Bestuzhev Courses

From the 1870s the Russian government experimented with ways to offer women an advanced education without allowing them to matriculate in the universities. Historian and archeologist K. N. Bestuzhev-Riumin organized and directed the first successful one in 1878, and therefore it bore his name, though not formally. Initially, applicants had to be 21 and have a secondary education and an attestation of political reliability. Both courses and requirements fluctuated over the years, in response to social and political changes, but these classes offered Russian women the best opportunities for advanced education until 1918. Most professors lectured gratis, and there was a special fund to support the students financially. Included here are those who taught at the Women’s Pedagogical Institute, established in St. Petersburg in 1903.