988 ; Council, 1992-2000 ; Finance and General Purposes Committee 1977-2000; Bazaar Committee, 1972-1981; and Grants Committee 1990-1996;

committee files including: RRAS minutes and papers (copies); 1952-1972; Council Correspondence, 1998-2000; Council agendas and minutes', (copies) 1988-2000; AGM minutes and papers (and Finance and General Purposed Committee, 1977), 1984-1987; Finance and General Purposes Committee, minutes and papers (copies) 1988-1995; Finance and General Purposes Committee minutes and papers (copies), 1993-2000; Grants Committee papers, 1990-1996;

printed Annual Reports of the Russian Red Cross Society in Great Britain, and lists of members, appeal letters etc, 1923-1965;

card index of Russian people who have contacted the Society, [1917-1998] (7 drawers);

membership records including: Members book [1960s-1990s]; membership forms, 1964-1993;

Visitors Book, [1961-1963];

Secretary's papers including general correspondence 1984-2000;

Chairman's correspondence, 1947-2000, relating to the D Ezekiel, Russian Refugees Relief Association 1966-1970; case of Alexis Frank, 1945-1969; Convent and church, 1988-1999, donations to Russian Orthodox Church and the Convent of Annunciation, Brondesbury Park; donations, legacies received, 1971-2000;

General Secretary's file relating to charitable grants, 1990-1993;

Treasurer's (D Ezekiel ) papers and correspondence, 1960-2000;

Mrs Illingworth, correspondence, 1991-1994;

administrative files relating to Legal matters and charitable society registration, 1942-1969; Old Russian Red Cross, 1923-1959; Russian Refugee Association 60s-80s; Russian World War Invalids Union, 1934-1955; Russian Ex-Services Organisation, Paris, 1920-1970; Russian Church Affairs, 1926-1968; and miscellaneous correspondence and papers, 1926-1968;

files relating to well known Russians who had contact with the society including Nicholas Poliakoff, personal documents including passport and registration papers, 1948-1961; news cuttings relating to Madam Cambon (Nadia Bajenoff, Nadia Sabline, married Roger Cambon, 1953) 1930s-1970s; cuttings and photos of the RRAS, 1980s-1990s; file of obituaries, mainly cuttings relating to Grand Duchess Xenia, 1964-1998; Employment candidates / next of kin volume containing names and addresses (in Russian), also news cuttings relating to Russians in the UK1950s -1960s;

files relating to fundraising and publicity including a BBC appeal broadcast by Lady Aylwen, 1965-66; appeal letters, 1961-1962; Appeal correspondence and feasibility study, 1969-1977; RRAS Newsletter 1977, appeal letters, 1970s; flyers, events, invitations, menus, programmes,1939-1993; cuttings, balance sheets for receipts from fundraising events, papers re arrangement of concerts, bazaars and other events 1950s-1970s;

records relating to the Society's hostels including: Hostel Residents Register 1965-1995; Hostel register 1925-1952; lodgers registration forms for Russian Red Cross - the Avenue - departed lodgers, 1942-1959; Rules and Regulations of the Hostel of the Russian Red Cross Soc in Great Britain, 16 The Avenue;

and files relating to deceased residents up to 1991; deeds relating to the 16 The Avenue, 1931-1956; correspondence relating to the properties, 1942-1956; papers re proposed purchase of 56 Woodstock Rd, 1960-61; papers re properties, 1961-1990; papers re extension to 27 Blenheim Rd, including plans, agreements, 1966-1985; Valuation report - 6 Abinger Rd, 1948; correspondence relating to the warden at 56 Woodstock Rd, 1974-1987; papers and letters re employment of warden/deputy wardens, and other personnel, 1980-1990; paper relating to safety alarm equipment for Hostel residents, 1991-2000; correspondence relating to residents that moved, 1962-1963; Nicholas House correspondence and papers, 1969-2000;

financial records including account books 1995-2001; audited accounts 1976-1992; annual accounts and auditors reports 1922-1956; Balance sheet, 1964 ; Visitors post book, 1980-2000 ; Russian Red Cross parcel book 1920;

Photographs including framed portraits of Grand Duchess Xenia, Victoria Millford Haven, Countess de Torby, group of hostel residents, and one unidentified man; box of photographs of hostels and residents, mainly black and white, mostly unidentified;

two printing blocks for portraits of Grand Duchess Xenia, and Miss Vallender;

collection of postcards depicting scenes of Russia and Italy;

and a published volume of the History of the Russian Red Cross (in Russian).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Russian, French

System of arrangement:

The material is not arranged

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Contact the General Secretary, Russian Refugees Aid Society, 57 Harvard Rd, Chiswick, W 4 4ED. 3.4.2 Conditions governing reproduction: Photocopies available

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies available

Finding aids:

The material is uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Created and kept in situ by the Russian Refugees Aid Society.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Following the sale of Society's property - Nicholas House, 27 Blenheim Rd, Bedford Park, in 2001 the archives were condensed and transferred along with the Society's office to premises at Harvard Rd, Chiswick.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Society for Cooperation in Russia and Soviet Union (formerly Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR) records1924-1994 held by the Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies, Brixton, London; Society for Cooperation in Russia and Soviet Union (formerly Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR) minutes, correspondence and papers 1920s-1980s held by the Manchester University: Labour History Archive and Study Centre

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; Russian Red Cross in Great Britain, Annual Reports, 1923, 1928.
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2003

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