RUSSIAN STATE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HUMANITIES
RUSSIAN STATE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HUMANITIES
The last scientist-encyclopedist: 100th anniversary of Dr. Nikolay Eroshkin
12.09.2020

The last scientist-encyclopedist: 100th anniversary of Dr. Nikolay Eroshkin

September 9 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nikolay Petrovich Eroshkin (1920-1988), a Soviet historian. He made a significant contribution to the formation of the history of public institutions as an important auxiliary historical discipline. Nikolay Petrovich spent most of his life at the Institute of History and Archives, from graduate student to Acting Rector.

From 1975 until the last day of his life, he was Chair of the Department of History of State Institutions and Public Organizations. For 40 years he read courses on the history of state institutions. A former Nikolai Petrovich's student, Dr. Alexander Stepansky, Honored Professor of RSUH, once recalled: “Everything that Nikolai Petrovich read in his lectures was almost completely new. And he did not “read”, he described and talked. The complex content was presented in a wonderful form, where literary and artistic talents were combined."

Once another one of his students, Dr. Tatyana Korzhikhina, Professor of the Department of History of State Institutions and Public Organizations, recalled that his lectures were truly special: “He was witty, his every lecture was an event. He somehow knew how to combine the material (and it was easy to write down), related concepts and at the same time love for fact and detail, even jokes."

Professor Tatyana Arkhipova, Head of the Department of History of State Institutions and Public Organizations, spoke of Dr. Eroshkin’s ability to enthrall the audience: “His knowledge in the fields of humanitarian knowledge related to history seemed immense, his conclusions and parallels were surprising, examples were mesmerizing. All this was accompanied by irony, humor, sarcasm. The audience sighed and laughed with him... It seemed to me that if he cried the audience would burst into tears too. And so it went on for an hour and a half."

In 1960, Nikolai Petrovich published a textbook on the history of state institutions in pre-revolutionary Russia, which went through five editions. Several generations of historians-archivists have studied this textbook since the middle of the 20th century to the present. For archivists and historians in 1971, a handbook on the history of the highest bodies of state power and central government bodies of the RSFSR was published under the editorship of Dr. Eroshkin.

Dr. Alexander Senin, Professor of the Department of History of State Institutions and Public Organizations, spoke about the uniquely encyclopedic knowledge of his teacher: “Nikolai Petrovich’s lectured on the history of state institutions of pre-revolutionary Russia for more than 40 years and it seemed to us that he knew everything there was to know about the state structure of the Russian Empire. He was familiar with all the latest research on Russian history, constantly worked in the archives and generously shared his knowledge with students. In my opinion, he was our last academic encyclopedist ”.

In the last years of his life Nikolai Petrovich worked on a multivolume reference book on the history of higher and central institutions of pre-revolutionary Russia in the capacity of advisor and executive editor. Under his leadership, anthologies on the history of state institutions were published, conferences were regularly held, in which, along with well-known specialists, students specializing in the history of Russian statehood took part.

The works of Dr. Nikolai Eroshkin and his numerous students contributed to the formation of a unique academic and pedagogical school of researchers of the state apparatus of Russia. Its feature was the study of Russian history through the history of its state and public institutions.

This school is distinguished by its research. With a systematic and detailed analysis of the main characteristics of a particular institution and the state apparatus as a whole, the reasons and goals of creation, reorganization and liquidation are considered including changes in functions, competencies, organizational structure, methods of activity, personnel, funding, etc. Special attention is paid to research work in the archives. The teachers of the Department have always guided students and graduate students toward factual accuracy and factual erudition. This 21st-century academic trend, which has developed at the Institute of History and Archives, along with the works of his students and followers have become the best monument to Nikolai Petrovich Eroshkin, a scientist and a teacher.