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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