Helen D. Lockwood '12, and Barbara Swain '20, professors of English, gave $4,000 to purchase for the college the library of the late Nikander Strelsky, associate professor of Russian and comparative Slavonic literature, from 1935 until his death in 1946, at the age of 52. The collection included about 1,200 titles, with many rare volumes.

A severe illness while managing a Russian ballet troupe’s American tour after World War I had required Nikander Strelsky to remain in the country.  Settling in Poughkeepsie, he tutored Russian and lectured while earning his M. A. and PhD degrees from Columbia, becoming in the process Vassar’s first professor of Russian and founding the first Russian department in a women’s college in America.  Russian was first taught in 1932 and was first credited toward the degree in 1935.