Saturday, September 8, 2018

Anna Pavlovna Filosofova

All of this happened under the supposedly autocratic regime of the tsars. From Russian Ladies' History:
Anna Filosofova (née Diaghileva)(1837 –1912) was a pioneer feminist activist and philanthropist and one of the founders and leaders of the first organized Russian women’s movement. She was born into a wealthy noble family in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire. She received her education at home, following the custom of noble families of the time. In 1855 Anna married Vladimir Filosofov, a powerful official in the Ministry of War and Defence. She had six children with him, one of her sons was the writer, literary critic and political activist Dmitry Filosofov. Her nephew was Sergei Diaghilev, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes.
Anna’s first philanthropic activities concerned providing food and medicine to the poor peasants. It was around this time that she met Maria Trubnikova, a woman interested in social change, who gave Anna books on women’s issues and discussed them with her. In 1860, Anna, Maria Trubnikova, and their friend Nadezhda Stasova – collectively known as “Triumvirate” - founded the “Society for Cheap Lodging and Other Aid to the Residents of Saint Petersburg”, which gave shelter to abused and abandoned women. It was based on new approach to philanthropy. Filosofova believed that instead of giving cash benefits to the poor, it was better to train and educate them so that they could earn a living on their own. They provided low cost housing for poor women and sewing work from local businesses. “The Triumvirate” set up many other philanthropic projects, the two most important being “Society for the Organization of Work for Women” and “Women’s Publishing Artel”.
The most ambitious initiative of “the Triumvirate” was the one launched on behalf of women’s education. In 1868 they managed to collect four hundred signatures on a petition to Tsar Alexander II asking permission to open the first Higher Education Courses for Women at Saint Petersburg State University. Minister of Education Dmitry Tolstoy finally allowed women to attend public lectures by university professors. These courses were given the name “Vladimirsky”, after the name of the college where they were held. In 1876 Anna was able to get official permission to open the first Russian women’s university, known as the Bestuzhev Courses after their nominal founder Konstantin Bestuzhev-Ryumin.
In the late 1880s and early 1890s Anna began providing assistance for starving people in the Volga Region. In 1892 she joined the “Saint Petersburg Committee for the Promotion of Literacy”. In 1895 she founded and chaired the “Russian Women’s Mutual Philanthropic Society”. In 1899 she was elected Vice-President of the International Council of Women. In 1905 Anna actively participated in the Revolution of 1905 (joining the Kadets or the Constitutional Democrats) and pushed determinedly for permission to hold the First All-Russian Women’s Congress, which finally took place in 1908. After the congress, Anna and some of her associates received deprecating letters from the ultra-conservative Duma deputy Vladimir Purishkevich, who compared the Congress to gathering of whores. Filosofova created a sensation by making the letter public and successfully taking Purishkevich to court, whereby the deputy was subsequently sentenced to a month in jail.
1911 marked the 50th Jubilee of Filosofova’s public activities, which represented the achievements and real progress of the women’s movement in Russia. More than a hundred women’s organizations from all over Russia presented address to Filosofova, joined by several foreign women’s organizations. She was also honored by deputies of the Duma at the Mariinsky Palace. She died in Saint Petersburg in 1912 at the age of 74, and her funeral was attended by thousands of people. (Read more.)
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