September 22, 2023

Harris publishes article on Aeroflot and Pan Am

Cover of the latest issue of Laboratorium in which Dr. Harris's article was published.

Cover of the latest issue of Laboratorium in which Dr. Harris’s article was published.

Dr. Steven E. Harris (HIST) recently published “The World’s Largest Airline: How Aeroflot Learned to Stop Worrying and Became a Corporation” in Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research. The article explores Aeroflot’s unlikely success in besting Pan Am on their shared route between New York and Moscow (1968-1991), and how the Soviet airline learned to be a corporation in the process. Harris also featured this story in the exhibit “Cold War Friendly Skies” at Simpson Library in 2020. The research and writing on both projects were generously funded by the University of Mary Washington and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. If you haven’t flown on an airplane recently and miss it, this article is for you!

GREAT LIVES: Stalin’s chief aviation designer was also a prisoner of the Gulag (The Free Lance-Star)

Harris Pens Editorial on Stalin and Tupolev for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

Associate Professor of European and Modern Russian History Steven E. Harris penned an editorial on Communist dictator Joseph Stalin and and Soviet aircraft engineer Andrei Tupolev in advance of his Great Lives lecture on Thursday Jan. 28, at 7:30 pm on Zoom, as part of UMW’s “Great Lives” series. It can be accessed at

THE UNITED States had William Boeing. Germany, Hugo Junkers. And Great Britain, Geoffrey de Havilland. From travel to warfare, the airplanes these designers produced transformed the world and made them household names.

In the Soviet Union, the most famous aviation designer was Andrei Nikolaevich Tupolev (1888-1972), whose aircraft also made him a household name. From gliders to strategic bombers and a supersonic passenger plane, Tupolev and his design bureau helped make the Soviet Union an aviation superpower.

His incredible career spanned Russia’s tumultuous 20th century, from the reign of its last tsar, Nicholas II, and Stalin’s regime to the twilight of the Soviet experiment under Leonid Brezhnev. Read more.

Harris Publishes Article on the Soviet Jet Age

Photomontage celebrating the Jet Age in the Soviet magazine, Grazhdanskaia aviatsiia, no. 12 (1963).

Associate Professor Steven E. Harris (HISA) recently published the following peer-reviewed article: “Dawn of the Soviet Jet Age: Aeroflot Passengers and Aviation Culture under Khrushchev,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 21, 3 (Summer 2020): 591-626.

In this article, Harris examines how representations of the ideal Soviet passenger became a central feature of aviation culture under Khrushchev and bolstered the state’s broader goals of advancing mass consumption, embracing the scientific-technical revolution, and fighting the Cold War. The research and writing for this article and the broader book project on which it is based were generously funded by an A. Verville Fellowship at the National Air & Space Museum and multiple grants from the University of Mary Washington, including a Waple Professorship. Many of the themes in Harris’s article are also featured in the exhibition, “Cold War Friendly Skies,” which is on display at the entrance to Simpson Library.

Harris Comments in Los Angeles Times on Housing Development in Ukraine

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Steven Harris

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Steven Harris

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Steven Harris was quoted in the Los Angeles Times in an article about a new housing development in a residential area of Kiev, in Ukraine. The article, entitled “Soviet housing was famously drab. This Ukraine complex is all about color,” states, “‘Scholars say housing is one realm where the Soviet Union did what the United States could not: provide cheap, reasonably decent housing for everyone.’ ‘They actually did solve the housing question,’ said Steven Harris, a historian at the University of Mary Washington and author of Communism on Tomorrow Street: Mass Housing and Everyday Life After Stalin.”

Soviet housing was famously drab. This Ukraine complex is all about color (Los Angeles Times)

Harris Interviewed about University Museums

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

Scott Harris, executive director of the University Museums recently appeared on WFVA’s Town Talk to morning talk about the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, and the James Monroe Museum. To listen to the interview, visit

Scott Harris: Keeping History Alive

Scott Harris graduated from Mary Washington in 1982.

Scott Harris is executive director of the University Museums.

Scott Harris ’83 got firsthand history lessons as a boy growing up in Staunton, Va. His grandmother, who was born in 1898, was a gifted storyteller who could transport Harris to life in Virginia at the turn of the 20th century. Historical sites were all around him. When Harris’ parents took him to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park at age 9, he never imagined he’d grow up to be its director decades later.

Nor did he foresee returning to his alma mater, from which he received a B.A. with honors in history and historic preservation in 1983.  In 2011 Harris became director of the James Monroe Museum, the world’s largest repository of artifacts and archives related to the nation’s fifth president.  Earlier this year he was named executive director of University Museums, overseeing the James Monroe Museum, the Papers of James Monroe, and the Gari Melchers Home and Studio. In his new role, Harris remains focused on a mission that that has motivated his 30-year museum career: “Our job is to remind people today of the importance of those who went before them.”

Q: Tell us about your new role.

A: I get to advocate for the museums from a broader perspective. I help secure funding to keep the Papers of James Monroe active and figure out how we can best position the museums for the future.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: Every day brings a new challenge. I get the opportunity to make a big impact on all these components of University Museums and hopefully help them thrive.

Q: What do the James Monroe Museum and Gari Melchers Home and Studio have in common?

A: James Monroe and Gari Melchers were well known and respected in their times, each at the top of his game, and yet they are not household names today. The challenge is to reintroduce them to the world.

Q: Why are these two people important?

A: James Monroe played a significant role in our early national history, from the Revolutionary War to the generation before the Civil War.  Gari Melchers brought skill and passion not only to his own art, but also to advocacy of the arts generally.  The contributions of both men are useful in providing artistic and cultural content to balance the contemporary emphasis on STEM education.

Q: How do the museums connect to the UMW community?

A: Mary Washington has administered both museums since the 1960s. While both relationships began as “marriages of convenience,” the museums’ affiliation with UMW, and that of the Papers of James Monroe, provide valuable learning labs for our students in history, historic preservation, museum studies, and other fields. Working with these entities allows students to hone practical skills that will help them in the future careers.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, and of the James Monroe Museum?

A: Melchers’ studio contains one of my favorite paintings of his, titled “In Holland.”  Painted in 1887, it shows two young women crossing a field, one bearing two heavy buckets on a yoke.  Their expressions convey a wealth of emotions.  Melchers had a knack for making the ordinary extraordinary in his work.  My favorite spot in the James Monroe Museum is in front of his large portrait painted by Rembrandt Peale around 1825.  It shows Monroe at the end of his presidency and political career, and again, the expression on his face speaks volumes.

Q: Any mantras you tell yourself every day?

A: Don’t screw up



Harris Co-Edits Special Issue of Journal of Urban History

Associate Professor Steven E. Harris (HISA) recently co-edited with Daria Bocharnikova (University of Leuven / Center for the Fine Arts BOZAR) a special issue of the Journal of Urban History, volume 44, no. 1 (2018).

The special issue, “Second World Urbanity: New Histories of the Socialist City,” features five research articles by scholars who participated in one of three conferences co-organized by Harris and Bocharnikova as the conveners of the Second World Urbanity project (

Launched in 2012, this interdisciplinary project explores the architecture, urban planning and everyday life experiences of socialist cities past and present. The special issue of the Journal of Urban History is the first publication to come out of the Second World Urbanity project.

Bocharnikova and Harris’s introductory essay, “Second World Urbanity: Infrastructures of Utopia and Really Existing Socialism,” is also included in the special issue.

Harris Presents Paper at Airport Culture(s) Conference in London

Associate Professor of History Steven E. Harris presented his paper, “Soviet Airports: Futuristic Gateways to the Socialist City,” at the interdisciplinary conference, “Airport Culture(s),” held at the University of London, April 28-29, 2016. Harris’ paper is based on the research and writing for his current book project, “Wings of the Motherland: Soviet and Russian Cultures of Aviation from Khrushchev to Putin.”