Romanov Family Albums
The six Romanov Family Albums held at the Beinecke Library represent a unique survival from the last years of Russian Imperial dynasty. Taken between 1907 and 1915, the hundreds of pictures contained in these albums date from the first flowering of popular photography, when new breakthroughs in technology put cameras into the hands of amateurs, who were able to capture impromptu moments of everyday life on a massive scale. The “snapshots” in the Romanov albums record such moments in the private life not just of any family, but of one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious ruling houses.

An enthusiast for the new art, Tsar Nicholas II kept a team of photographers on hand to take pictures of official events at Court, but also to preserve memories of more informal occasions, when the family was “off-duty.” Tsarina Alexandra too liked to try her hand at photography. The albums thus show us an intimate world far from the bus-tle of St. Petersburg. Alone with the family at their winter home in Tsarskoe Selo, aboard their private yacht, or vacationing on the Crimea in the new Marble Palace at Livadia, we see the Tsar, his wife, and the children at leisure: hunting, rowing, cycling, picking mushrooms, knitting, reading, writing, relaxing, even recovering from illness. In short, living a comfortable domestic life that would soon come to a brutal end, with the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent massacre of the entire family in a cellar at Ekatinburg in the night of July 1918.

Rescued by the Tsarina’s friend and intimate confidante, Anna Vyrubova, the albums are indeed a truly remarkable survival. Over the years, scholars have learned much from the photographs, but many of their secrets still await discovery. We look forward to your tags!

Explore the catalog record for the Romanov Collection and visit the Beinecke Library's digital collections.
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