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Elisabeth Averill Jackson Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts
History of the Collection
Summary of Correspondence
In 1964-65 Karen Jackson lived in Moscow with her husband, David, while he was studying at the university in the field of journalism. The typewritten copies of her letters home written about every week begin in early September 1964 in Paris and end on July 5, 1965 when they were back in Paris en route home.
Details of everyday living were clearly of great interest to her family and Karen described in detail what it was like to live in student housing in Moscow. They were fortunate to have two rooms with bathroom facilities and use of a common kitchen "not too far away" (p. 3). There was room inspection every two weeks - "we get marked" Karen wrote (p. 69). Laundry was done via a bucket and agitator (p. 4).
Karen spent a good bit of time in food shopping and food preparation. They missed the variety of American foods even though they had access to university stores and to the embassy commissary.
Karen arranged to have Russian lessons in exchange for English lessons and became friendly with her English teacher who had a new spacious cooperative apartment (with ceiling cracks) where she was invited to dinner (p. 74). She spent much of her time reading, frequently in the library (where a cloakroom line awaited entrance until someone departed -p. 85) and in visits, sometimes with David, to museums, factories, schools, a hospital, and various monuments. Together at bargain prices they enjoyed the theatre, ballet, opera, and they were caught up in Red Square celebrations (p. 19, 31). They also managed several trips outside Moscow - to Central Asia, Kiev, Leningrad.
The weather was a regular source of comment, from early October when it was like New England in November through a long cold snowy winter.
These letters provide a good source of information about the experiences of young American graduate students in the USSR in the mid-sixties.