Transformation on the Southern Ukrainian Steppe: Letters and Papers of Johann Cornies, Volume II: 1836–1842
Published: February 2020© 2020
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Russian empire opened the grasslands of southern Ukraine to agricultural settlement. Among the immigrants who arrived were communities of Prussian Mennonites, recruited as "model colonists" to bring progressive agricultural methods to the east. The three volumes of Transformation on the Southern Ukrainian Steppe document the Tsarist Mennonite experience through the papers of Johann Cornies (1789–1848), an ambitious and energetic leader of the Mennonite colony of Molochna.
This volume covers the years between 1836 and 1842, beginning with the creation of the Mennonite Agricultural Society and ending with the Warkentin Affair, which pushed the Mennonite settlement to the precipice of potential religious and political disaster. Throughout this era, Johann Cornies negotiated a shifting political landscape while guiding his community through equally challenging economic times.
Cornies was well connected in the imperial government, and his papers offer a window not just into the world of the Molochna Mennonites, but also into the Tsarist state’s relationship with the national minorities of the frontier: Mennonites, Doukhobors, Nogai Tatars, and Jews. This selection of his letters and reports, translated into English, is an invaluable resource for scholars of all aspects of life in Tsarist Ukraine and for those interested in Mennonite history.
List of Maps
Part One: Correspondence
Part Two: Johann Cornies’ Archaeological Excavation Reports
Appendix I: Genealogy of Johann Cornies’ Immediate Family
Appendix II: List of Correspondents
Appendix III: Glossary
Appendix IV: Chronology
"Volume II of Transformation on the Southern Ukrainian Steppe opens a fascinating window on the evolution of Mennonite social, religious, political, and economic life in southern Ukraine in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The extraordinary activity and personality of Johann Cornies comes even further into relief; his correspondence is an unparalleled source for the fine texture of daily economic life and the environmental history of the region."~Heather Coleman, Department of History, University of Alberta
"Transformation on the Southern Ukrainian Steppe is a marvelous project. The letters and documents allow us to see firsthand the internal workings of one of tsarist Russia’s most interesting and most important non-Russian communities, to explore the settlement and economic transformation of the steppe region, and to analyze the intricate relations between tsarist state agents and the heterogeneous subjects and settlers of the empire."~Nicholas Breyfogle, Department of History, The Ohio State University