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Sibirskaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia

[Siberian Soviet Encyclopedia]
Volume IV
With an Introduction by E. Kasinec & R.H. Davis, Jr.

THE SIBIRSKAIA SOVETSKAIA ENTSIKLOPEDIIA [Siberian Soviet Encyclopedia] has long been regarded as a uniquely important achievement in the broadly based study of that vast and diverse geographic expanse known as Siberia. It also represented a pioneering departure from the European-Russian centrism of traditional encyclopedia scholarship. Although planned as a five-volume set, only the first three volumes were ever published (1929-1932).

Volume IV has now been published for the first time.


THE ENCYCLOPEDIA CONTAINS AN ABUNDANCE OF entries on the natural resources and topography of Siberia: its many rivers and their tributaries, its vegetation, wildlife, fish, birds and mineral wealth.

IT DESCRIBES PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS, academic institutes, administrative departments, agricultural cooperatives, prisons and schools, and it also includes entries for Siberian art, architecture, and book graphics, as well as individual journals and newspapers. Towns and cities are cross-referenced to larger administrative regions.

THE MULTITUDE OF SHORTER ENTRIES comprising the Encyclopedia include profiles of personalities from all walks of life: literary figures, politicians (including members of rival parties, such as the Socialist Revolutionaries), scientists, scholars from every discipline, professionals and tradesmen. Some biographical entries are probably the only clues available as to the existence of these individuals, as many (particularly the old Bolsheviks) disappeared in the purges of the 1930s.


ACCORDING TO ITS COMPILERS, the impetus for the creation of the Encyclopedia was purely practical. From the late sixteenth century, explorers had criss-crossed Siberia's surface, navigated its rivers, lived among its many different peoples and charted its coasts, bringing back evidence as to its cultural, mineral, floral and faunal abundance. Yet, surprisingly, no systematic compendium of regional information had ever been attempted. Aleksandr Antonovich Anson (b. 1890), one of the deputy-editors of the Encyclopedia, noted that of the 3,935 columns in the first five volumes of the Bolshaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia, only 115 pertained to Siberia. Further, Anson noted that virtually none of the articles dealt with the ethnography, folklore, or specific regions of Siberia. Thus, on the eve of the First Five-Year Plan, little practical information was available to the growing number of individuals and government enterprises seeking to comprehend and exploit this vast territory.

THE AIM OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA was to take a multifaceted approach to the study of the geography, history, culture, peoples, productive capability and natural resources of Siberia. Three individuals had general editorial oversight of the project: Boris Zakharovich Shumiatskii (b. 1886) served as Chief Editor. A.A. Anson, an editor of various Siberian Bolshevik publications, also authored and edited regional studies, such as an economic geography of Siberia. Mikhail Mikhailovich Basov (b. 1898), of peasant stock, worked on various Siberian newspapers, both before and after the 1917 Revolution.


THE PROJECT DREW ON THE KNOWLEDGE of more than 365 experts from a broad array of backgrounds, including academicians, scientists, technicians, agronomists, local officials, tradesmen and other professionals. Many of the authors were the leading specialists in their particular disciplines. Only 72 researchers were from Moscow and St. Petersburg; fully 133 were from Novosibirsk alone.

A SPECIAL LIBRARY AND DOCUMENTATION CENTER was established for the project, yet many of the available works were often insufficient or incomplete. Even the experts assembled by the project's editors were often confounded by the paucity of sources and of published studies concerning Siberian topics. For example, no definitive geographical dictionary of Siberia existed at that time. In many cases, entries were completed only after special studies were undertaken for the purpose, which generated a great deal of unique information. All of the articles were reviewed by other specialists prior to publication.


VOLUME I (A-Zh) OF THE SIBERIAN SOVIET ENCYCLOPEDIA was completed a year ahead of schedule, in 1927, but only appeared in September of 1929; Volume II (Z-K) was published in March of 1931; Volume III (L-N) followed a year later. Thirty copies of the page proofs of Volume IV (O-S) were circulated but, until now, it has remained unpublished. One copy, from which this edition is substantially reproduced, is held in the Reference Department of the Lenin Library; a second, on which this edition is also based, was formerly in the collection of Professor Konstantin Markovich Azadovskii of St. Petersburg.

OF THE COPIES KNOWN TO THE PUBLISHER, by far the fullest is held by the Lenin Library, although there are lacunae (e.g., parts of columns 488, 739, 742, 748-49, 763-64 and 892, some of which have been completed from Professor Azadovskii's copy). Columns 993-1024, absent in both copies, probably never existed, since there is no break in the text. Volume IV lacks the prefatory material encountered in the three previously published volumes.


MOST ARTICLES ARE SIGNED AND MANY are followed by relevant bibliographic citations. Given the general dearth of sources for the study of Siberia, these citations are often the most complete bibliographies available. Many of the entries are illustrated with sketches, detailed maps, tables, beautiful line drawings and black and white photographs. Altogether, Volume IV contains more than 500 illustrations.

BY 1927 THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT WAS LOOKING increasingly toward its eastern territories for the raw materials of economic development. Today, more than 60 years later, Siberia nonetheless still remains, in many respects, a little-known frontier. Covering an area of almost 5 million square miles of geologically, agriculturally and ethnologically diverse territory, stretching from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific, from the Arctic Ocean to Mongolia and Manchuria, Siberia continues to present opportunities for scholarly discovery and economic development. The Siberian Soviet Encyclopedia remains the most valuable reference work available on Siberia and, despite its age, much of the content is as valid today as it was 60 years ago.

THE INTRODUCTION BY EDWARD KASINEC, Chief of the Slavic and Baltic Division of the New York Public Library, and Robert H. Davis, Jr., also of the New York Public Library, provides a detailed history of the Encyclopedia and the provenance of this edition.

VOLUME IV OF THE SIBERIAN SOVIET ENCYCLOPEDIA will be a major addition to any library supporting research on this area of the world and it is a must for any library owning the first three volumes.


ORIGINALLY INTENDED AS A FOUR-VOLUME WORK, the large number of projected entries led to the planning of a fifth and final volume (T-Ia). A list of projected entries (slovnik) for Volume V, held by the Lenin Library, is included in this edition, as a supplement to Volume IV.

Sibirskaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia, Volume IV Library binding, acid-free paper, 576 pages, illustrated,
ISBN: 0-88354-358-3 September 1992.............................$25