Russian Satirical Journals, 1905-1907

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A 1906 issue of the satirical political journal “Signaly” (Signals) published in St. Petersburg.

The University of Chicago Library’s collection Russian Satirical Journals, 1905-1907 consists of 110 titles in 378 issues. It is primarily comprised of journals, but some newspapers, broadsides, and illustrated periodicals are also included. The full collection has been digitized.

This collection documents some of the most important events of the period known as the first Russian Revolution of 1905-1907. It was during this unprecedented rise of national self-identity that the first Russian Constitution and Russian Parliament were initially created. The first Russian Revolution was a period of struggle for political, social and human rights, and the press, which had previously been subject to censorship, enjoyed a new freedom which had never before appeared in Russia.

Nevertheless, disillusionment with the political and social reforms was expressed through political satire and caricature, published in numerous journals all over the country. The pages of these journals served as an arena for political parties and the newly born social classes of Russia – both the bourgeois and the workers. The explicit satirical form of these publications and their subsequent immediate distribution to interested readers attracted many well known writers and artists who were either contributors or, occasionally, editors of these journals. The journals in the collection present a unique and sparkling collaboration amongst famous Russian authors such as Konstantin Bal’mont, Ivan Bunin, Maxim Gorky, Aleksandr Kuprin, Valerii Brusov, etc., with the artistic talents of Ivan Bilibin, Boris Kustodiev, Léon Bakst, Valentin Serov, Alexandre Benois, and others.

As the Russian autocracy regained its power, the unprecedented freedom of the Russian press diminished and then vanished. While some journals were published continuously for months afterward, many others were either closed or suppressed, and their editors prosecuted, with the entire publishing run of some issues confiscated and destroyed by the authorities.

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The physical collection of journals is housed unbound in six boxes in the Special Collections Research Center. SCRC maintains a finding aid listing all the titles in the collection. To retrieve a title, search by title in the online catalog and use the Request from SCRC link. If looking for multiple titles, and records indicate that they are in the same box, you need only request the box one time.