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LibGuide for Resources Relating to Russian Women's Journals of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Women's Journals in Russia from the 19th-20th Centuries

Women's journals are incredibly important in understanding the development of women's rights, the inclusion of women in Russian literature, and how the representation of women has shifted in Russia over the years.

The history of women's journals begins in the late 18th century, with the introduction of periodicals such as Modnoe ezhemesiachnoe izdanie, ili Biblioteka dlia damskogo tualeta (Fashion Monthly, or Library for Ladies' Toilette) an early journal focused on fashion and beauty directed to women in upper classes. From there, the publication of women's journals began to increase in the 19th century with popular periodicals such as Damskii zhurnal (Ladies' Magazine) beginning to be published. The 20th century saw the most periodical publications for women under the Soviet government, with many women's journals being used as propaganda to promote certain Soviet party ideals and goals. 

Learning about the history of these journals doesn't only relate to the publishing industry and topics covered, but it also allows one to learn more about various issues and important points in Russian history. Unfortunately, these types of materials are not heavily focused on, which means many aren't aware of their importance for researching women's history and issues.

This guide is designed to bring together a variety of sources and information relating to women's journals that can help introduce you to learning about a unique facet of women's history in Russia. 

Types of Sources Available

Indiana University's collections contain various materials related to the history, publication, and reception of women's journals in Russia. 

Typical sources might be:

  • Books
    • History books
    • Bibliographies
    • Encyclopedias
  • Journals
  • Digital Collections
  • Audio/Visual Materials

All suggested materials and even more resources are available through Indiana University's online catalog!

Suggested Materials

Gheith, Jehanne M., and Barbara T. Norton. An Improper Profession: Women, Gender, and Journalism In Late Imperial Russia. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001. 

  • This work includes chapters from a variety of different authors that discuss different aspects of women’s journalism and the history of women journalists from the early 19th century through 1917, just before the formation of the Soviet Union. It takes a look at individual authors, specific journals from the set time period, and popular topics in women’s literature and journalism overall. The main benefit of this work is that it includes chapters from various professionals and scholars in Russian and Eastern European area studies. 

Kelly, Catriona. A history of Russian women’s writing 1820–1992, April 2, 1998. 

  • This monograph by historian Catriona Kelly addresses the history of women’s writing in Russia from 1820-1992. Though the majority of this text is focused on the literature and personal writings of women, there are some sections that touch briefly on the importance and development of women’s journals and related publications and how they fit into the bigger picture of women’s writing. 

Lapshina, G. S., Zhenskoe Lit͡so Russkoĭ Zhurnalistiki. Moskva: Izdatelʹstvo "FLINTA", 2018.

  • Lapshina’s work examines the history of women journalists in Russian journalism. In addition to providing a general overview of Russian journalism and the work of women in the field, this volume specifically takes a look at four major women journalists from the late 19th century: Adelaida Simonovich, Maria Tsebrikovoi, Evgeniia Konradi, and Ekaterina Barteneva. This volume looks at some less commonly known  journals from the 19th century, such as “Detskii sad” and “Plamennaia demokratka.” 

Martinsen, Deborah A. Literary Journals In Imperial Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

  • This volume looks at the history of literary journals in Russia published during the time of Imperial Russia, from approximately 1820 through the very early 20th century. Unfortunately, women’s journals are not the focus of this particular work, but it includes a variety of sources relating to women’s journals as well as relevant women journalists in various chapters. The two most critical chapters for women’s journals specifically are chapter five in Robert Belknap’s survey of journals from 1840-1880 and chapter eleven with Stanley Rabinowitz’s work on the Northern Herald. 

Minaeva, O. D., Zhurnaly "rabotnit͡sa" i "krestʹi͡anka" v Reshenii "zhenskogo Voprosa" v SSSR v 1920-1930-E Gg.: Modelʹ Propagandistskogo Obespechenii͡a Sot͡sialʹnykh Reform. Moskva: MediaMir, 2015.

  • This work examines the history, publication, and impact that the development of women’s journalism in Russia had on the population of women in the early Soviet period. These types of publications played an important role in terms of the emancipation of soviet women and the furthering of women’s rights overall. This resource is helpful for understanding Soviet women’s struggles in this early period, as well as the development of Russian women’s publications and why they are so important to the overall emancipation movement of the 20th century. 

Rosslyn, Wendy, and Alessandra Tosi. Women in Nineteenth-century Russia: Lives and culture. Open Book Publishers, 2014. 

  • This book addresses various topics relating to women’s culture in Russia during the 19th and 20th centuries. For the sake of this bibliography, the most relevant chapter on periodicals and women’s writing is chapter eight: How Women Should Write, by Arja Rosenholm and Irina Savanna. Their chapter discusses some relevant women who created women’s journals, such as Zhenskii Vestnik and Zhurnal dlia Zhenshchin. They also look into how publishing during the early 20th century helped increase the publications of women in many popular thick journals of the time. 

Hammarberg, Gitta. “The First Russian Women’s Journals and the Construction of the Reader.” Essay. In Women in Russian Culture and Society, 1700-1825, 83–104. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

  • In the book Women in Russian Culture and Society 1700-1825, the fifth chapter by Gitta Hammarberg looks at the history of the very first Russian journals and the construction of the Russian woman reader in the late 18th century. The author starts off by discussing a general history of women’s reading, and the types of reading women were most likely to engage with on a daily basis, which mainly included domestic works such as personal albums. An interesting point of Hammarberg’s chapter is the examination of what types of materials were most popular, such as riddles, epigrams, acrostics, and other literary puzzles and games alongside stories and articles.

Akopi͡an, T. V., M. A Lukovskai͡a, and I. A Snigireva. Gazety Dorevoli͡ut͡sionnoĭ Rossii: 1703-1917 : Katalog. Sankt-Peterburg: Rossiĭskai͡a nat͡sionalʹnai͡a biblioteka, 2007.

  • This bibliography was issued by the Russian National Library. It is considered to be somewhat of a second, expanded edition of “Alfabitnogo sluzhebnogo catalog russkikh dorevoliutsionnykh gazet”, published in 1958. The annotations for each entry contain relevant information such as basic publication information, the topics of various publications, notes on organization and related newspapers, etc.  Though newspapers are not the same as women’s journals, there are many overlapping similarities, and this work could serve as a supplement to further research on women’s periodicals. 

Beli͡aeva, L. N., M. K Zinovʹeva, M. M Nikiforov, and V. M Barashenkov. Bibliografii͡a Periodicheskikh Izdaniĭ Rossii, 1901-1916. Leningrad, 1958.

  • This bibliography was issued by the Ministry of Culture and the Gosudarstvennai͡a publichnai͡a biblioteka imeni M. E. Saltykova-Shchedrina. This reference work includes several important women’s journals, such as Zhenskaia Mysl’, Zhenskie Novosti, Zhenskii Vestnik, Zhenskoe Delo, and many others. Though the annotations are relatively brief compared to other periodicals, they do an excellent job of giving an overview of each periodical and going into detail about its publication history.  

Smits, Rudolf. Half a century of Soviet serials 1917-1968. A Bibliography and Union List of Serials published in the USSR. Washington: Library of Congress, 1968.

  • This is a reference work on serials compiled by famed bibliographer Rudolf Smits, who worked as the Library of Congress’ bibliographer for Slavic and Eastern European materials. This bibliography is alphabetically broken down into two volumes, focusing on materials from 1917-1968. In terms of its relevance for women’s periodicals, several notable titles are included in this bibliography, such as Zhenshchiny Mira, Zhenskii Kalendar, and Zhenskii Zhurnal, among others. 

Davidenko, Maria. “Multiple Femininities in Two Russian Women’s Magazines, 1970s–1990s.” Journal of Gender Studies 27, no. 4 (2018): 445–63. doi:10.1080/09589236.2016.1233864.

  • This article examines how societal ideas surrounding beauty and femininity changed in the later Soviet period, as evidenced by how women and their bodies were represented in women’s journals. Davidenko looks specifically at two journals: Rabotnitsa and Krest’ianka. The argument is built on a lot of modern feminist and gender studies theory, which makes this piece go beyond the more historical picture. Instead, it dives deeper into the larger social implications and speaks to the relevance of women’s journals in an interdisciplinary context.

Sokol’skaia, L.  V. “Pervye Zhenskie Zhurnaly Dlia Rossiiskikh Chitatel’nits (Konets XVIII - Pervaia Polovina XIX Veka).” Bibliosfera, no. 2 (2006): 18–22.

  • This short yet informative article examines the history and development of women’s journalism and related periodicals from the end of the 18th through the first half of the 19th century. While other publications look at the wider development of women’s journals and their social importance, this piece includes information on many of the legal and state reforms taking place that were encouraging the formation of press for women, such as larger cultural reforms under Peter the Great and the development of women’s education under Ekaterina the Great which both seeded the furthering of women’s readership in Russia.

Stephenson, Sian. “The changing face of women’s magazines in Russia.” Journalism Studies 8, no. 4 (2007): 613–20. doi:10.1080/14616700701412076. 

  • This article is great at explaining the introduction of other Western women’s journals following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and how women’s magazine culture shifted on a dramatic scale in correspondence to dramatic societal changes and new incoming ideas. Stephenson emphasizes the journals’ focus on consumerism, feminism, and sexuality and its overall impact on readership and women’s construction of themselves. This piece is excellent at examining a part of women’s serials that other academics have not seriously studied - consumerism and ideas surrounding women’s sexuality. 

Soviet Woman Digital Archive 

  • This digital archive contains materials from the Soviet Woman journal, a periodical founded after the Second World War that was dedicated to discussing social and political problems concerning women and Soviet literature and art that might be relevant. Something interesting about this particular periodical is that it was published in a variety of languages, not just Russian, which makes this serial uniquely cosmopolitan. It appears that the only version of the journal available with the digital archive is the English language version, with translations stretching from its initial publication in 1945 to its final publication in 1991. This digital archive is incredibly useful for seeing actual examples of some prominent publications for women in Russia during the 20th century, and the accessibility of the interface makes the digital library accessible and easy to use for all patrons.