Afanasii Prokofevich Shchapov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shchapov, Afanasii Prokof’evich


Born Oct. 5 (17), 1831, in the village of Anga, Verkholensk District, Irkutsk Province; died Feb. 27 (Mar. 10), 1876, in Irkutsk. Russian historian and publicist.

The son of a sexton, Shchapov studied at the Kazan Theological Academy from 1852 to 1856; he graduated with a baccalaureate degree. He taught Russian history at the theological academy from 1856 to 1860 and at Kazan University in 1860 and 1861. On Apr. 16, 1861, he delivered a revolutionary speech at a requiem for the victims of the Bezdna uprising of 1861; he was arrested and sent to St. Petersburg. After an investigation Shchapov was prohibited from teaching and was appointed an official for sectarian affairs in the Ministry of the Interior. In 1862 he was dismissed from his position and put under police supervision.

Shchapov was a contributor to such journals as Otechestvennye Zapiski, Russkoe slovo, Vremia, and Vek. Exiled to Siberia in 1864 on suspicion of being associated with A. I. Herzen and N. P. Ogarev, he went first to Anga and then to Irkutsk. In 1866 he served as an ethnographer on an expedition to Turukhansk Krai conducted by the Siberian Department of the Russian Geographic Society. In the summer of 1865, Shchapov was arrested in connection with the case of the Siberian oblastniki (revolutionary group of Siberian intellectuals). After his release he became a contributor to the journals Delo and Zapiski Sibirskogo otdela RGO (Notes of the Siberian Department of the Russian Geographic Society). He died of tuberculosis.

Shchapov wrote many works on the history of sectarianism and the schism (raskol), which he viewed as expressions of popular protest against social oppression. From 1856 to 1864, under the influence of G. Z. Eliseev and S. V. Eshevskii, he supported the zemstvo-oblast theory, which was accepted in Russian demographic historiography and which viewed the history of Russia from the standpoint of the interrelationships of separate areas (“oblasts”). Later, while in exile, Shchapov subjected the theory to criticism; influenced by the ideas of N. G. Chernyshevskii, D. I. Pisarev, H. T. Buckle, and the positivists, he attempted to apply the methods of natural science to the study of the history of the development of the Russian people.

Under the influence of the ideas advanced by Shchapov, a trend toward studying the effects of geography and economics developed in Russian historical science. This trend, which was progressive for its time, found expression in the works of such historians as V. O. Kliuchevskii.


Soch., vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1906–08.
Sobr. soch.: Dopolnit. torn k izdaniiu. Irkutsk, 1937.
“Neizdannye soch.” Izvestiia Obshchestva arkheologü, istorii i etnografii pri Kazanskom un-te, vol. 33, issues 2–3. Kazan, 1926.
A. P. Shchapov v Irkutske: Neizdannye materialy. Irkutsk, 1938.


Aristov, N. Ia. A. P. Shchapov: Zhizn’ i sochineniia. St. Petersburg, 1883.
Kabanov, P. I. Obshchestvenno-politicheskie i istoricheskie vzgliady A. P. Shchapova. Moscow, 1954.
[Koz’min, B. P.] “A. P. Shchapov—istorik-demokrat.” In Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1960.
Tsamutali, A. N. Ocherki demokraticheskogo napravleniia v russkoi istoriografii 60–70-kh godov XIX v. Leningrad, 1971. Pages 93–107.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.