Lesser Soviet Encyclopedia

Lesser Soviet Encyclopedia


(LSE), a popular general encyclopedia of moderate size published in Moscow by the Soviet Encyclopedia Publishing House. The first edition of the LSE was issued between 1928 and 1931 in ten volumes and a pressrun of about 100,000. It contained more than 30,000 articles. As stated in the Preface, the encyclopedia was to be “a mouthpiece of the proletarian revolution and a means of crystalizing the class consciousness of the broad masses of workers, an instrument of education and construction.” Economic and political questions were given priority, and in accordance with the demands of the time, much attention was devoted to technology. The editor in chief was N. L. Meshcheriakov.

The second edition, published between 1933 and 1941 in ten volumes, with an 11th volume issued in 1947, was also intended for a broad readership. The edition had a pressrun of 100,000 and contained 790 author’s sheets. The first six volumes were revised and updated.

The third edition was published in ten volumes between 1958 and 1960 in a pressrun of 290,000 (960 author’s sheets). Expansion to about 50,000 articles made it possible for the third edition to discuss concisely but more fully than had the earlier editions the most important concepts and terms encountered in contemporary political and scientific literature, fiction, and journalism and to give a brief explanation of many specific terms, including those of foreign origin. About 50 percent of the articles are devoted to natural science and technology, 34 percent to history and other social sciences, and about 16 percent to literature and art. About 25 percent of the articles have bibliographies. The third edition contains more than 12,000 illustrations (many in color) and 170 color maps. An alphabetical subject and name index to the third edition was published in 1961.

The LSE includes both small articles averaging 800 characters and comparatively large surveys of the Union republics, foreign countries, the sciences, and branches of the economy, technology, and art. About 10 percent of the articles are biographical. More than 3,000 authors contributed to the LSE, and the editor in chief of the third edition was B. A. Vvedenskii.


Petrov, F. N. “Pervye sovetskie entsiklopedii.” In the collection Kniga: Issledovaniia i materialy, no. 3. Moscow, 1960. Pages 132-38.
Kaufman, I. M. Russkie entsiklopedii, issue 1. Moscow, 1960. Pages 93-98.