Irkutsk city historiography

A.V. Dulov

Irkutsk historical literature is vast. History and different areas of culture researchers, regionalists, different profile specialists would be interested in an essay, dedicated to our city historical literature. There are no special publications on such a problem. Besides research works, this survey has also mentioned the most important Irkutsk history publications.

Considering the city history research peculiarities in different historical epochs, one can define seven basic stages.

The first stage – oral history or legendary period – took a period from 1661 to the early 1720s. That was the time when the first settlers of Irkutsk “ostrog” fortress could live, and when oral legends about city foundations and first decades of its existence were passed and transformed. Obviously, the city foundation in 1652 (on “Dyachi” island ) stories, related to this period, were recorded in the 1730s by an academic expedition participant G.F. Miller and taken by Irkutsk citizens up to the middle of the XIX century as an indisputable fact. At this time, the stories about a lake, which existed near the fortress in the XVII century, appeared. It meant that the river channel flew into Angara from Ushakovka. Perhaps, A legend about Irkutsk foundation in 1620 dated back to the early XVIII century. Most likely, in the XVIII century appeared the legend about marksman (“Strelez”) Luba on “Dyachi” island, who was exiled by Peter I. Without a doubt, there were other legends. Most of them were not recorded or the records were lost. It is a curious fact that such an important history page of a small city as annual returns in 1684-1687 of large trade convoys from Buhara were not preserved in Irkutsk townspeople notes and were found lately.

The second stage – chronicle one- refers to 1718-1772. A chronicle tradition is considered to have been existing since the 1720-s. 1) The first chronicles, which sprang up among merchants, and priests, history fans, were democratic by their nature. The chronicles had much precious and truthful information about the city history.

The first city chronicler in Irkutsk, in a gymnasium principle N.S. Shukin’s opinion, was Irkutsk “posadskii” (citizen) Vasilii Sibiryakov, whose ancestor came in Irkutsk after its foundation. His sons, Michael and Nikolay, continued father’s chronicle but it was a separate work for each of them. 2) Thus, it was the first time when competition between Russian historians appeared. These two city chronicles were led up to 1802-1803. As Shukhin wrote, from the 1770s to 1810 the Shegorin merchant family’s chronicle was being composed. In the 1820s chronicles of a Trinity Church priest I. Karamzin, a government official I.Y. Kozlov, and also a merchant Yakov Donskoi (a M. Sibiryakov’s brief text variant) were owned by a government official Koryukov and known.

The author of a book about Eastern Siberia in the XVII century, a law teacher A.A. Ionin had some details about Karamzin’s chronicle: “1718-1817 notes of Irkutsk Trinity church priests, the Karamzins, beginning from their great-grandfather Iliya, 24 pages”. 3) Thus, Karamzin did a laconic work – each page had a description of 4 years. This information gives a chance to push the beginning of Irkutsk chronicle writing to 1718. In addition, the priest Ilya Karamzin should be considered to be first Irkutsk chronicler, whose activities were continued by 3 generations of his descendents (grandfather – father – son), who were Trinity church priests. As it is seen, Irkutsk chronicle writing was hereditary, a continuation of family traditions.

By the late XVIII century a number of different authors chronicles had reached 8, and all Irkutsk chronicle lists of the XVIII-XIX cc. –30, in a historian N.V. Kulikauskene’s opinion.

The third period of Irkutsk historiography – the first printed publications about the city and its history – began in 1773. First, the city was mentioned in a foreign literature, articles in Russian dictionaries and encyclopedias, Siberian descriptions, and then in Russian magazines and article collections. Later, since 1857 Irkutsk newspaper articles, Irkutsk chronicle fragments (1850, 1858-1861) shed light on some Irkutsk historical events in special historical monographs, dedicated to different topics.

Thus, the first printed Irkutsk publications appeared in a foreign press. In 1692 fundamental work of an Amsterdam mayor Nikolai Vitsen “Northern and Eastern Tatariya”, which included the materials about a vast territory – from the Caspian coast and Volga to the Pacific. A recently founded Irkutsk took a page there. This document had correct information, but a number of soldiers and houses was overestimated. 4) Vitsen’s book was republished twice, in 1705 and 1785. Brief information about Irkutsk was made by an Englishman John Bell, who visited the city in 1720 in his book “About a travel from St. Petersburg in Russia to different Asian lands”, published in 1763 in Glasgow and translated into Russian in 1776 under a name “Bell’s travels through Russia into different Asian lands…” 5)

The first messages about Irkutsk began since the 1770s. In 1773 “Geographical lexicon of Russian state or a dictionary, … compiled by F. Polunin” was published. There was a short article about the city on 107-108 pages. Irkutsk took almost the same space in I. Fischer’s book “Siberian history since a Siberian discovery…” (1774). Fischer used a local legend about Irkutsk foundation in 1652, recorded by G.F. Miller in the 1730s. In 1788 a text was published where Irkutsk foundation was referred to Afanasii Pashkov in 1656. 6)

In “Geographical dictionary of Russian state” of L. Maximovich and A. Schekatov, published in the early XIX c., Irkutsk took 12 pages. Irkutsk articles in the XIX c. were obligatory for geographical dictionaries and Russian encyclopedias. Comparatively brief Irkutsk data were used in Topographical description of Irkutsk administrative region (“Ancient Russian vivliothecs”, 1791)

In the first half of the XIX c. there were works, where the city and its history were described in more detail. For example, A. Losev was a real author in Irkutsk vice-governor Semivskii’s book “The newest, curious and truthful stories about Eastern Siberia”, published in 1817. Here Irkutsk took about 70 pages. This work had a detailed description of the city and Voznesenskii monastery. A special chapter was written about Innokentii Kulchinskii. Alexei Martos paid much attention to Irkutsk in his book “The letters about Eastern Siberia” (1827). The author visited Irkutsk in 1824 and he described a row of large buildings, Irkutsk townspeople and the city history approximately on 60 pages.

Irkutsk took some space in the first generalized Siberian history work (P. Slovtsov. Historical Siberian review, books 1-2; 1838 and 1844). Much more information could be found in two-volume work by V.I. Vagin “Historical information about a duke M.M. Speranskii’s activities in Siberia, in 1819-1822”. It is impossible to miss this research work for any historian, having an interest in the first quarter of the XIX c.

In 1870 a famous public activist and journalist M.V. Zagoskin published a small book “Irkutsk and Irkutsk gubernia (region). With other Siberian regions and oblasts essay”. It was the first educational textbook about regional geography. More than the third of this book was devoted to Irkutsk. There were the city characteristics, conditions of nature, its population and its occupation, educational establishments. But there were doubtful facts in this book. For example, Ivan Pokhabov’s city foundation in 1646 was mentioned.

In the 1840s books and booklets about the Orthodox Church History in Irkutsk appeared. The main book “The beginning of Christianity in Irkutsk and saint Innokentii, the first Irkutsk bishop” (1868) belonged to a priest P.V. Gromov, who took a position of a Seminary rector. Then Gromov was first editor of “eparchy news”, orthodox history specialist. The author talked about church administrators of Eastern Siberia in the early XVIII century, Innokentii’s deeds in Irkutsk. Gromov used the texts of “marvel records”, connected with Innokentii. 5 years later archimandrit Modest’s book “About St. Innokentii’s preaching, the first Irkutsk bishop and marvelmaker” was published. In 1840 “Irkutsk Voznesenskii Monastery description” by Nikodim was published in St. Petersburg , and in 1879 in Irkutsk a booklet “Irkutsk spiritual seminary…”, dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of the seminary, was published.

The notes and memories of E.A. Avdeeva-Polevaya, I.T. Kalashnikov, M.A. Alexandrov, V.I. Vagin are interesting among published sources in the first half of the XIX century. They were republished in 1990 in the collection called “Irkutsk townspeople notes”. A specific and bright source is a teacher Ivan Polixentyev’s book “Prosaic compositions of Irkutsk gymnasium students…”(1836). It included 51 compositions of the gymnasts. Their literary works give an idea about the scope, world outlook and esthetic views of the gymnasts. There is information about Irkutsk nature and its surroundings, life and way of life in the city. Valuable information was given in “Irkutsk gubernia cities for 1875…”, compiled by V. Krzhizhanovskii (in his book “Memorable book of Irkutsk gubernia 1881”, 3-d Dept) and in 1880 publication – “Gubernia city Irkutsk” by D.D. Larionov (June 22 and 24 1879 fires).

The first book, which was specially dedicated to the city history, was named “Irkutsk. The city XVII and XVIII centuries history materials”. It was published in Moscow in 1883 and included 92 pages of a large format. The book had valuable information, which has not used till the end yet. The Moscow archive of Law Ministry provided documents for this book. The city materials are especially interesting – Irkutsk inventory 1684, which has a description of defense constructions and city buildings, state property, 1686 census book, which had a description of Cossack and administrators property, and 34 yards of Irkutsk townspeople. Each house owner was described in detail – where and when he was from, his occupation and family composition. Further documents were such as follows: 1698 census book, census book of gone people after the first revision, 2nd revision book 1744, 3d revision book. These documents were not detailed, but they mentioned townspeople. It is possible to see how each person changed in the city for a long period of time. There is information about social status of Irkutsk citizens, their payments, and genealogy. Although there were neither introductory article nor annotation, this book has significance in the city history.

In 1895 in Irkutsk a book “New data to the Eastern Siberia history of the XVII c.”, was written by a law teacher of Irkutsk male gymnasium A.A. Ionin. He used, mainly, archive documents, kept in Eastern Siberian department of Russian Geographical Society. Ionin added more information about Voznesenskii Monastery and the city life facts. 32 XVII century charters, some of them relevant to Yakutiya and Zabaikalye History, were added together with litographical texts of ancient documents. This edition, which was the first one, supplied by the commentaries, shed light on the city past.

In 1902 in St. Petersburg a book “The first hundred years of Irkutsk” was compiled by a Moscow University assistant professor P.M. Golovachev, who was a famous Siberian specialist. He was an author of preface and article “Population composition and economic way of life in Irkutsk before the 1740s”, based on a successful analysis and comparison of documents. Accordingly, new materials about the first decades of the city were introduced into science. There were several texts in the book, which had been published earlier. Total number of 1684-1735 documents was 33 (inventories, census books, and different fiscal-economical acts). One of the variants “Irkutsk gubernskii city chronicles ” was among these texts. 3 plans and 4 drawings of Irkutsk of the XVIII century were given as appendixes.

V.P. Sukachyov, who also issued and edited one more valuable book about Irkutsk, published a book “The first hundred years of Irkutsk”. That was a book “Irkutsk, its place and significance in Eastern Siberian history and cultural development” in 1891 in Moscow. The court considered N.N. Bakhmetyev to be an author of this book. He was a teacher of history in exile. This was the first Irkutsk monograph about Irkutsk – previous books, mainly, were document and materials collections. Although the author pointed out that he had not given anything new in the sources, the fact that this book was based on published materials is significant. The first chapter of the research paper was a review and discussed main city events before M.M. Speranskii’s visit. The main focus was made on the visits of M.M. Speranskii (second chapter) and Muravyov-Amurskii (third chapter). The author analyzed the city events from a democratic point of view. He was well informed of many city facts. It is possible to find well-written characteristics of the city development at that time. The final chapters of the book had detailed information about Irkutsk of the 1870-90-s, the city contribution in Siberian exploration and population education.

A booklet “Memorable list of Irkutsk. A brief enumeration of different events from the city life…” (1895) was an interesting publication (although it was too compiled). Its peculiarity was in the fact that there were many collected facts of the city life (about 100) dated by month and days of a year. It gave an opportunity to mention each day and follow the city events.

The important achievement of Irkutsk culture was an edition of separate books with the city chronicles. In 1911 “Irkutsk chronicle (the chronicles of P.I. Pezhemskii and V.A. Krotov) was published. The editor and author of the preface to a text was I.I. Serebrennikov, an Eastern Siberian RGO department executive. He was the author of a number of valuable statistics and Irkutsk gubernia history works. P.I. Pezhemskii, the author of 1652-1806 chronicles, was a merchant. V.A. Krotov who lived until 1857, was a government official.

This chronicle, as a collective work of tens of authors, accumulated those facts, events, and the city history and Siberian information, which were considered by the compilers to be important and essential. No less than 1000 Irkutsk townspeople were mentioned in the chronicle. There was information about city buildings. The chronicle compilers were liberal by their views of that time. That is why the authors focused on city population’s struggle with “Siberian satraps (ruling class)” which was intense.

The chronicle has much information about local administrators. Almost each big government official was characterized. As a rule, characteristics were truthful and objective. Sometimes it is possible to find characteristics on merchants, priests and junior government officials. The chroniclers described in detail folk holidays, the city life important events.

There were more than a thousand of episodes, introduced into a chronicle text, which could be called “detachable novellas”. The examples are – a report of the Russian-American company, stories about the XVIII c. administrators power abuse (Zholobov, Krylo and etc.), St. Innokentii’s relics acquisition ceremonies. There was almost only one style, used in the chronicle. But stories interpretation was gradually becoming more detailed and exact. The XVII-XVIII cc. periods had many mistakes in dates, names and last names of active people. There were much less mistakes in the XIX c.

The chronicle overwhelmingly focused on ruling class, priests, and merchants. But it did not give much information about politically exiled people. The chronicle registered, mostly, official events – political or church, administrators’ work. Nevertheless, they represent a historical work of a great value, telling truly about the first centuries of Irkutsk life.

In 1914 N.S. Romanov published a continuation of Irkutsk chronicle from 1857 to 1880. Unlike his predecessors, Romanov had an opportunity to use reliable materials – local newspapers and archive documents. There were references to the Complete collection of Russian Empire laws. That is why his book was more reliable and authentic than Krotov’s text. Romanov described events in more detail. An average year, he wrote about, had 8 times more information than his predecessors’ year. Romanov kept the same style similar to the one, first chroniclers had. But he introduced a large number of tables, statistics materials, taken from newspapers and published sources.

The detachable novellas became more brief and rare in Romanov’s work, than in the works of Pezhemskii and Krotov. Romanov stuck to “neutrality” in writing, and tried not to give any political or moral assessments. In total, his chronicle gave detailed and carefully confirmed description of external city events. In addition, it was different by a calm tone of describing.

The late XIX – early XX cc. – period of the city church historiography “golden age”. In 1907 two books about Spasskii Church “200th anniversary of Irkutsk stone temple” by D. Gagarin and “To the 200-th anniversary since Irkutsk Spasskii church stone building foundation…” by K.V. Danilov, and in 1895 “Irkutsk new cathedral temple building chronicle” of A. Vinogradov were published. In 1907 booklets “Admiration of St. Innokentii in Irkutsk land and Siberia during his life and after the death” by O. Vernomudrova and “Blessed Sofronii, 3d Irkutsk bishop” by a priest M. Chefranov were dedicated to eparchial bishops. An article of D. Khrustalyov “Sacred Irinei, archbishop of Irkutsk “ belonged to the same topic. (Irkutsk scientific archive commission, first edition. 1) as well as “Brief historical-statistical description of Irkutsk Voznessinskii monastery…”, compiled by L. Shavelskii (1905).

In 1915 there was the first monograph about one of ethnic minorities in Irkutsk published – “Jews in Irkutsk”, written by V.S. Voitinskii and A.Y. Gorstein.

“Irkutsk City Duma news” is an important source for 1866-1913. “Alphabetical index to “ Irkutsk City Duma news” by N.M. Dobronravov, published in 1910.

The fifth stage (1918-1955) is better to define as Bolshevist one. That was the time of ideology dominance, which broke a connection with previous historical-cultural traditions. Unbiased approaches and an ability to avoid ideological-political cliches, the qualities, owned by previous city historians, were forgotten. New authorities demanded ideological approaches and massed studies of revolutionary movement, party leaders and Soviet power glorification, previous administrators, religion blackening, overestimation of lower classes hardships, detailed social city composition. Historical research papers acquired indoctrination style. But at the same time, publishing capabilities of the new power were not large, especially in the years of Great Patriotic War. That is why historical works of that period about Irkutsk are not numerous. They are modest by its volume, and ideology is dominant in them. Historians-professionals, as a rule, wrote them.

In connection with the Decembrists mutiny, valuable research books were published, where historians focused on the Decembrists’ living in Irkutsk. First of all, these are the works of an Irkutsk University teacher B.G. Kubalov - a small booklet “The Decembrists in Irkutsk and its close factories”- and a large monograph “The Decembrists in Eastern Siberia”. In 1925 under the editorship of M.K. Azadovskii a collection “Siberia and the Decembrists: articles, materials, unpublished letters, bibliography” was published.

Only a few number of books were dedicated to the city history. An interesting article of Irkutsk University Scientific library principal V.S. Manassein “Irkutsk ostrog (fortress)” should be noticed //Societies of Eastern-Siberian region exploration, v. 1. 7) The author made an attempt to reconstruct the fortress view, researching its construction history. Manassein’s made an important conclusion, that Irkutsk view from N. Vitsen’s book “Northern and Eastern Tatariya” first appeared only in the third edition (1875), but not in the first (1692). That is why Manassein did not consider Vitsen’s book to be a primary source of the city history. Vitsen’s book was a “Europeanized” reflection of the city drawing from “drawing book” of S. Remezov, where wooden fortress constructions looked like stone ones. Unfortunately, this fact has not been taken into account even by contemporary historians, who publish Vitsen’s book drawing and date it to 1692. 7) In 1926 “Irkutsk and its surroundings guidebook…” by M.E. Stozh was published.

In 1940 first Soviet book about the city history was published. It was F.A. Kudryavzev’s book “From Cossack’s winter quarters to Soviet Irkutsk” (92 pages). In this small scientific book Kudryavzev researched main stages of the city development. There was detailed information about the XVII century, but the XVIII c. received disproportionately little attention. Obviously, according to ideological considerations, post-October events (only 4 years) got 22% of the text. There were two books published, which had many facts, connected with Irkutsk. 8)

There were many new facts in a collection “A.P. Schapov in Irkutsk. Unpublished materials.”, published in 1938. At the end of the 1930s two interesting Readers were published. They had much information about Irkutsk. A book “Eastern Siberia in early artistic prose” had the texts from literary works of the 1830-40s. In addition, it was, surprisingly, “apolitical” at that time. On the contrary, the second book “Old Siberia in contemporaries recollections” was political. It had much interesting materials about life of Siberians before 1905.

In 1947 first Soviet monograph about the city history was published. It was “Irkutsk. Essay about the city history”, written by F.A. Kudryavzev together with a talented historian, an Irkutsk pedagogical institution instructor E.P. Silin. The book volume was 20 pages. We do not have exact information about the way separate chapters were being written. But knowing that Silin was a specialist of the XVIII c. history, it is possible to consider him to be an author of a large chapter of the book. Apparently, he wrote a chapter about Irkutsk foundation.

Without a doubt, the book was a serious work, which was peculiar by a level of events description objectivity, of course, within the frame, allowed by an official ideology. The XVIII century was better described than the first half of the XIX century. Other Irkutsk history periods were equally written. Although the city history was led to 1947, the Soviet epoch received one third of the text, which seems to be well grounded.

In 1949 F.A. Kudryavzev published a book “Historical monuments of Irkutsk region”. More than a half of the text was dedicated to regional center monuments. Thereby, first at the Soviet period attention was drawn to an importance of preservation of past relics. Several churches were mentioned in the book. A book of M.K. Azadovskii “Essays of literature and culture of Siberia” was peculiar by its deepness and novelty in positing main problems (1947). This work was almost independent from the official ideology. It had characteristics on the development of pre-October Siberian culture. Irkutsk and its townspeople – cultural values creators – were often mentioned in this book.

In several works a political struggle in the late XIX- the early XX cc. was described. They were “Irkutsk exile. Irkutsk countrymen club collection” (1934), booklets of Kudryavzev and G.Kolodinskii (“First May Celebrations in Siberia…”, 1936) and Vendrikh’s booklet “1905 in Irkutsk” (1955) and a very large work (90 pages!) N.N. Yakovlev’s article “1905 in Irkutsk” // Moscow historical archive institute, v. 6, 1954.

Much more favorable conditions for the city history research appeared in the next period 1956-1991, which could be called a period of desalinization and “developed socialism”. Regime liberalization contributed to historical research topics expansion. Many books about Irkutsk culture history, architecture construction development, the city monuments were published. Strong publishing base gave an opportunity to issue tens of books and booklets about regional center history. Together with a broad publication of revolutionary themes, it became possible to touch upon problems of individual psychology, inner world of pre-October Irkutsk townspeople. In 1956-1991 no less than 40 books and booklets were published, shedding a light on pre-Revolutionary Irkutsk.

Since 35 years of this period gave the biggest number of research books, it makes sense to define 3 main directions: the city development history, political history, and culture history. In 1957 a large monograph was published, which gave the most complete city history. It was “Irkutsk. The city history essay”. F.A. Kudryavzev wrote it together with a senior instructor of people’s economical Institute G.A. Vendrikh. This capital monograph (41,4 educational-publishing literature) had a huge actual material about Irkutsk past. It was mentioned in the books of country historiography as one of valuable works about the USSR cities history. Since G.A. Vendrikh was an active Soviet period researcher, the post-October period chapters could belong to him.

Pre-1917 period was pretty fully described in this edition. However, owing to ideological considerations post-October years were disproportionately extensively described in the book (49% of the text). Too much space was given to revolutionary and class struggle events. F.A. Kudryavzev introduced huge and new material into the book, using many interesting facts. The monograph is still most detailed research book, which has a general Irkutsk history description. One of pre-October chapters drawbacks was a focus on some city events and sometimes an absence of critical approach to the sources, an ignorance of ruling class life.

In 1971 a new edition of the same authors was published. It was “Irkutsk. The city history essays”. Apparently, the text was shortened, according the editing house demand. Post-October period amounted to 46% of the text. There were more detailed facts in the book, but ideological essence remained untouched. The most essential closer definition was the city foundation problem. In two previous editions “the city history essays” the authors considered 1652 to be the date of hibernation foundation, and Ivan Pokhabov was considered to be the hibernation and fortress (1661) founder. Now the authors took into an account a series of Novosibirsk historian A.N. Kopylov’s articles 9), who announced that he had found documents about early Irkutsk history. These documents certified that there was not any hibernation place before Irkutsk fortress foundation in 1661. They also said that a head of Cossack troops who built the fortress was Yakov Pokhabov, not Ivan Pokhabov. F.A. Kudryavzev and G.A. Vendrikh agreed with these A.N. Kopylov’s conclusions. At the same time, they seemed to forget Manassein’s article by using Vitsen’s book drawing as a primary source. They, as other authors, did not pay much attention to an article which pointed out that Irkutsk foundation was connected with one of Tuva tribes, whose prince asked Eniseiskii military and administrative head to build a fortress in the mouth of the Irkut river for the yasak (tax) collection from local tribes and their protection. 10)

In 1956 a small book of G.A. Vendrikh and M.I. Ryabzovskii was published specially dedicated to the city construction history “Constructing Irkutsk”. However, pre-October development received only 26 pages. V.P. Scherbakov continued this topic in a book “Along the streets of native town”, where he gave more exact essay. The author almost leads a reader along Irkutsk, telling about its most famous streets, corners and sightseeings. There were much more detailed parts of the text, informing of the squares of Kirov, Trud (Labor) and Central Market history. Scherbakov was interested in a fact material and traced dependence and interconnection among processes and events, which took place in the city.

Two decades later the city construction history was well developed by a regional department of Monuments protection society secretary N.M. Polunina in a book “Near stone city roots” (1979). In her small research she touched upon the problems of stone construction beginning, architecture, Spasskii and Bogoyavlenskii Cathedrals constructions, their restoration. The book was dedicated to the first half of XVIII century city construction history. Later (1982) there was a bigger book of Novosibirsk historian of architecture B.I. Ogly “Irkutsk. About the city planning and architecture” published. Showing the construction history, planning and Irkutsk architecture, the author traced its important features, which determined the city image architectural style peculiarities. Pre-October period received approximately a half of the text. B.I. Ogly was the first one, who found out a number of interesting facts but he had several distortions.

There were several articles dedicated to early Irkutsk development history. These were A.V. Dulov’s articles (an attempt to show fortress development topography in the XVII century), articles of V.I. Dulov and N.M. Polunina (the 1760-90s Irkutsk plans analysis).

A book “Irkutsk: from past into future” has 3 interesting N.M. Polunina’s articles about the city history and its construction, some texts about architecture monuments, 2 publicistic publications (by a writer A.M. Shastin and an architecture historian V.T. Scherbin) about past legacy preservation, biographical essays series and ecological character articles. It is important to mention a courage and innovation of a number of authors, who were the first ones, touching upon acute problems. They used a new approach to outstanding people of Irkutsk assessment as heroes of biographical essays, unknown architects, and merchants-philanthropists. But there are some mistakes in this book – groundless N.M. Polunina’s conclusion about a “new date” of Irkutsk foundation – 1620. 12) A small booklet of G.A. Bukharova talks about the settlements development history on the place of a present Leninskii district before 1917. (“Northern-western Irkutsk suburbs at the end of XVII-early XX cc.”(1990)

“Irkutsk Guidebook” of I.I. Kozlov (1982) is a well-written book of this kind, which has the most detailed information. There are descriptions of main streets and the city squares, more than 80 historical, architecture, monumental arts monuments characteristics. In 1986 in Moscow M.D. Sergeev published Irkutsk guidebook in French language, but it had a less size.

A book “Irkutsk three centuries” (1986) takes a special place in regional literature. (a compiler – M.D. Sergeev). It was the most volumetric book (556 pages), but not so successful. There are 7 components in this book, included in all chapters: the city history sources, past Irkutsk articles, written by historians and journalists, “chronicle pages”, where the main events were mentioned, illustrations, illustrations commentaries, poems and epigraphs to each chapter.

This publication could be called a reading book about Irkutsk history and a historical reader. Our contemporaries’ poems, used in this book and epigraphs to each chapter can not fulfil a task of describing important historical events authentically and impartially. Many documents and texts, used in the book, had one-sidedness and many historians’ works became obsolete. There were many mistakes in the city “chronicle” and poem commentaries.

The first chapter, taking a period up to 1700, does not have documents about an earlier period of the city.

The second chapter, reflecting the XVIII century period, used occasional fragments from the works of historians and journalists and some sources. It was hard to trace important city events, craft and culture development by using these materials. Such important events as abuse of power by Irkutsk administrators and a townspeople attempt to oppose it were not shown in this book.

The next chapter, dedicated to the XIX century, contains too huge extracts from documents, but one would not find the city construction and development materials, townspeople participation in 1812 Patriotic War and other important events.

The chapter about the revolution and Civil War (1900-1920) is too short for such an important period. It has predominantly leaflets, proclamations and memoirs. But we do not see the city development and its culture.

In the 1980s there were many books published. The books were dedicated to persons whose names were given to the streets of Irkutsk. A journalist G.T. Kilesso book “A street named after…” (1989) sets a task to tell biography of more than 36 people. These people were mainly revolutionaries and political activists of the XX century. The author managed to fulfil his task but there were several mistakes and distortions in the text. A less sized book of G.G. Gerashenko “Irkutsk streets bear their names” (1983) has biography of 61 people.

Irkutsk political history was thoroughly studied, although it was one-sided approach to it. In 1966 a large collective monograph “Irkutsk organization of CPSU history essays”, volume 1 appeared. The book described a period, ending in 1920. 235 pages of this book give complete characteristics of the Marxists movement in our region. The main focus was on Irkutsk events. In spite of a monograph task to idealize Bolshevism, the book has a value. It has many interesting and proven facts and details, which gave political struggle picture from a party-winner point of view.

The presence in the city of some of the Decembrists’ movement researchers as well as the scientific centers contributed to a mass publication of this theme literature. Among the books, most of which were dedicated to the stay of some political outcasts in Irkutsk, one should point out the first collection “In the memory of the Decembrists” (1975). In the collection of the memoirs of the Decembrists in Siberia, published under the title “Your tribe lives in the dark” (1986), approximately the third part of the materials was dedicated to the life of the “first-borns of freedom” in Irkutsk and the countryside. In the same year a book “High aspiration of the thoughts” was published in Irkutsk. Some of the Decembrists publicist works of the exile period and the memoirs of them were reprinted in it. Some of the editions of “Polar star” were published in Irkutsk include the materials about the Decembrists who lived in our city (the editions about Volkonskii, Trubetskoy, Muhanov and others).

Some of the biography books about political outcasts and revolutionary movement, where the events connected with Irkutsk, were published. Among them there are the books of M.B.Naychitelya “Life and activities of A.P. Schapov” (1958), “G. Lopatin in Siberia” (1963), V.M. Vlasov “The Capital of Marx in Russia and Eastern Siberia” (1958). In a book of S.I. Goldfarb “D.A. Klements – revolutionary, scientist, publicist” much attention was devoted to the publicist and scientific activity of the famous newspaper editor “Eastern Survey”. I.I. Kozlov in an essay “The longest winter” (1985) discussed in detail S.M. Kirov’s revolutionary activities in Irkutsk.

Tens of articles about political outcasts – Polish rebels, populists (narodniki), the Marxists, including 12 editions of the scientific articles “The exiled revolutionaries”, were published by Irkutsk University in 1973-1991.

The publication of I.I. Popov’s edition of memoirs “Forgotten Irkutsk pages. The editor’s notes”(1989) can be considered to be useful. For quite a long period of time, Popov was an editor of the newspaper “Eastern Survey”, an agency of Siberian democratic opposition, which was very popular and had a lot of subscribers. The newspaper editor, possessing a talent of a daily newspaper organizer, was a distinguished public figure. He was the person who united political outcasts from different trends and the best part of leading local intelligentsia. The author described precisely his life in Irkutsk from 1894 to 1905, when trying to escape from an arrest, he had to leave Irkutsk. In this book there were many episodes, describing the conditions of “Eastern Survey” publication, life of political exiled people, the history of Irkutsk and Eastern Siberia of that period.

Almost 20 books, telling about cultural history of the city, were published. Among them there were many biography essays. A book of a famous critic A.D. Fatyanov “Vladimir Sukachev” (1990) describes, in detail, the most important life periods of an Irkutsk mayor, outstanding public figure, patron of art and a founder of the art gallery. The book was supplied with numerous illustrations-reproductions of the pictures from Sukachev’s collection, photos, enlarging the text. In a book “The lives connected with Irkutsk” M.D.Sergeev introduced biography of historical personalities, who lived in Irkutsk to a reader. The most interesting essay is considered to be the one about N.A. Polevoy. The author vividly showed the tragedy of a talented person, who had published first Russian liberal journal and had been morally destroyed by Nikolay I regime. The authors traced a hard life of Russian navigators and industrials (G.I. Shelehov, A.A. Baranov, and I.A. Kushov).

L.A. Sitnikov, a Novosibirsk historian, wrote a fairly detailed and thoroughly documented life story about a famous traveler (“G. Shelehov”- Irkutsk, 1990).

Literary creativity and interests of Irkutsk citizens are reflected in the following works: G.F. Kungurov’s book “Siberia and literature” (1975), researching the XIX century and V.P. Trushkin’s monograph of a famous literature specialist –“Roads and lots. Literary life of Siberia in 1890-1917” (1972).

A publication of our region authors’ dictionary (“Literature Siberia. Critic-biography writers’ dictionary of Eastern Siberia”, edition 1, 1986) is considered to be of great importance. The first part of this necessary reference book was made by a large group of authors. This edition includes 77 essays about authors, journalists, as well as some Siberian publishing houses and literary groups, the most important literary events of pre-October Eastern Siberia were covered. In that book the biographies of authors, born before 1900, were mentioned.

The researches of Irkutsk book heritage and library development appeared. A.G. Bonner in a small book “Invaluable treasures” (1979) characterized rare editions and manuscripts, preserved in the scientific library of Irkutsk university. Polishuk F.M. in his book “The history of libraries in pre-Revolutionary Irkutsk” (1983) traced the development of the city libraries.

Fatyanov A.D. told in his book ( “Irkutsk art museum” 1958, “Irkutsk treasures” 1985) about first art collectors, and Sukachev art gallery transformation into an art museum.

A book “Irkutsk icons. Catalogue” (1991) by Kryuchkova T.A. was published in Moscow; a book “The treasures of Irkutsk art museum” (1989) – by Ogorodnikova T.P. – in St. Petersburg.

Some books about city historical monuments were published. In 1990 a special collection, dedicated to the immovable history monuments of our region (“Monuments of Priangarye history and culture”) was published. It included several general articles of Irkutsk and regional monuments. In a book “Life history of Priangarye” Polunina N.M. told us about historical-architectural monuments. The most part of it was dedicated to Irkutsk monuments. The same year a small book “Meetings with Irkutsk” by Ladik L., a kind of a lyric guide book, was published. It included interesting essays about church architecture, icons, buildings decorated with wooden carving and about Romanov N.S., an Irkutsk chronicler. Besedina’s booklet “The historical and architectural monuments of Irkutsk. Cult architecture”, published in Novosibirsk, gave a full survey of the Orthodox Church architecture. This book mentioned all preserved church buildings and gave brief information about them.

In 1957 the first research, made by dramatist Malyarevskii P.G. was published “Essays from Siberian theater culture history”. It collected detailed information about Siberian theaters. The main part of it was devoted to theater traditions in Irkutsk.

A book “Musical culture of Irkutsk” (1987) by Kharkievich I.Y. can be highly appreciated. This solid research work thoroughly showed the history of musical life in Irkutsk from 1790 up to present. The half of this research was dedicated to the following period of time: from the late XIX century to the 1930s. The author mentioned a lot of performers of different years, who developed city musical life.

In a short post-Soviet period (1992-1998) there were many changes in literature publications of the city history. The sum of money for book publications was reduced. Instead of a few large publishing houses, regional literature was published in numerous small publishing houses. There were many registered editions, which published books at the expense of organizations or individuals, having financial capabilities. Although one has to mention a fact, that 20 books, essay collections and booklets were published for a short period of time. It was the first time since 1917 when the publication of local historic magazine was resumed.

The publication of Romanov chronicle (“The city chronicle” in 1881-1901 and the City chronicle 1902 –1924, resumed in 1993-1994) can be considered to be a nice gift to Irkutsk. A regional studies specialist N.B. Kulikauskene made a lot of hard work, trying to decipher, check and copy Romanov’ manuscript, made in pencil (hardly seen) and preserved in the funds of the Scientific library of Irkutsk university.

Romanov’s chronicles, based on newspaper and archive materials of the author’s notes were written in the same style as the first chronicle. The author was a city events observer and contemporary.

The city life was recorded in more detailed style then in the first book. The text volume became larger 1,7-1,8 times than a previous year. Romanov completed the volume, covering the events from 1881 to 1901. In this part each event notes had more materials (2 times more than in the last volume). In the last book the notes were shorter. In that book of his chronicle there were about 5000 notes, mentioning more then 1500 people. In the volume, describing events to 1902, there were about 2500 persons.

In 1996 “ Irkutsk city chronicle in the XVII-XIX cc.” was published. The book was poorly edited. First of all, the title was not correct: there were no such kind of chronicles in the XVII-XIX cc. In the XVII century nobody wrote chronicles. There was the following title "“Chronicles and historical works of Irkutsk townspeople of the XVIII-XIX cc.”. The published in the book texts had historiography monuments significance. “The chronicle of Irkutsk in 1652-1763”, written in the end of the XVIII century, is considered to be particularly interesting. However, the commentator referred it to V. and A. Sibiryakovs and the work was not dated. There was only used citation from A. Ionin’s book, saying that the chronicle had been compiled in the late XVIII c. If the author of the text were one of the Sibiryakovs, then, why nothing had been said of all cruelties, made to Sibiryakov by a famous investigator Krylov. The text of the chronicle helps identify its date. It mentioned a bishop Sofronii, who died in 1771 and Tikhvinskaya church (1778) construction. Considering these facts the chronicle can be dated to 1763-1770.

Undoubted value of published text is the oldest of known Irkutsk city chronicle manuscripts. But there were much less fact materials than in a famous chronicle of P.I. Pezhemskii and V.A. Krotov. Besides it, two city chronicles, compiled in the first third 1820-30s, were published.

There is more detailed information in “The survey of different trips around Siberia and other neighboring countries”, written by A.I. Losev, and in “Memorable since 1867” by Antonov K.A., where the author mentioned interesting life peculiarities of Irkutsk townspeople up to 1893. And talking about “ The Survey”, Losev gave a lot of false information, for example, he wrote that Irkutsk foundation dated back to 1620. However, neither text publisher nor the collection editor said a word about this false date, which did not coincide with known historical facts. There were many other inaccuracies in Losev’ text.

Without a doubt, S.I. Golfarb’s book “All Irkutsk. The city history stories” (1992) was a successful scientific work. It consists of several tens of small essays, mainly, about pre-October period. Most of them were written in a brisk form. In addition, the facts had already been known. However, the end XIX-early XX period was based on hardly known facts. It was the first work in Irkutsk history, which talked about 30 short biographies of outstanding townspeople, including those who had been prohibited by the censorship before.

Trying to continue N.S. Romanov’s traditions, Irkutsk public society organized a scientific conference. There were about 20 reports about Romanov and his legacy together with Irkutsk history research published in 1997 in a collection “First Romanov’s readings. The scientific conference materials…”. Several articles of the same topics were published in collection “Siberian city of XVIII-early XX cc.” in 1998 by Irkutsk history museum.

A different place was taken by a volumetric and well-designed book “Irkutsk on mail postcards…". Its author was S.I. Medvedev, who collected about 500 postcards of the late XIX- the early XX cc. These postcards give a nice impression about a city view, its central streets and squares, most interesting buildings and monuments. Some postcards show original scenes and Irkutsk holidays, demonstrations and folk festivals of that time. Some of them were colored. Well-done illustrations, supplied by exact commentaries give rich material for getting to know old typed Irkutsk, old life pictures. They are interesting both for researchers and any readers.

A collective of authors wrote a monograph “Irkutsk history and culture monuments” (1993). It was the first time when all kinds unmovable monuments (archeological, historical, architectural, monumental arts) received characteristics. A special focus was done on historical and architectural monuments. Preservation and use of the monuments information was used. Basic monument types were determined and the most important ones were described. Not only historical monuments, connected with political events, were mentioned, but also there were stories about labor and culture monuments, Irkutsk cemeteries. There was detailed information about public character buildings, stone and wooden living houses. It was the first time when all cultural characteristics were given.

In 1998 three books were published, whose authors researched different branches of economy or city authorities work. S. Goldfarb’s monograph “Irkutsk mail. History essays” is especially interesting. This book described only pre-October period. The author collected much information about mail development in the region, and first of all, in Irkutsk, which was a center of mail district. The work is mainly based on using unpublished archive materials. It is important to mention a fact that this book does not only describe mail organization and delivery ways, but has some information about certain post department staff.

In V.V. Chernykh's book “Irkutsk region fireguard history (1800- the 1990s), issued in 1998, this sphere was first described for such a long period. A half of the text was dedicated to pre-Revolutionary stage. But admittedly, there were several distortions in this book. I.L. and L.M. Damesheks’ book “Cedar, going faster than time/Essays of alcohol production of Pribaikalye XVII-XX cc. History” has much information about Irkutsk for a reader.

There were some published works about the Orthodox church history in our region. There was a story of construction project history and the biggest Siberian cathedral destruction in I.V. Kalinina’s book “Cathedral in the name of Kazan' Mother Mary in Irkutsk” in 1994. There are many designs and photos, which give more concrete information to this story.

O.E. Naumova’s book “Irkutsk eparchy in the XVIII – first half of XIX cc.” (1996) was dedicated to the first period of Irkutsk eparchy history. The author gave brief description of all Irkutsk priests until the middle of XIX c., having mentioned all important events in a huge eparchy life from 1727 to the middle of XIX century. An unbiased approach in this book is one of good merits. However Naumova O.E. does not know historical material. A range of her source use is narrow. That is why her work has essential mistakes; many facts were not mentioned or distorted. In 1998 a collection of articles “From Irkutsk eparchy history” was published. There were 10 articles, whose authors touched upon the problems of Irkutsk eparchy administration, missionary work, clergy’s part in population education, book spread development, Znamenskii monastery history, repression of the clergy in the 1920-30s. A large article is mainly about the eparchy development in the 1860s-1917. There is a review on O.E. Naumova’s book there.

Politically exiled people, whose episodes and facts were connected with Irkutsk, drew much attention. A.S. Majarov published a detailed and briskly written biography of our countryman, an outstanding Russian historian of the XIX c., who spent his last years in Irkutsk (“Afanasii Schapov” 1992). There was a connection between Irkutsk and Polish exiled people and the Petrashevzy (Shostakovich B.S. “Polish history in Siberia (XVII-XIX cc.) 1995; Dulov A.V. “The Petrashevzy in Siberia” 1996). Rich material about Irkutsk townspeople connection with Mongolia was given in E.Darevskaya capital monograph “Siberia and Mongolia. The late XIX – the early XX cc. Russian-Mongolian ties essays” (1994). V.V. and V.G. Tretyakovs’ book “Eastern Siberian cadets in 1905-1917” (1997) gives new facts about public-politic life of Priangarye capital.

There were several albums published, whose authors introduced Irkutsk arts values to a reader. (Kryuchkova T.A. Irkutsk baroque. – Moscow – 1993; Irkutsk arts museum – 1993; Siberian XVIII- the early XX cc. Portrait – Spb – 1994)

A serious novelty of the last years was serial editions, where Irkutsk and Irkutsk region articles were published. In 1993-1995 3 issues of an almanac “Irkutsk old times”, which contained about 15 pre-Revolutionary Irkutsk articles, were published. About 5 issues of “Regional notes” of Irkutsk regional museum were published. The third issue was totally dedicated to the Decembrists’ living in Irkutsk, the fifth one had articles mainly about the regional museum history. From 3 to 5 articles about our city were in each of these issues.

The biggest number of materials about Irkutsk was published in a magazine “Irkutsk land”. Around a half of articles described historical and cultural monuments of the city and provided outstanding people biographies, informed of its historical realities and events in its 10 issues.


1) Dulov A. Irkutsk chronicle (chronicles of P.I. Pezhemskii and V.A. Krotov)//Siberia. – 1989. -#4. – 107-116 p.; Kulikauskene N.V. Irkutsk city chronicles as historical-cultural monuments. // Irkutsk city chronicles of the XVII-XIX cc. – Irkutsk, 1996. – P. 5-14.

2) Schukin N. Siberian bibliography materials // Memorable book of Irkutsk gubernia for 1865. – Irkutsk, 1865. –3d Dept. – Appendix – P. 61-62.

3) Ionin A.A. New data to Eastern Siberia XVII century history (Irkutsk, Irkutsk Voznesenskii Monastery, Yakutiya region and Zabaikalye)... – Irkutsk, 1895. – P. 38.

4) Zinner E.P. Siberia in Western-European XVIII century travelers and scientists notes. – Irkutsk, 1968. – Pp. 25-26.

5) Zinner E.P. Siberia in Western-European XVIII century travelers and scientists notes. – Irkutsk, 1968. – Pp. 58-59, 65-66.

6) The notes to Siberian history or description how in Siberia, Tobolsk and all Siberian cities and ostrogs… were… // Ancient Russian vivliothecs… - 2d edition. – Moscow, 1788 – Part 3. – P. 188.

7) Look up, for example: Panov V.N., Tyukavkin V.G. Irkutsk region history essays. – Irkutsk, 1970. – P. 23; Kudryavzev F.A., Vendrikh G. Irkutsk: City history essays. – Irkutsk, 1971. – P. 28-30; Polunina N. About an Irkutsk foundation date, unknown chronicle of the city and her author Antonina Ivanovna Loseva // Irkutsk: from past into future. – Irkutsk, 1989. – P. 4-13.

8) Dulov V.I. and Kudryavzev F.A. 1905 in Eastern Siberia. –Irkutsk, 1941. – 152 p. : Illustr.; Dulov V.I. Military traditions of the Siberians. – Irkutsk, 1942 – 72 p.

9) Kopylov A.N. About Irkutsk foundation date // the USSR history – 1960 - #5 – P. 165-166; Kopylov A.N. Prolonged problem: (about Irkutsk foundation date) // Angara – 1960 - #4 – P. 143-146

10) Dulov V.I. Irkutsk foundation and Tuva tribes in the XVII century // Tuva scientific-research institute of lang., lit. And history. –1961 – Issue 9. – P. 125-132.

11) Dulov A.V. Irkutsk ostrog // Siberia, 1983, Issue 1; Dulov V.I. Irkutsk city plan in 1768 // Irkutsk regional museum, Issue 2, Irkutsk, 1961; Polunina N.M. Irkutsk in 1790 // Irkutsk: from past into future. – Irkutsk, 1989.

12) In more details: Dulov A.V. Is it necessary to make Irkutsk history “more ancient” // First Romanov’s readings: Scien. conf. Materials, dedicated to the 125th anniversary since N.S. Romanov’s birthday, Oct 9-10 1996. – Irkutsk, 1997, P. 37-40.

Dulov Alexander Vsevolodovich. Historical sciences doctor, professor. Born in 1938 in Irkutsk. In 1961 graduated from a history dept of Irkutsk State University (ISU). In 1986 defended his doctorate thesis (dissertation). His topic was “People’s economy in Russia in the middle of XVIII – mid XIX cc.: nature and society interaction”. Since 1989 professor of Russian history chair in ISU. A special committee member of doctorate dissertations defense in ISU. Since 1996 a member-correspondent of Natural Sciences Academy.

Chairman associate of Irkutsk regional department presidium (VOOPIK), a member of public committees by Irkutsk region and Irkutsk administrations.

The author of more than 100 scientific publications, including a number of monographs.

  1. Geographical environment and Russian history (the end of XV –the middle XIX cc.) - Moscow, 1983. – 254 p.
  2. Petrashevzy in Siberia. – Irkutsk, 1996 – 300 p.
  3. Irkutsk history and culture monuments. – Irkutsk, 1993 – 448 p. (together with other authors)
  4. Eastern-Siberian railroad: A road in 100 years (1898-1998) – Irkutsk, 1998. – 552 p.
  5. Eastern-Siberian railroads history. –Irkutsk, 1998 – Volume 1. (together with other authors)

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