Forgotten lives : the role of Anna, Ol'ga and Mariia Ul'ianova in the Russian revolution 1864-1937.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Anna, Ol’ga and Mariia Ul’ianova hold a place in history as Lenin’s sisters, his supporters and helpers, but they played a far greater role in the Russian revolution and the Soviet regime as revolutionaries and Bolsheviks in their own right. However, this aspect of their lives has been consistently overlooked by English-language historians for decades. This thesis aims to redress this imbalanced portrayal of the Ul’ianov women. Although not solely biographical in nature, it traces Anna, Ol’ga and Mariia’s lives from their childhood and education, through their work in the underground revolutionary movement to their careers in the Soviet regime. It also investigates the personality cults that arose around the Ul’ianov women and their portrayal in history since their deaths to the present day. The thesis uses extensive unpublished primary documents from the GRASPI and GARF archives in Moscow and contemporary publications such as Pravda and Proletarskaia revoliutsiia to build a picture of Anna, Ol’ga and Mariia’s lives and to interrogate secondary sources about the sisters.
The thesis draws various conclusions about the Ul’ianov women. Ol’ga died when she was twenty, so she features only in two chapters of the thesis. Nonetheless it is clear that like Anna and Mariia she was an intelligent and well-educated young woman, who devoted herself to the study of revolutionary ideas. Anna and Mariia joined the underground movement in the early 1890s and, alongside Lenin, established themselves as competent, dedicated social democrats. Although the sisters have been portrayed as little more than Lenin’s helpers, this thesis shows that Anna and Mariia had independent revolutionary careers before 1917, acting as party correspondents, newspapers workers and agitators. It is also apparent that during the underground years the Ul’ianov family as a whole acted as a mutual support network, exchanging political information, advice and instructions.
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