The Sheremetev Almshouse in 1810-1812: Arranging a Modern Institution in a Pre-Modern Urban Society
Posted: 16 Oct 2014 Last revised: 4 Feb 2015
Date Written: October 15, 2014
This paper examines an attempt to implement modern disciplinary practices in a new charity institution in early 19th century Moscow. The Sheremetev Almshouse was the first charity institution in Russia to expose the applicants for relief to inspections and visitations – practice borrowed from the system of outdoor relief established in Central and Western Europe since Reformation. The study demonstrates that the recipients were married men or widows with numerous children. They all belonged to the middling sort of Moscow dwellers, i.e. they were families of clerks and officials or non-commissioned and commissioned officers of middle ranks, sometimes, of priests, and considerable number of them had additional sources of income besides the relief they intended to receive from the Almshouse. Apparently, for members of these strata, applying for an extraneous relief was a kind of everyday practice. Yet, even though for none of them this relief was crucial for survival, they were still willing to consent to the inspections conducted for the administration in order to confirm their decent way of life. The focus of administrators on evaluating the social and moral conditions on the poor indicates that the Sheremetev Almshouse played a role generally associated with the state institutions established during the Catherine II’s reign in order to extend the modernizing efforts to a wider strata of the Empire's population.
Keywords: early modern state, Russia, the Sheremetev Almshouse, Malinovsky, Moscow, poor relief, social discipline
JEL Classification: Z
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation