British Consul Woodhouse in Petrograd 1916

The city of Petrograd was the capital of the Russian Empire from the 18th to the 20th century. Only from 1914 to 1924 was it called Petrograd. For more than 200 years, the name was St.Petersburg. British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

In the second half of 1916, the Petrograd crisis escalated in all Russian society areas, and by autumn, it had reached its peak. This manifested itself in the collapse of food supplies and the accelerated breakdown of authority. Furthermore, the influence of the Bolsheviks on events in Petrograd became more open. The growing crisis demanded that the authorities take more decisive action, but they did not.

Due to inflation and problems with food and fuel, discontent spread among the workers. Petrograd, due to interruptions in the food supply and high prices, queues appeared and gave rise to women’s spontaneous speeches. On 14 October, the government asked the military to distribute food from military warehouses. At the end of 1916, Petrograd’s situation was aggravated by the outbreak of a political crisis. “The war provided the main impetus for the development of the disease (the gap between the authorities and society – author’s note); it is already the third year that it has destabilized the State organism, revealing all its decrepitude.” Of primary concern was the food issue, with the city facing an impending famine. British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

In relations between the authorities and the people, Rasputin was the “connoisseur of the people.” He came to be trusted by the royal family. Rasputin was able to dictate to the Tsar the appointment or removal of officials of all ranks. His negative influence on society engendered social tensions. Since 1914 he had been subject to public and undercover surveillance. Only his murder on the night of 16-17 December 1916 appeased social tensions. British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

End of the monarchy, interim government, and anarchy

In early 1917, the security police reported to their superiors the masses’ dissatisfaction, anticipating protests by students and workers. The constant price rises and the disappearance of necessities caused a bitterness ready to erupt into bloody demonstrations. According to the police, there was the potential for universal strikes and then revolution. Many of the food stores were closed, and public transport was not running. Looting began. On 23 February, there was unrest in the city and demands for bread. The demonstrators raised red flags with the slogans: “Bread! Down with war!” Up to 50 businesses involving 80,000 workers went on strike. A few days later, more than 200,000 were already out of work. Crowds were dispersed by the police and troops firing weapons .

The government announced that Petrograd was under siege. On the night of 27 to 28 February, only the Admiralty was left in the hands of troops loyal to the tsar. All roads to Petrograd were blocked. The rebels soon captured Peter and Paul Fortress and the Admiralty and arrested the old government. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated from the throne . British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

This political coup (or February Revolution) that took place brought nothing to the workers. The Bolsheviks, who created the Petrograd Soviet of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, became all the more active, and their agitators worked in every district of the city.

In March 1917, the provisional government led by A. F. Kerensky was established, and it organized a Special Commission of Inquiry under the direction of N. K. Muravyev. This Commission carried out ministers’ and senior officials’ interrogations from the Imperial government detained and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress and “Kresty” prison. British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

In May, at a meeting of the Factory Committee of Petrograd, the decision was taken to create a “workers’ militia,” later reformed into the Workers’ (Red) Guard. On 12 July, the interim government decree closed several Bolshevik newspapers that spoke out against the war. 2 weeks later, the interior and war ministers obtained the right to close all meetings and congresses. Even after a few days, they were granted exclusive rights to the fight with those “undermining the foundations of the State and threatening revolutionary freedom.”

They directed the reorganization of education and participated in the selection of directors of schools and educational councils. The interim Government decided to remove royal portraits from all public and educational institutions. In primary schools, religious instruction was abolished. In high schools, domestic workers demanded that teachers are evicted, and they occupy their accommodation. Based on the support of the Soldiers’ Committee, the watchman at one of the schools announced his wish to become a director. At the university faculties of law, departments of industrial and work law opened. Because of boys’ military conscription, it was decided that technical institutes would accept girls graduating from high school. From the former women’s courses, women’s universities were organized.

During these difficult times in Russia, Consul Arthur Woodhouse issued this passport in “August/September” 1916 to Olga Cooper’s name. British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd
British passports changed to this fold-out type just in 1915. At the same time, a passport photo was mandatory.


British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd

A Petrograd Consular issue is definitely not to find often. Furthermore, the passport comes in excellent and crisp condition.

British Consul Woodhouse Petrograd
There is also a Swedish visa issued in Petrograd (lower-left corner)


Woodhouse will be later arrested and jailed by the Bolsheviks. More details on Consul Woodhouse here.

This document is one of the latest additions to my collection, and it was gifted to me by a very generous reader of my website. I am so grateful to David Kelly, who wanted to see the document in safe hands. Randomly, the document arrived at my desk just on Davids’s 71st birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVID, and thank you very much.


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  1. I just discovered this website and I love it! In this passport there is a page titled “Description of Wife of Bearer”, which suggests to me that said wife would not have her own passport. The passport in this post obviously belongs to a woman, but I’m assuming she was either not traveling with her (presumably British) husband or was unmarried. At this time would it have been typical for a married woman not to hold her own passport and instead just be identified within her husband’s documents? I apologize in advance if this question has already been addressed in another post!

      1. Above it says that there are more details about Consul Woodhouse in the article below. Can you guide me to find that article?

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