Ilminsky, Nikolai Ivanovich
ILMINSKY, NIKOLAI IVANOVICH
(1822–1891), professor of Turkic Languages at Kazan University and lay Russian Orthodox missionary, known as "Enlightener of Natives."
Nikolai Ilminsky gave up a brilliant academic career to devote himself to missionary work among the non-Russians. He was convinced that only through the mother tongue and native teachers and clergy could the nominally baptized and animists become true Russian Orthodox believers and thus resist conversion to Islam. This conviction was at the heart of what became known as the "Ilminsky System."
In 1863, while still holding the chair of Turkic languages at both Kazan University and Kazan Theological Academy, Ilminsky established the Kazan Central Baptized-Tatar School, which served as his showcase and model for non-Russian schools and whose thousands of graduates spawned numerous village schools. In 1867 Ilminsky founded the Gurri Brotherhood, which supported the growing network of native schools, and set up the Kazan Translating Commission. By 1891 the Commission had produced 177 titles in over a dozen languages; by 1904 the Commission had produced titles in twenty-three languages. For most of the languages, this required the creation of alphabets, grammars, primers, and dictionaries. Starting with the baptized Tatars of the Kazan region, Ilminsky's activities extended to the multinational Volga-Ural area, to Siberia, and to Central Asia. But disciples carried his system further: Ivan Kasatkin, for example, founded the Orthodox Church of Japan.
Ilminsky's system encountered strong opposition from Russian nationalists who saw in the Russian language the "cement of the Empire" and feared that his approach encouraged national self-esteem among the minorities. Yet by demonstrating the fervent piety of his students and above all stressing that the alternative was defection to Islam, he was able to obtain the backing of powerful figures in the government and the Church, including Konstantin Pobedonostev. Ilminsky even became a quasi-official advisor on nationality affairs and as such promoted strict censorship, unfavorable appointments, and restrictive laws for Muslims and Buddhists.
The impact of Ilminsky's system on preliterate nationalities was revolutionary, as these peoples, equipped with a written language and the beginnings of a national intelligentsia, experienced a national awakening. Such national leaders as the Chuvash Ivan Yakovlev and the Kazakh Ibrai Altynsarin were Ilminsky's disciples and protégés, while Lenin's father worked closely with Ilminsky in promoting non-Russian education in Simbirsk Province. This may explain why Lenin's nationality policy, summarized as "national in form, socialist in content" was remarkably similar to Ilminsky's system, which was defended by his supporters as "national in form, Orthodox in content."
See also: education; nationalities policies, tsarist; russian orthodox church; tatarstan and tatars
Kreindler, Isabelle. (1977). "A Neglected Source of Lenin's Nationality Policy." Slavic Review 36:86–100.
"Ilminsky, Nikolai Ivanovich." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ilminsky-nikolai-ivanovich
"Ilminsky, Nikolai Ivanovich." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ilminsky-nikolai-ivanovich
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.