Why did democracy fail to take root in Russia in 1917?
Second edition. February 2020.
In the spring of 1917, millions of Russian people poured into the streets and clamored for “revolution,” a word that meant different things to different people at the time. The Russian Revolution focuses on the political, social, and economic conditions that led to the fall of the tsar and explores the competing political ideologies that contested Russia’s future in 1917.
Using primary sources, maps, readings, and a simulation, students explore the historical opportunities that allowed Lenin and the Bolsheviks to take power.
Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.
The Geography and People of the Russian Empire
Using maps and contemporary photographs, students consider how geography affected the governance of the Russian Empire and formulate questions about Russian history.
Peasant Life in the Russian Empire
Through investigation of statistics, photographs, and a painting, students explore the role of peasants in the Russian Empire.
The October Manifesto and Russia's New Fundamental Laws
Students examine the Russian Fundamental Laws of 1906 and their impact on the tsar’s rule and then consider the relationship between the law and power.
Women, War, and Revolution
After assessing primary source documents representing perspectives of women in Russia about World War I, students consider the question of what it means to be a revolutionary.
The Choices Role Play
Drawing on primary sources, students work cooperatively and take on the roles of the Constitutional Democrats, Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, and undecided citizens to consider the political options debated in the Spring of 1917.
A Country in Turmoil: Two Experiences of Uncertainty
Students analyze two young women’s memoirs to identify the role political uncertainty played in ordinary people’s lives and responses to the events of the Russian Revolution.
Three Representations of Lenin
Students examine three political cartoons of Lenin, place them in their historical context, and then consider the role of ideology in the interpretation of history.
- Ethan Pollock
- November 11, 2019
A slideshow of maps used in the lesson “The Geography and People of the Russian Empire.”
A slideshow of the photographs used in the lesson “The Geography and People of the Russian Empire.”
A slideshow of the photographs and painting used in the lesson “Peasant Life in the Russian Empire.”
A slideshow of the cartoons used in the lesson “Three Representations of Lenin.”
Additional reference material for added context and support.
Althaus, Frank, Mark Sutcliffe, and Nina Sampson. Eyewitness 1917: The Russian Revolution as It Happened. London: Fontanka, 2019.
Chamberlin, William Henry. The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1935.
Figes, Orlando. A People’s Tragedy; The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1996.
Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Russian Revolution. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Suny, Ronald Grigor. The Structure of Soviet History: Essay and Documents. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Ulam, Adam. The Bolsheviks. New York: MacMillan, 1965.