Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Roxanne Easley

Second Committee Member

Jason Knirck

Third Committee Member

Melissa Jordine


Russian women engaged in public violence during the late imperial and revolutionary periods in various ways and for a variety of reasons. This study examines traditional gender roles in Russia, and women’s motivations for female terrorism as well as military and police service. It establishes that women broke through patriarchal social barriers through violence, even while still embracing traditionally feminine notions of self-sacrifice for the common good. Based on primary sources such as memoirs, official policies, and newspaper articles, I argue that Russian women committed both illegal and officially sanctioned violence to achieve diverse personal, ideological, political, material, and familial goals. Observers, both domestic and international, interpreted the women’s motivations and characters using their own preconceived notions of femininity. A common theme linking the three groups of women and public observers was the age-old expectation of female self-sacrifice. This work encompasses elements of Russian women's history, class and gender history, institutional history, and the history of Russian terrorism.