Hugh and George Roden papers  1861-1898 (bulk 1861-1864)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (0.75 linear feet) contains letters that Erma L. Solovyev (née Dixon) wrote to her mother, Edythe Dixon of Denver, Colorado, while living in Krasnouralsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Soviet Union, with her husband, Soviet national Basil Solovyev.

Her first letters, written in late 1934, describe the couple's journey by boat from Germany to the Soviet Union, including Dixon's detailed descriptions of her accommodations, meals, and activities on board, as well as some of her impressions of the surrounding area and people. Once settled in the Soviet Union, she wrote letters to her mother describing her everyday life and activities with her acquaintances, which included several other United States natives who married Soviet men. She also routinely provided updates on her sons, "Binkie" and "Kevie," and thanked her mother for frequent care packages. Though she focused on her personal life and experiences, the letters reveal some details about contemporary Soviet life, particularly from the point of view of an expatriate, and Dixon occasionally commented on the difficulties presented by the language barrier. She worried that her sons would not remember English after being raised in a Russian environment, and occasionally mentioned exchanging English language instruction for lessons in Russian. A few of the letters include drawings, such as a floor plan of their shipboard accommodations (October 22-23, 1934) and one of a dress (June 10, 1939).

In August 1939, she referred to a severe illness of her son Binkie, and in December alluded to the absence of her husband, who had been sent to a military training camp. Though Erma wrote most of her letters before 1941, the collection has additional correspondence related to her efforts to return to the United States during the war. On July 30, 1943, Hazel A. Firth of the Christian Science Board of Directors asked Edythe Dixon to share news about Erma's plight. On October 8, 1945, Erma discussed her continuing efforts to return home; a card postmarked in March 1946 implies that Erma returned to the country shortly thereafter. With the exception of Firth's letter and a letter by a man named John, who briefly described a trip to Tokyo, Japan, in December 1945 (December 7, 1945), Erma wrote all of the correspondence.

The collection also holds a brochure from the Amalgamated Trust & Savings Bank of Chicago, which advertised costs for a Soviet exit visa and for sending money or packages to the Soviet Union, and a blank order form from New York City's Hearn Department Stores, Inc.

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