The proposed project deals with a study of voluntary associations in late imperial Russia. Concepts of the public and of the public sphere, as well as a more general theory of civil society, constitute the methodological framework for the research. The project will focus on “TheSociety of Zealots of Russian Historical Education,” which was created in 1895 and remained active until 1918. The first stage of the research will be devoted to analyzing the network of voluntary associations that existed in imperial Russia, and to placing the Society of Zealots within this context. The next stage will highlight the organizational structure of the Society of Zealots and its interaction with state, public, and private bodies. Identification of social groups represented in the Society of Zealots will constitute the next research task. Prosopographical analysis will be effective in establishing a profile (or profiles) of the Zealots. Determining the Society’s organizational structure and the composition of its membership will enable a study of its goals and the manner in which it functioned as an educational and historical society. In order to research the Society’s educational activity, its notions of education will be addressed. The next task is to mark those groups of the population that were targeted by the Society for education. An investigation of the Society’s projects (both realized and unrealized) will facilitate an understanding of how the Zealots conceived their educational agency. In particular, Zealots' periodicals and readers will be examined as media for disseminating the historical narrative embraced by the Society. The research will then proceed to the Zealots’ contribution to the historical scholarship of the time. For this purpose, the Society's scholarly agenda and research procedures will be examined. The next goal is to examine the roles filled by both academic and non-academic historians in the Society. Special attention will be devoted to Zealots' initiatives directed toward influencing the “state of the art” in the field of historical scholarship, such as efforts to organize discussions among historians or to launch a new historical journal of a theoretical character.

Resting on unique archival sources, this project, we believe, will enable the production of a solid research work that explores a new facet in the social and cultural history of Russia. The results of the research will be presented as a monograph and then, hopefully, in book format.