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Thomas Riha Papers

Identifier: COU:1350

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Riha Collection includes many journal articles on Russian history, journal reprints from Articles in magazines, individual Russian journal issues, lectures collected by Riha, A booklet in German on war prisoners during WWII, a Chicago today, etchings /engravings of Prague, water color drawings, Miscellaneous black and white photographs, a map of Europe as divided by the Peace Paris Conference 1920, various travel guides of Czechoslovakia, packets of postcards ,and many notes from Riha’s time as a student.

For newspaper clippings about Riha's disappearance, SEE C.U. History - People - Faculty Q-R.


  • 1958 - 1969

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biographical Note

Thomas Riha was born in Czechoslovakia in 1929, but later immigrated to the United States in 1947. In 1958, during a brief thawing period of The Cold War, Riha was allowed to return to the Soviet Union, and to study at the University of Moscow. He was the first graduate student from America to be allowed to study in the Soviet Union for several years. Relations between countries soon frayed again, forcing him to leave The Soviet Union. He then returned to the United States to finish his education.

Thomas Riha graduated from the University of California at Berkley with a B.A., and later an M.A., in History. He continued on in graduate school and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University . After graduation, Thomas Riha began to teach Russian History at the University of Chicago. Professor Riha taught for six years, from 1960 to 1967, at Chicago. He then accepted a position at the University of Colorado at Boulder in September of 1967. In the late 1960s, the University of Colorado sought to bolster their departments by luring significant scholars from major universities to the University’s departments. Riha may have been brought to the University as part of this recruiting effort. Thomas Riha was by then a well known Russian History Professor, and it was thought that having a professor with a celebrity status would generate interest among the students. Furthermore, he may have been brought to the university for the sake of attracting extra funding to the Slavic Studies Center.

Riha contributed to scholarly journals and authored a book series entitled Readings in Russian History. Three books comprise the collection. The subject matter of the volumes pertains to events in Russian History, ranging from the ancient history to the Cold War Era. Following Riha’s original work, three subsequent editions have been published in Riha’s name.

Thomas Riha first met his wife, Hana Hruskova, in the spring of 1968. They first met while Riha was visiting New York. Later that summer, Riha met with Hana again, who was visiting from her home county of Czechoslovakia on a Student Visa. On October 13, 1968, Thomas and Hana were married.

Thomas Riha was last seen March 14, 1969, while attending a colleague’s dinner party. An official missing persons report was filled on March 17, 1969 by Riha’s Attorney. Within a week of his disappearance, many of his belongings had been sold: including his car and much of his prized art collection. Over the next months there was very little news from Riha. Besides a brief letter to a Boulder Real Estate Agency authorizing his nephew to sell his house, and a letter to his attorney promising to explain his sudden disappearance, nothing else had ever been found. No letter was ever received. Eleven days after filling the Missing Persons Report, the documentation was destroyed without further investigation on the bases that Riha was “alive and well.” Boulder Police received a report from a CIA agent stating that Riha was alright. His disappearance has never been explained.

There is much speculation about his disappearance and many theories about what happened to him. The most extreme ones end with Riha being silenced by the KGB or the FBI. Less gruesome theories suggest Riha relocated to Montreal.


2 linear feet (4 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Thomas Riha, professor of Russian History at the University of Colorado, disappeared in March 1969. His disappearance provoked at considerable controversy as the anti-government atmosphere environment of the University and Boulder were then at their height during the Vietnam War. His whereabouts are still a mystery. The materials in this collection contain no references to Riha's disappearance, but concern his field of Russian history and include scholarly articles by Riha.


This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Journal Articles Reprints, Individual Journals, 1859-1965 Series 2: Notes and University Papers, n.d. Series 3: Maps and Travel Guides, 1919 Series 4: Photographs, Pages, and Booklets
Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, September 28, 1998
September 28, 1998
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Special Collections & Archives Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States