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1. any of the subdivisions of a compound leaf such as a fern leaf
2. (loosely) any small leaf or leaflike part
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a printed sheet with a political-agitational or informative text or picture. The distinguishing features of leaflets are their up-to-date content, the comparatively large number of copies printed, the promptness of publication and distribution, and brief use. Leaflets may present either original texts of appeals and announcements or reprints (official documents or works of art, for example).

The first leaflets were printed soon after the invention of the printing press. Originally they were used to publicize government decrees. Revolutionary leaflets were used throughout Germany during the Peasant War of 1524–26. In the 18th to 20th centuries leaflets became an accepted form of mass revolutionary propaganda. They were also widely used in preelection struggles among bourgeois parties. During wars (especially World War I and World War II) leaflets were issued by governments and by military commands.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the Russian government issued manifestos, decrees, and addresses to the population by means of flyers, a form of leaflet. For example, flyers were distributed during the Patriotic War of 1812. The forerunners of revolutionary leaflets were handwritten “anonymous letters” and “inciting (prelestnye) charters” summoning the people to rebellion and distributed by the leaders of the peasant wars of the 17th and 18th centuries (I. Bolotnikov, S. Razin, K. Bulavin, and E. Pugachev). Revolutionary leaflets called proclamations were printed in London by the Free Russian Printing House for distribution in Russia. During the phase of the Russian liberation movement that was dominated by the raznochintsy (intellectuals of no definite class), proclamation-leaflets were issued by Zemlia i Volia (Land and Freedom) in the 1860’s and 1870’s, by the People’s Will, by the first workers’ circles, and by other revolutionary organizations inside the country and abroad. The St. Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, which was headed by V. I. Lenin in 1895, made extensive use of leaflets. Revolutionary leaflets were issued on a mass scale during the Revolution of 1905–07 and during the preparation for and implementation of the October Socialist Revolution of 1917, as well as during the Civil War of 1918–20.

The publication and distribution of leaflets are forms of agitational work done by party, soviet, and Komsomol organizations in the USSR. There are two main types of leaflets: placardleaflets and “militant sheets.” During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 leaflets played a major role in the party’s ideological struggle against sinister fascist German propaganda by helping to mobilize and unite popular forces to rout the enemy. Leaflets are used to publish appeals and urgent communiqués. They are a means of disseminating the experience of advanced workers. In addition, leaflets are used for commercial and other forms of advertising.


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Istochnikovedenie istorii SSSR XIX–nach. XX vv. Moscow, 1970. Pages 328–45.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A division of a compound leaf.
A small or young foliage leaf.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.