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Birthday anniversary of Alexander Vasilievich Golovnin, Russian statesman, minister of national education

6 April 1821

March 25 (06 April) 1821 in family of a Russian sailor and traveler was born Alexander Vasilievich Golovnin, Russian statesman, minister of national education (1862-66), a prominent figure in the reform era of 1860-70-ies, an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, one of the first members of the Russian Geographic Society.

Golovnin, having a poor health from birth, initially was educated at home, but soon was able to continue his education at the First St. Petersburg High School, and then - in the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum, from which he graduated in 1839 After the graduation Golovnin joined the Office of Management of women and charitable institutions.

In 1843 Golovnin transferred to the office of the Ministry of the Interior, and five years later started to serve in the Navy. There, the young official was patronized by the friends of his early deceased father, among which were His Serene Highness Prince A. S. Menshikov and the tutor of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich Admiral F. P. Litke. Golovnin soon gained the full confidence of Grand Duke Konstantin and became friendly with a circle of persons who subsequently became prominent figures of the reign of Emperor Alexander II.

Having become from 1850 the personal secretary of the Grand Duke, Golovnin handled his correspondence, was the intermediary between him and the many public figures and writers, was at the head of the "Sea collection", participated in organizing the expedition for the study of folk life in Russia. Being conferred in 1859 the title of Secretary of State, Golovnin the same year was appointed a member of the General Board of schools under the Ministry of Education, at the end of 1861 – the manager of the Ministry of Education, and a year later he was appointed minister.

Over the years of Golovnin as a minister the university reform of 1863 was carried out which regained autonomy of universities; approved a new charter of schools and the activity of the ministry was reorganized in general; censorship was given over to the Ministry of Interior.

Significant changes were made in the field of educational district management: the power of Trustees was strengthened and destroyed an administrative dependency of the primary schools on secondary. Due to the emancipation of the peasants in 1861 was also resolved the problem of the primary public education. The Statute of 1864 on public schools gave way to wider development of Zemstvo elementary school. Ministry allocated funds for the sending of young scientists abroad, paid great attention to teachers’ training. In addition, a number of important issues of educational policy on the outskirts of the Russian Empire, Kingdom of Poland, in the Western Territory, in the Baltic provinces was considered.

As Minister of Education, Golovnin did not confine himself exclusively to the affairs of education. Under his influence the press law of 1865 was elaborated. Golovnin enjoyed great prestige among writers and figures of Russian culture - I. S. Turgenev, N. S. Leskov, A. N. Ostrovsky, N. A. Nekrasov – all of them were friends with the Minister.

A characteristic feature of the Ministry of Education headed by Golovnin was a wide publicity, attracting educated society to discuss the important events of the ministry. The Journal of the Ministry, as well as separate books and pamphlets published excerpts from the reports of trustees and auditors on the state of schools, all sorts of projects, both official and private responses and opinions about them. In 1864 began the publication of the "Digest of decisions and ordinances on the Ministry of Education".

Attempt on Tsar Alexander II in 1866 led to toughening of domestic policy, and the liberal Minister of Education Golovnin was replaced by a reactionary Count D. A. Tolstoi. Nevertheless, Golovin had reserved the post of the State Secretary and member of the State Council. In his last years he engaged in collecting sources on the history of the reign of Emperor Alexander II.

Alexander V. Golovnin died 3 (15) November 1886 and was buried at the Mitrofanievskoye cemetery of Petersburg.

Lit.: А. В. Головнин // Русская старина. 1887. № 3; Гейман В. Г., Кочаков Б. М. Письма А. В. Головнина к Н. В. Ханыкову // Исторический архив. 1950. Т. 5; Головнин А. В. О главных основаниях положения для народных школ. СПб., 1863; Головнин А. В. Записки для немногих (вступительная статья Б. Д. Гальпериной) // Вопросы истории. 1996. № 1-6; Переписка А. В. Головнина с И  С. Тургеневым // Литературное наследство. Из парижского архива И. С. Тургенева. Т. 73. Кн. 2. М., 1964; Соображения А. В. Головнина по предположениям Министерства народного просвещения 1871 года о преобразовании реальных гимназий в реальные училища. СПб., 1872; Соображения А. В. Головнина по дополнительному представлению Министерства народного просвещения об устройстве реальных училищ, внесённому в Государственный совет в декабре 1871 года. СПб., 1872; Стафёрова Е. Л. А. В. Головнин и либеральные реформы в просвещении (первая половина 1860 годов). М., 2007; Стецкевич М. Я. Государственный аппарат России глазами современника. (Мемуары А. В. Головнина) // Исследования памятников письменной культуры в собраниях и архивах отдела рукописей и редких книг библиотеки им. Салтыкова-Щедрина. Л., 1987.

From the Presidential library materials:

А .В. Головнин и его отношения к А. И. Герцену / В. А. Цеэ // Русская старина. Г. 28 1897, Т. 92, кн. 11, ноябрь. СПб., 1897. С. 273-277;

Головнин Александр Васильевич // Новый энциклопедический словарь. СПб., 1912. Т. 13. С. 959-960;

Русская старина. Г. 20 1889, Т. 62, [кн. 4], апрель-июнь. СПб., 1889. С. 1, 35.