Europe's Russian Colonies

Over the course of the long nineteenth century, hundreds of thousands of tsarist subjects left the Russian empire for western Europe, where they created new communities in the continent’s urban centers, university towns, and spa resorts. Europe’s “Russian colonies”—as the residents of these immigrant districts referred to them—maintained close ties with the Russian empire, recreating many of the familiar sights, smells, and tastes for which homesick émigrés longed. But the colonies were not mere replications of the motherland: they soon generated a distinctive culture of their own. Populated by dissident intellectuals, students, economic migrants, nationalist activists of various stripes, Jews fleeing pogroms, and tsarist police agents charged with monitoring each of these groups, they condensed the diversity of the Russian empire into districts only a few square miles in area. 

This series of interactive maps traces the flow of people and ideas across borders, explores the "colonies" that tsarist subjects constituted overseas, and investigates the marks that tsarist emigres left on their host cities and countries.



Faith Hillis