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Birthday anniversary of Russian statesman, historian, director of the Imperial Public Library, Modest A. Korff

23 September 1800

11 (23) September, 1800 in St. Petersburg, was born a Russian statesman, historian, director of the Imperial Public Library (1849-1861), honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1852), Chairman of the Department of the laws of the State Council (1864-1872), Baron Modest A. Korff.

In October 1811 Korff was admitted to one of the most privileged educational institutions of Russia – the Imperial Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum, where he studied with Alexander S. Pushkin and Alexander M. Gorchakov. According to V. F. Malinovski, director of the Lyceum of Tsarskoe Selo, Modest Korff had "a good talent ... loved order and neatness; had very good manners, was modest and polite. His behavior was so gentle and noble, that during the entire time of his studying at the Lyceum, he had never sinned; however caution and timidity prevented him from being totally open and free. Sometimes he was a little stubborn with a sensitivity. "

In 1817, Korf began serving the Ministry of Justice as a translator, then editor of the Commission on formulation of laws. In 1823 he started working at the Ministry of Finance as an official, and then headed an office at the Department of taxes and fees. In 1825 he served as a manager of two committees: for finding ways to improve the state of the cities and for the equalization of Zemsky duties.

In April 1826, following the abolition of the Commission on formulation of laws, Modest Andreevich was transferred to the newly created II Department of His Imperial Majesty's Chancellery as a senior official, where he had worked for 5 years under the guidance of M. M. Speransky without breaking ties with the Ministry of Finance.

In 1831, Korff was appointed executive officer of the Committee of Ministers. In 1832, he wrote “The general review of all parts of public administration over 1831." In 1834 Modest Andreevich was Acting Secretary of State; in 1843, was appointed a member of the State Council.

In 1848 Korff was appointed a member of a secret committee for supervision of printing of books, and in 1855 became its chairman. New trends in government circles, due to the surrender of Sevastopol, forced him to submit to Alexander II in 1856, a report with a request to close the Committee which "not only ceased to be useful, but has become   harmful."

From 1849 to 1861 M. Korff had been director of the Imperial Public Library; he updated and transformed it, justified the increase in its funds, attracted the attention of the public to it, simplified the access to the library, acquired valuable collections of early printed books and manuscripts, founded a special department of foreign books on Russia (Rossica), etc. "Out of chaos of the library, called public, but being essentially just a huge storeroom with no light and no life, Korff managed to create a house of science, which was if not the world's first by its richness, certainly the first by its arrangement, especially in regards of liberality and affability intended for its numerous visitors from the first dignitaries to the serf, from aristocratic ladies to the midwife. "

In 1861 Korff was appointed Chief superintendent of the II Department of His Imperial Majesty's Chancellery, and in 1864 - Chairman of the Department of the laws under the State Council. According to the memoirs by Grotto "... in respect of his subordinates he was a kind and loving chief, from highest to lowest ranks, everyone could expect a fair attention to his efforts and willingness to help anyone in need. The order of proceedings was brought to perfection. The cases were resolved without interruption; ... he had a skill in presenting the most complicated cases; conciseness and clarity of speech achieved under his pen the highest degree. "

His free time Korff devoted to researches of Russian history. Among his major works: "The Prince Johann Danish in Russia" (1822), biography of Korff’s ancestor - Baron Johann Albrecht Korff (1847), a series of articles in "Notes of the Fatherland" about foreign authors of works on Russia, "Historical description of December 14, 1825 and events preceding it" (1848), a monograph "Life of Count Speransky" (1861), "About accession to the throne of Emperor Nicholas I” (1857).

When Korff retired in 1872, he was granted the title of count. Also he was awarded the Order of St. Andrew, of Alexander Nevsky, of the White Eagle, of St. Vladimir 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th class, of Anna 1st class and Anna with the imperial crown, of Stanislav 1st and 2nd class. Korff had the rank of Privy Councillor.

Modest A. Korff died 2 (14) January, 1876 in St. Petersburg and was buried at St. Nicholas cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

Лит.: Барону Модесту Андреевичу Корфу в день пятидесятилетия его службы 9 июня 1867. СПб., 1867; Бычков А. Ф. Граф Модест Андреевич Корф //Древняя и Новая Россия. 1876. Т. 1. № 4; Вересаев В. В. Спутники Пушкина, М., 1993. Т. 1; Гастфрейнд Н. А. Товарищи Пушкина по имп. Царскосельскому лицею. СПб., 1912. Т. 1-2; Голубева О. Д. М. А. Корф. СПб., 1995; Грин И. Ц. М. А. Корф — библиограф вольной русской печати // Историко-библиографические исследования. СПб., 1993. Вып. 3. С. 44—53; Грот Я. К. Воспоминания о гр. Модесте Андреевиче Корфе // Русская старина. 1876. Т. 15. Кн. 2; Михеева Г. В. Корф Модест Андреевич [Электронный ресурс] // Российская национальная библиотека. 2011. URL:; Ружицкая И. В. Барон М. А. Корф — историк: По материалам его архива. М., 1996; Стасов В. В. Граф Модест Андреевич Корф. 1800—1876 // Pусская старина. 1876. Т. 15. Кн. 2.

From the Presidential library materials:

Жизнь графа Сперанского. Т. 1 (Ч. 1 и 2). СПб., 1861;

Корф М. А. Восшествие на престол императора Николая I-го. СПб., 1857;

Материалы и черты к биографии императора Николая I и к истории его царствования. СПб., 1896;

Минцлов Р. И. Пётр Великий в иностранной литературе: составил по случаю 200-летнего юбилея Петра Великого, по материалам гр. Корфа... СПб., 1872;

14 декабря 1825 и император Николай: По поводу книги барона Корфа. London, 1858.