Southern Arkansas University history professor Dr. Svetlana Paulson recently published her article, “Face to Face with the Tsars’ Capital: American Diplomats and Urban Spectatorship in Imperial St. Petersburg,” in the prestigious Journal of Russian-American Studies. 

Dr. Paulson’s article is based on her extensive research through the American and Russian archives.

“Working on projects like this is truly exciting, although it requires extensive research in the manuscript collections both in Russia and the U.S,” said Dr. Paulson. “COVID delayed my research trips to manuscript collections held in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. I am looking forward to the re-opening of these libraries, and I am very grateful for the SAU support and research grant that will make trips there possible.”
Her article analyzes what it was like for American citizens to be urban spectators in Imperial Russia, a topic insufficiently examined by historians. “I wanted to explore what was unusual about that and how their observations and recollections differed from those of the locals,” Dr. Paulson said.

Inspiration came from the memoirs and diaries written by diplomats, according to Paulson who began researching the daily experiences and observations documented by U.S. diplomats living and working in Russia.

What does that have to do with Arkansas?

In fact, a famous Arkansas politician, Clifton R. Breckenridge, served as ambassador to St. Petersburg in the 1890s.

“The amount of detail about daily life in the Russian capital in the memoirs of the Breckenridge family astounded me, and my research resulted in two publications analyzing their stories,” she said.

Her article may be viewed at Vol. 5 No. 1 (2021) | Journal of Russian American Studies.

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