The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Yantshev, Theodore

Theodore Yantshev Collection

1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 141

On June 23, 1946, a young Bulgarian refugee, Theodore Konstantin Yantshev, arrived in Baltimore as a stowaway aboard the S.S. Juliet Victory, intending to seek asylum in the United States. Despite the intervention of influential supporters including John F. Kennedy and Leverett Saltonstall, and the services of the Boston legal firm Powers and Hall, Yantshev was deported to Argentina in 1948. Efforts to secure a legal to the states eventually succeeded, yet poverty prevented Yantshev from following up.

The files retained by Powers and Hall in the case of Theodore Yantshev are focused closely on the plight of a Cold War-era refugee and would-be immigrant from Communist Bulgaria. The collection includes memoranda and summaries of the Yantshev’s case compiled by Powers and Hall and an apparently complete set in incoming and outgoing correspondence from the beginning of the case in 1947 through its final, failed disposition in 1958.

Biographical Note

Theodore Konstantin Yantshev was born on January 17, 1926 in Sofia, Bulgaria to Konstantin Dimtshev Yantshev and Antoinette Robert Goinareva. He attended primary school in the city of Burgas, and in 1945-1946 attended the Bulgaria University of Technical Sciences in Varna to study electrical engineering. He was president of an anti-communist organization at the university, and through this position was an intimate of Petkov, leader of the Bulgarian Peasant Party, who was subsequently executed for his opposition to communism. Yantshev found himself in danger for his anti-Communist activities, and, with the help of an American naval officer, escaped to the United States as a stowaway on the American ship S.S. Juliet Victory in the spring of 1946. In June of that year he came to Boston, where he was employed at an electrical engineering laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In July of 1947, Yantshev’s presence came to the attention of United States immigration authorities and a warrant for deportation back to Bulgaria was issued against him. Yantshev had support from many people in his struggle to obtain a visa to enter another country in order to escape deportation and persecution in Bulgaria, including attorney William Gray and his successor Francis Newton at Powers and Hall, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, Kroum S. Jordon, Pastor of the Federated Church of Orleans, East Orleans, Massachusetts, Reuben H. Markham, the Balkan and Central European correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and Mary G. Markham, a member of the Washington bureau of the Research and Publications Service of the National Committee for a Free Europe, both of whom had met the Yantshev family as Bulgarian educational missionaries, struggled on his behalf to obtain a visa to another country in order to escape deportation and persecution in Bulgaria.

In April 1948, Yantshev obtained a passport to go to Argentina, where he had an uncle and from where he planned to apply to re-enter the United States legally. In Argentina he worked as an electrical technician until his number on the Bulgarian quota for immigration to the United States came up, at which point he applied for readmission. Once again a drawn-out struggle was necessary, as his application was rejected and an appeal faced a lengthy process. Since Yantshev had no relatives living in the United States, he was required to prove that his admission would be an asset to the country, in his case as an electrical technician in the growing defense industry. By April of 1955, when a visa to enter the United States was finally granted, Yantshev had married an Argentinian citizen, which would allow him to enter the United States legally as her husband without the visa, but economic hardships and threats against his family in Bulgaria from the communists prevented him from doing so.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Papers of attorneys William Gray and Francis Newton from the files of Theodore Yantshev, a young Bulgarian refugee from Communism, documenting Yantshev’s struggle to immigrate and gain citizenship in the United States. The bulk of the documents are in the form of correspondence between attorneys at the Boston firm of Powers and Hall and Yantshev, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Foreign Service, the Attorney-General’s office, Massachusetts members of Congress including Richard Wigglesworth, Leverett Saltonstall the secretaries of John F. Kennedy, the American Consul-General in Argentina, and judicial and other officials.

Included are photocopies and translations of Yantshev’s Bulgarian birth certificate and educational records. There are also letters of character reference from friends in the United States and abroad, including one from G. M. Dimitrov, President of the Bulgarian National Committee for a Free and Independent Bulgaria, describing Yantshev as “a staunch fighter against the Communists.” Correspondence from 1957 and 1958 is between Yantshev’s Boston attorney and an Argentinian firm, Marval and O’Farrell regarding the Boston firm’s attempts to recover payment for their work on his behalf during the years 1947-1955.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Theodore Yantshev Case Records (MS 141). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from dealer, 1986

Processing Information

Processed by SCUA staff.

Additional Information

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Contents List
“The Y File:” description of collection by Goodspeed’s Book Shop
Box 1:1
Attorney’s interview, memo, brief in support of petition for permission to return to U.S. for immigration
Box 1:2
United States immigration regulations and forms
1952, 1955
Box 1:3
Papers of William Gray re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:4
Papers of William Gray re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:5
Papers of William Gray re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:6
Papers of William Gray and Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
1952 Jan.-Aug.
Box 1:7
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
1952 Sept.-Nov.
Box 1:8
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:9
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:10
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:11
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:12
Papers of Francis Newton re. Theodore Yantshev
Box 1:13
Acquired from Goodspeeds Bookshop, 1986


Bulgaria--History--20th centuryBulgarians--United StatesPolitical refugees--United States


Gray, WilliamKennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963Powers and Hall