Reginald Zelnik Book Prize in History


Honorable Mention

Equality and Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917

Honorable Mention: Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild
Title: Equality and Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917 (University of Pittsburgh Press)

In her elegantly written study of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century, Ruthchild demonstrates how Russian women and their movement for suffrage and gender equality were central to the social changes and revolutionary politics of late tsarism. Previous studies of prerevolutionary Russian feminism emphasized the movement’s privileged character and the tensions between its allegedly “bourgeois” activists on one side and women workers and socialists on the other. Equality and Revolution demonstrates, however, that socialists and feminists often worked in tandem within a broader democratic movement, and that, at critical moments, their joint struggle for gender equality drove the broader revolutionary and democratic movements forward. As a consequence, Russian women were in early 1917 the first of their gender in a major power to gain the franchise. Ruthchild also situates the Russian women’s movement in a broader international context and brings back to life several influential but long-forgotten figures in the movement. Eschewing ideology for compelling narrative based on a broad base of archival and rare published primary sources, Ruthchild succeeds in restoring Russian women to their rightful place at the center of the revolutionary narrative and in relating their compelling and gripping tale with compassion and dignity.

Winner: Matthew Lenoe