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A History of Women in Russia

From Earliest Times to the Present

Barbara Evans Clements

Publication Year: 2012

Synthesizing several decades of scholarship by historians East and West, Barbara Evans Clements traces the major developments in the history of women in Russia and their impact on the history of the nation. Sketching lived experiences across the centuries, she demonstrates the key roles that women played in shaping Russia's political, economic, social, and cultural development for over a millennium. The story Clements tells is one of hardship and endurance, but also one of achievement by women who, for example, promoted the conversion to Christianity, governed estates, created great art, rebelled against the government, established charities, built the tanks that rolled into Berlin in 1945, and flew the planes that strafed the retreating Wehrmacht. This daunting and complex history is presented in an engaging survey that integrates this scholarship into the field of Russian and post-Soviet history.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xviii

This book is a brief history of all the women in all the Russias that existed on the far-eastern European plain during the past millennium. That history includes more than one hundred ethnic groups inhabiting what had become by 1800 the geographically largest country on Earth. Their lives...

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Note on Dates, Transliteration, and Names

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p. xiv-xiv

I will adhere to standard practice on these matters, with a few adjustments to make this book more accessible to non-specialists.
Only in 1918 did Russia adopt the reforms in the calendar that had...


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pp. xxi-xxii

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A Sketch of the Historiography

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pp. xxiii-xxv

This book is based upon a historiography more than 150 years old. It seems appropriate, therefore, to provide a brief introduction to the development of that historiography. A few examples from the bibliography of each stage in the process will be identified in the footnotes. Those seeking to explore...

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1. The Women of the Rus, 900–1462

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pp. 1-24

In 950, two peoples at the far-eastern reaches of Europe were pooling their fortunes. They were the Rus, Scandinavians who had ventured south seeking riches, and the Slavs, farmers who had lived in the great expanses of steppe and forest for centuries. The Rus brought to this alliance their skills...

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2. The Age of The Domostroi, 1462–1695

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pp. 25-63

Ivan III, grandson of Sophia Vitovtovna, conqueror of Marfa Boretskaia, great prince of Moscow, referred to himself as “tsar” in correspondence with foreign governments. The term was an ancient one, created in the Balkans from the Latin word “Caesar.” By borrowing it, Ivan declared himself...

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3. Empresses and Serfs, 1695–1855

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pp. 64-111

Peter I, known to history as Peter the Great, believed that he had to change elite women in order to transform Muscovy into a modern, powerful Russian Empire. He began by ordering them to put away their heavy kaftans and veils and order dresses of German design. Though his strong-willed...

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4. Industrialization and Urbanization 1855–1914

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pp. 112-157

From 1855 to 1914, the Russian economy grew rapidly and so did the cities. Peasants freed from serfdom crowded into factories; merchants and shopkeepers expanded their businesses; apartment blocks went up, as did tenements. Between 1811 and 1914, the percentage of Russia’s people living in urban areas rose from 6.6 to 15 percent, with much...

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5. Activist Women and Revolutionary Change, 1890–1930

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pp. 158-210

The Russian Revolution began in February 1917 with a demonstration by poor women in Petrograd, Russia’s newly renamed capital city. On February 23, textile workers took to the streets to protest food shortages and the war that had cost so many of them their husbands and brothers. They were answering the call of socialists

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6. Toil, Terror, and Triumphs, 1930–53

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pp. 211-252

Joseph Stalin was one of the most successful tyrants of the twentieth century. His government built the Soviet industrial base, defeated the Axis armies, and pushed the Soviet Union into the ranks of the superpowers. Women were crucial to all these endeavors. They made up the majority of workers entering the labor force in the 1930s. One million of them...

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7. Making Better Lives, 1953–91

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pp. 253-285

The communist leaders who succeeded Stalin ran the Soviet system without the Terror. They maintained the dictatorship, but reined in the police and sought to build public support by raising the standard of living. They also pursued an ambitious agenda of controlling client states in Eastern Europe and competing with the United States for influence around the...

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8. Gains and Losses, 1991–2010

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pp. 286-315

In the 1990s, the peoples of the fifteen nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan—set about remaking their...

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pp. 316-320

Several unifying themes have emerged from this study of the history of women in Russia from the tenth century to the twenty-first. One of the most important is the proposition that that history is closely linked to that of women in other European nations. For most of the women in Russia’s...


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pp. 321-336


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pp. 337-360


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pp. 361-386

E-ISBN-13: 9780253001047
E-ISBN-10: 0253001048
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253000972

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 18 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012