Wilson Center Experts
Birgitta Ingemanson is a literary scholar and historian first trained at the Universities of Stockholm and Leningrad, then, for graduate work, at Princeton University. She has taught Russian studies (literature, culture, cinema) for several decades and is now, as a Professor Emerita at Washington State University in Pullman (WA), a “detective” of the letters of Eleanor Lord Pray from and to Vladivostok, 1894-1930. Pray’s correspondence with friends and family was enormous (more than two thousand letters extant in the Vladivostok collection alone), and Ingemanson writes about the life they portray, and the city where it was led.
The letters of Eleanor Pray, a member of an American merchant family who lived in Vladivostok from 1894 to 1930, offer a bridge of intercultural communication between the United States and Russia. Neither a liberal nor an un-informed tourist, Eleanor Pray presents angles of Russia to which Americans may be unaccustomed: “They” are more than Moscow and Petersburg, “we” are part of the Pacific Rim, and (despite the prevalent cold-war mentality, then as now) both populations are full of ordinary people living regular lives. Despite her adamant disdain for Soviet rule, Pray valued the beauty of the Primorie Territory, her home and her friends in Russia more deeply than she abhorred the differences between American and Soviet societies. Vividly describing her daily life in Vladivostok within the extraordinary events that befell it, her letters recover and protect part of the city’s history.
Eleanor Lord Pray, Letters from Vladivostok, 1894-1930, ed. with introductions and notes by Birgitta Ingemanson (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013). Russian translation by A. A. Sapelkin (Vladivostok: Rubezh, 2008). The Eleanor L. Pray Collection was collected and organized by Patricia D. Silver.
Birgitta Ingemanson, The Sunny Neighborhood: A Vladivostok Tale, tr. Max Nemtsov (Vladivostok: Rubezh, 2011). In English and Russian.
Eleanor Lord Pray, The Vladivostok Album, ed. Birgitta Ingemanson, tr. Max Nemtsov (Vladivostok: Rubezh, 2012). In English and Russian.