Russian Military Intelligence on Asia Online: Secret prints, 1883-1914
• Publication Dates: 1883-1914
• Languages used: Materials in Russian
• EAD finding aids are available
• Location of Originals: National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg
One of the most remarkable pre-revolutionary Orientological publications is the little-known, classified “Collection of Geographical, Topographical and Geographical Materials on Asia” (Sbornik geografi cheskikh, topografi cheskikh i statisticheskikh materialov po Azii). Issued by the Russian General Staff between 1883 and 1914 in 87 thick volumes and 9 supplements (averaging about 300 pages each), the journal’s purpose was to disseminate to senior tsarist military commanders important scholarship about the continent written by Russian and Western explorers, officers, and academics. The bulk of the Secret Prints consists of first-hand accounts composed by contemporary travelers to lesser-known reaches of Asia. Most were Russian army officers, many of whom had extensive training in geography and related disciplines. Among the more illustrious authors are Nikolai Przhevalskii, Aleksei Kuropatkin, Nikolai Ermolov, Gustav Mannerheim, Lavr Kornilov, and Andrei Snesarev. Other articles range from attaché and diplomatic dispatches to histories of tsarist plans for the invasion of India, the siege of Herat, and European campaigns against China. Together, they comprise a unique and largely untapped source for 19th-century Asia.