The enormous and singular contribution made by Olga Crisp to Russian economic history can best be appreciated by reflecting on the state in which the subject found itself nearly forty years ago, when she published her first article on the subject. At that time, most scholars were either unwilling or unable to draw upon manuscript sources. In a pioneering doctoral dissertation and her subsequent articles, Olga Crisp used material from French government and bank archives to illuminate the financial history of tsarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. In examining the documentary evidence thoroughly, Olga Crisp anticipated other economic historians inside and outside the Soviet Union. Her familiarity with bank archives was matched only by Iosif Gindin, the outstanding Soviet economic historian. From an historiographical point of view, her work proved no less significant. In 1950, the field was dominated by the encyclopedic work of Petr Lyashchenko, large parts of which had recently been translated into English. Lyashchenko’s mammoth work had been awarded a Stalin prize (in orthodox fashion, he had painted the Russian economy in sombre colours and emphasised its subordination to foreign capital), and in its monumental size and dullness it was entirely reminiscent of Stalinist architecture.
KeywordsEurope Income Preconceive
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