The Samovar

changing names of titles

Gary - 9/25/2004 at 05:29

Before the fall of the Russian Empire, the terms Gospodin and Gospozha were used when addressing men and women.

After the revolution and the creation of the new state, the terms used were Grazhdanin and Grazhdanka.

These facts we already know. But when did this take place in time? During the Provisional Government period of app. March-October 1917? or later? or earlier?

Illustrated here is a postcard addressed to a "Grazhdanka" from 9 May 1917. Can other examples earlier or even later be added to try and get closer to a date or period of time that these titles came into use?

title.jpg - 108kB

GregMirsky - 9/25/2004 at 15:19

Actually you really don't need postal prove to find out the date. Russian February Revolution started on February 23, 1917. The word "grazdanin" was introduced immediately after that to follow traditions of Great French Revolution. It is well known historical fact. Now, it may be interesting to find any prove that this word was used on covers or postcards BEFORE February 23. I believe it will be very hard.

Gary - 9/25/2004 at 17:03


Thanks for the information! The date as you suggest may not be a "well-known fact" to our members. Can you please quote a source in English to confirm this date for the introduction of the titles?


Rusalka - 9/29/2004 at 02:48

Greg, are you not providing the O. S. dates?

According to my source (Soviet Encyclopeadic Dictionary, Moscow, 1984) this term was commonly used by the Provisional Government. Nikolai Romanov (now the ex-Emperor) following his abdication was refered to as 'Citizen Romanov' by members of the Provisional Government.

I believe that this designation came into common usage when the Provisional Government came to power on March 16 (N.S.) immediately after Michael renounced the throne. It may be suggested that the term was introduced to eliminate all previous aristocratic appellations.

However the term 'Grajdanin' (Citizen) was the name of a political newspaper read by the Nobility during Imperial times. The paper was published in SPb by Prince Meschersky (from 1872- 1914) and briefly edited by the well known author Dostoyevsky from 1873-74. Apparently this was one of very few newspapers which Alexander III chose to read.

Perhaps there may be a few Imperial wrappers which have the name 'Grajdanin' printed on them? ;)

GregMirsky - 9/30/2004 at 05:28

Thank you, Rusalka for this reply. I was "on the road" for last couple weeks and did not have time to get "on-line". Switch from "gospodin" to "grazdanin" was one of the important changes after February revolution. By the way - in Russia they started using word "gospodin" AGAIN after collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It may be interesting to find the earliest usage of this word on cover AFTER 1991!!!
There are probably several members who collect recent postal history. Soviet Union does not exist since January 1, 1992.