Hessen, Julius Isidorovich

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HESSEN, JULIUS ISIDOROVICH (1871–1939), historian of Russian Jewry. Hessen was born in Odessa. He was the author of more than 300 historical works. His first published work was a biography of Osip *Rabinovich and a Russian translation of *Pinsker's Autoemanzipation (1898). Both his scholarly and communal activities revolved around the quest for the emancipation of Russian Jewry. In 1905–06 he served as secretary of the short-lived Union for Full Equality of the Jewish People in Russia; he prepared the memorandum on the life of the Jews in Russia and the history of Russian legislation on the Jews which was sent to the members of the Duma and the state council. Hessen's mature historical work began with studies of aspects of Russian Jewish history, including Yevreiv masonstve ("Jews in Freemasonry," 1903) and Velizhskaya drama ("The Velizh [Blood-Libel] Drama," 1905), collected in his Yevrei v Rossii (1906; Heb. Ha-Yehudim be-Rusyah, 1913); Zakon i zhizn ("Law and Life," 1911), on the history of the Pale of Settlement; and Gallereya yevreyskikh deyateley ("A Gallery of Outstanding Jewish Figures," 2 vols., 1898–1900). He initiated the publication of the Russian-Jewish encyclopedia Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya (16 vols., 1908–13), served as its general secretary and its editor for modern Russian-Jewish history, and contributed many important articles to it. Hessen summed up his research in Istoriya yevreyev v Rossii ("History of the Jews in Russia," 1914), later extending the history to 1882 in Istoriya yevreyskogo naroda v Rossii ("History of the Jewish People in Russia," 2 vols., 1916–27; vol. 1 rev., 1925. These standard works deal with the history of Russian Jewry from its early beginnings in the period of the grand duchy of Kiev, but are of particular importance for the position of the Jews in Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries, drawing on archival material from the many commissions appointed to inquire into the Jewish problem and on the reports of provincial governors. After the 1917 Revolution Hessen was employed, with others, on a history of the labor movement in Russia and on a history of antisemitism in Russia. In the years 1930–35 he was editor of the Vestnik an S.S.S.R. (Journal of the Academy of Sciences). From 1935 he prepared the publication of the archives of the Arctic explorations. The exact circumstances of his death are not known.

[Abraham N. Poliak]