A Window on the Bolshevik Revolution

When James Maxwell Pringle departed for Russia in November 1917, his intent was to visit the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) branch of his employer, National City Bank. His business trip turned into an unexpected window on the Bolshevik Revolution.

Petrograd - Scenes of the burial of the victims of the March Revolution on the Field of Mars. Photos by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31329

Arriving in Petrograd in the days just after the October Revolution, when Bolshevik forces overthrew the Russian Provisional Government, the photo album Pringle compiled is peppered with the effects of the conflict.  His photographs in Moscow, Petrograd, and other Russian cities show bullet-riddled buildings, prisoners, parades and marches, ceremonies to memorialize those killed and everyday Russians living amidst the turmoil.

Moscow - Results of the Fighting. Photo by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31325

This photo album was a recent gift to the Prints and Photographs Division by Pringle’s nephew, Robert M. Pringle, and offers a unique outsider’s perspective on the internal conflict that eventually reshaped Russia into the Soviet Union.  The photos document his travels through Russia and into Asia over the course of many months as he made his way back to the U.S. with a group of travel companions.

Pringle’s album joins the Library’s strong collections of personal photo albums and extensive research resources on the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. A selection of images from the album has been digitized and the full album can be viewed by appointment in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

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