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The Plekhanov House

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Georgii Valentinovich Plekhanov (1856-1918), the prominent Russian philosopher, an active member of the international revolutionary and social movement, co-founder of The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, its active representative in The Second International, a writer and art critic, made a profound contribution to the Russian and West European social thought in the late 19th - early 20th century.
Soon after Plekhanov's death in August 1918, the Soviet Government, initiated by V. I. Lenin, applied to Rosalie M. Plekhanova with a proposal and a request to start publishing Plekhanov's works and deposit his archives in Russia (G.V.Plekhanov was forced to leave Russia in 1880, and resided until March 1917 in Switzerland and Italy). George V. Plekhanov bequeathed the publication rights along with all his possessions, including archive materials, containing authentic manuscripts, extensive correspondence, and a voluminous library in 18 world languages, to his widow Rosalie M. Plekhanova, and his two daughters - Lydia G. Plekhanova and Euginia G. Batault-Plekhanova.

It was only in 1925 that Rosalie Plekhanova decided to present G.Plekhanov's Archives and Library to the Soviet Union, having refused various individuals and research institutions, like Musee Social and Institut des Etudes Slaves, which suggested outright acquisition or temporary housing in Prague or in some West European archive institution. She regarded the archives and library as both relics of her dear and beloved, and as means of disseminating and promoting G. V. Plekhanov's ideas. At the same time, major parts of the archives and library previously accommodated in Geneva and San-Remo were brought together in Paris to be delivered to his native land.
The Public Library as the place was not an accidental choice. According to Rosalie M. Plekhanova, who took an active part in her husband's social and literary work, Plekhanov had always considered the Petersburg Public Library as his "Alma Mater", a spiritual source of theoretical and practical knowledge he resorted to during the early stages of his scholarly and revolutionary activities Plekhanov's heirs presented his archives and private library together with the furniture of his study in Geneva to the Soviet Union on the condition of integral hold in the Public Library in Leningrad as an organizational unit in a separate area with specialized research staff.
The Board of The Public Library accepted the condition and provided the required budget for construction and setting up works in the new department, and the delivery of G. V. Plekhanov's literary legacy to Russia. In the spring 1928 the archives, library, art collections and the Study furniture were brought to Leningrad. Construction and installation works on the new premises - in The Free Economic Society outbuilding - were completed by the spring 1931.The Plekhanov House opening ceremony was held in the former Free Economic Society Assembly Hall on 11th June 1929.
Rosalie M. Plekhanova devoted the last two decades of her life to organizational and other activities in The Plekhanov House. After her death in 1949 studies in the library and archives were continued by Plekhanov House staff including Helen S. Kotz; Tatiana K. Ukhmylova, Cand. Sc., and Dr Irene N. Kurbatova. During the Great Patriotic War the archives and books (except periodicals) from Plekhanov's library, like other valued holdings of the Public Library, were evacuated to the town of Melekess, the rear of the country. After the War the collections were restored in their rooms in Leningrad.
The founders planned The Plekhanov House as a center of scholarly research in the history of social thought and workers' movement. Plekhanov's own collections, the archives of members of the "Emancipation of Labor" Group, and their associates and partisans' papers were to form the documental basis of the institution. In mid-1920s the intention was widely discussed among Russian political emigrees both in Europe and America, and eminent members of The Second International. By opening date, The Plekhanov House contained archives of Vera I. Zassulich, Alexey I. Lubimov, and Angrey F. Burianov. These were subsequently supplemented with archives of other Russian public figures.
Today The Plekhanov House comprises 72 archives covering the period since 1799 through 1999. They contain material on Russian and foreign history, Russian and international revolutionary and social movement, culture and education, secular and religious education, publishing, disciplines like history, art studies, regional research, literature and literary studies, studies of religion and church history, linguistics and folklore studies, philosophy, economics, ethnography etc.; as well as extensive iconography.
Among them are the collections of G. V. Plekhanov and R. M. Plekhanova, The A. P. and O. K. Bulanov-Trubnikovs, N. V. Vassiliev, N. S. Voitinskaia, G. A. Gershuni, L. G. Deutch, I. V. Egorov, V. I. Zassulich, G. E. Zenger, I. S. Knizhnik-Vetrov, E. A. Korolchuk, N. I. Liublinskii, P.P. Maslov, O. K. Matiushina, V. K., and A. N. Muellers, N. N. Miliukov, N. S. Russanov, O. N. Rutenberg, The A. A. and M. N. Sleptsovs, P. B. Struve, S. P. Shvetzov and some others.
A separate group comprises the collections of The Saint-Petersburg Academy of Theology, including those of professors A. V. Vadokovskii (Antony), and V. V. Bolotov, A. I. Brilliantov, and A. A. Dmitrevskii, I. V. Palmov, and V. V. Plotnikov (Boris), I. E. Troitskii, and "The Church Bulletin" editorial board, etc. The most comprehensive part of the collections is represented by G. V. Plekhanov's archives containing 5,030 items of storage subject to ongoing examination and descriptive analysis. They involve several collections:

  • Papers on G.V. Plekhanov's Biography.
  • Works (G.V. Plekhanov's edited or revised handwritten original materials, preparatory notes, including plans, annotations, page-by-page book reviews, abstracts, extracts from books, translated fragments).
  • Correspondence.
  • Manuscript writings of other persons.
  • Leaflets/ephemera.
  • Iconography.
  • G. V. Plekhanov's Private Library.
  • Newspaper clippings.

The nature of the documentary holdings in the Plekhanov House determines the investigation and implementation policies: research, publication, search for materials focussed on the life and work of G. V. Plekhanov and other collection subjects, general issues of national history, readers services, and research seminars and conferences.
The Plekhanov House maintains active professional contacts with other investigators in G. V. Plekhanov legacy both in and outside Russia, domestic and foreign archives and research organizations, academic centers. The Plekhanov Conference (Chtenia), I - V, were held in 1988 through 1999.
Since its inception, The Plekhanov House has been responsible for sectoral publishing activities. Collaborative efforts with members of other scientific institutions resulted in the following publications related to G. V. Plekhanov and his associates:

  • G. V. Plekhanov. Collected Works. In 24 vols. (M; L., 1922 - 1927).
  • The Literary Heritage of G. V. Plekhanov (Coll. 1 - 8, M., 1934 - 1940).
  • G. V. Plekhanov. Selected Philosophical Works. (Vol. 1 - 5. M., 1956 - 1958).
  • The Philosophical and Literary Heritage of G. V. Plekhanov (Vol. 1 - 3, M., 1973 - 1974).
  • The "Emancipation of Labor" Group: From The Archives of G. V. Plekhanov, V. I. Zassulich, and L. G. Deich (Coll. 1 - 6, M.; L., 1924 - 1928).
  • G. V. Plekhanov's Notes In The Books Held in his library (Coll. 1 - 3. L., 1974 - 1990).

Monographic studies based on The Plekhanov House archive holdings:

  • Kurbatova I. N. The Origins of Marxism in Russia: Literary and Publishing Activities of The "Emancipation of Labour" Group (M., 1983).
  • Iovchuk M. T., Kurbatova I. N. Plekhanov (M., 1977).
  • Chagin B. A., Kurbatova I. N. Plekhanov (M., 1973).
  • The First Marxist Organization in Russia - The "Emancipation of Labour" Group (1883 - 1903): Documents, Articles, Materials, Correspondence, and Reminiscences (M., 1984).
  • A. S. Berezhanskii. G. V. Plekhanov: from Populism to Marxism. Voronezh, 1990.
  • Filimonova T. I. Plekhanov G. V. From the Works composed in 1917 //The Working Class and Contemporary World. 1990. N 5.
  • Filimonova T. I., Smirnova I. V. Plekhanova R. M. A Year in the Homeland // Dialogue. 1991. NN 6, 8-15.
  • O. K. Tsapieva. Georgy Plekhanov: Views on Economics. M., 1991.
  • G. V. Plekhanov and Western Economic Thought. M., 1992.
  • "Istoricheskii Arkhiv" N 2 (1998), dedicated to the 70th anniversary of The Plekhanov House.
  • Tiutiukin S. V. G. V. Plekhanov. The Story of a Russian Marxist. M., 1997.
  • S. H. Baron. Plekhanov, the Father of Russian Marxism. - St. P. 1998. (trnsl. in Russ.).

The extensive distributed research reference system for all archive and book holdings in The Plekhanov House provides both rich material for bibliographical, ideographical and genealogical studies, and a profound basis for the catalogues and card files available at present,including the Union electronic catalogue of Plekhanov House archives.

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