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NY Public Library Releases Fascinating Trove of Historic Russian Images

A searchable archive of over 180,000 historic images is included in the release

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You'd almost think the good people at the New York Public Library were waiting for Christmas. 

  1. Russian Orthodox Christmas, that is.
  2. On January 6, as faithful Russians were getting ready to celebrate the holiday, the library released a staggering 180,000 images for public use. All in the public domain, these archive pictures include a wealth of Russia-related material. 
  3. Drawings, etchings and photographs. Portraits, maps and landscapes. We've trawled the newly released images in order to bring you some of the most striking examples. Consider it a starting point for your own investigation.
  4. 1. Military dress in 19th-century Russia

  5. This image from 1896 is part of a wide collection of pictures intended to show all the different varieties of Russian military dress. A hand-colored photograph, it may not always use the most subtle colors. But then again, who's to say these sailors didn't just have a ruddy complexion from their work on deck?
  6. 2. When the Bolshoi felt even bigger

  7. In the 1830s, Moscow's Bolshoi Theater already existed in all its magnificence. But as opposed to today, the surrounding buildings were significantly smaller, making the theatre look much more imposing. Note also the rather basic pavement in the foreground of the picture. Today, you have lanes and lanes full of car traffic here.
  8. 3. Women at work

  9. We've come to think of women in the workplace as a somewhat recent development. But the truth is, they have been doing so for centuries, simply because they had to. The New York Public Library's archives hold many images that give an idea of what clothes various woman would wear. Here, you can see a market woman's colorful yet practical clothes.
  10. 4. An English dinner in Russia - with French food

  11. Imagine being invited to a formal dinner by the English ambassador to St. Petersburg in 1899. What delicacies would await you? Sole and pheasant are both on the menu, as well as "Consommé Princesse" soup and, for dessert, orange mousse and various pastries. And of course, they served their spinach "à l'anglaise" - lightly blanched, then cooled with ice water so that it retains its bright green colour.
  12. 5. Russia and its neighbors

  13. In 1863, S. A. Mitchell's new general atlas showed Russia and some of its neighboring countries. While Norway and Sweden can both be seen, there is no trace of Finland. In fact, it would still be several decades before it became a country of its own.
  14. 6. Female fashion in hard times

  15. Many Russians suffered financially from World War I. But for those who could afford it, dressing well and following the latest trends was still de rigeur. As you can see from this magazine clipping, lace, furs and ostrich feathers adorned the rich women of war-time Petrograd.
  16. To start your own search, go to the library's archive research page.


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