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Vitaut Kipel papers

Identifier: IHRC1210


The Kipel papers (20 linear ft., ca. 1950-2000) consist of personal notes, correspondence, research materials pertaining to Belarus and the Belarusan American community. It is the most complete collection of primary source information known to be available for this small but visible immigrant community. Also included are photographs, periodical clippings, posters, and broadsides, including extensive and unique visual documentation of cultural festivals during the most active years of the 1960s-70s "ethnic revival."The collection is organized into four basic categories: I. Personal and biographical materials of the Kipel’s family, articles by Vitaut, Zora and Alesia Kipel (Series 1) II. Manuscripts, personal notes, papers and correspondence and materials used by V. Kipel in his work on the book Belarusans in the United States (Series 2, 3, 4, 5).III. General correspondence, newspaper clippings, etc.: materials related to but not limited by the Belarusian history, politics and culture both in Belarus and abroad and Belarusian activities in the West (Series 6, 14)Materials in section II were divided by chapters according to Kipel’s book, Belarusans in the United States. In some instances it was impossible to do that, because the author used certain materials in many chapters or there was no possibility to establish a precise connection between the materials and the published book. Section III: General correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, books, etc. Materials arranged with subject division, include information on Belarusian history, art, politics, religion, etc.


  • 1950-2000


Language of Materials

Belarusian, English


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.


Vitaut Kipel was born on May 30, 1927 in Minsk, Belarus. His parents Maria Zubkouskaja and Jauchim Kipel, both graduates of the Belarusian State University, were well involved in the Belarusian cultural and political activities and mother was teaching in numerous schools in Minsk while father was associated with the Institute of Belarusian Culture (Inbelkult) where he also served as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Resources and Economics. Vitaut's father was arrested as a National Democrat in June of 1930 and was sentenced for 5 years of exile to Russia (Vyatka region); in 1935 the father was arrested again and sentenced for additional 5 years of imprisonment in the Baikal-Amur forced labour camps near the city of Svobodny (former Alekseyevsk in the Far East). Vitaut's mother Maria was denied a passport in Minsk and was told to leave Belarus and go to Russia. She also selected the Viatka region. Maria and Vitaut resided in Russia from 1933 to 1942 in cities such as Nalinsk, Viatka and Orel. On the October 3, 1941 the city of OreI was occupied by the German Army and Kipels were able to return to Belarus in the summer of 1942. Vitaut Kipel's residences since 1942 were as follows: 1942-1944:Belarus; 1944-1949:Germany; 1949-1955:Belgium; Dec.1955-present: USA. He married Zora Savionak in 1956 and they have two children: Alice and George. Education: 1935-1941: schools in Orel 1942-1944: schools in Minsk 1945-1948: Janka Kupala Belarusian Secondary School in West Germany1948-1949: University of Tübingen 1949-1955: Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium1961-1963: Rutgers, the State University, USA Degrees: Licencie en Sci. Geologiques, 1953; Ph.D. in Mineralogy, 1955; MLS(Librarianship), 1963, USA. Honorary Doctorate, University of Horadnia, Belarus, 1993. At various periods member of Societe de Geologie, Belgique; SLA(Sp.Lib); Geological Society of America. Presently member: American Association for Advancement of Slavic Studies. Publications in geology, librarianship and Belarusian research. Complete listing of publications is in: Zapisy, Belarusian Institute of Arts and Sciences, New York, vol. 28, 2005. pp.40-92. The volume covers also some periods of life and activities. Work:1956-1960 geologist with various companies and institutions on geological projects. Did extensive reviews and translations from Russian into English on advances in geological research in Siberia (and occasionally in Belarus) and publish extensively in Chemical Abstracts, the Engineering Index and the Economic Geology (until mid-seventies). Since 1962 professionally involved entirely with the New York Public Library (NYPL) in the Slavic/Baltic Division first and since 1964 with the Science/Technology Research Center, NYPL at various levels and capacities. For 15 years held the position of the First Assistant, the function of which was to supervise daily operations of the Center, mainly reference desk, distributing selection tools among librarians etc. Retired from the position "Acting Chief" in 1985. From 1982 to 1984 served as the editor of the publication "New Technical Books" (est. 1915).Major involvements with the Belarusian communities: Belarusian Scouting organization in West Germany 1945-1949. Numerous leadership positions. The association with scouting remained: from 1967 to 1977 became involved with the Boy Scouts of America, served as a Scoutmaster, Troop 161, Tamarack Council, NJ (1974-1977) Troop 161 is the sixth oldest in the country, it was chartered 1910. 1949-55 - active in Belarusian students organizations and in the Union Of Belarusians in Belgium. Vice-chairman of the organization 1951-1953. 1963-70 - involved in purchasing of Belarusian resort Belair-Miensk where had numerous positions, incl. vice-chairman, and organized several summer camps for youth. 1976,1977,1979 - Chairman of Belarusian Festivals, Garden state, N.J. Festival committees included hundreds of activists and the festivals were very successful events; attracted thousands of spectators and did an outstanding job for popularizing Belarus. 1974-1976 - Chairman of NJ Republican Heritage Groups, member of NJ Republican Heritage Groups Federation, affiliated1 with RNC. 1973-6, editor Heritage Review. 1978-1982 Chairman, NJ Governor's Ethnic Advisory Council (Democratic Gov. Brendan T.Byrne. Developed ethnic curricula in schools, ethnicity in the media, etc. Editorial Board: European Heritage (ARNO Press) 1982 - Honorary Citizen of Cleveland In 1982 was elected to Chairman of Belarusian Institute of Arts and Sciences. Developed and initiated many new programs of publications series such as Belarusian poets and writers abroad, to the history of Belarusian immigration etc. Since 1991 extensive cooperation with the Homeland: conferences, publications, exhibitions. Presently actively involved with the "Memorial to the Victims of Communism", Washington, D.C. and works on several publications of the BINIM.


16 Linear Feet


Papers of Vitaut Kipel (b. 1927), a Belarusian-American author, New York Public Library librarian, cultural and political activist. Kipel’s papers include bibliographical notes, manuscripts, correspondence, paper clippings, books and magazines, postcards pertaining to the Belarusian (1993) and English (1999) versions of his book "Belarusans in the United States", various articles and publications by and about Dr Kipel. Kipel’s papers contain information regarding to history of Belarus, Belarusian immigration to the North America, activities of the Belarusian American organizations and religious communities, Ethnic relations in the USA, Belarus and former Soviet Union.


Collection acquired from Dr Vitaut Kipel in 2004. It was processed by Ihar Labacevich in 2010.


Zuk-Hryskievic, Raisa

Inventory of the Vitaut Kipel papers.
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