restricted access ZLATOUSTOVA, Ekaterina Hristova (1881–1952)
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624 ZLATOUSTOVA, Ekaterina Hristova (1881–1952) Founder (1924) and long-time President (1926–1937) of the Druzhestvo na Bulgarkite s Visshe Obrazovanie (DBVO, Association of Bulgarian Women with Higher Education); high-ranking civil servant , teacher and translator. Energetic, strong-minded, resourceful, practical and persevering—that was how Ekaterina Zlatoustova was once described by her uncle Ivan Batsarov, surgeon, head doctor of the Bulgarian army and for sixty years the most trusted friend of his niece (in private correspondence, 1902–1910). Born in Varna on 22 September 1881, Ekaterina (Katya) Zlatoustova was the first of the four children of Krustina Batsarova (1860–1942) and Hristo Zlatoustov (1858–1900), a professional officer and later (after his participation in the 1886 coup d’état against Prince Alexander von Battenberg), an entrepreneur. His early death encouraged Katya, who had adored him and was heartbroken, to follow his predilections for public life, writing and Russophile and Slavophile ideas, but it also left her subject to the controlling authority of her mother (who put an end to Katya’s first romantic relationship and ordered her to come back from Russia, where she was studying). Katya had to take up a parental role with regard to her siblings (two sisters and a brother) and financially support her family, casting aside entertainment, a personal life and her natural aptitude for scientific research. From then on, Katya would be influenced most by her mother, Krustina Batsarova, and her large family. Her grandmother, grandfather and one of her aunts were teachers who had helped develop contemporary Bulgarian education; her uncle Ivan Batsarov, an army doctor, was her most trusted friend and her mother, one of the few highly educated female teachers in Bulgaria, encouraged Katya to study music and foreign languages (Russian, German and French). Katya quite naturally saw her mother as a role model. She was a teacher, translator and Chair of the Burgasko zhensko druzhestvo “Milosardie” (Bourgas [a town] Women’s Society), a charity organization for the education of girls. Katya was also influenced by her cousin Stefan Yonchev (1881–1904), with whom she fell in love. He idealized ‘the new woman’ as a fighter for women’s and national advancement (in accordance with Russian populist ideas). 625 While Katya was a student at the elite Sofia girls’ secondary school (1892–1898), she became interested in women’s issues. Problems relating to the secondary and higher education of girls and to the status of female teachers were widely discussed in the school by teachers such as Ekaterina Karavelova and Elena Radeva-Petrova, as well as in intellectual circles. The period of secondary schooling was shorter for girls than for boys, Sofia University did not admit women (until 1901) and female teachers were paid less than men and lost their positions upon marriage. At secondary school, Katya made friendships that would last her entire life; later she would always contact her classmates when she needed qualified and dedicated women, either for her translation projects or for the DBVO (see below). Following graduation from Sofia girls’ secondary school, Ekaterina Zlatoustova went to St Petersburg, where she attended the Bestuzhev Higher Women’s Courses from 1902 to 1905. This period witnessed the intensive development of her feminist ideas; the milieu in which she moved was full of women influenced by Russian populist ideology. Although she studied history and dreamed of taking up scientific work, this proved to be untenable and she decided, somewhat pragmatically, to undertake a teaching career that would not only provide her with an income and social standing, but also with independence and time for her own scholarly research. For ten years she taught history, geography, Bulgarian and Russian in Shoumen (1905–1907) and at her old secondary school in Sofia (1908–1911; 1911–1918). Her contacts with fellow feminists and with students—some of whom became teachers at the University (including Elissaveta Karamichailova)—date from then. It was obvious that teaching was a vocation for Zlatoustova, who considered that upbringing, education, duty and patriotism were all interrelated. Following World War I, Ekaterina Zlatoustova was among the first and few women who were immediately promoted to a responsible position in the administration. From 1918 to 1931, she worked in almost all the divisions of the Ministry of Education and, as Head of Department for cultural institutions and funds, she was responsible for state cultural policy. At this time, she also became acquainted with the activities of organizations created under the auspices of the League of Nations after World...


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