Erickson Collection


Erickson Collection


This collection is associated with Professor John Erickson (1929-2002) and his wife, Ljubica (1933-2022). In the second half of the 20th century, during the Cold War period, Erickson became a leading authority on the Soviet Union and its politics and military power. After serving in the British army in the former Yugoslavia shortly after the Second World War, he pursued an academic career, lecturing in politics and becoming an expert on Soviet military history. He wrote several works on the subject, some in collaboration with his Yugoslavian-born wife, Ljubica, who acted as his reader, editor and translator. Erickson’s first visit to the Soviet Union in 1963 as a researcher allowed him to build a rapport with Red Army leaders and high-profile contacts. He returned to Moscow on many occasions and had privileged access to Soviet archives and the military. In 1967 he moved to Edinburgh University and set up the Department of Defence Studies where he worked until 1988. Erickson's influence on the Soviet high command reached its peak in the 1980s, when he and his wife led the ‘Edinburgh Conversations’. These informal exchanges between prominent Scots and their Soviet counterparts later became complex discussions on arms control, related security issues and the environment. The conversations alternated between Edinburgh and Moscow from 1981 to 1989.

The main focus of the collection is on the history, operation and organisation of the Red Army and, to a lesser degree, on the Soviet armed forces in general. There is coverage, too, of such associated topics as the politics and government of the Soviet Union, the Second World War, the Cold War and international relations. Military technology (including such subjects as ballistics, missiles and radar) is another field covered. There is also some material on the armed forces of other communist states. The greater part of the materials in the collection is Russian- and English-language publications, but there are also items in several other European languages. There are two parts to the collection: the first part was formerly the library from Prof Erickson's former Department of Defence Studies at Edinburgh University. The second part comprises materials from Prof Erickson's personal collection of around 4,000 items including monographs, serials, research reports, microforms, tapes and some manuscript materials.


Around 4,500 items have been catalogued to date and have the shelfmark 'Erick.'. The second part of the collection is mostly unshelfmarked and uncatalogued.


The collection was presented to the Library by Prof and Mrs Erickson. The first part was donated in 1996. The second part, comprising materials from Prof Erickson's personal collection, came to the Library in 2003, following his death.

Related collections

Manuscripts relating to the Edinburgh Conversations and Erickson's personal papers were presented to the Library in 2015. The manuscripts are held at Acc.13596.





Cold War

Second World War

Military history