Local Lore, Study of

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Local Lore, Study of


the comprehensive study of part of a country or of a city, village, or other settlement by the local inhabitants, who regard the area as their homeland. Local lore studies combine research in the natural and social sciences and deal with the physical features, demography, economy, history, and culture of an area. In the comprehensive study of local lore these questions are treated in their relation to each other. Specialized local lore study concentrates on particular aspects of local lore and includes geographical, historical, ethnographic, and toponymic studies. The conservation of natural resources and the preservation of cultural monuments are becoming important aspects of local lore study.

The basic method involved in the study of local lore is the gathering of information, objects of material culture, mineral samples, and other data contributing to a broader knowledge of the region and its economic and cultural development. Local lore studies are of great sociopolitical and cultural significance, and they play a major role in the educational process.

An amateur movement of students of local lore arose in prerevolutionary Russia. The Free Economic Society, organized in 1765, and especially the Russian Geographical Society, founded in 1845, played an important role in the development of voluntary local lore studies. Major studies on the local lore of the Far North, Siberia, and the Caucasus were done by these and other scholarly and scientific societies.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution, the study of local lore developed on a large scale, supported by the country’s scientific and cultural forces. Soviet local lore study became goal-oriented owing to society’s common tasks in communist construction. In the early period of its development Soviet study of local lore took the form of organized group hikes to study the natural resources available for the region’s economy. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) students of local lore revealed regional resources necessary for defense. In the postwar period the study of local lore in school greatly expanded; museums and rooms of military and labor glory were established, and circles and units of Red Scouts were organized. Young people’s tours to sites of the Soviet people’s military and labor glory are a significant contribution to the study of local lore. The school study of local lore, accounting for most of those engaged in local lore work, pursues educational aims as well as the general goals of local lore study.

Contemporary research on local lore in the USSR places great emphasis on the study and conservation of nature in a region and on the discovery of its natural resources. Also important are the study of the region’s history (including the revolutionary movement and the Civil and Great Patriotic wars) and culture, the study and preservation of local cultural monuments and antiqui-ties, the study of folk art and of the economic achievements and experience of advanced workers, the propagation of knowledge about the region, the summing up of scientific information, the accumulation of bibliographic data and photograph libraries, and the organization of exhibitions, local lore centers, lecture courses, excursions, small research expeditions, and museums.

Museums of local lore play a large role in the development of local lore studies. They accumulate, process, preserve, and exhibit material collected by students of local lore and function as scientific-methodological centers.

In the first years of Soviet rule, the study of local lore by the public was headed by the Central Bureau for the Study of Local Lore. Today groups of students of local lore have united to form local lore commissions affiliated with branches and departments of the Geographical Society of the USSR and the Union republic geographical societies. There is a local lore section in the Pedagogical Society of the RSFSR. Some students of local lore have joined various circles, sections, societies, and commissions attached to such cultural-educational institutions as museums of local lore, Houses of Culture, and Houses of Pioneers.

Tourists also study local lore, frequently fulfilling assignments from economic and scientific organizations. Local libraries and publishing houses contribute to the study of local lore by issuing local lore literature, maps, and methodological and bibliographic guides.

In order to provide theoretical and practical training for personnel whose work involves the study of local lore, special courses have been introduced into the curricula of some higher educational institutions: cultural institutes offer courses in local lore bibliography and pedagogical institutes provide practical training for the study of local lore. Special universities and departments of local lore studies have been created within the system of people’s universities. The departments of social vocations at higher educational institutions also offer special training in the study of local lore.

Local lore study in European socialist countries—called krajoznawstwo in Poland, vlastiveda in Czechoslovakia, kraeznanie in Bulgaria, and Heimatkunde in the GDR—is a public movement aimed at understanding a native region. It has been developing in connection with school requirements. In Czechoslovakia, for example, a course in local lore serves as an introduction to the study of geography and history, and in Bulgaria and Poland geographical education is based on the direct observation of local sites.

In some capitalist countries, the study of local lore is viewed as an essential part of the curriculum. In Great Britain, for example, “local geography” is taught in school as part of the geography course.


Liarskii, P. A. Posobie po kraevedeniu. Minsk, 1966.
Stroev, K. F. Kraevedenie. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.