I hope my adding this post will not damper people’s interest in Fr. Andrew’s book. I have listened to some of his podcasts and they are good. Nonetheless, it’s time for my regular monthly post . Each monthly post in 2011 has concentrated on Orthodoxy and higher education in America and this one will continue that theme, though not in quite the same way.
In this post, I thought I’d mention the People’s University in Chicago and put out a “call for more information.” I do not know much about this school and therefore would greatly welcome any reader from Chicago (or elsewhere) who has more information on this. What I do know is that it lasted from 1918 until 1920. It was a night school that met in public school classrooms with the twofold purpose of Americanizing Russian immigrants and teaching Russian to Americans for business purposes. Boris Bakhmeteff, the ambassador for the provisional government in Russia, had allocated $10,000 from embassy funds to start this venture. The financial aspects were overseen directly by the Russian consul, Antoine Volkoff. Although this venture did not last I find it quite intriguing. Perhaps others know more about it than the bare-bone basics I’ve been able to find. I should note I haven’t scoured the Bakhmeteff archives as I maybe should, though a quick skim through the contents (as available online) did not jog anything in my mind. Nor have I had a chance to figure out what archives in Chicago might contain information on this enterprise. If someone knows better, please do let me know. This is no do or die matter but I suspect that a fuller history of the Russian People’s University in Chicago could offer a unique view into the world of the Russian emigre community and those who fled turmoil of Russia for the safe haven of America.
Those interested in Russians in Chicago more generally might wish to start here, though one would have to go far beyond this to learn more: