Odessa Recollected: The Port and the People

Odessa Recollected: The Port and the People


Patricia Herlihy

Series: Ukrainian Studies
ISBN: 9781618117366 (Cloth)
Pages: 268 pp.; 55 illus.; 25 tables; 1 fig.; 3 maps
Publication Date: January 2019

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Odessa, a Black Sea port founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, shortly after the territory was wrested from the Ottoman Empire, became a boomtown on the southern fringe of the Russian Empire. Catherine and the early administrators of the city, such as the Duke de Richelieu, promoted settlement by Europeans in addition to the Greek, Italians, and Jews who came on their own initiative to take advantage of economic opportunities in the robust grain trade with Europe. More ethnically diverse by far than St. Petersburg, Odessa became a remarkable independent-minded, large cosmopolitan city, attracting and producing noted writers, artists, musicians and scholars.

Imperial Russian tsars and Soviet leaders maintained an ambivalent attitude towards the maverick city, appreciating the fame and fortune it generated, but also leery of the activities of secret foreign national societies, pogromists, revolutionaries and simply the perceived lack of patriotism in the singular city so far away from the heart of Russia. With the withering of the lucrative grain trade by the time of the Soviet Union, Odessa became a neglected city, drained of its foreign flavor. With the independence of Ukraine in 1991, there were hopes raised that the architectural beauty and economic prospects of the city would be revived. Given the current hostilities in Eastern Ukraine with the potential of the Odessa area becoming a possible land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula, the fate of the former Pearl of the Black Sea hangs in suspension.

The present book brings together—indeed, re-collects—some of the most valuable and thought-provoking research on Odessa and its culture, community, and economy published by Patricia Herlihy over several decades of her work. Scholars of Ukraine, Russia, and the former Soviet Union will find in this book a helpful resource for their research and teaching.


A native San Franciscan, Patricia Herlihy graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and obtained her PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania. She was the author of Odessa: A History 1794-1914 (Harvard University Press. 1987); The Alcoholic Empire: Vodka and Politics in Late Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2002); Vodka: A Global History (Reaktion Books, 2012). Herlihy was Professor Emerita from Brown University (2001) and Louise Wyant Professor Emerita, Emmanuel College (2009). Most recently, she served as Adjunct Professor, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, and Associate at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. She was a former Co-Master (with David Herlihy) of Mather House Harvard University (1976-1986).

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Table of Contents


Part 1: Culture
The Persuasive Power of the Odessa Myth
Odessa Memories
How Ukrainian Is Odesa? From Odessa to Odesa
Jewish Writers of Odessa

Part 2: Community
Death in Odessa: A Study of Population Movements in a Nineteenth-Century City
The Ethnic Composition of Odessa in the Nineteenth Century
Greek Merchants in Odessa in the Nineteenth Century
The Greek Community in Odessa, 1861–1917

Part 3: Commerce
Odessa: Staple Trade and Urbanization in New Russia
Commerce and Architecture in Odessa in Late Imperial Russia
Port Jews of Odessa and Trieste: A Tale of Two Cities
Russian Wheat and the Port of Livorno, 1794–1865
The South Ukraine as an Economic Region in the Nineteenth Century