Parochial schools in Yakutia’s intellectual landscape (the second half of 19th - early 20th century)

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The article deals with the activities of the parochial schools in the Yakut region in the second half 19th - early 20th century as the region’s main primary schools. The authors consider the effect of the climate and the local population’s living conditions to explain the slow growth of these schools. Among other, it also discusses disagreements between the region’s secular and spiritual authorities about education, as well as how the institutions were financed. It argues the teachers, as members of the intelligentsia, were Yakutia’s intellectual elites, which enabled them to influence public opinion. Their educational activities, involvement in academic research, journalism and art significantly enriched the region’s intellectual life. The authors conclude that parochial schools enabled the population to receive primary education, as well as the possibility of further study. Both secular and religious educators contributed to the formation of the intelligentsia nationally and the integration of the Yakut periphery into the empire.

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Introduction Parochial schools were the lowest link in the Russian Empire’s system of public education. They were mainly supported by parish funds. As a rule, they were located in church gatehouses or empty houses and lacked enough textbooks and training manuals. By the middle of the 19th century, the schools were unable fully to meet the population’s needs for primary education, and might have been replaced by zemstvo and ministerial schools had it not been for the autocracy’s patronage. In 1858, Emperor Alexander II drew the attention of diocesan authorities to the parochial schools and ordered them to inform him about their organization. As a result, the number of schools began to increase. If in 1861 there were 9,283 parochial schools with 159,000 students in the empire, the numbers rose to 21,420 parish schools with 413,524 students by 1865.1 In 1884, the government confirmed its ‘Rules on parochial schools,’ which set out their role with respect to zemstvo schools. It declared that their purpose was ‘establishing the people’s Orthodox doctrine, faith and Christian morals as well as providing useful basic knowledge.’ Managing parochial school was entrusted to the School Council at the Holy Synod created in 1885, while diocesan school councils carried out on-site control. Diocesan observers from among parish priests were directly to supervise and support the schools. According to the new regulations, the teachers of parochial schools were to be graduates of religious educational establishments. Initially, only those schools located at a church were considered to be parochial, but in 1891 this category was broadened to include peasant grammar schools. Their pupils were taught prayers, sacred history, the short catechism, church singing, reading and writing, the history of the state and the church, as well as elementary arithmetic. New schools were only to be set up where the Ministry of Education did not provide them and were divided into one-class and two-class schools, with two and four years of study (subsequently increased to three and six), respectively. The primary schools included those for literacy, religion, as well as Sunday schools, while there were also institutions to train teachers of the primary and religious schools. With little government support, they were financed by local sources, including the parish clergy, urban and rural societies, parish guardianships, as well as donations by institutions and individuals.2 The history of religious education in one of the empire’s remote regions provides insights the role of the Russian Orthodox Church’s socio-educational activities to Yakutia’s intellectual history. This article therefore examines the history of parochial primary education to gain some insights into their regional aspects as well as the teachers. Its goal is to study the history of primary spiritual education, to identify its regional specificity and the characteristics of the teaching community’s first representatives. The article is based on a comprehensive approach using previous research of local history to reconstruct biographical narratives of certain individuals. The historiography of church education in the Russian Empire is extensive and diverse. Scholars have studied the history of the Russian Orthodox Church’s educational activities both in the empire as a whole, and in its remote regions. The works of Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov) and S.G. Runkevich addressed primary church education,3 P.V. Znamenskii, a corresponding member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, studied church administration, the role and rights of the clergy, and the state of reliogious education in Russia.4 S.I. Miropolskii’s work concluded that, led by the church, Russian schools ‘went hand in hand with life, answering its requests and meeting its requirements.’5 Meanwhile, A.M. Vanchakov considered theological education in Russia. Using official statistics, this author analyzed the state of parochial education and its development to support his argument that parochial schools were one of the most important tools for implementing the state’s pedagogical goals.6 Others tended to stress the importance of zemstvo schools.7 Contemporary historians have also studied religious education in Russia. Thus Archpriest V. Tsypin examined the issue during the Synodal period8. Others have looked at the views of K. P. Pobedonostsev and his role in developing parochial schools.9 Arguing that the attitudes of Soviet and post-Soviet scholars to parochial schools is biased,10 they stress the importance of such studies in understanding the modern system of Russian education.11 In her article, A.D. Avdeeva studied the activity of the Moscow diocese’s parochial schools in the early 19th century to evaluate the management of the Church’s educational institutions.12 Meanwhile, E. B. Sofinskaia argues that the competition between zemstvo and parochial schools in Saratov Province stimulated the development of public education.13 V.A. Ovchinnikov’s monograph is devoted to the formation of the system of theological schools in Tomsk province.14 There are some details about parochial schools in the Yakut region in the work of V. F. Afanasiev, who mistakenly concluded that that their pedagogy was limited to reading one or two church books and familiarizing students with the elements of grammar and arithmetic.15 The Chronicle of the City of Yakutsk from its foundation to the present (1632-1914), a thesis written at the turn of the 20th century by the candidate of theology P.P. Iavlovskii, the overseer of parochial schools and grammar of the Yakut and Vilyui dioceses, offers a more positive picture, with details about the opening of parochial and pedagogical schools, seminaries, and their staff.16 A.A. Pavlov, A.A. Makarova, and I.I. Iurganova used new sources to shed light on spiritual education.17 Others have written about Yakutia’s first teachers,18 while the reports of the diocese’s bishops also provide details about their parochial schools.19 This article is based on documents from the funds of the School Council at Russian State Historical Archive the Holy Synod (RSIA). At the same time, it has also relied on the funds of the Yakut spiritual board, consistory, churches and secular institutions of the National archive of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) for details about the region. Analyzing these archival documents provides insights into the evolution of the Yakut region’s parochial schools of, their role in educating the population and promoting the rise of Yakut intelligentsia, as well as providing details about the teachers and their activities at the turn of the 20th century. Primary Church education in the Yakut region In Yakutia, the Church was administered by the Siberian archdiocese in Tobolsk from 1638 to 1731, followed by the Irkutsk and Kamchatka dioceses in 1731-1852 and 1852-1869, respectively. An independent Yakut and Viliuisk diocese was established in 1870 as the 53rd of the Russian Orthodox Church. Yakutia’s remote location, the considerable size of its territory, lack of infrastructure, harsh climate, as well as the low population density of its mostly nomadic and semi-nomadic population all influenced the church and its schools. Education first arrived to Yakutia in 1735 when a church school was founded at the Spasskii monastery with the blessing of Bishop Innokentii (Nerunovich) of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk.20 Its initial enrolment consisted of 15 Yakut children.21 But the history of Yakutia’s parochial schools had begun more than a century later. They had been set up by parish priests, who taught the children in their flock to read and write in a homelike setting. Thus, in 1851 or 1852, Fr. Dimitrian Popov opened a private school at the Church of the Transfiguration in the village of Ytyk-Kiuel of Baturusskii ulus and began to teach some boys he had chosen while travelling there. Subsequently converted into a parochial school, Fr. Dimitrian worked there until his death in 1896. His daughter Kapitolina and son-in-law, Fr. V.S. Popov also taught there. To teach Yakut children, the Archpriest produced the first Russian-Yakut textbooks, visual aids and translated some texts from the Scripture into the Yakut language.22 His students later became well-known members of the Yakut intelligentsia. They included K. G. Orosin, the first author of the text of Olonkho Nyurgun Bootur the Impetuous; E.D. Nikolaev, a member of Sibiriakovskii historical-ethnographic expedition (1892-1894); E. D. Nikolaev the second, the head of the ulus; the teacher N.A. Sivtsev; and the clergymen A.V. Kiultiugiurov and F. G. Sivtsev, among other. However, there were few such schools. In his report to the Holy Synod, Archbishop Innokentii (Veniaminov),23 whose residence became the Yakutsk Spasskii monastery in 1853-1859, he stated: In the Yakutsk region, there is neither a church school nor are any clergy teaching children to read and write, because nowhere it is as difficult to start school as in the Yakutsk region, because are no Yakut settlements...24 In 1861, funding the regions’s clergy,25 was made conditional on teaching their parishioners’ children. However, the lack of premises and the lengthy travels the priests had to make hindered systematic teaching. Cash payments were introduced to support new parochial schools. Thus, when students successful passed their final exams under the supervision of the dean and local officials, a teacher received 30-35 rubles. However, this payment did not cover the cost of supporting a student, which amounted to an average of more than 60 rubles annually.26 With the accession of Alexander III and the implementation of the ‘new course’ aimed at strengthening the imperial regime under the slogan ‘United and indivisible Russia,’ whose main ideologist was Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod K.P. Pobedonostsev, the Russian Orthodox Church’s role in public education overall was increased. Pobedonostsev’s educational reforms in the 1880s paid special attention to the primary level and promoted a new type of institution - parochial schools. Closely supervised by the church, most of its staff would become members of the clergy. Realizing that the vast majority of the empire’s population would only attend primary schools, the reformers’ priorities were shaping the younger generation’s world view.27 The famous Kazan educator N.I. Il’minskii28 who played a prominent role in developing primary schools, including those for children of inorodtsy (native minorities). M.A. Goncharov and M.G. Plokhova stress, thanks to Il’minskii, the church educational department betrayed an unusually broadminded approach to on the nationalities question by agreeing with the principle of teaching in native languages, whereas even moderate conservatives regarded this with suspicion, and many government officials and church hierarchs treated all minorities with contempt.29 The ‘Rules on Parochial Schools’ defined the status of parochial schools as primary schools, with a corresponding set of academic disciplines, which were to be opened both in cities and in rural areas. Thus, in the Yakut diocese on 1 September 1885 in the Yakut diocese, parochial schools were opened in the village of Suntar, with 20 pupils and in the village of Malikai in the Viliuisk district with 9 students.30 Most of the parochial schools’ curricula was approved by the canons of the Holy Synod in 1886 and were in force until 1903, when a new, largely unchanged curricula with longer hours for certain subjects was introduced. The Ministry of Education also opened schools in Yakutia in 1870, but parochial schools continued their activities. By 1871 there were three schools in the region, and three years later there were seven, which taught 84 pupils.31 In 1887, this number had risen to 25 schools, of which 13 were parochial and 12 were grammar schools, with an enrollment of 165 pupils, including 15 girls. And in the 1891-1892 school year, Yakutia counted 44 schools, including 15 Ministry of Education schools, with a total of 1,054 pupils. In the late 19th century, most of Yakutia’s educational institutions were clearly parochial schools. At the same time, 26 of them had their own buildings, three were housed in the premises provided by rural societies, two in private houses, 18 in those of members of the clergy, while three were located in parish churches and a monastery.32 Parochial schools of the Yakut diocese in 1898-1915 Table 1 School year Location In total Number of students (total) Parochial school Yakutsk Grammar schools Parochial school Yakutsk Grammar schools region Parochial school Vilyuisk Grammar schools region Parochial school Olekma Grammar schools region Parochial school Verkhoyansk Grammar schools region Parochial school Kolyma Grammar schools region Parochial school Okhotsk Grammar schools region 1888/1889 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 1 1 3 2 1 No data available 25 165 1898/1899 2 3 16 4 7 2 8 1 3 4 3 1 No data available 54 713 1902/1903 6 3 21 - 8 5 8 1 No data available 3 2 1 5 63 1,119 1907/1908 6 3 20 - 6 3 7 - 3 4 3 2 2 5 64 1,202 1913/1914 6 3 26 4 7 2 7 - - 3 3 5 2 - 68 1,345 Note: The table is compiled by authors. Sources: “Sheets on parochial schools of the Yakut diocese in 1898 - 1915,” in RSIA, f. 803, op. 16, d. 2207; Reference book on the Yakut diocese for 1889, p. 7. The issue of increasing and improving parochial schools was repeatedly considered at the diocesan level, since in general there weren’t enough to meet the needs of the population. The diocesan school council began to function in 1889, and by early 20th century, it had offices in all districts. In addition to organizing and supervising schools, it was the council’s responsibility to provide religious schools with textbooks and literature. In 1892, the Brotherhood of Christ the Savior was established, which provided, among other things, assistance in opening and maintaining parochial schools. This sup- port was provided only as a last resort and was, in fact, a reserve fund.33 Two years later, in 1894, a diocesan overseer of the parochial schools and grammar schools of the Yakut diocese was appointed ‘closely to administer and directly manage the schools.’ In the early 20th century, the heads of Yakutia’s secular and religious authorities, I.I. Kraft, the regional Governor34 and diocesan Bishop Makarii35 (Pavlov), respectively initiated a public debate about their relative merits.36 After visiting one of the region’s parochial schools, the governor became dissatisfied with the qualifications of its teachers and began to take measures to close them. He began to build stone buildings for a nonclassical secondary school and a women’s gymnasium, created a special Peter the Great scholarship to support poor students, set up scholarships, and initiated two-year pedagogical courses. the construction of stone buildings of a non-classical secondary school. By declaring that religious education wasn’t useful, he entered into a conflict with diocesan authorities. The struggle caught the attention of Irkutsk Governor-General A.N. Selivanov,37 who sided with the bishop, as did Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Internal Affairs P.A. Stolypin,38 who took a ‘conciliatory’ position. State funding for ministerial schools by the State Treasury made them more attractive to rural societies, but in case they weren’t opened, they supported parochial schools at their own expense. The governor and the bishop disagreed about resolving the joint task of developing public education. Governor Kraft led the efforts to expand a network of secular schools to provide educated personnel to serve as his officials, a task that coincided with a major push to open ministerial schools throughout the empire. Meanwhile, the diocesan authorities promoted religious education as the basis of Christian morality and loyalty to the monarchy. Yakutia’s parochial schools were meant for all social classes, and those of other faiths could receive education there as well. The diocesan school council’s report for 1912 noted that, along with Orthodox children, the region’s parochial schools provided primary education to ‘children of the Roman Catholic faith - 1 girl; Muslims - 3 boys, 2 girls; Jewish - 26 boys, 16 girls.’ As for social classes, they taught 50 sons and 35 daughters of noblemen and officials, 53 sons and 37 daughters of priests, 192 sons and 81 daughters of peasants, townsmen and Cossacks, and 407 sons and 151 daughters of inorodtsy.39 By 1914, the Yakut region, counted 95 primary ministerial schools as well as 68 parochial schools.40 Nevertheless, the audit of the parochial schools in 1914 stated that ‘to implement universal primary education, 489 establishments... for 2,803 students of both sexes are still needed.’ It added that the expansion of such schools was hampered by insufficient funding by the Synod, local sources ‘meagre zemstvo allocations.’41 Running and funding parochial schools The Synod’s education committee budgeted 32,862 rubles annually for its educational institutions. Additional sources of revenues came from parish funds, church fees and private donations. Charitable institutions and philanthropists also helped. In 1910, they donated 335 rubles, a sum that grew to 14,530 rubles by 1913. At the same time, local support ranged from 634 rubles in 1908, 14,971 rubles in 1913 and 10,419 rubles in 1914. Local sources of financing of the early 20th century in rubles Table 2 1900 1902 1904 1906 1908 1910 1911 1913 1914 1915 - - - - - - - - 1,305 - - - - - - - - - 1,258 - 675 120 - - - 265 - 10 - 60 369* 275* 145* 82* - 125 268 431 47 7 - - - - - - - - 536 - 1,100 2,153 690 650 634 335 1,172 14,530 515 605 - - - - - - - - 1,227 - - - - - - - - - 4,491 - - - - - - - - - 1,040 - 2,144 2,548 835 732 634 625 1,440 14,971 10,419 672 Churches, monastery Brotherhood, committees Parish meetings and councils Parish guardianships Municipal office, volost and rural societies Charitable institutions and private persons % of church capital Zemstvos Other sources In total Note: * - incomplete information. Sources: RGIA, f. 803, op. 16, d. 2207, l. 1-94. The Neryuktyaisk school of the Olekminskiy district was the richest, with 3,000 rubles of donations and its own premises.42 Table 2 shows the variation in the flow of funds from local sources, which hindered the stable development of parochial schools. According to the Regulations on parish guardians of the Orthodox churches of 1864, their main tasks were to improve churches and the clergy’s welfare, organizing primary schooling and charitable activities. They were to be paid by membership fees, donations, interest from the church capital and ‘passing the hat.’ In the Yakut region, parish guardians began to be appointed in 1880. Members of the clergy and churchwardens would serve ex officio, while others were elected among the most respected parishioners. Their main task became ‘arranging’ the education of children and maintaining parochial and grammar schools, including financing their buildings and dormitories. Parish guardianships operated in 13 parishes of the Yakut diocese, but the poverty of the rural population, and their irregular church attendance because of their nomadic way of life meant that, in the absence of zemstvo support, only the clergy acted as guardians, who were also busy visiting their parishioners, financing their, church and teaching. The training and composition of teachers As a rule, there were no professional teachers in the first parochial schools, and lessons were conducted by local priests. One can assume the difficulties of teaching in the harsh northern climate of Yakutia, whose parishes stretched for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of kilometers, especially when the 1822 Regulation of Indigenous Population also required the clergy to visiting the far flung ‘nomadic inorodtsy’ among their parishioners. Unlike central Russia and Siberia, a rural parish church in Yakutia tended only to be close to its clergy’s residence, with a hostel for the school’s pupils, whose parents lived too far away. Moreover, parents often unwilling to let their children study since they helped them with their household work. Meanwhile, money to house and feed the pupils was often irregular, forcing the priests to to feed and clothe them at their own expense, along with their children. Since most students did not know the Russian language they could not use textbooks. Ministry parochial schools in regional and district centers, where the settled population lived and newspapers from Central Russia were accessible, even if sometimes with a six-month delay, found it easier to attract teachers. Archbishop Innokentii (Veniaminov) wrote that even in the Yakutsk’s urban churches native children did not know how to behave during services, and he therefore blessed organizing instruction in the Catechism, first in the cathedral churches, and then in the others.43 However, the Catechism was hard to teach since natives did not know the Russian language. He accordingly had the the Sacred History for children translated into the Yakut language and published in 1866. The increasing number of parochial schools led to a shortage in staff. Therefore, the Rules for Parochial Schools (p. 10) allowed the laity to teach along with the priests. But only those men and women ‘... who had mainly been educated in theological educational institutions and women’s schools of the spiritual department’ could do so (p. 12). They had the same privileges as the teachers of public schools, including exemption from military service (items 13, 14).44 Another measure to boost the ranks of parochial school teachers was to set up pedagogical institutions. I.I. Malyshevskii, a professor of the Kiev Theological Academy, developed a special project for monastic teachers’ seminaries. Meanwhile, Yakutia saw the opening of various secondary schools, including the theological seminary (1858-1870, 1884), the progymnasium (1869), and the women’s progymnasium (1882), which was converted to a gymnasium with a teacher’s course in 1901. As a result, the region’s public and parochial schools began to be staffed with their graduates.45 To train parochial school teachers, in 1888 Jacob (Domskii), the Yakut and Viliuisk bishop46, opened a diocesan women’s school for the daughters of priests and laity. Initially with three classes and a two-year course of study in each, in 1890, the school expanded to a six-class course. Two years later, it opened a seventh additional class to provide specialized training for parochial and grammar school teachers. In September 1899 Bishop Nikanor (Nadezhdin)47 also set up a primary grammar school to provide practical classroom experience to those preparing to become teachers, which the following year became a model school. Students in their final year carried out practice teaching twice a week, whose results would be discussed with their mentor in the presence of other teachers and the inspector. In addition to general subjects, future teachers studied pedagogy, psychology and didactics48. In 1888-1915, 543 girls, of whom 205 were daughters of the clergy, were taught in the diocesan school. An increasing number of Yakut girls joined their ranks.49 In summer 1911, the teacher training courses for one-class parochial schools were also begun. They were attended by 80 people, of whom only 20, passed the exam and were given the right to teach.50 Nevertheless, attracting staff from European Russia to the inhospitable northern region remained an uphill battle. Low parochial school salaries combined with the lack of the pensions and the seniority system secular teachers received made the problem did not help matters. Even the graduates of theological seminaries and diocesan schools sought work at schools of the Ministry of Education and other better paying institutions51. In 1914, 66 people, including 50 priests, one deacon and 15 laymen, taught in the parochial schools of the Yakut region.52 Parochial school teachers: Time and destiny It is impossible to write a history of parochial schools without describing the most prominent teachers. There were many true champions of national education among Yakutia’s clergy and laity. Fr. Leonid Siniavin (1875-1922) made an important contribution to the development of primary education among the indigenous peoples of the North. Born into a family of Irkutsk clergymen, as one of the best graduates of the Yakut theological seminary, he could have made a brilliant career or have taught at the seminary school, where he was sent after his studies. But Siniavin preferred the difficult path of a parish priest and missionary. In 1899, he was appointed rector of the Okhotsk Transfiguration Church and head of a parochial school. His wife, V. N. Siniavina (Pel-Gorskaia), a graduate of the Yakut diocesan women’s school, began to teach at the same school. Fr. Leonid arrived in Okhotsk in September 1899, and in January 1900 he turned to Bishop Nikanor with a report on the lack of premises for the school. Having raised money for its construction with the help of parishioners, at the end of the year he inaugurated a new school building.53 After several years of service in the ulus of the Yakut district, Fr. Leonid became a teacher in religious schools in Yakutsk, including the parochial school, and in March 1908, he was appointed the diocesan overseer for the Yakutsk district. When inspecting the schools, Siniavin noted the need to improve the quality of their pedagogy, which depended on teachers’ level of education and their knowledge of the Yakut language.54 Fr. Leonid actively participated in scientific and educational activities. Thus, on 14 October 1908, along with 56 ‘competitors of studies of the fatherland’ (in Russia: sorevnovateli Otechestvovedeniya) of the Yakut region, whose ranks included other parochial schools teachers such as Frs. P. A. Burnashev and I.P. Berdennikov, he signed an announcement about the establishment of the Yakut Branch of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society.55 In 1909, he was appointed to the Sen-Kelskii Innokentievskii camp of the Chukotka mission, and from that time on, Fr. Siniavin considered teaching indigenous peoples of the North to be his main task. During his stay in Sen-Kel, he taught 20 people from among the local population to read and write. The classes were originally held in the Yakut language, which Fr. Leonid knew perfectly, and he also went on to learn the Chukot and Even. In 1912, Siniavin opened a parochial school in transpolar Pokhodsk. Right away he successfully applied to the Yakut Committee of the Orthodox missionary society for funding to teach ‘at least five boys from the kinship community of Chukchi and people of other faiths,’ receiving a 400 ruble grant for the 1912-1913 school year.56 Siniavin’s educational activities in the Kolyma region were highly appreciated by the Orthodox Missionary society of St. Petersburg, whose report noted: Despite the school’s recent opening, its teaching has significantly improved. In the summer of this year [1912 - S.B., and I.Yu. noted] the missionary-teacher transferred the school to the (eastern) tundra and placed it in the central location of the nomadic Chukchi, where they stayed from the second half of April or early May until October. Thus, the school was mobile, and the missionary teacher roamed with his students from place to place. Already 10 Chukchis have expressed a desire to send their children to Fr. Leonid’s school.57 At the same time, L. G. Siniavin collected exhibits for the Russian Museum of Ethnography, contributing valuable collections of artefacts of Chukchi and other northern peoples. In his ‘Notes of a Missionary’ published in the Orthodox Evangelist in 1910 and his Diary of the Missionary to the Sen-Kelskii Camp of the Chukchi Mission Leonid Siniavin (1913), he provided detailed ethnographic information about the Northern Yakuts, the Evenki, the Yukagirs and Chukchi of the Kolyma region.58 In 1913, when the first nomadic school in the Kolyma region proved notably successful, Siniavin was transferred to serve as rector of St. Panteleimon Church at the Viliuisk leper colony. Even there, however, on the ‘threshold of sorrow,’ in the most difficult conditions, which called for great psychic and physical effort, Fr. Leonid remained faithful to himself - there was a grammar school at the church. The events of 1917 found him in there. The chaos of his revolution first put him into the ranks of the Yakut zemstvo, then amongst those who sympathized with the Soviet government, and eventually his execution, along with Commissar V. D. Kotenko, in Allaikhovsky tundra.59 Hieromonk Alexy (V.T. Okoneshnikov) (1873-?), the only Yakut naval priest, and a hero of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, began his service as a teacher of a parochial school. After graduating from the Kazan teachers’ seminary in 1898, he enrolled in the missionary courses of the Kazan Theological Academy, where a year later he took monastic vows. In 1900, Fr. Alexy was appointed assistant head of the diocese’s largest parochial school, the two-class (missionary) school of Yakutsk. Many documents of that year mention his name among the best teachers. Fr. Alexy taught Russian history, didactics with practical lessons, as well as liturgical singing. M.I. Starostina quotes how the monk was described by Okhlopkov, the district overseer of the parochial and grammar schools of the Yakut district: ...Hieromonk Alexy distinguished himself by his work and an exemplary attitude toward the school. By his example and perseverance he encouraged other teachers in their diligence, care, and love for teaching.60 Already in September 1901, Hieromonk Alexy was appointed head of the missionary school, which trained 69 students (34 Yakuts, 23 Russians and 2 Tungus). In the following year he was appointed treasurer of the Spasskii monastery and housekeeper of the Bishop’s residence. In 1903, Fr. Alexy, who spoke English well, was sent to ‘perform a clergyman’s duties’ on the cruiser Rurik, later participating in the Russian-Japanese war. He continued to serve aboard other Russian Navy vessels until 1913 and was awarded Russian and foreign orders.61 At the turn of the 20th century the pedagogical intelligentsia of Yakutia became the most important force in the region’s political and cultural life. Yakut teachers in religious schools took an active part in educational activities, and later in the national democratic movement. Thus, Il’ia Egorovich Popov (1872-1944) became famous for the opinionated pieces he published beginning in the late 1890s in Siberian and Yakut periodicals, which criticized the patriarchal foundations of Yakut society and the arbitrariness of the local authorities. His collection In the Valley of Sorrow (stories and notes from the life of the Yakuts) of 1914 had a special resonance. In discussing Popov’s contribution to the development of Yakut literature, the scholar V.G. Semenova argued, He not only defended the interests of the poor, but also sought ways to save the impoverished people. He called for public education, timely free medical care, respect for human rights, implementing laws, banning the liquor trade, crop insurance, etc.62 Fr. Popov was born into the family of a poor native of the Suntar ulus, graduated from a parochial school, worked as a scribe in the office of the Yakut Governor, and then as a teacher in the Berden, Satin (Bulgunniakhtakh) and Suntar parochial schools. He was ordained a priest in 1904 and together with his family moved to Kutan village of Suntar ulus of Viliui district. In summer 1910, as part of the delegation of the Yakut diocese, he participated in the missionary Congress in Irkutsk. In 1911, at the initiative of Fr. Elijah, a grammar school was opened at the Batomaiskii Kazan Church of Suntar district, which was ransformed into a parochial school the next year. He summarized his long experience in teaching Yakut children in the book The Russian-Yakut Travelling ABC (Русско-якутской передвижной азбуке), published in 1914, and in 1918-1919, participated in the work of the Yakutsk zemstvo. During the Soviet period, he worked in cooperative organizations until he was ‘repressed’ in 1930.63 One of the active figures of the national-democratic and zemstvo movement in Yakutia was Mikhail Dmitrievich Azarov (1883-?), a parochial schoolteacher the Yakut district. He grew up in a wealthy family, his grandfather and father having built churches and been patrons of art. Azarov graduated from a parochial school, followed by a theological school in Yakutsk. His father wanted him to become a priest, but Mikhail chose a different career. From 1901, he taught at parochial schools in Meginsk, Solsk, and Sochinsk, from 1907 to 1916 in the Tiungiuliun primary school, and then in Nam’s two-year College until 1920. He actively helped S.A. Novgorodov64 to develop Yakut writing and compile textbooks on the Yakut language. During the February revolution, he was elected a member of the Commission of the Yakut Committee of Public security, and then the Commissioner of the Provisional government for Nam ulus. During the Civil War, he joined the White army and was a member of the anti-Soviet Provisional Yakut regional people’s control. After the amnesty, he continued to teach, but in 1929 was arrested as a member of the ‘counter-revolutionary movements,’ dying in prison.65 Women began to play an active role in primary education beginning towards the end of the 19th century. Among the first teachers from the local population, Evdokia Semenovna Akinina-Shilova (1865-1943) stands out as the first female paramedic in Yakutia and teacher of Yakut. She left an orphan at an early age and graduated from a parochial school. With the help of Count A.P. Ignat’ev, the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia,66 she began to study at the Yakut civil hospital in 1887, where she was considered as an ‘extremely useful’ and conscientious paramedic. After becoming acquainted with political exiles and providing them with material and medical assistance, Akinina earned a reputation as ‘politically unreliable,’ which forced her to leave the hospital.67 In 1892, having passed the exams for the title of people’s teacher, she worked for three years in the Semipalatinsk region. After returning to her homeland, she taught at a parochial school in Grado-Yakut Nicholas Church for 18 years.68 In that school, E.S. Akinina inaugurated students’ parties with performances of plays, and at her initiative, primary schools in Yakutsk began children’s matinees, Christmas tree parties and holidays with treats. E.S. Akinina was awarded three medals for her ‘fruitful activity in the field of public education’ before the Revolution. In 1920, she moved to Olekminsk and worked in the district educational institutions for over 20 years.69 Conclusions At the elementary level of public education in the Russian Empire, along with the ministerial schools that emerged later, parochial schools provided an opportunity for the residents of remote Yakutia to acquire basic knowledge - ‘a window into the big world’ - which led to the origins of the intelligentsia and an educated population. In first half of the 17th century, the monastery school was founded to teach the basics of reading and writing to Yakut children. Then, in the context of imperial reforms in the system of public education, a network of primary religious schools was established in the region. The north’s harsh conditions influenced the activities of the parochial school. Including those of the Russian Orthodox Church, the institutions of interest to intellectual historians carried out, among other, a civilizing role to integrate the remote territories into the Russian state. When opening schools at their churches, parish clergy took on the additional responsibilities of organizing education and boarding schools for students. as well as finding the time raise money to keep them running, since most were free or charged a small fee. The slow growth of Yakutia’s parochial schools was due, above all, to the difficult climatic conditions and the nomadic lifestyle of much of the population. The parish guardianships that arose at the end of the 19th century provided only partial solutions to these obstacles. The sources confirm that funding for the educational activities the Yakut region’s churches was wanting. At the same time, the permanent expansion of the network of schools provided an opportunity to obtain primary education as well as the prospects for continuing education. Given the small number of officials, the remoteness of cultural centers, and the lack of zemstvo organizations, at the turn of the 20th century teachers played an important role in Yakutia’s intelligentsia. That is why the pedagogical community, both public and religious, formed Yakutia’s intellectual elite. The history of education in Yakutia is important in understanding how schools became the cradle of the emerging intelligentsia and its role in the cultural development of provincial society. At the same light, it also sheds light on educational reform past and present.

About the authors

Sardana I. Boyakova

The Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, The Yakut Scientific Centre of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
1, Petrovsky St., Yakutsk, 677027, Russia

Doktor istoricheskikh nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], chief researcher of the History and Arctic studies of Department of the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, The Yakut Scientific Centre of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Inna I. Yurganova

The Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, The Yakut Scientific Centre of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

1, Petrovsky St., Yakutsk, 677027, Russia

Doktor istoricheskikh nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], leading researcher of the History and Arctic studies of Department of the Institute for Humanities Research and Indigenous Studies of the North, The Yakut Scientific Centre of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


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Copyright (c) 2019 Boyakova S.I., Yurganova I.I.

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