The Personal Archive of the Bashkir Educator and Writer of the Second Half of the 19th Century Muhametsalym Umetbaev

Print PDF

УДК 94(47)+049.32

DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2019-1-292-298

Minlegali Kh. Nadergulov

Institute of History, Language, and Literature, Ufa Federal Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Ufa, Russian Federation

The Personal Archive of the Bashkir Educator and Writer of the Second Half of the 19th Century Muhametsalym Umetbaev


The article reviews the history of creation and studies of the personal provenance fond of Bashkir the scientist, educator, and writer of the second half of the 19th century Mukhametsalim Umetbaev, which is presently stored in the Scientific Archive of the Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The author points out that only a small part of fond materials dating from the 18th to early 20th century has been studied and introduced into scientific use. The originals and handwritten copies of numerous official documents of the Orenburg and Ufa gubernia boards on social and economic problems of the Bashkir and other peoples of the region, biographies and fates of individual historical figures haven’t come to the attention of researchers and local historians. Many of the educator’s personal documents; publications, scientific, pedagogical, and historical works; ethnographic and folklore records; dictionaries drafts; appeals and reports to various authorities; poetic and prosaic translations from different languages; letters and diaries; texts on folk medicine and crafts; memoirs; handwritten and printed copies of personal papers remain little studied. Materials concerning his friends, relatives, and acquaintances, among which there were famous scientists, writers, religious and state figures, should be known to researchers. The fond contains rich illustrative materials (drawings and photographs) and also biographical data on Bashkir, Tatar, and Russian poets of the 19th century of little renown and their works as well. Fond materials are of great value for historians, ethnographers, sociologists, linguists, folklorists, and literary critics. The author has prepared a brief scientific description of M. Umetbaev’s written heritage and published it as a book, which can serve as a fond guide for anyone interested in life and activities of M. Umetbaev or in social, economical, literary, and cultural past of the peoples of the Ural and Volga region.


Personal archive of M. Umetbaev, written monuments, Bashkir literature, culture, historical sources, Scientific Archive of the Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The works of Mukhametsalim Umetbaev (1841 - 1907) take a special place in the history of Bashkir literature and culture of the second half of the 20th century. He left a rich legacy in spheres poetry, journalism, local history, folklore, linguistics, ethnography and also made a great contribution to education of his people.

At present, his manuscripts, printed books, genealogical records, photographs, drawings, illustrative materials, letters, correspondence, literary translations from various languages, memoirs, travel notes, and other works are stored in various national archives: the Archive of the Russian Geographical Society (St. Petersburg); the A.Z. Validi National Library of the Republic of Bashkortostan; the National Museum of the Republic of Bashkortostan; the National Archive of the Republic of Bashkortostan; the House Museum of M. Umetbaev in Ibragimovo (Karmaskaly District, Republic of Bashkortostan); the Scientific Library, Scientific Archive, and fond of the East Manuscripts and Early Printed Books of the Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (UFITs RAN). Some of his manuscripts and books are probably preserved in personal collections of citizens.

It should be noted that the Scientific Archive of the UFITs RAN is the richest repository of M. Umetbaev’s written heritage (532 archival documents in 6 volumes).

M. Umetbaev’s grandson Farid Bayazitovich Umetbaev (1910-1935) donated his personal collection to the Bashkir Scientific Society for the Study of Life, History and Culture under the People's Commissariat of Education of the Bashkir SSR in 1920s. Unfortunately, many of written monuments, mainly scientific works and works of art, have not survived and the remaining materials have slipped into obscurity.

Scientists only became cognizant of the written legacy of M. Umetbaev in late 1940s. Among the first to get acquainted with the archives were Zagid Sharki (Mukhamedzagid Gayfullovich Yusupov, 1901-1961), Petr Fedorovich Ishcherikov (1892-1961), Zakir Shakirovich Shakirov (1881-1968), and Afzal Gallyamovich Kudashev (1912-1981). Their research provided material for several articles and sections in textbooks for schools. For some reason, P.I. Isherikov’s article did not see the light and remained in manuscript.

The first serious analysis of the archive was made by Professor Akhnaf Ibrahimovic Harisov (1914-1977). His research resulted in a scientific article about M. Umetbaev, which later became a part of his fundamental monograph ‘Literary heritage of the Bashkir people: 18th – 20th century’ published in 1965 in the Bashkir language and in 1973 in Russian.

In 1970s-1980s Giniyat Safiullovich Kunafin studied the collection. He prepared and successfully defended his PhD thesis on the literary legacy of M. Umetbaev and published a scientific monograph about him. In 1984 he also published a collection of Umetbaev’s selected works, which was based on his book ‘Yadkar (‘Memoirs’) published in 1897. In 1990s the archive was studied by professor Gaisa Batyrgareyevich Khusainov. He wrote and published a historical and biographical book ‘Mukhametsalim Umetbaev’ (Ufa, 1991). At different times Musalia Galievna Khayrullina (1915-2008), Amir Chanysh (Amir Idrisovich Chanyshev, 1909-1998), Vafa Iskhakovich Ahmadiyev (1937-1983), Sufiyan Gayafovich Safuanov (1931-2008), Salavat Akhmadievich Galin (1934-2010), Timergali Abdulgalimovich Kilmuhametov, and other researchers also studied the manuscripts of the educator.

Nevertheless, personal papers of M. Umetbaev still await their thorough and complete investigation; only a small part of his written legacy has been introduced into scientific use and the rest remains unexplored and unappreciated. These are mostly his journalistic works, scientific and pedagogical writings, folklore records, various petitions, reports, translations, letters, and diaries. Materials concerning relatives, acquaintances, and friends of the educator (some of which were well-known scientists, writers, religious, and state figures) also remain unstudied.

The archive, as already mentioned, consists of 6 volumes. The first volume includes 235 items, the second volume includes 45, the third volume includes 58, the fourth volume includes 83, the fifth volume includes 38 and the sixth volume includes 73. These documents are written in different languages: Bashkir, Russian, Tatar, Old Turk, Crimean-Tatar, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. There are some sparse materials in Polish, English, and French. Many documents are mixed-language: traditional Old Turk linguistic elements are intertwined with specific elements of the Bashkir grammar and include Bashkir vocabulary.

The overwhelming majority of documents dates back to the 19th century, but there are several manuscripts from the 18th and even 17th century. More than two dozen documents are from early 20th century.

21 documents from the archive (mostly included in the first volume) concern the father of the educator - Ishmukhamet Ishigulovich Umetbaev. These are certificates, orders, instructions, acknowledgments, and letters. There is an autograph of I. I. Umetbaev dated October 16, 1819. The author believes that the copy of the ‘Formularny list or record of service and dignity of the head of the 25th Bashkir canton I. I. Umetbaev’ compiled on January 1, 1861 is the most valuable of all these documents. It contains important data on life and activities of I.I. Umetbaev, provides detailed information about his family and household.

Of M. Umetbaev’s personal documents there are extracts from his birth and death certificates, copies of his Orenburg Nepluyev Cadet Corps diploma and records of his work in the Sterlitamak Madrassah, the Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual Assembly, the so-called ‘Supreme Commission on Vacufa’ under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, and in the Ufa uezd zemstvo. The documents also include a short ‘Formularny list of service and dignity,’ letters of verification, orders, government telegrams, etc. The archive holds 9 published and 4 unpublished journalistic articles, 5 scientific articles, 1 prose and 15 poetry works of the educator (8 of the latter have never been published), about a dozen of his art translations from Russian and Persian languages, several ethnographic and folklore records, student summaries, scientific and pedagogical works, petitions to various instances, texts on folk medicine and folk crafts, memoirs, drawings, and photographs.

There are letters and messages in every volume, while the sixth consists entirely of correspondence. 39 letters of M. Umetbaev himself and 83 letters of others (wife, son, daughter, brothers, daughter-in-law, friends, acquaintances, officials, and colleagues) are preserved here. They were written from various places: from M. Umetbaev’s native village Yumran-Ibragimovo (or Ibragimovo), from Ufa, Sterlitamak, Orenburg, Birsk, Troitsk, Kazan, Saratov, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tashkent, Simferopol, Istanbul, and other places. These letters illuminate many aspects of the educator’s life and work, allow to identify his artistic connections and business contacts, to clarify the fate of several unpublished works.

Dictionaries compiled by M. Umetbaev take up a considerable space in the collection. One of them is a 400 words ‘Persian-Tatar-Russian Dictionary’; another one, a 1000 words Persian-Russian dictionary is titled ‘Persian Words.’

There are handwritten copies of two shezhere (genealogies) and one hajnama (travel notes of a pilgrim). M. Umetbaev partially rewrote such medieval historical and literary works as ‘Chingiznama’ (‘Book of Chingiz’) by an unnamed author and ‘Tavarikh-i Bulgarii’ (‘Stories of Bulgariya’) by Khisametdin Muslimi. He also translated a part from ‘The History of Orenburg’ (Orenburg, 1896) by Pyotr Ivanovich Rychkov into the Old Turk language.

Linguists are likely to be interested in the list of Bashkir feminine names compiled by the educator and in his articles on Bashkir belt wrestlers of the 19th - early 20th century, while ethnographers shall appreciate ‘Bashkir kurut’ and ‘Bashkir kurmach.’

Apart from M. Umetbaev’s poems, the archive contains over 30 works of other poets: well-known Bashkir and Tatar poets Abulmanikh Kargaly (1782-1833), Khibatullah Salikhov (1794-1867), Safuan Yakshigulov (1871-1931) and such little-known authors as Shagimurat Kulushi and Gabdelkabir Munirov. There are also four poems by the Russian poet Alexander Pustovalov, who for many years maintained friendly ties with the scholarly educator.

There is interesting data on famous cultural figures of the past. For example, documents no. 56 and 57 of the first volume and no. 15 of the second volume shed light on the life of the prominent Bashkir educator and religious figure, founder of the new-school madrasah in Troitsk, Zainulla Khabibullovich Rasulev (1833-1917). Document no. 6 of the sixth volume bears testimony to the meeting of M. Umetbaev with the well-known Crimean Tatar educator, editor of the newspaper Tarjiman (‘Translator’) Ismagil Gasprinsky. Document no. 39 of the first volume contains information about connections of M. Umetbaev with the talented Bashkir poet Safuan Yakshigulov. Document no. 77 of the fourth volume is an important source for studying the problem of the Bashkir Teptyar. Also the archive can provide valuable material for studying the history of national press in Bashkortostan, in particular, the history of publication of the first newspaper in Ufa in the Tatar language.

The author concludes that M. Umetbaev tried his pen in different areas and left a rich documentary legacy. There is no doubt that a detailed study and introduction of these archival sources into the scientific use will help to illuminate many hitherto unknown pages of the history.

Download the article: pdf


Istoriya bashkirskoi literatury [KHUSAINOV, G. B., NADERGULOV, M. Kh., (ed.). The history of the Bashkir literature. In Russ.]. In the 4 vols. Vol. 1. Ufa, Kitap publ., 2012, pp. 335-343.

NADERGULOV, M. Kh. Kratkoe opisanie fonda M.Umetbaeva iz arkhiva Ufimskogo nauchnogo tsentra RAN [A brief description of the fond of M. Umetbaev from the archive of the Ufa Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 2nd ed. In Russ.]. Ufa, IYAL URC RAS publ., 2016, 188 p.

UMETBAEV, M. Yadkar: stikhi, publitsisticheskie stat'i, perevody, fol'klornye proizvedeniya, istoriko-ehtnograficheskie zapisi [KUNAFIN, G. S. (comp.). Yadkar: poems, articles, translations, folklore works, historical and ethnographic records. In Bashkir]. Ufa, Bashknigoizdat publ., 1984, 228 p.

About the authors

Nadergulov Minlegali Khusainovich,, PhD in Philology, Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the literary studies department, Ufa, Russian Federation, +7-927-321-18-85, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Submitted 22.05.2018, published (for Citation):

NADERGULOV, M. Kh. Lichnyi arkhiv bashkirskogo prosvetitelya i pisatelya vtoroi poloviny XIX v. Mukhametsalima Umetbaeva [The Personal Archive of the Bashkir Educator and Writer of the Second Half of the 19th Century Muhametsalym Umetbaev. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arhivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2019, no. 1, pp. 292-298. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2019-1-292-298

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.