World of Provincial Bureaucracy in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Russian Poland

Author: Vladimirov, Katya
This book is a case study that investigates the social origins, the confessional and ethnic backgrounds, and the culture of work and leisure that constituted the lives of the provincial officials of Russian Poland from the 1870s through the 1900s. It draws on a number of published and unpublished writings, records of proceedings, and other archival sources to produce a rich and non-stereotypical account of the nature of Russian Polish officialdom. The history of the Russian bureaucracy comprises an essential part of the Russian empire. This book delineates its relationship to the multi-national and multi-religious populace and establishes continuities that connect the Russian empire to the Soviet period.


"Both text and footnotes are rich in valuable new information ... Recommended. Graduate students and faculty." - CHOICE

“Katya Vladimirov gives us a rare, revealing and detailed glimpse into the world of the provincial bureaucracy in the western most corner of the Russian Empire, the Congress Kingdom of Poland. Vladimirov locates her study of the provincial bureaucracy in a relatively tranquil time in Russian Poland, following the January Insurrection of 1863 but before the Revolution of 1905, a period that offers both a fair consistency of demographic data about its members and a continuity of both personnel and attitudes for analysis. While most historians have portrayed the Russian imperial bureaucracy in Poland according to unchallenged stereotypes, which do more to support a mythical national Polish narrative than historical scholarship, Vladimirov sees its members in terms of their actual individual and corporate identities, interests, aspirations, and prejudices. And while her findings in the end may not be any more flattering to that bureaucracy, they are nonetheless far more intriguing in their very nuance and significance. Vladimirov’s work is in part a quantitative social history, in part a cultural history of the provincial bureaucracy in late nineteenth-century Russian Poland. Based on an in-depth analysis of the Pamiatnye Knizhki (registers of the bureaucracy) for each of the ten provinces of Russian Poland as well as other primary sources, Vladimirov is able to retrieve and quantify valuable demographic and service information from the personnel files of approximately three thousand state officials.” – Dr. Robert E. Blobaum , University of West Virginia

“This is an interesting and well-researched monograph which will make a contribution to our understanding of the inner workings of the tsarist administration. More broadly, this study will be of interest to the larger field of comparative imperial studies, a field in which much interesting work has been done on, e.g., French bureaucrats in Indochina, Spanish administrators in the New World, and British rulers in India and Africa. This work both addresses this larger field and adds to it. This book’s main contribution is to argue persuasively against a long tradition that held, among other things, that no Poles worked in the imperial administration, that Russian bureaucrats (chinovniki) were somehow inherently hostile and pernicious creatures, and that the Russian bureaucracy in Poland endlessly pursued activist programs of russification. As Dr. Vladimirov shows, many Poles were in fact employed in this bureaucracy (in particular as professionals), the actual numbers of Russian bureaucrats in the Polish Kingdom were relatively small (compared with other European bureaucracies), and the Russian administration was – to put it mildly – less than efficient in pressing a russificatory agenda. Besides this main argument, the book has other novel aspects that shed new light on this topic. After reading Dr. Vladimirov’s book, we know much more both about the structure of the provincial bureaucracy in the Kingdom of Poland and (even more importantly) about the men themselves who lived out their professional lives within this structure. She also shows a deep familiar with the appropriate secondary sources. The book will be read mainly by specialists but is written in such a way to allow, for example, undergraduates to use it with profit. Teaching an undergraduate research seminar on Russian history this semester, I only wish such a book existed so that I could let students read it as the first step toward a possible research paper on the Russian imperial administration. Certainly historians of Russia and Poland will be interested in this work, but also practitioners of comparative imperial history will want to take a look at it … most respectable colleges and universities will want a copy in their library … It will make a contribution to our understanding of how the Russian Empire functioned in a larger sense and in a narrower one, it opens up the world of how Russian bureaucrats in the Kingdom of Poland worked, competed, and lived.” – Professor Theodore R. Weeks, Southern Illinois University

Table of Contents

List of Charts and Tables
Preface by Robert E. Blobaum
Part I: The Flea Market and The Flea Circus
• The Structure of the Provincial Bureaucracy and the Rank and File System
• Education, Religion and Nationality As Factors in Recruitment and Advancement
• Tuz, Korol’,Valet: Bureaucratic Elites Part II: Circles of Life and Death
• Symbols and Rituals
• The Bureaucratic Dolce Vita
• Shamans of Knowledge
Selected Bibliography