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30 ARIAN, Praskov’ia Naumovna Belenkaia (1864/5–1949) Russian feminist. Founder, editor and publisher of the Pervyi Zhenskii Kalendar’ (First Women’s Calendar) (1899–1915). Founder of the Pervyi Zhenskii Politekhnicheskii Institut (First Women’s Technical Institute) (in existence from 1906 to 1924). Praskov’ia Naumovna Belenkaia was born on 12 April 1864 or 1865 (her Moscow archive lists her date of birth as 1865 but the autobiographical statement in her St Petersburg archive lists it as 1864), to a Jewish family in St Petersburg, probably of the merchant class since Jewish residence in the Imperial capital was strictly limited . Admitted to the physics and mathematics section of the St Petersburg Vysshie Zhenskie (Bestuzhevskie) Kursy (Bestuzhev Higher Women’s Courses), Belenkaia completed the third graduating class of the Courses in 1884. She never took her final exam—perhaps due to her political activities; the Courses were a hotbed of radicalism and, like a number of other feminist activists, Belenkaia was a student radical. The date of Belenkaia’s marriage is not known, but upon marriage she adopted the family name of her husband, Miron Isaevich Arian. Praskov’ia Arian supported herself as a translator and journalist—forms of employment available to educated Russian women—while seeking to combine her work with her ideals. She wrote for a range of publications, including the Birzhevye Vedomosti (Stock market gazette), the Sputnik Zdorov’ia (Health guide), the Vestnik Blagotvoritel’nosti (Philanthropy bulletin) and Iskusstvo i Zhizn’ (Art and life). In 1884, she founded a daycare center, Detskaia Pomoshch’ (Children’s Aid), for children of workers in St Petersburg, where she worked for ten years alongside the center ’s first President (and feminist pioneer), Nadezhda Vasil’evna Stasova. In 1899, Arian founded the Pervyi Zhenskii Kalendar’ (First Women’s Calendar), single-handedly compiling, editing and publishing this compendium of information for women (each year from 1899 to 1915). The Kalendar’ contained articles on religion, health, employment and education, as well as biographical sketches of Russian feminists , radical activists and literary figures, with accompanying photos. It chronicled the activities of the major feminist organizations, such as the Russkoe Zhenskoe Vzaimno-Blagotvoritel’noe Obshchestvo (Russian Women’s Mutual Philanthropic Society )—including photos of the society’s facilities—and the Liga Ravnopraviia Zhenshchin (League for Women’s Equal Rights). Feminist congresses also received detailed coverage : in particular the 1908 Pervyi Vserossiiskii Zhenskii S’ezd (First All-Russian Congress of Women) and the Pervyi Vserossiiskii S’ezd po Obrazovaniiu Zhenshchin (First All-Russian Congress on Women’s Education; held from 26 December 1912 to 4 January 1913). Arian recruited a wide range of contributors to the Kalendar’, includ- 31 ing the writer Maxim Gorky, the radical activist Vera Figner, the artist Il’ia Repin and the psychologist Vladimir Bekhterev. Arian traveled widely. Working in the archives of Swiss universities, she gathered data on Russian women studying abroad for the Kalendar’ issues of 1899 and 1912 and, after a trip to Japan, published articles on the Women’s University in Tokyo and the status of Japanese women (see the Kalendar’ issues of 1904 and 1905). News about the international women’s movement was a regular feature of the Kalendar’. The Kalendar’ dwelled on a range of issues affecting women. Prominent among them was health, both physical and mental. Each issue contained nutritional advice and pointers on personal hygiene and behavior. The 1912 Kalendar’, for example, included the article “Nervnost’ i mery dlia bor’by s nei” (Anxiety and ways to fight it). Arian is perhaps best known as the driving force behind the establishment of the First Women’s Technical Institute. It was Arian who lobbied the government tirelessly for permission to open what were originally called the Vysshie Zhenskie Politekhnicheskie Kursy (Women’s Higher Polytechnical Courses); she also carried out the fundraising necessary to sustain the new venture, hired the staff and rented the initial space (an apartment) in her own name. When the Courses opened on 15 January 1906, they were the first in the world to train women engineers. Arian remained committed to providing educational opportunities for workers of both sexes. In the year that the Vysshie Zhenskie Politekhnicheskie kursy opened (1906), she was granted permission to open an evening school for workers in the Narva Gate section of St Petersburg. Despite government harassment, closings and arrests of students, the school survived for ten years. Never once imprisoned for her activities, Arian maintained ties with those who had been incarcerated for their opposition to the...


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