The article analyses the relationship of a prominent group of Russian artists, who were active from the 1860s to the 1890s, with the state institutions: the imperial Academy of Arts and with the Court.
Reconstructed on the base of the lawsuit over the legacy, the history of the family and kinship relations of the retired State Councillor Avraam Stepanovich Sverchkov ( he was the key person in the legislative commissions in 1720s – early 1740s and in 1755 bequeathed a considerable part of his property to the newly established Moscow University ) suggests that only a nuclear family existed and had value for the category of bureaucrats he belonged to. Coming from unprivileged estates and not being members of chancellery service families these persons climbed the hierarchy ladder thanks to their professional skills, and independently built their careers, friendships, matrimonial and other strategies, advancing in their service due to personal contacts, knowledge and experience. Being involved in the actual implementation of authorities’ reformative initiatives in the first half of the eighteenth century, Sverchkov and clerks like him formed the higher level of office employees in a variety of central institutions and ensured undisturbed operation of all the units of the state machine. Acquiring hereditary nobility through their service, this kind of collegiate officials shaped the field of social and family interaction within a single nuclear family rather than on the basis of vertical kinship relations. Their social capital, career progress, material well-being and security were interrelated and depended on two generations (parents and children) having been integrated in a complex system of social contacts.
The article is aimed at reconstruction of the history of an 18th century Russian provincial merchants' family. The article is based on the archival documents of local institutions and pays special attention to such topics as options of social mobility, the chatacter of commercial activities, the meaning of family ties and social status of the family memebers in the community.
The article analyzes the process of establishing phisical boundaries and legal status of land property in Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. The main topics include interaction of educated elite (landlords, government officials) with peasants, image of a land surveyor in public thought and fiction, difficulties with constructing private property regime in the countryside.
This article examines the history of the control of public finance during the reign of Peter the Great. It engages in a global and systematic study of the different types of control and their functioning that leads to an analysis of little-known aspects of Peter's reforming activity in the fields of administration and control, and the specification of the distinguishing features of the control system set up in the early eighteenth century. The establishment of the state meant tightening control structures. Control eventually turned into a system resting on a network of agents, responsible for controlling government administration a priori and a posteriori, and on the various interacting techniques and procedures they used to facilitate investigation. Not only did control intensify and become a specialized institution illustrating the state's will to improve its administrative services and ensure a better follow-up of the reforms under way, it also took care of the complex stabilisation policy for public finance in order to cope with the critical financial situation of the time. The article clearly demonstrates that the monarchy made every effort to prevent and crack down on abuse and frauds at all levels of financial administration.
A review of a book by American historian D. Frick on the anthropology of the 17th century Vilno.
The article carries omn the discussion started by M. Confino, E, Wirtschafter and D. Ransel with their publications at Cahiers du Monde Russe on the reality of the composition of the 18th century Russian society that we find in legal documents. The author draws attention to the promissory notes - a historical source that contain valuable information on the subject. He gives several examples that show specific traits of self identification which make us speak of the flexibility of the 18th century social structure.
This article deals with the treatment of money in Karamzin’s Letters of a Russian Traveler. Our approach combines biographical research with new insights into the text in an effort to shed light on the notorious matter of the source of Karamzin’s funding during his foreign travel in 1789-1790, and to understand his attitude to monetary transactions as it is revealed in the travelogue. This, in turn, allows us to deal with the contested issue of Karamzin’s status as a “literary professional.” These matters have been discussed on a number of occasions (Klioutchkine 1997, Klein 2008, Panofsky 2010, to mention only most recent publications). Existing studies, however, have avoided analyzing numbers and performing calculations, even if most of the questions they posed could not be convincingly resolved without recourse to quantifiable data. Needless to say, the information available to us is not exhaustive, and in many cases we have to rely on estimates, conjectures and approximations. However, even this level of precision affords us a more complete understanding of many important aspects of Karamzin’s biography and literary position, as well as the development of his economic thought.
Political crisis of 1730 and the Russian ruling elite of the end XVII – first third XVIII centuries
This article is dedicated to the study of social characteristics of the Russian ruling elite and its self-identification in the end XVII - first third XVIII centuries. How participants of political crisis of 1730 imagined society structure? How they defined own "we-identity"? In his representations the structure of noblesse did not coincide with official Table of ranks and it had parallel unofficial pattern which the aristocracy tried to fix legislatively in projects of verchovniki (members of Supreme Privy Council). In this informal structure of nobility three groups are selected: aristocracy (“famil’nye”, it is representatives of the old Moscow elite which has kept key posts in government with whom had to be considered the tsar as with group, instead of with separate families), middle nobility (“dobroe schliahetstvo” it is successors of the Moscow and provincial nobility), low nobility (“podloe schliahetstvo”, the poor nobility dependent both from the autocrat, and from patronage of “famil’nye”). In fact this informal structure was more real for people of the first half XVIII century, than formalized and still unfinished system of ranks.
The article is devoted to an examination of selection procedure for common citizens’ letters to Stalin, and the practices of reacting to these letters.
The article examines the political and administrative functions of the zemstvos in Arkhangel´sk province in northern Russia during the Civil War. Zemstvos were liquidated in the province in early 1918 after the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power, but later resumed their work under the anti‑Bolshevik Provisional Government of Northern Russia between mid‑1918 and 1920. The reinstated zemstvos enjoyed significant popular support in the North. Still, in the conditions of the Civil War, they abandoned their role as public forums for debating and solving local problems, and instead became an instrument in the government’s policies aimed at mobilizing people and resources for the war. The centralization of the zemstvo self‑government closely mirrored the consolidation of the Bolshevik and Soviet party apparatus that took place at the same time on the other side of the Civil War front.
In the cultural sphere, the period between the October Revolution and the initiation of the first five‑year plan was marked by a series of heated public debates about the function of visual art and media in the new socialist society. Prominent theorists, including the Commissar of Enlightenment, Anatolii Lunacharskii, and writers associated with the journal Lef, such as Boris Arvatov and Sergei Tret´iakov, participated in these debates, as did modernist artists and realist painters. Photography was a central theme, and by 1925 the question of how the advances in photographic and other forms of mechanical reproduction were changing the nature of the visual had emerged as the debates’ most pressing problem. While all of the debates’ contending factions recognized the significance of photography, they also agreed that the material components of painting—particularly color and surface texture—remained essential to the development of comradely socialist relations. This article brings to light for the first time the aspects of early Soviet thought on aesthetics and communication that led to the firm establishment of painting as a visual medium essential to socialism. It demonstrates in particular that the materiality of painting and its traces were linked to the activation and transmission of the sensations of the body, which were considered necessary for the formation of socialist connections.
The establishment of civil rights as a foundation for the political-legal doctrine of Russian liberalism is based on a strong historical tradition. The author`s intention is to discuss Late Imperial Russia’s experience in designing a logical, unified construction of inviolable personal rights of individuals, which was a theoretical justification for the constitutionalism of the early 20th century.
This article is a polemics on the methodology of research in historical inquiry discussing recent publications in the domain of early Soviet children’s books. The study of this material is gaining momentum in recent years. Scholars use this material for many reasons: demonstration of the new facets of the Russian Avant-garde, investigation of peculiarities of the Soviet childhood, or for deconstruction of the subtle way of indoctrination of the first generation of the Soviet kids and construction of the New Man (as in my own book which happened to be the first English-language monograph on the subject of Soviet picture-books). The article problematizes the limits of the usage of the trendy theories (or their buzzwords – like “disempowerment”) for writing on the material which cannot be easily matched with these theories. It discusses broad methodological issues: the applicability of fashionable theories to a given subject matter and where-when-how the popular agenda turns into tendentiousness and distortion of facts.
 For instance, Kelly, Catriona. Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia 1890-1991. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007; Kirschenbaum, Lisa A. Small Comrades: Revolutionizing Childhood in Soviet Russia, 1917- 1932. NY: Routledge Falmer, 2001.
 Steiner, Evgeny. Stories for Little Comrades: Revolutionary Artists and the Making of the early Soviet Children’s Book. Seattle-London: University of Washington Press, 1999.
The article reconstructs the lives of Siberian deti boiarskie Ivan and Fëdor Tomilov and their immediate descendants within the framework of the current historiographical debate on the descriptive principles of Russian society in the early modern era. From the mid seventeenth century to the early 1720s, the Tomilov brothers specialized in running peasant settlements (slobody). They very often got appointed in settlements where they had vested economic interests. Their careers are characteristic of only part of Siberian deti boiarskie: this points to the existence of variations in the types of service and in lifestyles within this social category. It comes out from the various descriptions of conflicts recorded in the Verkhotur´e governor’s office and Siberian Chancellery archives that the Tomilovs enjoyed support from members of various social groups who, for some of them, were relatives. At the same time, opponents from lower rungs (belomestnye cossacks, peasants) did not forget their lower social status. The Tomilovs, thanks to their connections with members of other social groups, successfully adapted to the state’s social legislation, which sometimes proved disadvantageous. However, after Peter’s reforms, Ivan’s descendants, who served in the newly formed Tobol´sk Dragoon Regiment, had less difficulty keeping their privileged status than Fëdor’s, who held on to their traditional way of life as deti boiarskie running settlements. Thus, biographical and microhistorical approaches permit both to problematize and corroborate the “grand narratives” of social history based on traditional terminology and focusing on state policy.
The article deal with some tendencies in research of Soviet history in contemporary “revisionist” literature.
The article focuses on the informal political networks and ways of how they operated in the Russian bureaucracy in the first half of the 18th century. A career of Avraam Sverchkov, a chief-secretary in the Senate in in the era from Peter I to Elizabeth, and his relations with top functionaries let trace how senior imperial bureaucrats were building their networks by involving mid-level officials in patron-client relationships. This was in the interest of the both parts: by getting access to skills, information etc. of their confidents, bureaucrats of high echelon got additional administrative support and became more effective. Meanwhile, mid-rank officials benefitted by improving their social positions, especially those who, like Sverchkov, was from law-class. Because of constant lack of qualified stuff such kind of patronage relationships had significant impact on all the levels of the administration. Hence, down of an informal network resulted not only in damaging the career of low- or mid-rank officials; potentially it could negatively affect all the imperial administrative system.
The correspondence of Senator Count Roman Vorontsov with captain of Preobrazhenskii regiment Petr Chebyshev and Marshal of Shlissel´burg nobility Alexander Artsybashev is a unique source revealing unofficial negotiations regarding the election of Vorontsov as a deputy to the Legislative Commission of 1767 and the composition of the instruction (nakaz) addressed to him. It demonstrates that Roman Vorontsov initiated his election and gave recommendations as to which requests to the Monarch should be included in the instruction to the deputy. The Shlissel´burg nobles elected Vorontsov without apparent hesitation and in most cases took his advice as to the instruction’s content. However, they abandoned some of the count’s ideas and included some claims of their own. The preface to the publication of the documents contextualizes the case in the following respects: personal information on Shlissel´burg nobles participating in the election; the connection of Vorontsov’s activities as Shlissel´burg deputy with his views expressed as a senator and co‑author of the Moscow nobility’s instruction; the importance of the Shlissel´burg instruction case for the exploration of other instructions of the nobility. The investigation leads the author to the conclusion that the demands drawn up by Roman Vorontsov were to a great extent in accordance with the wishes expressed by rank‑and‑file nobility despite some differences in claims and ways of argumentation. The electors first of all appealed to the Monarch’s mercy for their needs whereas the deputy tended to justify his claims with considerations on the State’s well‑being. The task of formulating their interests and problems significantly enhanced communication among the nobility and promoted the dissemination of shared ideas as well as the expression of relatively specific ones. Last, the information provided by this presentation of the Shlissel´burg nakaz can be useful for understanding other instructions as the result of the interaction of different views and not as the final position of all the nobility of a district.