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The Turkestan Gazette

 

> Description
 
  When Russia conquered the Central Asian khanates, a system of military rule was established over the vast territory of Turkestan, with its administrative centre in Tashkent. One major undertaking by the administrators of the new territories was the founding, in Tashkent, of the first newspaper for the Turkestan region. The idea to launch an official provincial newsletter was first mooted by the first Turkestan governor-general, K. P. von Kaufman, who signed, on 6th November 1869, an order establishing the paper. The first editor was the talented orientalist and publicist, Staff Captain N A Maev. Mayev and his assistant, Titular Councillor A. K. Lazarev were sent to Petersburg at the end of 1869 to obtain the necessary printing equipment, paper and inks, and also in order to become acquainted with the fundamentals of the editing and printing processes in the publishing houses of the capital. In March 1870 Maev brought from Petersburg all the essentials to begin publishing a paper, and one month later, on 28th April 1870 first issue was published from the staff of the Turkestan military district’s printing works. Thus began the history of the Turkestanskie Vedomosti, which has become, since that time, a fundamental source of history, ethnography and culture for the peoples of the Turkestan region – the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirgiz, Turkmen, Tadzhiks, Karakalpaks and other nationalities. Eugene Schuyler, an early western traveller in Russian Turkestan, noted that the newspaper was ‘a small weekly journal, containing besides official matter articles on the history, ethnology, and statistics of the country, which are often very interesting and valuable‘.(1) Though naturally reflecting the viewpoint of the colonial administration at all times, ‘the newspaper was undaubtedly of great influence on the initial development of the native intelligentsia’.(2)
 
 The first editors of the paper were those leading Russian military orientalist generals N A Mayev and S A Geppener (a graduate of the eastern languages courses for officers at the Asiatic department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Both were significant authorities on the East and experts on the Turkestan region, who did much to attract interest and educate the taste of their readership in the study of Turkestan and its indigenous peoples.(3) N G Mallitskii, the famous Turkestan scholar and enlightener, was one of many social activists in Turkestan who brought a major contribution to the development of the paper during their term as editor(4). Many Russian scholars and travellers worked with the paper at various times – N A Severtsov, A P Fedchenko, N M Przhevalskii, L S Berg, I V Mushketov, V V Bartold, A E Snesarev and others(5). Sven Hedin, the eminent Swedish traveller in Central Asia was also frequently published in the paper. The newspaper became the voice of those explorers as well as as of military and civilian administrators, and was “ appearing at times more like a scholary journal then a weekly official newsletter.”(6)
 
 When it was established, the aim of the paper was to assist the introduction of Russian grazhdanstvennost’ (civil order) in the Turkestan region, and “to give everyone the opportunity to follow the gradual progress of the establishment of order, civilisation and full security for the population in a country that has been for so long under the yoke of Islam and Asian despotism”(7). The paper was published with a specific format. The official section of the paper contained all government directives relating to the Turkestan region: the Governor-General’s orders and regulations, news and announcements from the staff of the Turkestan military district and the staffs of the oblast’ (province) governments, commissariat, treasury etc. This is where news about diplomatic relations between the Turkestan administration and neighbouring countries and territories, war activities and military campaigns, scientific expeditions, the development of industry, agriculture, mining and artisanship, public education and health, policing and criminality, and morality in the region appeared.
 
 The unofficial section of the paper contained information about the geography, history, ethnography and statistics for the Turkestan region, including studies of the region and its populations from a historical, ethnographic and natural history perspective. It was here that notes and articles on the learned life of Turkestan could be found: the work of local scientific societies, expeditions, scientific publishers and so on.
 The sections “News”, “Around the Region” and “Local Chronicles” contained various articles about local society and cultural life. “Foreign News” reproduced articles from St Petersburg and Moscow’s newspapers with information about major events abroad and in those countries neighbouring, or being of particular interest to, Turkestan in the military or political sphere – Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, British India and China. The “Central Asian Press” section contained interesting overviews of Russian and foreign newspapers’ accounts of events in Turkestan and the adjoining countries.
 
 The paper was printed in the print works of the staff of the Turkestan military district (1870-73), and later in that of the secretariat of the Turkestan Governor-General. There were 17 issues produced during the first year, each comprising 1.5 printed sheets. In 1871 the publication appeared on a regular basis, coming out weekly on a Tuesday and in 1893 the paper started to appear twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays. From December1903 (№ 9) it became thrice weekly and from March 1904 (№ 90) it came out four times a week. Starting on 3rd July 1907 the paper appeared daily, except on public holidays. In 1909, starting with issue № 255, the paper changed format to A2 and retained that format up until it ceased publication at the end of 1917. The last issue saw the light of day on 15th December 1917.
 The paper’s circulation figures rose relatively slowly, which was in part due to the limited number of subscribers – Turkestan civil servants, military personnel, teachers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and educated elite of the local population of Turkestan. In the first years of its existence the print-run was 225-300 copies. Only in 1899 did it reach 1,050 copies, increasing in 1909 to 3,000. Subscriptions could be taken up in the paper’s editorial office in Tashkent itself, and beyond the borders of Turkestan, in St Petersburg, Moscow and Orenburg.
 
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti is considered nowadays a bibliographical rarity and is on the wish-list of many major libraries worldwide. At present only four sets are know to be in existence, in varying states of completeness and condition. There is an almost complete set in Tashkent, at the Alisher Novoi National Library of the Republic of Uzbekistan; there other incomplete sets can be found in Tashkent, at the research library of the National Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Department of rare publications (in a fragile and poor condition), in Moscow in the Russian State Library, Newspaper Department (years 1870 to 1893 are missing), and in Almaty in the National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Department of rare books and manuscripts (1870-78, 1883-87, 1894, 1989, 1907-15 are missing and 1916-17 are incomplete)(8). Furthermore, the libraries and archives listed as having full sets for particular years may have individual copies missing, or there may be damage in the form of torn- or cut-out articles, underlining in ink etc. The “ideal” set, i.e. complete and in good condition, simply does not exist: and this publication, by virtue of its extreme rarity, is simply absent from the collections of the main public archives and private collections.
 Today, the Turkestanskie Vedomosti is a unique source for the study of the historical past of Turkestan and its peoples, their daily life, art, habits and traditions, and the historical links with neighbouring countries and territories(9). In its importance and rarity, the set of newspapers on offer would represent a significant and valuable addition to the archives of any national library, research or cultural collection or private collection.
 
 
 
> The set on offer comprises 2304 copies from the period 1877 to 1917:
 
Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1877, № 1 – 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1878, № 1 – 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1881, № 1 – 35, 37 – 41, 43 – 44, 46, 48 – 51. 
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1885, № 1 – 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1886, № 1 – 45, 47 - 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1887, № 2 – 40, 42 – 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1889, № 1 – 51.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1890, № 1 – 52.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1892, № 1 – 25, 27– 52.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1893, № 1 – 42, 44 – 54, 56 – 66, 68 - 101.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1894, № 1 – 2, 4 – 70, 72 – 94.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1895, № 1 – 34, 36 – 70, 72 - 95.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1896, № 1 – 98.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1897, № 1 – 93.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1898, № 1 – 20, 22 – 37, 39, 41 – 98.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1899, № 1 – 35, 37 - 102.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1901, № 2 (incomplete copy) – 5, 7 – 19, 21, 22, 26, 27, 29, 32, 33, 38, 40, 42 – 61, 63 – 90, 92 – 95, 97 - 103.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1902, № 1 – 4, 12 – 15, 17 – 22, 24 – 34, 37 – 43, 46 – 47, 49 – 51, 53, 55, 63 – 64, 68 – 71, 73 – 79, 86 – 104.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1903, № 1 – 107.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1904, № 1 - 4, 6 – 13, 18 – 20, 22 – 37, 40 – 51, 57 – 188.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1905, № 145 – 179, 182 - 189.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1906, № 4 – 95, 98 – 115, 136 – 142, 148, 150 – 157, 159 – 166, 175, 176 (incomplete copy), 177 – 195.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1908, № 235 – 266, 268 – 275, 277, 279.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1909, 6 – 42, 44 – 62, 64 – 65, 69 – 70, 72 – 75, 77 – 90 (incomplete copy), 91 – 101, 114, 116 – 119, 121 – 164, 166 – 167, 183 – 187, 189, 191 – 199, 200 (incomplete copy), 201 – 223, 225 – 279. 
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1912, № 2 – 3, 6, 8, 15, 74, 87, 89, 106, 172, 176, 181, 185, 208.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1915, № 22, 24, 26, 37 – 38, 41 – 42, 58, 64 – 65, 73 – 75, 78, 92 – 95, 97, 105, 107 – 108, 110 – 130, 160, 171 – 175, 177, 179 – 181, 191, 193, 196 – 197, 199, 204 – 207, 210, 213 – 214, 216 – 233, 235 – 236, 238 – 252, 254 – 260, 267 – 270, 272 – 277, 279 - 290.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1916, № 1, 11, 38 – 40, 47, 50, 66 – 69, 85, 109, 124 – 131, 133 – 136, 138 – 140, 142, 144 – 146, 182, 190 – 191, 197, 199, 203 – 204, 223 – 228, 230, 232 – 235, 241, 255, 259, 260, 262, 271 – 275, 279 – 280.
 Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1917, № 16 – 23, 25 – 39, 73, 111 – 118, 126 – 131, 142 – 144, 146, 150, 153, 163 – 165, 179 – 183. 
 
 
> Footnotes
 
(1) Schuyler, Eugene. Turkestan. Notes of a Journey in Russian Turkestan, Khokand, Bukhara, and Kuldja. Vol. I. London, Sampson Low, 1876, p. 80.
 (2) Pierce, Richard A. Russian Central Asia, 1867 - 1917. A Study in Colonial Rule. Berkly and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1960, p. 101.
 (3) For more on the activities of N. A. Maev and S. A. Geppener see: Baskhanov, M. K. Russkie voennye vostokovedy do 1917 goda. Biobibliograficheskii slovar’. [Russian military orientologists before 1917. Biographical-Bibliographical Dictionary]. M., Vostochnaia Literatura, 2005.
 (4) Avsharova M. P. Russkaia periodicheskaiia pechat’ v Turkestane (1870 - 1917). [The Russian Periodical Press in Turkestan (1870 – 1917)]. Tashkent, 1960, pp 65-66.
 (5) K 25-letiiu “Turkestanskikh Vedomostei”. [For the 25th anniversary of the Turkestanskie Vedomosti]. Turkestanskie vedomosti, 1895, № 31.
 (6) Brower, Daniel. Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire. London, Routledge Curzon, 2003, p. 47.
 (7) Foreword [to the publication]. Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 1870, № 1.
 (8) Information kindly provided by T. I. Belousova and V. I. Rychkov (The Department of the Periodicals of the Russian State Library) and T. E. Kartayeva (Kazakh State Educational Women’s Institute, Almaty) was used in the compilation of this account, for which we express our grateful thanks.
 (9) See: Amitin-Shaprio, Z. L., and Morozov O. D. “Turkestanskie Vedomosti” kak istochnik po istorii Kirgizii. [Turkestanskie Vedomosti as a source for the history of Kirgizia]. Works of the Institute of the History of the AN Kirgiz SSR, issue 1, Frunze, published by AN Kirgiz SSR 1955, pp 113-123; Avsharova, M. P. Russkaia periodicheskaia pechat’ v Turkestane (1870 - 1917): bibliograficheskii ukazatel‘ literatury.