Donald and Vera Blinken Collection - Hungarian Refugee Interviews from 1957-1958

Interview guidelines for "A" type interviews |in pdf|

Interview guidelines for "B" type interviews |in pdf|

Search the Collection

Columbia University Research Project Hungary
1956 Hungarian Refugee Interviews at OSA Archivum, Budapest

by András Mink, OSA Archivum, Budapest

"First of all, despite all its internal deficiencies, the CURPH collection is still the biggest set of records, gained by a single systematic research project, that gives an insight into the everyday reality and public mentality of a Soviet bloc country in the 1950s, where similar contemporary field-research was not feasible at all. Moreover, a closer reading of these records may raise new questions. How did the Western perception of communism influence the early stage of the Cold war? How did the outside image of the Stalinist states shape the structure of the project and its results? How did the respondents' image of the West, mediated by the broadcasts of Western radio stations and propaganda-machinery shape their own behavior and sayings? This unique set of records of the memory of the 1950s and the 1956 Hungarian revolution, an exceptional heritage of the Cold war, now available on the web-site of OSA Archivum as the 'Donald and Vera Blinken Collection', certainly requires a fresh regard."

full article |in pdf|

The Unnoticed Continuity
The prehistory of the Hungarian refugee interview project

by István Rév, OSA Archivum, Budapest

"It is remarkable that former members of the Frankfurt School, working for the Hungarian refugee project, became engaged not only in theorizing about the nature of totalitarianism, but were involved in producing those sources - the interviews - on which the theoretical insights were based. While the critical social scientists were refining the theory of totalitarianism, and the role of propaganda in its working, based on comparable empirical data distilled, in part from the stories of the refugees, other analysts were still searching for secret of the truth serum in the interviews."

full article |in pdf|

Other related materials

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, OSA Archivum has copied and digitized the transcripts of Hungarian refugee interviews conducted between 1956 and 1958 within the framework of the Columbia Research Project Hungary (CURPH).
CURPH was not the only program that targeted the issue of Hungarian refugees after 1956. Nevertheless, it was the best organized and most elaborate project. More than 600 interviews were conducted by specially trained, native Hungarian field-workers in European refugee camps and in the United States. Most of the interviews lasted two or three days, and the final English transcripts averaged 70 pages each. The interviews were based on a detailed questionnaire, interview guidelines that had been carefully worked out by sociologists and public opinion experts.
This on-line collection contains English language transcripts of the interviews and their "facesheets" with important social data on the respondents' background. The interview texts have been copied from two major sources: the Bakhmeteff Archives of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Columbia University and the Manuscript Archives || of the Hungarian National Library ||. Social data on respondents can be searched by criteria of the original questionnaire, but interview transcripts and relevant "facesheets" are available only as image files and are not searchable in the form of text files.
Background information on the CURPH project and publications based on the interviews can be found under Related Materials. The introductory study written by Andras Mink, OSA Research Archivist and Historian and the essay written by Istvan Rev, Historian and Director of OSA Archivum provide a useful overview of the political and historical context of CURPH.
The rebirth of the documents in digital format would have not have been possible without the generous help and support of the former US ambassador in Budapest and his wife, Donald and Vera Blinken, and the US Embassy in Budapest.