William Craft Brumfield

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William Craft Brumfield
BornJune 28, 1944
Charlotte, North Carolina
Occupationhistorian of Russian culture, architectural photographer
TitleProfessor of Slavic Studies,
Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies, Tulane University
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (2000), D. S. Likhachev Prize (2014), Order of Friendship (2019)
Academic background
EducationJohns Hopkins University
Tulane University
University of California, Berkeley
Academic work
DisciplineRussian architecture
Russian literature
InstitutionsHarvard University
Tulane University

William Craft Brumfield (born June 28, 1944) is a contemporary American historian of Russian architecture, a preservationist and an architectural photographer. Brumfield is currently Professor of Slavic studies at Tulane University.[1]

William Brumfield at an April 18, 2013 event "Memory, Commemoration, Memorialization: Moscow’s Western Battlefields" at the Kennan Institute.

Brumfield grew up in the deep American South, where he became interested in Russia by reading Russian novels. After receiving a BA from Tulane University in 1966 and an MA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968,[2] he arrived in the former Soviet Union for the first time in 1970 as a graduate student starting work in architectural photography, although he did not seriously study the craft of photography until 1974.[3] Brumfield earned a Ph.D in Slavic studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1973 and held a position of assistant professor at Harvard University in 1974–1980.[1]

In 1983 Brumfield, formerly a generalist of Slavic studies, established himself in the history of architecture with his first book, Gold in azure: one thousand years of Russian architecture. It was followed by The Origins of Modernism in Russian Architecture (1991), Russian housing in the modern age: design and social history (1993), A History of Russian Architecture (1993, Notable Book of that year[4] and a best seller[5] according to The New York Times), Lost Russia: Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture (1995), Landmarks of Russian Architecture: A Photographic Survey (1997) and Commerce in Russian urban culture: 1861-1914 (English edition 2001, Russian edition 2000).

In 1986 Brumfield organized the first exhibit of photographic prints from the Prokudin-Gorsky Collection at the Library of Congress.[6] Since that time Brumfield has been actively engaged in the study of Prokudin-Gorsky's photographs, including several publications for the site "Russia Beyond the Headlines".[7]

Brumfield lived in the former Soviet Union and Russia for a total of fifteen years,[8] doing postgraduate research with Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University,[8] but mostly travelling through the northern country, surveying and photographing the surviving relics of vernacular architecture.[3] In a 2005 interview Brumfield, asked to tell which of those journeys stood out, picked a photo survey of Varzuga, a remote village connected to civilization by 150 kilometers of a sandy clay track.[9] Brumfield donated his collection of around 1,100 photographs of Northern Russian architecture taken in 1999–2003 to the Library of Congress.[10] His archives were digitized with assistance of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Washington Library.[8] The basic collection of Brumfield's photographic work is held in the Department of Images Collections at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. The William C. Brumfield Collection consists of 12,500 black-and-white 8" x 10" photographic prints, 40,000 negatives and over 89,000 digital files, most of which are in color (nearly 149,000 in total).[11][12][13]

In 2000 Brumfield was elected a Guggenheim Fellow for Humanities - Russian History.[8] He has been a full member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences (RAASN) since 2002 and an honorary fellow of the Russian Academy of the Arts since 2006.[8] He currently holds the record for most domes captured in a single photograph.

In 2014 the D. S. Likhachev Foundation in St. Petersburg awarded Brumfield the D. S. Likhachev Prize "for outstanding contributions to the preservation of the historic and cultural heritage of Russia."[14][15]

In 2019 Brumfield was awarded the Order of Friendship, “for the merits in strengthening friendship and cooperation between peoples, fruitful activities for the rapprochement and mutual enrichment of cultures of nations and nationalities.”[16][17] [18]


Portrait of William Brumfield by Zoya Zhilkina
  • Gold in azure: one thousand years of Russian architecture (1983)
  • The Origins of Modernism in Russian Architecture (1991)
  • Russian housing in the modern age: design and social history (1993)
  • A History of Russian Architecture (1993)
  • Lost Russia: Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture (1995)
  • Landmarks of Russian Architecture: A Photographic Survey (1997)
  • Commerce in Russian urban culture: 1861—1914 (2001)
  • Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North (2015)
  • Journeys through the Russian Empire: The Photographic Legacy of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. Durham ; London: Duke University Press Books, 2020.

With financial support from the Kennan Institute, the publisher «Три квадрата» (Tri Kvadrata) began in 2005 to release the series Открывая Россию/Discovering Russia by Brumfield:

  • Totma: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (Moscow, 2005)
  • Irkutsk: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2006)
  • Tobolsk: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2006)
  • Solikamsk: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2007)
  • Cherdyn: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2007)
  • Kargopol: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2007)
  • Chita: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2008)
  • Buriatiia: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2008)
  • Solovki: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2008)
  • Kolomna: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2009)
  • Suzdal: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2009)
  • Torzhok: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2010)
  • Usol'e: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2012)
  • Smolensk: Architectural Heritage in Photographs (2014)
  • Chukhloma Region: Architectural Heritage in Photographs = Чухломский край: архитектурное наследие в фотографиях (Moscow, 2016; Discovering Russia, issue 15). ISBN 978-5-94607-208-3
  • Pereslavl-Zalesskii: Architectural Heritage in Photographs = Переславль-Залесский: архитектурное наследие в фотографиях (Moscow, 2018; Discovering Russia, issue 16). ISBN 978-5-94607-222-9

With financial support from the "Vologodskie Zori" Fund (Vologda, Russia), the publisher «Три квадрата» (Tri Kvadrata) began in 2005 to release the Vologda series by Brumfield on the architectural heritage of the Vologda region:

  • Vologda Album (2005)
  • Velikii Ustiug (2007)
  • Kirillov. Ferapontovo (2009)
  • Ustiuzhna (2010)
  • Belozersk (2011)
  • Vologda (2012)
  • Cherepovets: Architectural Heritage of the Cherepovets Region, Moscow: Tri Kvadrata Publishers, 2017, ISBN 978-5-94607-218-2.

Other publications:


  • Brumfield, W.С. (2016), "Faded Glory in Full Color: Russia's Architectural History (Interview with William Craft Brumfield)", Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 17 (2): 379–404, doi:10.1353/kri.2016.0031, S2CID 159806547.


  • Glushchenko, N. D. (2017), "Discovering Russia: The Books of William Brumfield about Russian Architecture", Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, 14 (4): 257–266, doi:10.17805/zpu.2017.4.23.


  1. ^ a b "William Craft Brumfield (faculty profile)". Tulane University. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017.
  2. ^ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Reports of the president and of the treasurer (2000), p. 56.
  3. ^ a b Ian Mitchell (September 2009). "Professor William Craft Brumfield – Architectural Historian Extraordinaire". Passport Moscow magazine.
  4. ^ "Notable Books of the Year 1993, page 2". The New York Times. December 5, 1993.
  5. ^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. November 7, 1993.
  6. ^ "The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated: The Empire That Was Russia". Library of Congress.
  7. ^ "Discovering Russia". Russia Beyond the Headlines.
  8. ^ a b c d e "William Craft Brumfield (Guggenheim Fellowship biography)". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 2000.
  9. ^ Michele A. Berdy (April 2005). "William Craft Brumfield, Campaigner". Passport Moscow magazine.
  10. ^ "The William C. Brumfield Collection - About the Collection". Library of Congress. 2004.
  11. ^ "Travels Across Russia: Murom". National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2019-11-03.
  12. ^ "Featured Photographers and Campaign Organizers". National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2019-07-30.
  13. ^ "William C. Brumfield Collection. Collection Summary". National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2019-07-30.
  14. ^ "Сокуров стал лауреатом премии имени Лихачева". Interfax Russia. 2014.
  15. ^ "Russian architecture expert William Brumfield awarded Likhachev Prize". Russia Beyond the Headlines. 2014.
  16. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 26 октября 2019 года № 523 "О награждении государственными наградами Российской Федерации"". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации. 2019-10-28. Archived from the original on 2019-11-02.
  17. ^ "Президент России наградил американского исследователя русской архитектуры Уильяма Брумфилда орденом Дружбы". Культура в Вологодской области. 2019-11-01. Archived from the original on 2019-11-02.
  18. ^ "The President of Russia has awarded the Order of Friendship to William Brumfield, American historian of Russian architecture". Cultinfo.ru: Culture in Vologda Region. 2019-11-14. Archived from the original on 2019-11-18.

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