Nineteenth-century Higher education in 19th-c. St. Petersburg

GRIGORIEV, Vasilii Vasilievich

Imperatorskii S. Peterburgskii Universitet v techenie pervykh piatidesiati let ego sushchestvovaniia

[Imperial St. Petersburg University during the First Fifty Years of its Existence]

Publication: Bezobrazov i komp., Skt. Peterburg, 1870.

GRIGORIEV, Vasilii Vasilievich, Imperatorskii S. Peterburgskii Universitet v techenie pervykh piatidesiati let ego sushchestvovaniia

Yudin’s copy of this important early work on the history of one of the country’s most important universities.

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First edition of the first fundamental work on the history of St. Petersburg University, one of the most important Russian educational institutions.

A very good example, with famous provenance: from the Yudin collection, “one of the finest and largest private libraries in the world” (Morley).

Grigoriev’s detailed, methodic and extensive work covers different spheres of life of the university of St. Petersburg, based on in-depth documentary materials. The author (1816-81) was a leading Russian researcher of Central Asia, a St. Petersburg University alumnus and professor, a corresponding member of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and an honorary member of the Royal Asiatic Society of London, the Asiatic Society of Paris and the Society of German Orientalists in Leipzig.

Grigoriev discusses the development of academic and spiritual life in the Russian Empire leading to the university opening in 1819 and its further expansions; he highlights the main features that distinguished St. Petersburg University from all others, traces the careers of the university professors and students, and shows the progress of scientific schools, trends, and their impact on Russian thought during most of the 19th century, up to the book’s publication.

The work contains five expansive appendices, including a list of honourable members of the university; a list of doctoral and master’s students with their specialities and dissertations; a list of famous scholars honoured by the university; and a list of students who completed a full course of sciences. Notable is also the list of tasks proposed to students for honourable mentions and medals: the Department of Philosophy, for instance, offers to answer the question “What limits are assigned to human knowledge by the very structure of our spirit” (no honourable mentions), and the Department of the Improvement and Welfare requires “to list the causes from which private people may fall into poverty, show the effect of it on their actions in relation to the family and the state; show the measures against poverty in theory and according to Russian legislation”.

With celebrated provenance: the present volume belonged to the library of the Siberian entrepreneur, industrialist and “lifelong book collector of rare imagination” (Library of Congress) Gennadii Iudin (also Yudin, 1840-1912). Throughout his lifetime, Iudin gathered the largest private library in Russia (around 85,000 vols) which, after its sale to the Library of Congress, became the foundation of its Slavic Division, “the largest collection of Slavic material in the western hemisphere” (Yakobson, quoted by Morley).

Scarce outside Russia: we could not trace any example appearing on the market.


Gennadii Iudin (Library of Congress booklabels to upper pastedown, one in Russian ‘Domashnaia Biblioteka G.V. Iudina’ dated 1928, the other ‘Yudin Collection’ with shelf number, and red stamp ‘Surplus Duplicate’); Avenir Alexandrovich Nizoff (a pianist who lived in Edmonton, Canada, in the second half of the 20th century, and gathered a large, wide-ranging library of Russian works, especially covering art, émigré, literature and history).


Morley, Charles. “Major Russian Collections in American Libraries.” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 29, no. 72, 1950, pp. 256–66.

Item number



Physical Description

Large octavo. Title, t.o.c. leaf, 432, 96 and CXXII pp.


Upper printed wrapper kept in new red half calf over red cloth boards, spine with raised bands, gilt fillets and direct gilt lettering, early 20th-c. burgundy marbled endpapers retained from previous binding.


Wrapper stained, creased, with lower edge frayed; light brown stain to upper inner corner to beginning of block, stronger at beginning with some creasing, fading away further in, until about a third of the book, very occasional light markings or staining.

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