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Topics - Inok Nikolai

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News Links / Robert Massie has died
« on: December 25, 2019, 10:50:57 AM »

Perhaps I missed it elsewhere, but was it posted anywhere on the AP Forum that Robert Massie passed away?

Just in case it wasn't, here is Paul Gilbert's tribute.

Of course, a Google search will bring up many more obituaries.
I. N.

Temperature Scales in NAOTMAA’s Letters and Diaries

This topic has already cropped up several times in different threads, such as:
(Entering or leaving a particular season definitely influences a person’s perspective on relative temperatures.)

But the topic probably deserves its own thread, so voilà!

It is not my intent to belabor the point, but rather, to share the information which we have gathered over the years on this question — one which is very crucial for us as the translators of the Letters from Captivity. Obviously, we wish to furnish the correct equivalences of the temperature readings which occur so often in the Imperial family’s letters and diaries.

And please bear in mind that by “the Imperial family’s letters and diaries”, we mean those written by Tsar Nicholas II, his family, and by the other members of the Romanov dynasty at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. We are not concerned here with the usages in earlier times, nor are we competent to comment upon them.

It is an established fact that the Imperial family possessed thermometers for all three temperature scales then in general use: Réaumur, Celsius, and Fahrenheit. However, judging from their own comments, it would seem that when in public, especially when travelling within Russia, they consulted whatever type of thermometer happened to be mounted in the train car, station, or quarters where they were staying. When found abroad, e.g., in England or Denmark, they would sometimes cite the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Some contemporary general sources:

— The authoritative Russian Encyclopedia of Brokhaus and Efron (vol. 19, book 37, p. 173) states, concerning international meteorological congresses, that by the late 19th century all major countries except Great Britain and USA had agreed to use Celsius.

Kavkazsky Kalendar for 1891, on p. 73, gives a table comparing the three temperature scales, but on p. 57 states that all meteorological observations in the book are in Celsius.

— Pavlenkov’s Encyclopedic Russian Dictionary (1910), under the entry "Thermometer", lists the three types in common use: Réaumur, Celsius, and Fahrenheit. He then goes on to say that Réaumur is still encountered in Russia more than in other countries.

— Kennard’s The Russian Yearbook for 1912 (London), furnishes a comparative table of all three scales (p. 763), and then comments that thermometers on the Continent were often calibrated in both Celsius and Réaumur.

— Molokhovets’ classic Russian cook book, A Gift for Young Housewives, gives oven temperatures in Réaumur.

— Buxhoeveden, in her Life of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, cites the temperatures in Celsius, but then, she was writing in 1928, and for an English audience.

— Florence Farmborough, a British nurse who served at the Russian front from 1914-1918, mentions in one diary entry that the thermometer at Vyatka train station read minus 38 Réaumur.

— Princess A. M. Bariatinsky, in her memoirs published in England in 1923, mentions 32 degrees Réaumur.

Examples from the Imperial family’s pre-Revolutionary diaries and correspondence:

All medical temperatures, i.e., recordings of body temperature taken when various members of the Imperial family fell ill, were given in Celsius. If those readings were calculated as Réaumur, the temperatures would fall outside of the range possible for life. For example, a fever of 38°, if Réaumur, would be equal to 117.5° Fahrenheit. (Celsius would be 100° Fahrenheit.)

Tsar Nicholas II’s diary:
— His entry for April 22, 1906, at Tsarskoe Selo, reports 20 degrees in the shade, which he calls “tropical heat”.
   Celsius = 68°Fahrenheit; Réaumur would be 78° Fahrenheit, neither of which seems really “tropical”. (Perhaps 79° F. is tropical for Russians.)

— His entry for July 2, 1906, at Peterhof, near St. Petersburg, records 23 degrees in the shade, which he declares to be “colossal heat”.
   C = 74°F;  R=84°F — again, neither of which seem overly hot.

— His entry for August 16, 1913, at Livadia, mentions that “sea water was 21 degrees R.”. Thus, he himself noted that it was Réaumur, which equals 79°F.

— In a letter from GHQ dated May 30, 1916, Tsar Nicholas II informs the Empress
that the weather had been terribly hot, but, after a thunderstorm, the temperature dropped to 13 degrees and one can breathe again [C = 55°F;  R = 62°F], earlier it had been terribly stuffy in rooms — 19° [C = 66°F; R =75°F].

From the letters of Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna:

Generally the temperature seems to be given in Celsius (though twice they used Fahrenheit).

— The Tsar writes from Livadia on September 12, 1909, concerning the stuffiness in the train from Moscow to Sevastopol — 28° [C = 82°F; R = 95°F] made it impossible to sleep. (If Réaumur, then 95°F seems more than just “stuffy”.)

— In a letter to his mother from GHQ on June 21, 1915, the Tsar writes that the last few days have been cooler, just 22° to 27° in the shade. [C = 72° to 81°F; if R = 82° to 93°F.] If taken as Réaumur, 93°F can hardly be called “cooler”.

(Continued in the next window. I. N.)

Greetings all!

As I mentioned in my posting under “Upcoming books in 2012”, for many years now our monastery ( ) has been preparing to publish the collected letters of the Imperial family from captivity in an English translation.

When I say “for many years”, I mean precisely that. It's hard to believe now, but we actually began this project in 1981, thinking that it would take us just a few years to gather all the materials! Because of the many demands of our monastic life and our primary duties here at the monastery, this project has always been an “extracurricular activity” which we pursue in our “spare time”. More than once we have been forced to set this project aside for months, even years, but we have never given up on it.

And actually, the long delay has proven to be quite providential. In the intervening years so many more letters have come to light, and so many controversies and riddles concerning the Imperial Family’s death and burial have been resolved.

Several times we thought that we could wind up the project and go to print, only to have new archives open up and additional letters become available. And who would have believed back in 1981 that in ten years the USSR would be no more?!

The book which formed the original core of our project was Mr. E. E. Alferief’s Russian edition: “The Letters of the Tsar’s Family From Captivity, a review of which appears on the Alexander Palace Time Machine site.

A fuller description of our projected publication (accenting the spiritual aspects of these letters) appeared in our diocesan journal in 1992. But regardless of how one views the Imperial family, these letters, as primary documents, will be of interest to a wide range of readers.

(Note: If the above link does not work on Safari, try using another browser, such as Firefox.)

As a postscript to the above article, I would like to add that we now have over 450 letters written by the Imperial family during the time of their captivity. Included in that number are some of those which earlier we had requested our readers to help us find. Most of these letters were written in Russian, ten or twelve in German, several in French, and a few in English.

I see that various posters on this forum have already furnished translations of many of these letters. Sarushka, Nena, Shandroise, Lanie and others have done an admirable job. In addition to more letters, we also have been able to find the longer, unedited originals of many of the letters which already appear here on the forum.

And as I stated earlier, this new thread is meant not so much to “plug” a proposed book, as it is to request your collaboration and assistance. I am not sure how that aspect will evolve, but certainly some of you could be a great help to us in deciphering the full names of those mentioned only by their initials in countless letters. Many we have already discovered, while others still remain an enigma to us.

While working on the letters, we would also like to post some short comments throughout the forum on various topics, concerning which we may have pertinent information, based on our thirty years of research. However, we cannot permit ourselves (much as we would like) to get involved in lengthy discussions on any one topic, since that would deflect us from our primary goal of preparing the Imperial letters for publication.

In advance: thank you for your interest and assistance!

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