Zoya Shlakis was born in Mukden, China in
1927, to Stayses and Alexandra Shlakis. Her father was of Lithuanian descent and her
mother a White Russian. The Shlakis family fled Russia for China, eventually settling in
Shanghai in 1936. In 1948, as Communist forces advanced across China, the Shlakis family
relocated to Taipei, Taiwan. In Taipei, Zoya acquired a visa under the 1948 Displaced
Persons Act, which allowed her legal entry into the U.S. The collection consists of
records documenting Zoya's life in Shanghai (ca. 1930s-1940s), correspondence with
friends and family, numerous Old China Hands activities, and photographs documenting the
Shlakis family from the early days in Mukden in the 1920s until 2008.
Zoya Shlakis was born in Mukden, China in 1927 to Stayses and Alexandra Shlakis. Her
father was Lithuanian and her mother a White Russian. Due to the revolution and social
unrest in Russia, the Shlakis family fled Russia for China. After Stayses managed to
secure a position as a mechanic with the Chinese Postal Service, the Shlakis family
moved from Mukden to Nanjing and eventually to Shanghai in 1936. Their lifestyle in
Shanghai was by some standards unusual since, due to Stayses's job, they were given
a residence inside the General Post Office of Shanghai with fully furnished quarters,
servants, and access to the rooftop garden. During her time in Shanghai, Zoya was
enrolled at Public and Thomas Hanbury School for Girls, participated in theater at the
local British Lyceum, and joined the Army & Navy YMCA.
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The collection is open for research use.