January 01, 2001

The Decline of Russian

If you want to understand the history of Russian language study in the United States, consider the history of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Russian language and literature began to be taught at this Ivy League institution in 1918, one year after the Bolshevik revolution. At one point in the decade that followed, there were more undergraduates studying Russian at Dartmouth than at any other place in the US. But, by 1930, enrollment in Russian had declined precipitously—so much so that Russian was removed from the curriculum that year. It took the onset of WWII to see Russian revived in 1942.

After WWII, Russian studies were expanded significantly at Dartmouth. In the 1950s, a major in Russian was offered for the first time. In 1951 the college received a large grant from the Carnegie Corporation to develop its Russian program and expand the Russian collection in its library.

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