The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence

The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence

The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence

The Fall of the Russian Monarchy: A Study of the Evidence

Excerpt

From 1904 till 1919, I was following out a plan of study of contemporary history in Russia. Up to the War, I spent three or four months of each year there, and sought out anyone who had played or was playing a part of any importance in public events, not for a newspaper interview, but for materials for history. Russians of all shades of opinion were very ready to be approached in this way, and once they realized the object I had in view they continued to keep in touch with me, and, with that pleasant friendliness and honesty which most of them have when telling of themselves, they were entirely frank and full in their information. For three years (1906 to 1908) of this work, I had an invaluable colleague in my friend, Samuel N. Harper, now Professor of Russian in the University of Chicago. We usually paid our visits to public men together, which ensured greater accuracy in the notes which we afterwards made of them, always set down before we went to bed. As soon as we knew a number of different persons concerned in the same event, this method enabled us to suggest corrections in the accounts which were given us, and it was almost as if we were able to hear and cross-examine what would later be recorded in their memoirs. I was also very fortunate throughout in being myself present at many of the principal events, (which is sometimes noted by the sign † in the text) together with these personal contacts, I was following the public life of the country closely in the published materials.

After the Revolution, when I had completed the general history of Russia on which I had been engaged, I felt that I ought to set down all that I myself knew at first hand of the contemporary period which was my special subject of study, and this was done in My Russian Memoirs -- necessarily a more or less unconnected record. I wanted these materials anyhow to be available for future historians; but I also hoped that when I had completed my own evidence, I might set it aside and make a thorough study of all other published materials which had by now become accessible . . .

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