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 Post subject: A Photographic Journey of the Ambassador’s Daughter
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 17 Jan 2012 12:11 
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A Photographic Journey of the Ambassador’s
Daughter in Moscow - 1937 - 38


Emlen Knight Davies joined her father, Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, and his wife Marjorie Merriweather on a diplomatic journey and left with a rare insider’s perspective on 1930s soviet Moscow.

While life in 1930s Moscow was a mystery to the outside world, special diplomatic access granted to Emlen Knight Davies, daughter of U.S. Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, and with her photos we get a rare insider’s point of view.

In this small selection of approximately 17 photos, recounting day-to-day life in the Soviet Union, which have been enlarged from pieces in Emlen Davies’ private collections and photo albums, we have a Photographic Journey of the Ambassador’s Daughter in Moscow, during the years of 1937-38.

Just 20 years old when she joined her father and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather, on their diplomatic adventure, Emlen Knight Davies documented 1930s Moscow –- through picture-taking, trading images with family and friends, and diary entries – in the midst of a massive government experiment and at a moment when the Soviet Union and its potential role in the unfolding war was unknown to the world. The images include street views of Moscow, pastimes with Russian friends and fellow diplomats and expatriates, and life in Spaso House, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Moscow, revealing the stark contrast between the Soviet government’s messages and the bleak austerity of urban life in Moscow.

Photography by the average citizen in Moscow was generally forbidden in the era of Soviet propaganda, but with her ties to Joseph Davies and her step-mother Marjorie Merriweather Post, Emlen Knight Davies was able to capture her perspective of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin’s reign. We’re delighted that these images have been brought to light and were made accessible to audiences around the world.

After delving into her mother’s albums, Mia Grosjean, Davies’s daughter, saw that the photographs, clippings, diary entries, and letters told a nuanced story of a controversial time and place, as well as a formative time in her mother’s life, and digitally restored and enlarged the images. Grosjean first displayed a selection of photographs in an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of Spaso House.

The Photographs

Grosjean used a state-of-the-art digital process to restore and enlarge photographs that began as 7 x 10 centimeter or smaller snapshots which, when enlarged and displayed, expose a narrative about 1930s Moscow from a unique perspective. In addition to photos taken by Davies and her family members, captions provided through oral history interviews with Davies and clippings from the era provide added perspective. In a 1937 front page article and photograph from the Moscow Daily News, viewers will get the sense of how momentous the arrival of a new American ambassador was to the Soviet Union. The mostly black and white photographs add emphasis to the harshness of the cold Moscow streets and snow-covered countryside, as seen in photos of a Moscow woman selling artificial flowers in front of the famous Mostorg department store and weary travelers walking through the Park of Culture and Rest (Gorky Park). Though photography of the Kremlin was forbidden, it is seen reflected in Emlen’s sunglasses while she walks toward Red Square on May Day, 1937 in a photo that represents the mystique the Soviet Union held for a diplomat’s young daughter in the 1930s.

Emlen, now 94 years old, recalls the awe she felt upon arriving in Moscow and the excitement and intrigue of living in Spaso House. She recollects her father’s role as the second ambassador to the Soviet Union, appointed by “his old Woodrow Wilson days friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt,” and being bugged and spied upon by the KGB (then known as the GPU), writing in her diary:

“We are in a different country, at the end of the world – far from home.” In her favorite reminiscence, she evokes the cold night her radiator froze and was repaired by a Belgian/American engineer, Bob Grosjean. Grosjean was sent to Moscow by an English company who was, upon Mrs. Post’s request, delivering and installing many chests of frozen foods. The two would meet again two years later during her father’s assignment as ambassador to Belgium and later become husband and wife.

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Emlen Knight Davies, at the age of 20 (ish)

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From left: Joseph Davies, Joseph Stalin, Vyach­eslav Molotov


Photos courtesy of Emlen Knight Davies

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 Post subject: Re: A Photographic Journey of the Ambassador’s Daughter
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 17 Jan 2012 12:22 
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Image

Diplo­matic Pass, Emlen Knight Davies, who is granted all diplo­matic rights and
priv­i­leges as the holder of such a document.

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Spaso House, the offi­cial diplo­matic res­i­dency of the Amer­i­can Ambassador

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The cel­e­bra­tory march of 7th Novem­ber 1937

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TSUM shop, just before opening

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“Com­mu­nism holds no seri­ous threat to the United States. Friendly relations
in the future may be of great gen­eral value”, Joseph E. Davies assessed.

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The par­ents (Embas­sador and his wife) are going to a din­ner party
to M. Litvi­nov, the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs.

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The Embassy’s staff team, in front of the Spaso House

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The view from the sec­ond floor of the Spaso House



Photos courtesy of Emlen Knight Davies

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 Post subject: Re: A Photographic Journey of the Ambassador’s Daughter
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 17 Jan 2012 12:29 
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The park in front of the residence

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The door­man nick­named Two-Bearded and the Embassador’s Packard

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The Embas­sador with the wife, out on Lenin­skie Gory

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The Inde­pen­dence Day Ball

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Emlen is learn­ing to ice skate

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Emlen with father, 1937

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Emlen Knight Davies, at the age of 92, 2008


Photos courtesy of Emlen Knight Davies

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