Research and Teaching of History at the University of Tartu at the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century

By Dubjeva, Ludmila | Trames, June 2009 | Go to article overview

Research and Teaching of History at the University of Tartu at the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century


Dubjeva, Ludmila, Trames


1. Introduction

The generally high level of the research of history in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire acquired international recognition, evident in the fact that at the history congress in London in 1913 it was decided to organize the next congress in Russia in 1918. This did not take place because of World War I and the revolutions in Russia. Despite its international acclaim, the present-day researcher finds several drawbacks in the development of history research in the pre-revolutionary Russia: ignoring diplomatic and military history, "little attention to the international context in which the imperial state arose and developed", "neglect of the local and regional historical studies" and "ignorance of the multinational and multicultural features of the empire" (Raeff 1999:482). We shall have a look whether these drawbacks were characteristic of the development of history research at the University of Tartu in end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

2. Research of history at the University of Tartu in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century: general trends of the development

In the 19th century the research of history obtained a scientific-professional status which we have today. In the development of institutionalization of research and teaching of history at the University of Tartu we can distinguish four periods: 1) 1802-1820: at the Faculty of Philosophy there were complex chairs-professorships whose competence also included history; 2) 1820-1853: at the Faculty of Philosophy (existed until 1850) there was the Chair of History which dealt with all the branches of history; 3) 1853-1880: at the Faculty of History and Linguistics (established in 1850) there were two Chairs of History--General History and the History of Russia (the composition of the faculty was fixed by the University of Tartu Statutes of 1865 (Statut 1865:18)); 4) 1880-1918: one more Chair of General History was added for teaching Modern History, the Chair of General History before that had concentrated on the Middle Ages. Part of history subjects was also taught at other chairs of the Faculty of History and Linguistics, for example, Ancient History and Art History at the Chair of Classical Philology. Members of the teaching staff of other chairs of the Faculty of History and Linguistics and other faculties dealt with the research of some history subjects. However, in the present article the author examines only the treatment of the problems of research of Russian history at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century by the researchers at the Faculty of Law. The main emphasis is on the Chairs of History at the Faculty of History and Linguistics, their academic staff and their research.

2.1. Teaching history in the first half of the 19th century

In conformity with the University of Tartu Statutes from 1803 two Chairs of history--the Chair of General History, Statistics and Geography and the Chair of the History of Russia, especially of Estland, Livland, Kurland and Finland--were established. These were complex chairs at the Faculty of Philosophy which studied both natural sciences and humanities (Ustav 1803:15). The first professor of history was appointed even before the university started officially functioning. He was Georg Friedrich Poschmann (1768-1812) (Levickij 1903:371-374, Siilivask 1982:158, 162, Hiio and Piirimae 2007:177) who had obtained the degree magister philosophiae at the University of Leipzig in 1789. The University of Tartu curator Count von Mannteufel invited him to the post of the professor of General History from 10 December 1800. G. F. Poschmann was a professor of General History, Statistics and Geography lecturing on all these subjects in the years 1802-1812 including the history of Russian state, also historical ethnography. Poschmann also published a paper about the influence of the Occidental culture on Russia in Tartu. In his work he proceeds from A. …

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