Author Archives: Alison Smith

About Alison Smith

Professor, University of Toronto, Department of History; Author of For the Common Good and Their Own Well-Being: Social Estates in Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2014)

On beards

With a post title like that, you might not be surprised to hear that I am lecturing on Peter the Great tomorrow. I always wondered a bit how his beard tax worked in practice, and I was a bit thrilled … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 1 Comment

Russian Citizenship — A View from the Empire (and Canada)

Thanks to Josh for inviting me to take part in this blog conversation, and to Eric for allowing us to read and discuss his book. It’s a pleasure to write about a book in a way that’s less formal and … Continue reading

Posted in Russian Citizenship | 1 Comment

Comedy to tragedy

In 1860, a freed serf recently become a meshchanka in Riazan’ named Nastas’ia Pavlova had to deal with some extra paperwork to get her children properly registered according to the laws.  She had three children, born in 1854, 1856, and 1858, but … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 1 Comment

Northern spaces

Last year around this time, one of my colleagues was asked to be a special commenter on a showing of a documentary on campus.  The film, Passage, focuses on a 19th century failed search for the Northwest Passage (the Franklin … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 6 Comments

Most unexpected appearance of an anarchist EVER

Here’s a quick link to the blog of a former colleague of mine, Sarah Young.  In this one, she’s discovered what has to be the strangest appearance of an anarchist, ever, in the pages of a magazine aimed at British … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 2 Comments

Completeness or lack thereof

I’m thrilled to see John’s post, because he brings up a point that I’ve been thinking about a lot, too–the incompleteness of the supposedly complete. I also came to think about it through the 18th century, and through RGADA (the … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

TASS Posters

On a recent trip to Chicago, I spent several hours wandering around a current exhibit at the Art Institute: “Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad.” It was, in a word, fascinating. The story behind the … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Nostalgia and Memory, World War II | 1 Comment

How an article came to be

At the risk of seeming shamelessly self-promoting, here I am blogging about the article that I just had published in the Journal of Modern History, in part because I think the story of how I came to the topic and … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Radicals or graft, revisited

So, the Senate returned to this question of what was going on in the Archive of Old Business (and elsewhere) a year and a half later (PSZ I, vol. 31, no. 24258 (June 13, 1810)). The initial investigation called for … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 2 Comments

Radicals in the archives? (Or probably just graft.)

When you start reading through the Polnoe sobranie zakonov (Complete Collection of the Laws) on various subjects, you see ukase after ukase saying virtually the same thing (and often quoting the earlier laws). This is, it seems, necessary for making … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 5 Comments

Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1909

Although I’d hoped to post something more substantive for my second post, instead, here’s a drive-by link to two photo albums that include some amazing images of Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1909. To me, they bring home how much … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Imperial Russia, Nostalgia and Memory | 12 Comments

Catherine on Memory and Forgetting

Hi, all–I’m the newest blogger here. In principle, I’m supposed to add in more Imperial-era coverage.  And, well, in practice, that is what I’m doing. I thought I’d start with something I’ve recently come across in passing that keeps making … Continue reading

Posted in Imperial Russia | 9 Comments