‘The English Cabinet’, Moscow

After the Bolshevik Revolution, David Riazanov (1870–1938) founded the Marx-Engels Institute as a branch of the newly formed Socialist Academy of Social Sciences. The Institute was to be a place where historians and activists could study ‘the birth, development and spread of the theory and practice of scientific socialism.’

Photograph of David Riazanov.
David Riazanov, from a photograph taken about 1923. Photograph: en.wikipedia

To make this possible, Riazanov acquired an excellent collection of socialist authors from the recently nationalised libraries, but to obtain other works that had never been freely admitted into Russia he arranged for the purchase of books, pamphlets and newspapers from across Europe. In 1922, he wrote to A. F. Rothstein and A. A. Bogdanov that the Institute had created a rich collection for studying the history of the English people and workers’ movements and their section on Chartism was second only to the British Museum. 

In the mid 1970s, duplicate catalogue index cards were made of its eighteenth and nineteenth-century English pamphlets, books and periodicals for the compiler during visits to the Institute. 

After it was abolished in 1993, ‘The English Cabinet’ was integrated into the archives at the Centre of Social and Political History in Moscow.  Now, nearly a thousand index entries of its rare books and pamphlets and 45 newspapers and periodical titles have been transcribed and digitised for search online at www.frontlinestates.ltd.uk/the-english-cabinet

‘The English Cabinet’ can be accessed in Moscow by researchers and historians on request (see contact details on the above web page).

Peter Sinclair