Volume:1, Issue: 2

Sep. 1, 2009

A History of the educational institutions of the Perm region from the eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Sergei G. Shustov [about]

SYNOPSIS: The history of education in the Perm region in the 16th to the early 20th century begins with monastery schools, then factory training facilities and proceeds through the establishment of primary and secondary schools which were initially private but eventually grew into a state system of education. The role of the Stroganov family and other factory and land owners helped to create an educated middle class vital to the development of the Enlightenment in Russia. With the emancipation of the serfs, government education facilities developed and in coordination with private institutions created a market for learning, a more stratified society, and quality education.


The history of education in the Perm region goes back several centuries. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were schools in the churches and monasteries in Tcherdyn, Solikamsk, Usolyie, and other towns of the northern Urals where the teaching of reading and writing were based on religious books. Three hundred and seventy one books of the “Cyrillic Edition” kept in the libraries, museums, and archives of the Perm region2 demonstrate a very high rate of literacy for the population of the time.

The first secular school in the region was founded by the proprietor of the Nevyiansky Works, Nikita Demidov, in 1709 under the “ukase” (edict) of Tsar Peter the First. During the eighteenth century several dozen literacy and arithmetic schools provided general, primary education in factory dormitories and towns of the Urals while metallurgical specialist training schools were founded in Yekaterinburg and “Alapaevsk” Nizhni Tagil.

“The Regulations for the Public Schools of the Russian Empire,” ratified on the 5th of August, 1786 by Empress Ekaterina the Second (the Great) were largely responsible for the rapid development of state, public, and private schools. In accordance with these regulations the “principal” public school, with a five-year apprenticeship opened in Perm and smaller scale schools with one-two “forms” were established in the chief towns of “uyezds” (districts) such as Yekaterinburg, Kungur, Tcherdyn, Solikamsk, Irbit, and others.

For the first time, a national, education program was developed under which textbooks, visual teaching aids, and methodical instructions were published. Professional teachers were trained in special seminaries. The following subjects were taught in these small schools: reading, writing, calligraphy, arithmetic, and painting. In “principal schools” such disciplines as civil and church history, geography, geometry, mechanics, physics, natural science, and architecture were taught in addition to the basic subjects of the smaller schools.3

Thus, compulsory schools were established in several towns of the Perm region but the number of students was relatively small. In 1803, all the public schools of the region contained a total of only 297 students.4 These were representative of different layers of society, mainly the “unfavored” classes such as clerks, bourgeoisie, peasants (including some in serfdom,) workmen, and others. Annually, up to thirty students from poor families received assistance in the form of free textbooks, a food allowance (from 50-59 kopecks per month,) and clothes.


The Ural factory owners, actively developing metallurgical production at the end of the eighteenth century, needed competent and trained management personnel. To achieve these purposes, serf boys were sent to the public schools. The first Ural landlord and factory owner who opened a small public school on his estate on 24th of July, 1794 was Count Aleksander Sergeevich Stroganov. The first teachers invited to teach in his Ilyinsk School were V. Vasnetsov, a graduate of the Vyatskaya Theological Seminary and M. Grechanovsky, a student of the Petersburg Teacher Training Seminary. It was significant that Count Stroganov paid the teachers a rather high salary of 200 rubles per year.

Fifty boys, sons of the serf clerks, workmen, and peasants were admitted to this school which was fully maintained at the expense of the Count. The students from poor families received welfare assistance from him. Ilyinsk School showed its high effectiveness so quickly that in 1820 Countess S.V. Stroganova established three more schools in major dormitories of her estates at Bilimbai, Otcher, and Novoye Usolyie. The estimate of expenditures for all four schools in 1820 was 5,376 rubles.5

At the beginning of 1820, small schools, in accordance with the regulations of 1804, were reorganized into “uyezd” (district) schools. Ilyinsk School was moved up to the category of a “three year school” which was divided into two stages: elementary education and principal education (this stage included all the disciplines previously described for principal schools.) The remaining schools of the Stroganov estate: Bilimbayevskoye, Otcherskoye, and Novousolskoye preserved their former status.

The compensation standards for teachers in the estate schools also changed at this time. They were provided with heated and lighted apartments; free hay for feeding their horses and cattle; a pay increase; and rewards for “distinguished service.”

During the 1820’s, more than 200 children were educated in the Ilyinsk School. The other schools taught between 50-60 students in each. About 50 orphans and children from poor families received full welfare from their landlord while another 100 received partial welfare.6

The next stage of development for the estate schools of the Stroganovs began in the 1834 when the primary school at Kudymkar village in the center of the Invensky district opened. In 1841 it was placed in the category of a “two form,” men’s parochial school. A school for girls opened in Kudymkar in 1848. During its twelve years of existence, the school graduated 8o girls.7 In 1835, a “five-year parochial school” was opened in the Dobryanka Village Iron Works dormitory with the financial support of Countess S.V. Stroganova. The school was named “Sofiyskaya” after its founder. A two-story building, considered to be the best structure of all the dormitories, was constructed especially for use as the Sofiyskaya School in 1845. Eventually, 5,696 students graduated from the school.8 The Countess Stroganova also opened parochial schools where peasant children were educated in large villages like Dubrovskoye, Vosnesensk, and Karagai.

The students of the parochial schools in the Ilyinsk, Bilimbai, Otcher, Dobryanka, and Novoye Usolyie dormitories became highly qualified workmen, technicians, builders, and miners. Some of the graduates continued their education in Perm, Petersburg, and Moscow becoming physicians, vets, forest specialists, engineers, and teachers. Many came back to the Stroganov estate and by the 1850’s a rather numerous class of the serf intelligentsia had been formed.

Very important in the education of the highly qualified specialists and managers was the Saint Petersburg Agricultural and Metallurgical School which was established by the Countess S.V. Stroganova in March of 1824. The leading educators of Saint Petersburg taught in the 3-4 year program of this institution.

The return on investment through the development of education on the Stroganov estate was good. In the middle of the nineteenth century, all the management personnel had special technical education that enabled the creation of a rather efficient and profitable economy.
One must not fail to mention one more feature of the enlightenment activity of the Counts Stroganov among their serfs. From the second half of the 1830’s and especially during the 1840’s, religious schools for teaching children reading, writing, and religion were opened in many villages and dormitories. Teaching in these schools was obligatory for the Orthodox priests. Such schools existed at the expense of the parishioners of the local churches. However the Stroganovs took over the expense of such schools themselves. In the territories occupied by “Old Believers” (schismatics of the Russian Orthodox Church who follow the old ways from before the Orthodox reforms of the 1600’s,) ”Edinoverie” (an Old Believer sect which had reached an organizational compromise with the Russian Orthodox Church) schools were opened. In Ilyinsk, there were four schools: one for Edinoverie men, another for Edinoverie women, one for Orthodox men, and one for Orthodox women. Edinoverie schools appeared in the villages of Sretenskoye, Sredneyegvinskoye, and other places.

Perm Male Russian Orthodox College
Perm Male Russian Orthodox College

In the schools for girls, students were kept busy from 7 o’clock in the morning until noon. Classes continued after lunch from 1 pm to 6 pm. The academic day was divided into three parts: studies, prayer, and recreation. During the day the girls attend lectures, learned to write and practice calligraphy, memorized their rote pieces, learned needlework, and listened to mentors discourse on topics of history, morality, and religious dogma.9 This was the model for female education in the 1840’s on the Stroganov estate. From data compiled by A.E. Teploukhov,10 there were 15 such institutions where the Stroganovs provided education for hundreds of men and women by 1859. One should also point out that they were not the only owners of Ural factories and estates to do so. Prince Golitsyn, Count Shuvalov, and the Noblemen Vsevolozhski and Lazarev all founded schools, fully financing and maintaining them according to the example of the Stroganovs.

A special kind of institution appeared near the end of the eighteenth century. This was the boarding school. The first such was opened by Pastor M.X, Gering on the 20th of March, 1788 with the boarding school of I. Shtabler opening in 1798 and that of the teacher Mikhailivsky in 1810. The next phase began in 1842 when the first boarding school for girls was opened by Maria Courvoisier. In the following fifteen years, four more boarding schools and the private school of L. Y. Bogoslavsky opened their doors.11 In 1860, 63% of all Russian schools were private establishments and taught 31% of the students of the nation.


After the reform of 1861 through which the serfs were freed, the economic and social relations between the landlords and their former serfs changed fundamentally. The landlord could now hand maintenance of schools over to the local authorities. On the Stroganov estate, while drafting the regulations for the landlords and their relations with their former serfs, the parties, in the majority of situations, agreed to a parity of terms and conditions concerning the maintenance of schools. The children of workmen who signed contracts to work in the Stroganov factories would be educated free of charge.

The education reforms of 1863-4 introduced democratic principles including the formal equality of all individuals while pursuing a primary, secondary, or higher education in Russia. Class and ethnic limitations on education were abolished. Primary schools, classical and grammar schools, and higher education establishments could now be founded by the Ministry for Public Education, by local authorities, by social organizations, and by individuals as well. The opening of the private Mariinskaya Female Gymnasium (which now houses the Agricultural Academy Named for D. M. Pryanishnikov) was evidence of the importance of the non-government sector of education in the Perm region. By 1912 there were 13 non-government establishments: six were private; five were maintained at the expense of local authorities while two were paid for by boards of trustees. In 1916 Perm University, which was soon to become the center of education in the Perm region, opened as a consequence of donations from individuals and private companies.

Perm Mariinskaya Female Gymnasium
Perm Mariinskaya Female Gymnasium


An analysis of the evolution of the educational system of the Perm region from the eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth centuries indicates the presence of several groups of private institutions that can be distinguished by their distinct character and purpose:

  • Orphanages and foundling homes that provide primary education and professional skills.
  • Primary education oriented schools; institutions that prepared students for gymnasiums; and third class training schools.
  • Private boarding schools providing an education for the lower classes that approximate that of a classical gymnasium.
  • Secondary schools that aim to eventually transform into gymnasiums or “modern schools” (non-classical secondary schools).
  • Factory schools opened by individual plants for the primary and secondary preparation of specialists and technicians trained to meet manufactory needs.
  • Ethnic and religious schools (Jewish, Muslim, and others).

Such a wide range of services enabled students much choice of institutions in which to pursue an education. However, there were very few schools for students with special needs and the non-government establishments mainly offered a general level of education. Female education was greater in the private domain in contrast to that available to males. The government gave priority to men over women in its institutions. All over the Urals and throughout Russia, for that matter, private initiatives gradually expanded into every educational niche that was not covered by state schools.

An analysis of archival materials bears witness to the fact that teaching, the educational process, and subject matter available in primary schools was worse than that in secondary institutions. The exception occurred only in those primary schools that served as preparatory institutions for gymnasiums. This situation was caused by the fact that wealthier parents preferred tutors for their children’s primary education. The educational level of those individuals who founded schools was important too. Those with a high level of education and long teaching experience were better able to analyze the pedagogical process, research options, and create more effective methods of teaching and learning. These attributes enabled these school founders to reach their goals and make a positive contribution to the general level of education of the new generation. Eventually the higher level of education and training contributed to the growth and expansion of the Enlightenment.

Ekaterino-Petrovskoye College
Ekaterino-Petrovskoye College

Mainly former domestic tutors opened primary schools that had no connection to gymnasiums. These teachers did not have the availability of pedagogical communication or a means for improving their own qualifications. Surrounded by young pupils with only moderate education needs, the domestic tutors inevitably lost the edge of their professional competence. The provincial character of their way of life also contributed to the low quality of education. Thus the level of learning provided in their schools did not differ substantially to that which they had offered to the individual families of their former domestic tutoring situations.

Parallel with Russian schools, ethnic and religious schools were also developing. They enjoyed the same rights as private educational institutions and their organization and functioning corresponded to that of Russian private schools.12


Our review of private education in the eighteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries in the Perm region permits the following conclusions:

  • The first, private schools in the Urals appeared in the beginning of the eighteenth century when the factory owners started opening metallurgical training establishments under factory auspices and until 1796 there were no other schools.
  • Governmental and private sector educational systems in the Perm region, like Russia in general, supplemented each other during all of the nation’s pre-revolutionary history due to the rapidly increased demand for education.
  • Imperial policy proved to have such an influence in shaping the governmental directive concerning private education that limits were placed on the classes of society admitted to state educational establishments.
  • The viability test for private schools in the Perm region was the length of time under governmental control that they satisfied the educational and personal needs of their students and parents.
  • Non-state educational establishments were situated in buildings that were donated by private citizens or were constructed with money collected by associations. The most famous of these are the Ekaterino-Petrovsky College (at present the building belongs to Perm Music College,) Perm Gymnasium for Boys Named for Tsimmerman (the building is currently the site of a pharmaceutical college,) and three buildings of Perm State University which formerly belonged to N.V. Meshkov.

Perm State University
Perm State University

One can then conclude that during the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century, coordination between governmental and non-governmental sectors of education was characteristic of the Perm region. This degree of cooperation contributed heavily to the formation of a market for educational services, helped to stratify society, and resulted in quality education.

1 Shustov, Sergei G. [In Russian: Сергей Григорьевич Шустов], Ph.D., Chair, Deaprtment of Socio-Humanitarian Studies, Prikamsky Social Institute, Perm, Russia.

2 Cyrillic Editions of XVI-XVII Centuries in the Depository of the Perm Region: Katolich, edited by I. V. Pozdeeva, Perm, 2003, page 10.

3 Perm State Regional Archive (PGKA,) f.316, Op.1, D.96, L.18-18ob.

4 Kalinina, T. A., Concerning the Education of the Serf Population (Village of Ilyinskoye of the Perm Province at the end of the XVIII-First Half of the XIX Century) Investigations in the History of the Urals: A Compilation of Articles, Perm University, Perm, 2005, page 192.

5 Rogov, N.A., Material Pertaining to the History of the State Preserve/ Estate of the Counts Stroganov, Perm, 1892, page 20.

6 Kalinina, T.A., Concerning the Education of the Serf Population, pages 202-203.

7 Kalsina, A.A., The Participation of the Perm Municipality in the Development of the National Komi-Permyatskoi School in the Invensk District of the Entailed Estate of the Stroganovs at the Edges of the XIX-XX Centuries, Stroganov Historical Compilation, edition 3, edited by C.G. Shustov, Perm: Prikamsky Social Institute, 2008, page 105.

8 Kalinin, M.A., Dobryansky Krai (Region;) Four Centuries of Our History. Berezniki, 2005, pages 52-53.

9 Kalinina, T.A., Concerning the Education of the Serf Population, page 208.

10 Teploukhov, A.E., A Brief Description of Forestry on the Entailed Perm Estate of the Counts Stroganov, The Perm Compilation, Book 1, Part III m, 1859, page 53.

11 Kalinina, T.A., Development of the National Economy for Education in the Urals in the Pre-reform Period (1780’s to the First Half of the Nineteenth Century,) Textbook, Perm State University, Perm, 1992, pages 80-81.

12 Perm State Archive, F.42, Op.1, D.463, L.1, 1 ob.9, pages 40-42.

Elizabeth Baird Saenger (Sep. 25, 2009)
I loved reading this. The democratic idealism and ambition evident in the Perm region are remarkably consistent over the three centuries described.

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