ENCRRC > DATABASE: CONTENTS: General Description & Methodology

General Description & Methodology


Source Material
The database in use for this study, as noted in the Introduction to Part 1, consists of a group of twenty-two subscription lists of varying lengths that were found in a variety of Russian imprints from the years 1825-1846. The total number of subscriptions recorded on these lists is 11,898.

Choice of Database Management System
The database was compiled and revised over the period 1993-1997. Following a golden rule recognized by quantitative historians ("use the system supported by your institution"), the database management system used to compile the database was DataEase, and the procedures below refer to calculations conducted with this version of the database. The system was powerful in some respects and flexible enough to allow a significant variety of computations, and these are reflected in my dissertation: "The Expansion of Russian Reading Audiences, 1828-1848" (PhD, Berkeley, 1999). (More recently, however, the database has been converted to a PHP/MySQL environment, and future publications based on these materials will be based on this system).

Design of Data Entry Form
In order to facilitate tabulation, each subscriber was given a unique record, and information was entered according to a specially designed Data Entry Form that contains the following sections:

  1. Name
  2. Sex
  3. Category
  4. Title
  5. Class
  6. Rank
  7. Number of copies requested
  8. Place of provenance
Section 3 (Category) contains numerous choices, divided into 10 main groups:
  1. Aristocracy
  2. Provincial Landowners
  3. Military Officials
  4. Civil Officials
  5. Other Nobles [Sphere Unclear]
  6. Professionals
  7. Merchants
  8. Other Categories
  9. Category Unspecified
  10. Institutions.
In Section 4 (Title)--which specifies titles within the 10 main categories--the options are even more extensive. Aristocrats are grouped in 17 sub-categories, Provincial Landowners 4, Military Officials 42, Civil Officials 33, Other Nobles 6, Professionals 66, Merchants 28, Other Categories 51, Category Unspecified 2, and Institutions 1 (for a total of 250). In Section 8 (Placenames), many small towns and villages are listed on the Data Entry Form, for a total of 272.

Assignment to Categories
In creating and subdividing the 10 main groups, and assigning individuals to sub-categories, the overriding goal was to balance the need for creating sufficient distinctions to convey reasonable accuracy versus the need to limit proliferation of groups so as to avoid unmanageable comparisons.

NOTE: As discussed in detail in the Introduction to Part III of my dissertation, it is recognized that a number of the subscribers in the lists may actually have belonged to more than one category. For example, a subscriber counted as an aristocrat may also have been a military officer or a civil servant. But in assigning subscribers to categories, attention was paid to the information provided by the subscriber:

[For additional discussion of this issue consult the Introduction to Part III, especially pp. 213-216 and notes 19-21 of that section.]

  1. Aristocracy: Used for subscribers who used only aristocratic or court titles.

  2. Provincial Landowners: Used for subscribers who described themselves as landowners, or as marshals of the nobility. These subscribers apparently all lived on their estates: none of these records list either of the capitals in the placenames section.

  3. Military Officials: Used for subscribers with military titles alone, or with military and aristocratic or honorific titles. Some consolidation of titles took place: the titles leitenant flota and kapitan leitenant flota were coded as leitenant or kapitan-leitenant. Voennyi sovetnik, though a civil rank, was included here because holders would have identified with the military and would have read accordingly.

  4. Civil Officials: Used for subscribers with civil titles alone, or with civil and aristocratic or honorific titles.

  5. Other Nobles (Sphere Unclear): Used mainly for subscribers who provided only their honorific titles. A good number of these subscribers were probably civil servants, because military prestige would have encouraged those with military rank to identify it. But it is impossible to be precise. Some subscribers assigned to this group may have been active landowners retired from service. They may also have come from other spheres. For instance, university professors held ranks in the 19th century; some medical positions were also assigned ranks and consequently bore honorific titles (I. I. Evropeus serving with the title of lekar' [rank 9] on one of Arakcheev's military settlements is addressed as "Vashe blagorodie"; see Evropeus' memoir, p. 228). A small number of subscribers identifying themselves only as "dvoriane" were also included here--since the term "dvorianin" is likewise imprecise.

  6. Professionals: Used for a varied group of subscribers, including those who identified themselves as doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, and the like. Includes numerous military officers who identified themselves as doctors or engineers--and whose military calling was thus of a specialized nature, presumably requiring reading on specialized rather than military themes.

  7. Merchants: Used as inclusively as possible. For instance, subscribers identified as booksellers were classed as merchants. Subscribers with honorary titles usually given to high-ranked merchants--Pochetnyi grazhdanin, Kommertsii sovetnik--were also included here. True, the title "Pochetnyi grazhdanin" introduced by Nicholas I in 1832 was not in theory an exclusively merchant designation: it might also apply, for example, to sons of priests, doctors, or even actors and actresses (as suggested to me by Helju Aulik Bennett). But here again the information in the lists is telling. In list 11--Entsiklopedicheskii slovar'--the 6,116 subscriptions are carefully arranged in order by rank under each letter of the alphabet, and subscribers with the title "Pochetnyi grazhdanin" are invariably placed just ahead of first-guild merchants, thus legitimizing their coding in this study as merchant subscribers.

  8. Other Categories: Used for subscribers whom it was difficult to assign to the first seven categories--including a small number of clergy, and a variety of other specialized vocations such as ispravnik (police officer).

  9. Category Unspecified: Used mainly for subscribers who provided only their names, and did not identify a social category. (These subscribers would swell the numbers of the first eight categories if their social identity were known). Also used for subscribers who did not even provide their names, but were characterized by the term "Neizvestnyi." But although in all these cases the social category was unspecified, these subscribers were probably low class--because they are listed following low-class subscribers in List 11 (see note on "Merchants" above).

  10. Institutions: Used for any non-personal subscription, including offices, regiments, educational institutions and libraries.

Note on Inclusion of Information from the Lists
Every subscription recorded in the lists was recorded in the database. However, subscriptions were occasionally not recorded in full. DataEase allows the inclusion of up to 100 different choices per sub-category on the Data Entry Form, to eliminate excessive keystroking. Even so, the 200+ choices in Sections 3 (Category) and 8 (Place Names) do not reflect all the data included in the lists. Some elements were not singled out for inclusion when considered of little interest. However, their presence in the lists was signified by the code Not On Form; this will allow for easy retrieval and reconsideration for inclusion in new categories at a later date.

NB: It was decided to reproduce spellings as they occurred in the lists, including prerevolutionary spellings (except for hard signs). This was done--even when it seemed possible that names had been entered incorrectly--in order to:

Note on Duplicates
No attempt was made to exclude subscriptions from the database for reasons of clear or possible duplication (ie: orders placed by the same subscriber). This occasionally leads to some small inflation of the figures when considered as subscribers rather subscriptions, but the results are considered acceptable for the following reasons:

  1. The figures are only intended as relative estimates; the few points gained from duplication are no doubt more than outweighed by the number of readers who actually existed but were not recorded in the lists.
  2. Familiarity with the database makes it clear that the rate of duplication is small.
  3. Duplication is in any case hard to determine; in relatively few cases do entries share enough common points to confirm the duplication.
  4. Elimination of duplicates would eliminate evidence of repeated interest on the part of one individual--evidence of value to the study.
Last update: 2002-07-08
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