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Russian America of the first half of the 20th century. To a question of emergence and development of diaspora


UDC: 940.5


Article is devoted to problems of emergence and development of the Russian diaspora in the USA in the first half of the XX century. In work the main stages of the Russian immigration in the context of organizational construction of the Russian public organizations to - and post-revolutionary waves are tracked. The author considered the diaspora relation to key events of the Russian history during noted period, the main lines of the Russian America, its distinctive features and characteristics are revealed.



humanities university.

The present stage of statement of a problem of emergence and development of the Russian diaspora in the USA and sociocultural adaptation of the Russian emigrants as to process of interaction of the personality with the new social environment was preceded by years of extremely politized approach to the history of the Russian emigration. The object of research - the Russian America - was not considered as the complete phenomenon of public and political life until recently, its study took place fragmentary. Researchers of the Russian emigration, specialists in the interstate relations, Americanists, historians of the international labor and communistic movement, sociologists, ethnologists, culturologists, etc. addressed the history of the Russian colony in the USA

Studying actually Russian emigration throughout the considerable period of time dropped out from a framework of the priority directions of a domestic historiography and till today there are no generalizing works on the history of the Russian emigration in the USA in the 20th century. Despite emergence of a number of works recently [1, 2, 3, 4] subject of the Russian diaspora in the USA in the first half of the XX century remains poorly studied. Problems of self-organization of natives of Russia in the New World, continuity between generations of immigrants, issues of social and cultural adaptation in North America of natives of Russia did not receive due lighting and in a complex were not considered. And today it is possible to agree with V.M. Selunska that "process of studying history of emigration of Russia promptly crept away in breadth... but, without entering adaptant in the surrounding new environment, and leaving them as if in a vacuum" 1.

1 V.M. Selunskaya Review of the book by G.Ya. Tarle//National history. 1994. No. 4. Page 12.

The Russian America remains one of the largest diasporas of foreign countries. The past and the present of this subcontinent causes heated debates on both sides of Atlantic. Immigration from Russia is a considerable part of the world stream which created the United States. In the general stream of the European immigration (since 1820) the number of natives of Russia was 4 million people, that is 10% of the European immigration and about 5% — from obshchemirovoy2. Processes of movement of compatriots in search of freedom and the better life continue and today. To living in the USA in the early nineties of 2.95 million Americans who had the Russian roots in 10 years (1990-1999) it was added 441 thousand more natives from the new independent states located in the territory of the former USSR.

The beginning of the Russian immigration to America, that is arrival of Russians on the territory of other state, it is possible to conduct with the moment of sale of Alaska. However mass resettlement of natives of the Russian Empire began only at the very end of the XIX century. The immigration policy of the USA of the first decades of the 20th century favored to arrival of labor migrants from the Russian Empire to America. At the beginning of last century of the rule of admission to the country of white immigrants were rather liberal that allowed some contemporaries to characterize pre-war time as the period of "Laissez-Faire" of naturalization and assimilation. The stage of formation of the Russian diaspora belongs to 1900 - 1920. By the end of the second decade of century Russian is included for the first time into ten the languages (9th place), the most widespread among groups of the white population of the USA which was born abroad.

Adaptation of the Russian immigrants to the American realities corresponded to the trends characteristic of all Novaya Gazeta, i.e. South and East European immigration. The vast majority of natives of Russia settled on East coast, and three quarters of immigrants were placed in eight states. Immigrants from Russia belonged to the most urbanized groups (along with Irish and Poles). Leadership in number of natives of Russia was strongly held by New York which Russian-speaking population made about 500 thousand people from whom "purely Russian" there were 125 thousand. In a favorable situation in the country (first of all it is about opportunity for employment) a significant amount of immigrants managed to adapt to new conditions.

In the absence of the public Russian policy in relation to compatriots the public and political functions undertake the organizations which are traditionally focused on social protection of migrants or cultural associations. Except the organizations church or closely with church connected, in the United States immigrant masses was involved in activity of party, cultural and educational and professional associations.

Events of 1917 stirred up colony. The February, and then and October revolutions promoted organizational splash, emergence new and to revival of activity of already existing associations and groups. As a result of political differences at the beginning of 1918 two congresses of representatives of the Russian colony were on the United States at once. On February 1 in New York under red and American flags the First Russian All-colonial congress opened, and on February 9-11, 1918 the First Russian Vsegrazhdan-sky Congress took place in the same place. Both of these congresses "did not leave behind any practical results, did not fix any colonial position because they passed only under the sign of political moods". Owing to certain financial and organizational reasons the period of existence of similar associations was short, and the contribution brought in business of merging of the Russian colony - small.

Post-revolutionary euphoria and aspiration to come back home came to naught soon. Toughening of the immigration law to the USA and the increasing closure of the Soviet borders was stopped by process of mutual rapprochement of the Russian colony and the mother country. From the middle of the 1920th the Russian colony was provided to itself again. Contacts with Rodina become destiny of a prosovetska of the adjusted organizations and have no mass character. Strengthening of the Russian colony happens without the defining influence of the homeland.

Activity of the Russian colony along with the events which are taking place in Russia did not remain the unnoticed American authorities. The mass anti-red, and actually anti-Russian hysteria of the beginning of the 1920th which almost destroyed organizational forms of the Russian diaspora (except for the Russian Orthodox Church considerably weakened by post-revolutionary split) became result of public growth of the Russian colony and revolutionary events in the homeland.

2 Yu.L. Neymer Immigration in the USA, Russian and other//the World of Russia. 2003. No. 1. Page 121.

The second stage of development of diaspora falls on 1920 - 1933 and is connected with emergence of a new post-revolutionary wave of immigrants. After World War I in connection with change of the immigration law of the USA the inflow of Russians was considerably reduced there. In 1923 to the country 4346 people drove (in comparison with 48.5 thousand which arrived in the USA in 1913). Further the quantity of coming did not exceed 1800 people annually. Newcomers the Russian immigrants started process of the organization of the Russian America almost from scratch. Representatives of post-revolutionary immigration lodged in the same cities, but at considerable distance from "old colony", without mixing up even within one city. Representing more educated and more united group, post-revolutionary immigration rather quickly took place a stage of survival and started vigorous public work, outside the context of the mass of the Russians who were already in America. Emergence of extensive network of the national organizations and associations which are quite often clashing among themselves, but connected by the general interest of diaspora became distinctive feature of this stage of development of diaspora.

Survey of the Russian immigrants living in California within 6-11 years conducted in the late twenties allows to estimate that was pleasant and what was not pleasant to Russians in America. Russians lacked in America the atmosphere of the left hometown, society, a habitual circle of contacts and communications which could not already be got in the new country due to the lack of free time and means, features of cultural and public life, forms of carrying out leisure (musicales, the opera, winter sports). In the American life there was not enough sincerity, honesty, openness, sympathy and understanding of a situation of refugees, wishes to Americans expressed, "that they knew a little more about us". Distinctions of the Russian and American cultural values, manners of communication, characters were noted. Life in America was represented "by desperate fight for existence which won only strong, and weak was ruthlessly pounded between wheels of the chariots running further and further. Operates everything, private interest, a private initiative dominates over everything. This celebration of the heartless individualism despising a ridiculous invention of private interests, weak about some community" 3.

What was pleasant to Russians in America? The vast majority noted comfort (sanitary conditions of houses and the enterprises), material and technical progress (civilization, spirit of invention) and freedom (personal independence, democratic principles of state system and public life, lack of a clear social boundary, equality, religious tolerance, independent position of women). Russians highly appreciated an order and the organization of the American life, a possibility of free education for children, existence of libraries and conditions for continuation of education and an opportunity "to break through upward" in the presence of desire and will.

Despite a hard work, almost all respondents noted that "America is pleasant" though at many "the first six years passed at factory and in the apartment in a hard work and care of tomorrow" 4.

The lack of social borders was noted by Russians as one of especially important positive lines of the American life as much had to begin with the lowest steps of a public ladder. However the American indifference to titles and ranks with success was compensated by intra communal distinctions. M. Zheleznov called this phenomenon "the turned democracy". Whatever was work at the person in the afternoon, it did not influence his social status in any way in the Russian colony where he continued to remain dear general, the judge or the prince.

Diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Russia de jure fixed on November 16, 1933 by the USA existence of the Russian immigration without the homeland, without the right of official representation of the country. After establishment of diplomatic relations in terms of adaptation processes dominating is an idea of inevitability and desirability of further integration of group into local community. Many immigrants make the final decision on obtaining the American citizenship.

By 1938 two most considerable colonies of Russians in the USA (in Seattle and New York) containing respectively 2500 and 6000 people for 90% consisted from amerikan-

3 V. Zenzinov Iron gnash. From the American impressions. Paris, 1927. Page 22.
4 Hoover Institution on war, revolution and peace Archive (Stanford, USA) HIA. Day Collection, Russian Occupation questionnaire.

sky citizens. The Russian immigrants, being in the 17th place on duration of stay in the USA, nevertheless, took the 10th place on naturalization level. At this stage in consciousness of immigrants there is a refusal of a possibility of a reemigration in favor of the prospects of development in the inonatsionalny environment.

Supporting Americanization, representatives of the Russian public drew it as "process internal, evolutionary, imparting to children or grandchildren of immigrants of a concept about the American democratic ideal and the best American traditions for the management in private and public life". In particular, during discussion of a possibility of introduction of Russian to the American program of secondary education the representatives of immigration practically denied indissoluble communication of language and consciousness to avoid suspicions and charges. It was repeatedly emphasized that the overwhelming percent of children of the Russian immigrants will not return to Russia, and immigration is interested "in assimilation by younger generations of those universal ideals and separate thoughts which successfully was expressed in forms of the Russian culture, and were externally embodied in language". The cultural and educational associations created during this period become the centers of colony along with Orthodox churches. So, in San Francisco the Russian colony was rallied by creation of the permanent Russian center which exists and today, keeping and preserving traditions of Russia which they left already nearly a century ago.

Since the beginning of the 1940th there comes the period of decline of diaspora (third). At this stage the diaspora does not hold compatriots in an orbit of the influence any more that is expressed in growth of dispersion of accommodation and assimilation of her members. The community becomes a symbol of existence of diaspora, but not real social formation, "monument" the history of survival, a source of legends for ethnocultural group whose consciousness in the relation to surrounding practically generally already coincide with mentality of society. Immigrants actively adapt to conditions of the American life. Under the influence of economic and political factors the nationality dates of receipt are considerably reduced by immigrants. If in 1920 the average period of obtaining nationality was 10.6 years, that is twice longer necessary, then in the early forties four of five immigrants who stayed in the country sufficient time for naturalization already became citizens.

the Difficult foreign policy context left a mark on formation of institutes of the Russian diaspora. Waves of enthusiasm and public rise broke against policy of isolationism and suspiciousness in relation to all Russian and therefore, perhaps, Soviet and communistic. The period of World War II when the diaspora in the vast majority was captured by patriotic upsurge and desire to help the battling homeland became an exception.

"... The rare unanimity was shown by all Russians and karpatorussky, secular and church newspapers; all unions, brotherhoods and arrivals, all lowest clergy, huge most of the Russian soldiers up in arms fighting against Bolsheviks in civil war" all intellectual and political groups; friends of the Russian culture, monarchists, mladorossa, cadets, progressionists, socialists and, to their honor, many representatives of House of Romanovs" 5.

After battle near Moscow and the Battle of Stalingrad pride of "the Russian martial spirit and valor" covers immigrant society more and more widely. Crash of hopes for the liberation movement from within caused by an external impulse forced many observers to change the views of the future of the Russian statehood. The few remained at "irreconcilable" positions. After the end of war and short euphoria the diaspora returned to daily cares and active charity.

In general it is necessary to recognize that were in the first half of last century of a problem of immigration on the periphery of the bilateral relations. The diaspora was not actively involved in development of bilateral contacts. In the 1940th the Russian communities in America were substantially provided to themselves. The political and public debates storming in Europe came to them more and more seldom. From "Russians put dispassionateness of Russians", accustoming and enthusiasm for the American culture were noted by many European emigrants visiting the USA during this period.

Emergence of post-war immigration - "dipiyets" - had no significant effect on diaspora life in general. Time frames of this stage of the Russian immigration are limited to the end of fighting and the termination of activity international

5 New Russian word (New York). 1941. November 22.

organizations for implementation of mass repatriation in the early fifties. By convention representatives of the new wave (numbering about 40 thousand) preferred to create own settlements and public organizations.

By the boundary of the 1950th after short euphoria of post-war hopes for "the Russian coming" to America the immigrant life was more and more penetrated by feeling of "vacuum" when intellectual forces of immigration, according to M. Vishnyak, were forced to create in "physically permanently decreasing environment" without a possibility of its expansion at the expense of the Russian reader or the listener. Except for isolated cases of deserters and defectors the emigration as the mass phenomenon will be interrupted prior to the beginning of the 1970th when there comes time of the "Russian-speaking" wave having the sociocultural features.

All according to the American public institutions, from 1901 to 1949 in the USA there arrived 2,603,826 immigrants from Russia. The maximum number of the Russians living in the USA (determined by the principle of the native language), made 731,949 people, by 1940 it decreased up to 585,080 persons. The most widespread assessment of number of "Russians" in the USA in the 1920-1940th is 360-400 tys6. Formation of diaspora needs to be considered in the context of adaptation processes of the Russian immigrants, in view of features of group nature of this phenomenon.

In scientific community discussions about contents of the term "diaspora" and distinctive features of this social phenomenon continue. When studying processes of emergence and development in the USA the Russian immigration the concept of diaspora of R. Kokhen where as distinctive features of diaspora the set of factors among which the major are is allocated is chosen as us: "dispersion" of group; the collective memory and the myth of the homeland, including its location, history and achievements; existence of a continuous communication in one form or another between diaspora and the homeland; idealization of the alleged homeland of ancestors and the collective involvement (or attempts) in her internal political life; the vozvrashchenchesky movement in the conditions of its collective approval.

Refer to obligatory signs of diaspora today and strong group ethnic consciousness, existence of problems with the accepting society, "qualification of prescription", that is the time span measuring the period of existence of group in new conditions that allows to estimate whether the group turned into diaspora or not. As important difference of diaspora from other ethnic groups the feeling of participation and solidarity with members of ethnic group in other states is noted.

Development of diaspora inevitably affects all spheres of immigrant life. The interlacing of political, economic and sociocultural factors defines features of process of group adaptation of immigrants. Its fullest reflection is process of emergence and activity of network of the public, cultural institutions designed to render assistance to a wide range of natives of the country in assimilation of rules of a new environment and upholding of their interests. Activity of these organizations makes out and supports group borders, gives it "institutional completeness". The purpose of various organizations of diaspora to eat not provide the place for social interaction, but to more contribute to creation and the development of the standard and shared feeling of the unity associated with understanding of ethnic community. The arising associations form diaspora "framework".

Taking into account "qualification of prescription", that is the time span measuring the period of existence of group in new conditions whether after which it is possible to estimate the group turned into diaspora or not, it is possible to claim that the ethnocultural social community created in the USA by the Russian immigration of the first half of last century corresponds to the criteria of diaspora offered by R. Kokhen. We can tell with confidence about dispersion of group of one place to two regions and more. The Russian Abroad which resulted from labor migration of the beginning of the century and revolutionary events of 1917 covered practically all continents and totaled millions of former Russian citizens. The Russian America became one of the most mass and, owing to certain geopolitical circumstances, the most stable part of the Russian dispersion in the first half of last century. The lack of legally set "refugee" status and special governmental body which re-

was feature of a legal status of the Russian immigration in the 1920-30th in the USA
6 Govorchin G. From Russia to America with Love: A study of the Russian Immigrants in the United States. Kingston, 1990. River 49.

would gulirovat the Russian questions that promoted the fastest entry of Russians into the American legal framework on the general bases for all immigration.

Whether the Russian diaspora uniform was? Certainly, no. The Russian diaspora of the first half of the XX century is a connection of an unjoinable, that is wide range of the social groups and estates which appeared outside the homeland at different times and due to various reasons. Each of groups had the set of myths, the perception of the past and plans for the future of Russia. These representations underwent changes under the influence of the processes proceeding in diaspora, events on the homeland and in the country of residence. Idea of the homeland in relation to the Russian diaspora becomes the powerful dividing factor interfering creation of the all-colonial organizations. The right for own Russia and recognition it only true predetermined a phenomenon of the Russian emigres, its role as political project and special life situation.

Idealization of the alleged homeland and the collective involvement into discussion of ways of development of the Russian statehood were characteristic of post-revolutionary immigration. In relation to this wave we can speak about existence of the strong group ethnic consciousness maintained during the long period based on feeling of difference, the general history and belief in the general destiny. However, in general the political project of white exile with its mission of rescue of culture and revival of the Russian statehood was alien to diaspora.

The vozvrashchenchesky movement actively developed in a certain period in the USA in the environment of the Russian immigration. Process of a reemigration first of all took pre-revolutionary emigres. According to the Russian diplomatic mission, the number of the emigrants planning to return home after the February revolution was about 2 thousand people the Vozvrashchenchesky wave at the peak in 1920-1921 reached 10-15 thousand persons. The termination of the movement was predetermined by development of internal political events in the Soviet Russia. Subsequently closing of the country from the outside world put the end to the vozvrashchenchesky movement of broad masses, having reduced it to "vozvrashchenchestvo" as the political project on decomposition of white emigration.

The Russian America endured a number of the moments in the history, having fully been affected by ideology, policy, cultural traditions and public institutes of host. For half a century the Russian immigrants had to exist in the conditions of the alerted and suspicious relation from the American society. At the same time many Russians in America managed to realize creative, scientific and cultural potentials, and to diaspora in whole to conduct a creative and rich life during certain periods. The Russian Americans left a bright mark in science, culture, formation of the new homeland. Life of diaspora was lit on pages of the Russian press. To the middle of the 20th century in the USA left in Russian of 5 daily newspapers and 14 weekly, monthly and quarterly publications, many of which were issued at very high level.

Correlation of the idea of Russia with social experience and knowledge of immigrants of each of the subsequent waves led to strengthening and fixing of the most important lines within each of the traditions maintained by any given group, to maintaining distinctive features of "Russianness", forming of the trajectory of development for Russians in exile and the future of the Russian diaspora. When weakening the immigration movement from Russia, generation change within the country division of diaspora into labor and sacrificial is gradually erased, and for the middle of last century we can tell about the beginning of process of transformation of diaspora in cultural, emphasizing, first of all a spiritual bond with the idealized homeland. Noted trend distinctly is traced in activity of the Russian immigrant associations including connected with Russian Orthodox Church.

As a rule, new immigrants positioned themselves much above predecessors and were not especially ready to listen to councils about the "correct" entry into the American life. Respectively, if at a stage of fight for immigration opportunities for compatriots (first of all it is about the help of execution of immigration documents, various confirmations, etc.), we trace active participation of the immigration public in the fate of potential immigrants, then after arrival to the USA, in process of manifestation of social and cultural differences, new immigrants got more and more indifferent welcome. So, public organizations of the Russian post-revolutionary immigration actively supported "displaced persons" (displaced persons - DP). The joint committee of the Russian national organizations in San Francisco repeatedly urged to provide to all

to the Russian which appeared abroad, the international protection to forbid forced repatriation, to facilitate the procedure of entry into the USA, especially for emigrant youth, to introduce special quotas for the Russian students immigrants that would make for them possible receiving the higher or vocational education in the USA.

Fully the feeling of participation and solidarity with members of ethnic group in other states is characteristic of the Russian diaspora in the USA. A striking example of participation it is better than the arranged part of the Russian immigration in the fate of compatriots there was a vigorous international activity of Society of the help to the Russian children. Celebration of Day of the Russian child became the major annual event which united the widest circles of the Russian colony and the Americans sympathizing them. The funds raised by Society were allocated to the needing children of the Russian immigration in the most remote corners of Europe and Asia.

Thus, each of waves was forced to transplant, support and develop own networks of social interaction in a form, habitual and clear for itself. History of diaspora is story of development and strengthening of such communications, attempts to acquaint with them new generations of the Russian Americans. The ideological rigidity and intolerance of the immigrants of the first generation who were often seeking to keep purity of ranks of the unions in most cases was replaced by organizational expediency of the subsequent generations.

The carried-out analysis of documents Russian and American arkhivov7 allows to answer in the affirmative a question of existence in the USA in the first half of the 20th age of the Russian diaspora as which we understand a part of the ethnic group living out of the historical homeland, maintaining ideas of unity of origin and not the person interested to lose the stable group characteristics considerably distinguishing it from other population of the country of residence forcedly submitting to the order accepted in it.

The Russian diaspora in the USA passed stages of formation, development and decline in the development. In the conditions of the termination of the immigration movement from Russia the diaspora was doomed to gradual dissolution in the American life. Nevertheless, throughout the first half of century the Russian immigrants managed to create extensive network of the public organizations designed to promote social, cultural and legal adaptation to conditions of America and education of new generations in traditions of the Russian culture.

The experience of development of the Russian diaspora in the USA having almost century history is of undoubted public interest in terms of studying processes of legal, social and economic and sociocultural adaptation of considerable immigrant groups in the new environment as a result of the migration policy promoting the maximum use of potential of the arriving migrants in internal and foreign policy interests strany8.


The article is devoted to the questions of the creation and development of Russian Diaspora in USA in the first half of the XX century. The author traces the main peri-A.B.ROUCHKIN ods of Russian immigration in the context of the development of organizations

founded by pre and post revolutionary immigrants. The Diaspora’s attitude towards Moscow University major events of Russian history is examined, and the main characteristics of Russian

of forthe Humanities America with its peculiarities and features are displayed.

7 State archive of the Russian Federation. GARF. T. 10143. A collection of microfilms of the Museum of the Russian culture in San Francisco (USA). Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace Archive (Stanford, California, USA) Archive of Guverovsky Institute of war, revolution and world (Stanford, California, USA). Immigration History Research Center Archive IHRC (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA). Archive of the research center for the history of immigration, (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA). New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archive Division - NYPL (New York, USA). New York Public Library (New York, USA) Department of manuscripts and archival documents.
8 For more details see: A.B. Ruchkin. The Russian immigration in SSP in the first half of the XX century (experience of sociocultural adaptation). M, 2006. 386 pages; A.B. Ruchkin. The Russian diaspora in the United States of America in the first half of the XX century. M, 2007. 427 pages
Caden Thomas
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