What’s so secret about The Secret History?
The most important history in the book is information that was once public knowledge but which has fallen out of public memory–Nabokov’s secret history as our forgotten past.
But there is also some actual secret history in there: classified documents and public records that shed light on Nabokov’s life or work. Last month, I finally posted the bibliography for the book, which will make it easier for people to search online for details on particular sources. And today, I’ll be including the list of files and numbers for declassified documents and public records referenced in the book as well. I’ll eventually put most of these in the Records section of this site, unless a given file is hundreds of pages, in which case I will upload only highlights.
In one or two instances, I’ll skip pages that include private medical information that is irrelevant to The Secret History. It’s worth keeping in mind that not everything in the files is true.
Here’s the list of documents by agency and number, with a little information about each:
VLADIMIR NABOKOV – see Sonia Slonim FBI file below (relevant pages already posted here)
VÉRA NABOKOV – see Sonia Slonim file below (relevant pages already posted here)
SONIA SLONIM – File #121-HQ-10141, including a loyalty review by the FBI and Department of the Army Intelligence and Security Command documents. Some information already written up/posted here.
NICHOLAS NABOKOV – File #123-1231. File starts from April 1943 and continues through July 1948, then picks for several final pages covering April to June 1967. Includes background check information from Nicholas’ intelligence work during the war, as well as a more in-depth Cold War investigation.
EDMUND WILSON – File #105-177115 This portion of Wilson’s FBI file deals with just an investigation of whether or not Wilson attended a 1968 Cultural Congress in Havana, Cuba. Those wishing to see additional info on Wilson should also request File #s 100-381720 and 100-381720-5.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
VLADIMIR NABOKOV – C-File 6556567. See Nabokov’s full immigration file in the Records section of this website.
VÉRA NABOKOV – C-File 6556566 and Visa File 3027265. See both Véra Nabokov’s files in the Records section of this website.
NICHOLAS NABOKOV – C-File 4640765. See Nicholas Nabokov’s full immigration file in the Records section of this website.
SOPHIA (SONIA) SLONIM – C-File C6695603 and Visa File 3069615. Information on Sonia Slonim’s immigration, name change request, and eventual US citizenship. Some of this information already written up/posted here.
CARL JUNGHANS -A File A-7595300. Over 300 pages, this file details Junghans’ relations with USDOJ-INS on questions of deportation, alien registration, internment and visa status from 1941 to 1950. (Another FOIA is still in process for the 1950s and 1960s information on Junghans). Some information already written up/posted here.
US National Archives
CARL JUNGHANS – Record Group 60, Department of Justice, Entry UD UP 5 “World War II Alien Enemy Detention and Internment Case Files, 1941-1952” – Case File # 146-13-2-12-771 – Stack Location 230/25/06/05 – Box 119. All correspondence directly related to the internment and later parole of Carl Junghans, including correspondence with the Alien Enemy Control Unit. Some information already written up/posted here.
GEOGRAPHIC INTELLIGENCE REPORT – NOVAYA ZEMLYA – Document CIA/RR-G-18 – January 1958. Declassified 5/12/2000 – CIA Analysts’ Cold War attempt to summarize what was known about Soviet activity on the northern Arctic Islands, from air operations and naval activities to population, prisoners, and economic development.
General Register Office of England
BORIS PETKEVITCH – DVD 166409/Application Number 3691934-1 – Death certificate for Nabokov’s former brother-in-law, who was married to Olga Nabokov in Prague before fleeing to England.