Peasants in self-government bodies in the second half of the XIX and early XX century (based on the materials of Vyatka province)


The article aims to study the problem of peasants participation in the bodies of rural, volost (parish), and Zemstvo self-government in the 1860–1910-ies. It uses new documents from the funds of the Vyatka Governor Office and the Vyatka Provincial Presence of the Central State Archive of the Kirov Region. The article notes the important role of the abolition of serfdom and land reform in changing the forms of peasants social activity. The author concludes that the peasants had a common approach to rural and Zemstvo elections. The composition of the population of Vyatka province also influenced the election results. The article particularly examines the territorial (zemsky) district chiefs reports, the elected officials petitions, and state that the majority of peasants perceived public service as a heavy duty that distracts from agricultural labor. Therefore, peasants preferred middle-aged candidates had a profitable farm. Such householders might not be literate, but they used their life and business experience in public service and did not harm their household. The article analyzes the composition and journals of Zemstvo assemblies and comes to the conclusion that such peasants were interested in social activities. Long-term service in various Zemstvo positions, defending their point of view during meetings of Zemstvo assemblies are evidence of this interest. The author examines archival documents and notes the patronizing attitude of territorial (zemsky) district chiefs and other local administrative officials towards the peasantry. They used constant communication and good knowledge of the peasants in organizing the elections.

About the authors

A. M. Subbotina

Udmurt Federal Research Center UB RAS, Izhevsk, Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3152-5884

Candidate of Historical Sciences, associate professor, senior researcher of the Department of Historical Researches of the Institute of History, Language and Literature, Udmurt Federal Research Center UB RAS


  1. Gorshkov 2018 – Gorshkov B.B. (2018) Peasants in Russia from Serfdom to Stalin. Accommodation, Survival, Resistance. London; New York: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 236 p. Available at:
  2. McDonald 2019 – McDonald T. (2019) Tsardom of Sufficiency, Empire of Norms: Statistics, Land Allotments, and Agrarian Reform in Russia, 1700–1921. The American Historical Review, vol. 124, issue 5, pp. 1989–1990. doi: 10.1093/ahr/rhz790.
  3. Agrarnaia istoriia 2014 – Kabytova N.N. [et al.] (2014) Agricultural history of the XX century: historiography and sources. Samara: Samarskii un-t, 486 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  4. Bezgin 2013 – Bezgin V.B. (2013) Rural public administration and its representatives in the assessment of Russian peasants (second half of the XIX – early XX century). Legal research, no. 2, pp. 155–192. doi: 10.7256/2305-9699.2013.2.514. (In Russ.)
  5. Bolshakova 2011 – Bolshakova O.V. (2011) Between the two anniversaries: Anglo-American historiography of the emancipation. Rossiiskaia istoriia, no. 4, pp. 14–26. Available at: (In Russ.)
  6. Veselovskii 1909–1911 – Veselovskii B.B. (1909–1911) History of the Zemstvo for 40 years: in 4 vols. Saint Petersburg: Izd-vo O.N. Popovoi. Available at: (In Russ.)
  7. Vinogradov 2018 – Vinogradov M.A. (2018) Life and activities of the volost foreman Fedor Kulikov through historical sources. In: History of Russia from ancient times to the XXI century: problems, discussions, new views. Moscow: In-t rossiiskoi istorii RAN, pp. 91–99. Available at: (In Russ.)
  8. Garmiza 1957 – Garmiza V.V. (1957) Preparation of the Zemstvo reform of 1864. Moscow: Izd-vo Mosk. un-ta, 264 p. (In Russ.)
  9. Gordeeva 2020 – Gordeeva M.A. (2020) The practice of the peasant chiefs of the Tomsk province at the beginning of the 20th century: state control over the institutions of peasant self-government. Voprosy istorii, no. 1, pp. 95–106. doi: 10.31166/VoprosyIstorii202001Statyi04. (In Russ.)
  10. Gorskaia 2009 – Gorskaia N.I. (2009) Zemstvo Assembly and magistrate’s court. Voprosy istorii, no. 7, pp. 76–85. Available at: (In Russ.)
  11. Derunov 1881 – Derunov S.Ia. (1881) Thoughts of Zemstvo official about peasant self-government. (Concerning the reform of the district presences for peasant affairs). Yaroslavl: Tip. gubernskoi zemskoi upravy, 31 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  12. Diary… 2005 – Diary (2005) of a parish clerk A.E. Petrov (1895–1906) (introductory article, preparation of text and commentary by V.I. Schipin). Russkaya literatura, no. 2, pp. 127–169. Available at: (In Russ.)
  13. Druzhinin 1978 – Druzhinin N.M. (1978) Russian village at the turn. 1861–1880. Moscow: Nauka, 288 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  14. Zaionchkovsky 1954 – Zaionchkovsky P.A. (1954) Abolition of serfdom in Russia. Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 291 p. Available at: http://xn----7sbagbc0btmolfb9ahq4ovb.xn--p1ai/biblioteka/zai1. (In Russ.)
  15. Zaionchkovsky 1958 – Zaionchkovsky P.A. (1958) Implementation of the Peasant reform of 1861. Moscow: Izd-vo sots.-ek. lit., 473 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  16. Kabytov, Kozlov, Litvak 1988 – Kabytov P.S., Kozlov V.A. and Litvak B.G. (1988) Russian peasantry: stages of spiritual liberation. Moscow: Mysl’, 237 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  17. Krugov 2008 – Krugov A.I. (2008) Peasantry in the foreign historiography: modern approaches to studying. Vestnik of Saratov State Socio-Economic University, no. 3 (22), pp. 130–133. Available at: (In Russ.)
  18. Pirumova 1977 – Pirumova N.M. (1977) Zemstvo liberal movement. Social roots and evolution before the beginning of the XX century. Moscow: Nauka, 288 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  19. Popp, Zinnatullina 2017 – Popp I.A. and Zinnatullina Z. (2017) The projects of governors on transformation of the volost justice: about the creation of universal local court. Przeglad Wschodnioeuropejski, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 69–77. (In Russ.) Available at: href=';' target='_blank'>'>;
  20. Preobrazhenskii 1893 – Preobrazhenskii F.A. (1893) Issues of peasant self-government. Rural institutions and officials. Moscow: Universitetskaia tip., 87 p. Available at: (In Russ.)
  21. Stepanov, Novikov 2018 – Stepanov S.V. and Novikov V.N. (2018) Socio-political life of Yablunytsia volost of the Yamburg district in the early XX century: based on the materials of memoirs of contemporaries. In: Private and public in the everyday life of the population of Russia: history and modernity (regional aspect). Saint Petersburg: Kul’turno-prosvetitel’skoe tovarishchestvo, pp. 203–212. Available at: (In Russ.)
  22. Stefanova 1971 – Stefanova I.I. (1971) On the social composition of the Vyatka Zemstvo in 1867–1891. Uchenye zapiski Kirovskogo pedagogicheskogo instituta. Kafedra istorii SSSR, issue 21, pp. 22–40. (In Russ.)
  23. Trushkov 2014 – Trushkov S.A. (2014) A specific character of the concilators’ activity in the Vyatka county (1861–1874). Pedagogics. Society. Law, no. 4 (12), pp. 82–88. Available at: (In Russ.)
  24. Shutov 1997 – Shutov A.Iu. (1997) Zemstvo elections in the history of Russia (1864–1917). Moscow: Izd-vo Mosk. un-ta, 212 p. (In Russ.)
  25. Yakubovich 1883 – Yakubovich A. (1883) Peasant self-government. Saint Petersburg: Tip. I.P. Voshchinskogo, 37 p. Available at: (In Russ.)



Abstract: 248

PDF (Russian): 164




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Subbotina A.M.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies