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Elite Education in Pre-Revolutionary Russia: The Imperial Educational Society of Noble Maidens

An online lecture by Dr. Nancy Kovaleff Baker

The Imperial Educational Society of Noble Maidens, or the Smolny Institute, was founded by Catherine the Great as the first state educational institution for women in Russia. This lecture will give an overview of the history of the Smolny and its impressive educational offerings. The presentation is illustrated by very rare photographs contained in an album given to either Dr. Baker’s grandmother or her aunt, both students at the Smolny Institute. Dr. Baker will outline her ancestors’ paths from St. Petersburg to New York City and discuss the importance of learning our forebears’ stories, our heritage from the past.


About the Speaker

Nancy Kovaleff Baker attended The Spence School, Smith College, and Yale University, where she earned an M.A, M.Phil., and a Ph.D. in music history. She taught music history at Yale and Columbia Universities, and worked as an administrator at Yale, Princeton, Brown, and Boston Universities. She has published translations with commentary of an eighteenth-century German theoretical music treatise, co-edited a Festschrift, and written a number of articles, including one on Abel Meeropol, composer of the song “Strange Fruit,” an eloquent condemnation of lynching. Her most recent publication is A Smolny Album: Glimpses into Life at the Imperial Educational Society of Noble Maidens, which is Dr. Baker’s tribute to the Russian side of her family.


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Connecting With Zoom

This virtual lecture is presented live via Zoom. Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions.

This program will be recorded.


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