Equality and Revolution

Women's Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905–1917

A clearly organized, highly readable, engaging and informative study. Ruthchild writes fluidly, vividly, accessibly and with passion for her topic, yet she retains academic rigor. Provides an excellent resource for teaching Russian and women's history as well as for comparative research projects on women's lives. It will be an asset to Russian political history courses and will be really informative—even inspirational—for the general reader.
The NEP Era

On July 20, 1917, Russia became the world’s first major power to grant women the right to vote and hold public office. Yet in the wake of the October Revolution later that year, the foundational organizations and individuals who pioneered the suffragist cause were all but erased from Russian history. The women’s movement, when mentioned at all, is portrayed as rooted in the elitist and bourgeois culture of the tsarist era, meaningless to proletarian and peasant women, and counter to socialist ideology. Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild reveals that Russian feminists in fact appealed to all classes and were an integral force for revolution and social change, particularly during the monumental uprisings of 1905-1917. Ruthchild offers a telling examination of the social dynamics in imperialist Russia that fostered a growing feminist movement. Based upon extensive archival research in six countries, she analyzes the backgrounds, motivations, methods, activism, and organizational networks of early Russian feminists, revealing the foundations of a powerful feminist intelligentsia that came to challenge, and eventually bring down, the patriarchal tsarist regime.Ruthchild profiles the individual women (and a few men) who were vital to the feminist struggle, as well as the major conferences, publications, and organizations that promoted the cause. She documents political debates on the acceptance of women’s suffrage and rights, and follows each party’s attempt to woo feminist constituencies despite their fear of women gaining too much political power. Ruthchild also compares and contrasts the Russian movement to those in Britain, China, Germany, France, and the United States. Equality and Revolution offers an original and revisionist study of the struggle for women’s political rights in late imperial Russia, and presents a significant reinterpretation of a decisive period of Russian-and world-history.

about the author

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchildis a research associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, professor emerita of graduate studies at Vermont College/Union Institute & University, and former director of the Russian School at Norwich University.

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Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild