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Milka T. Bliznakov Papers and Architectural Drawings

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Ms-1991-025

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the activities of Milka Bliznakov (1927-2010), the founder of the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) and former chair of its board of advisors (1985-1993). It contains personal materials, including biographical information and personal correspondence. This collection also contains materials documenting Milka's prolific career as an architect and a professor emerita at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Some significant topics represented in these files are avante-garde architecture; Russian constructivism; futurist architecture in the Soviet Union; the history of Bulgaria and Bulgarian architecture; and women in art and architecture. In addition, this collection contains unique documents about the destruction of architectural structures in Croatia during the Bosnian war; Federal Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) reports on Soviet concentration camps; and detailed drawings and and project plans for Soviet infastructure. This collection also documentsd the proceedings of organizations and conferences attended by Milka Bliznakov such as L'Union Internationale des Femmes Architectes (UIFA), the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA), and the Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (AAASS). Materials are largely textual, comprising of correspondence, memoranda, minutes and agendas, legal materials, clippings, publications, reference files, blueprints, and maps. Among other formats scattered throughout the collection are photographs, negatives, and artifacts such as plaques. This collection also includes detailed drawings and specifications from Milka Bliznakov's architecture practice.


  • 1946 - 2010



The majority of materials in this collection are written in English and Bulgarian. Additional materials are in German, French, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Milka Bliznakov was born in Varna, Bulgaria in 1927. She attended the State Polytechnic Institute of Sofia and graduated with a master's degree in architecture in 1951. Bliznakov began practicing architecture in Bulgaria in 1952. In 1959, Bliznakov moved her practice to France. Two years later, Bliznakov emigrated to the United States.

During her first years in the United States, Bliznakov worked as an architect and studied Soviet architecture. She earned her Ph.D in architectural history from Columbia University in 1971. She taught at the University of Texas from 1972-1974, where she co-founded the Institute of Modern Russian Culture.

In 1974, Milka Bliznakov became a professor at Virginia Polytechnic Insitute and State University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where she taught in the urban design program. Bliznakov became an authority on the Russian avante-garde and constructivism movements. In 1985, Bliznakov worked with the Virginia Tech University Libraries and the College of Architecture and Urban Studies to establish the International Archive of Women in Architecture. She served as the chair of the IAWA Board of Advisors from 1985-1993.

Milka Bliznakov retired in 1998 in conjunction with the establishment of the Milka Bliznakov Prize. The Milka Bliznakov Prize is awarded annually to those whose research furthers the knowledge of women's contributions to architecture and design.

Bliznakov continued to acquire and donate works to the IAWA until her death on November 4, 2010.


32.82 Cubic Feet (37 boxes; 8 oversize; 4 artifacts)


Milka Bliznakov was a Bulgarian architect, architectural historian, and professor who practiced in Bulgaria, France, and the United States. The collection consists of her publications, research, correspondence, professional documentation of her practice, conference participation materials, teaching materials, and documents related to her involvement as the founder of the International Archive of Women in Architecture.


This collection is arranged into five broad series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Faculty Papers, Major Projects, and Art & Artifacts. Within each of series, materials are arranged according to original order and chronology. Where original order was not clear, processing staff used the Standard Series for Architecture and Landscape Design Records as guidance.

Source of Acquisition

The Milka T. Bliznakov Papers and Architectural Drawings Collection was donated to the IAWA at Special Collections in 2002 by Dr. Milka Bliznakov. Additions were made to the collection by Milka Bliznakov and Donna Dunay in 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2015.

Separated Materials

Two volumes were returned to the Library of Columbia University. The following books were separated from the collection to be cataloged for the Rare Book Collection:

  • Watkins, R.N. The Ideal Communist City. New York: Braziller, 1968.
  • Lloyd, P. & Collie, K. San Francisco: a guide to recent architecture. London: Ellipsis, 1997.
  • Markelin, U.Profiles: Pioneering Women Architects from Finland. Museum of Finnish Architecture, 1983.
  • Use of Tradition in Russian & Soviet Architecture, guest edited by Cooke, C. & Kudriavtsev, A. Architectural Design journal, v. 57, no. 7/8. London: Architectural Design, 1987.
  • Brumfield, W.C.Reshaping Russian Architecture: Western Technology, Utopian Dreams. New York : Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Somaya, B., Mehta, U., & Hecar FoundationAn Emancipated Place: the proceedings of the conference and exhibitino held in mumbai, February 2000. Mumbai : Hecar Foundation, 2000.
  • Kuperus, M., & Meinsma, H.C.Architectes. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Thoth, 1990.
  • Boutelle, S.H. & Morgan, J.Julia Morgan, Architect. New York : Abbeville Press, 1988.
  • Poem about Trees. (ISBN: 9785090245890),
  • The American Glossary of Architectural Terms .
  • Illustrated Garnsey.
  • La Realidad Sovietica.
  • Construction and Reconstruction of Towns.
  • Working Architectural Studios I-Design Department of the Moscow Soviet.
  • Working Architectural Studios II-Design Department of the Moscow Soviet.
  • Russian Formalism.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Milka T. Bliznakov Papers and Architectural Drawings by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Milka T. Bliznakov Papers and Architectural Drawings was completed in February 2016.

Milka T. Bliznakov Papers and Architectural Drawings,
Courtney Dowse. Revisions and additional materials processed by Jade Snelling.
(CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2016-09-15.: New materials added to Series: Professional Papers under Subseries: Reference Files.
  • 2020-09-14: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags
  • 2023-04-21: New materials added. Series VII - Additional Donations: Bliznakov's research files, etc. Inventory and other elements updated. jss

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US