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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



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.


1 marta 1881 g.: Proklamatsii i vozzvaniia, izdannye posle tsareubiistva. Petrograd, 1920.
Pamiatniki agitatsionnoi literatury RSDRP. Vol. 6 (1914–17): “Period voiny,” fasc. 1, “Proklamatsii 1914 g.” Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Proklamatsii shestidesiatykh godov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Literatura Moskovskogo Rabochego Soiuza. Moscow, 1930.
Listovki Peterburgskogo ‘Soiuza bor’by za osvobozhdenie rabochego klassa,’ 1895–1897 gg. Moscow, 1934.
Listovki peterburgskikh bol’shevikov 1902–917, vols. 1–3. [Moscow-Leningrad] 1939–57.
Listovki Grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR, 1918–1922. Moscow, 1942.
Listovki Moskovskoi organizatsii bol’shevikov, 1914–1925 gg. Moscow, 1954.
Listovki bol’shevistskikh organizatsii v pervoi russkoi revoliutsii 1905–1907 gg., parts 1–3. Moscow, 1956.
Geroi ipodvigi: Sovetskie listovki Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny 1941–1945 gg. Moscow, 1958.
Listovki Otechestvennoi voiny 1912 g. Moscow, 1962.
Revoliutsiini vidozvi do ukrains’koho narodu 1850–1870 rr. Kiev, 1920.


Likhachev, N. Katalog letuchikh izdanii i ikh perepechatoh Manifesty, ukazy i dr. pravitel’stvennye rasporiazheniia v otdel’nykh izdaniiakh i perepechatkakh. St. Petersburg, 1895.
Bitovt, lu. Redkie russkie knigi i letuchie izdaniia XVIII v. Moscow, 1905.
Pervomaiskie proklamatsii: Bibliografich. opisanie. Leningrad, 1924.
Sotsial-demokraticheskie listovki, 1894–1917 gg.: Bibliografich. ukaza-tel’, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1931–34.
Mez’er, A. V. Slovamyi ukazatel’ po knigovedeniiu, part 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934. Pages 503–620.
Klevenskii, M. M., E. N. Kusheva, and O. P. Markova. Russkaia podpol’naia i zarubezhnaia pechat’ Bibliografich. ukazatel’, vol. 1. Moscow, 1935.
Petropavlovskii, E. S. Listovki kak istochnik pri izuchenii istorii KPSS. Moscow, 1966.
Istochnikovedenie istorii SSSR XIX–nach. XX vv. Moscow, 1970. Pages 328–45.


A division of a compound leaf.
A small or young foliage leaf.
References in periodicals archive ?
More than 60 officers are scouring woods, a reservoir and a quarry in the area, and yesterday leafletted the Livingstone vs Dunfermline football game.
Teamsters leafletted outside Busch Stadium at the start of a six-game St.
Birmingham City Council has leafletted residents with details of the new housing development, which is set to be built on the site of the former hospital.