The 1917 Russian Revolution, version 1.0

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Postcard showing a funeral procession for the February Revolution dead, on Nevsky Prospect. From the Catherine Cooke Collection.

One hundred years ago, Russia was in the grip of the February Revolution.  By the Revolution’s end, the Tsar and his government had been overthrown.  1917 had now seen the unthinkable happen, as hundreds of years of tsarist rule were overturned.  Yet this was just the beginning of a world-changing year.

First, a pedant’s note about months.  Many readers will know that the February and October Revolutions refer to the Julian calendar, and are what we usually refer to as dates in the “Old Style”.  In the Gregorian calendar (whose dates are “New Style”), the February Revolution took place in March and the October Revolution in November.  The names have, however, always stuck.  The Soviets formally adopted the Gregorian calendar in early 1918 but the Fevral’skaia revoliutsiia and Oktiabr’skaia revoliutsiia remained untouched.

While we normally write in this blog about books held by Cambridge, and while 1917-related UL material will certainly be studied in future posts, today’s post celebrates instead a freely available online initiative set up to mark the Russian centenary, the fascinating site 1917: svobodnaia istoriia (1917: free history): https://project1917.ru/  Designed specifically for a modern audience accustomed to real-time updates, the site covers the events of one hundred years ago, “as described by those involved … [using] only diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents.”  Illustrated with photos, art, and newsreel footage from the time, 1917: svobodnaia istoriia is absolutely captivating and terrifyingly good at bringing extremely turbulent times to life.

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