The Status and Social Role of Girl’s Religious Educational Institutions of The Late XIX – The Beginning of The XX Century (On The Basis of Kazan, The Principal Town of Province)

Author Name(s): Gulshat M. Mustafina *1, Anton V. Yermoshin 2, Ruzaliya I. Ziyatdinova3
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The paper examines the status of religious girl’s schools in the Russian Empire in the late XIX – early XX centuries, as well as their social role. In the period under consideration, the beginning of which is connected with the end of the “Great Reforms” era of the 1860s-1870s and the so-called “counter-reforms” of the 1880s, changes and status of girl’s religious schools have been taking place during the evolution of the secular and religious education system, as well as changes in Russia’s social life. These changes were analyzed by the authors of the paper on the basis of available published and archival sources concerning the activities of the two colleges of Kazan, the principal city of the province (the center of the government educational district and one of the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church): the Kazan Synodal Girl’s School and the Kazan Diocesan Girl’s School, with the involvement of modern methodological instrumentation of historical science.

The conclusions reached by the authors allowed them to talk about the increase in the social role of girl’s religious schools during the period under consideration, and about their desire to go deeper into the all-Russian public education system and the changing social structure of the Russian society of the modernization era, which, however, was ambiguously perceived in society and provoked discussions on this issue.

The materials and conclusions of the paper can be useful to all those who are interested in the issues of Russia’s social history, the regional history of the Russian province, the history of Church and public education, as well as to religious scholars, sociologists and managers of the education system.


The system of girl’s education in Russia was formed more slowly than the men’s education, that was typical both for secular and church educational institutions. Looking to the history of the founding of Kazan Synodal Girl’s School, it is necessary to view the prehistory of the colleges for the girl’s of clergy estate. Girl’s religious schools appeared in Russia only in the middle of the XIX century. Their contemporaries explained creation of such schools by the necessity: “Daughters of priests should not be given the education that is delivered in institutions established for girls of the nobility: the priests’ wives should devote themselves to their family and rarely leave their home. Thus, the goal of their upbringing is to make them such wives who could be a pleasant companion to their husbands, help them in maintaining a church building in a decent order, prepare medicines for the sick, educate their children and keep their households at their best”, while emphasizing that “woman’s education in public institutions which was extended to many estates, did not concern only the clergy though it had the priority need to another estates”[1].

The manifestation of this approach was the decree of Emperor Nikolai I of 1843 on the opening of the first school for girls of clerical estate in Tsarskoe Selo settlement. Its charter and training programs should be a model for similar girl’s educational institutions. The emperor ordered the expansion of the network of such schools by opening them “not in the monasteries, but according with the model of Tsarskoselsky School, for they must prepare girls for secular life, and not for reclusion” [3]. In 1853 such a school was opened in Kazan. It was intended for the daughters of priests from Kazan and six neighboring dioceses: Vyatka, Perm, Samara, Orenburg, Simbirsk and Astrakhan, so it was called “Okruzhny” (“District” school). The full course of the school was 6 years in three classes.

Thus, the creation of first Kazan Synodal Girl’s School, like the rest in Russia, according to the idea of the creators did not pursue the goal of incorporating female representatives of clerical estate into an active social life of the Empire. On the contrary, it was recognized that it was necessary to educate them separately from girls from the nobility and other estates trained in the institutions of noble maidens and girl’s gymnasiums, and the purpose of their training pursued limited estate interests: to prepare skillful housewives for family life at their husband-priests, to create their assistants in parish service.

The second school of this type – Kazan Diocesan Girl’s School, was opened in 1890. The following reasons for its foundation were pointed out in official sources of that time: since the Kazan Synodal Girl’s School received the priests’ daughters from several dioceses, and the number of places in it was limited, access to the school was denied to many girls from the families of the lower clergy of the Kazan diocese (deacons and psalm-readers). In this regard, it was decided to found a new educational institution for girls from the clerical estate [18]. Thus, the officially declared purpose was rather “quantitative” rather than “qualitative”: this was not about structural and substantive differences between the new school and the first.

Yet the opening of the Diocesan Girl’s School took the place in time with the era of active modernization of Russian society, which had an influence on the system of public education. As a result, contrary to official declarations, there has been a significant evolution of the social status of these educational institutions and their role in the life of society.


Being estate-based educational institutions, girl’s religious schools at the same time were a part of the state education system. Accordingly, they fulfilled social tasks determined by state policy in the field of education. However, the analysis of their activities shows that, on the one hand, the principle of stratification on estates (the expansion of the circle of students, including those from another social classes) has been less strictly observed, on the other, educational activity and the status of graduates have increasingly brought them closer to secular girl’s educational institutions.


The work is carried out according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.


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