Alexei Nikolaevich Antsiferoff was born in Voronezh on August 10, 1867 to a military family. He studied law at Moscow University, where he first became interested in the cooperative movement. After graduating in 1890, Antsiferoff spent nearly a decade working in the Voronezh region zemstvo as a lawyer and judge. In 1899, Antsiferoff went to Germany to continue his studies, and upon returning to Russia in 1902, began his career as a professor and taught economics courses at Kharkov University.
In 1908, Antsiferoff helped start the Moscow People’s Bank (Moskovskii narodnyi bank), and began attending conferences and publishing widely on the topic of cooperatives. He continued to teach in Kharkov, where he was Chair of the University’s Department of Political Economics, and as well as in Moscow, where he lectured at the progressive A.L. Shaniavskii Moscow City People’s University.
Antsiferoff emigrated from Russia in 1920, settling in Paris but travelling frequently in Prague.
In May 1921, he helped found the Russian Institute of Agricultural Cooperatives in Prague (Russkii institut sel’skokhoziaistvennoi kooperstsii v Prage), and served as its head for the next four years. Afterwards, he remained chair of its Departments of Agricultural Cooperation and Cooperative Statistics. He also taught statistics at Prague’s Russian Law Faculty.
In Paris, Antsiferoff taught statistics and economics at the Russian division of the Law Faculty of the University of Paris (Institute of Law and Economics), chaired the Russian Higher Technical Institute (a division of the French Higher Technical Institute), and led economics seminars at the Institute d’Études Slaves (University of Paris).
Antsiferoff was actively involved in various Russian émigré societies, organizations, and groups. Beginning in 1923, he was head of the Russian Academic Group in Paris, which brought together leading émigré scholars, specialists, and creative intelligentsia and organized conferences, supported scholarly initiatives, and assisted in publishing ventures.
Antsiferoff was a leading member of the circle “Toward a Study of Russia” (K izucheniiu Rossii) which investigated both cultural and socio-economic aspects of Russia’s past, present, and future. Antsiferoff was the chair of the Union of Russian Higher Institutions in France, and was the vice-president of the Association of Former Students of Moscow University.
In the emigration, Antsiferoff published his own work on the theory and history of the cooperative movement, statistics, credit, and Russian agriculture. He served as editor of journal of the Russian Institute of Agricultural Cooperatives in Prague, and was on the editorial board of other Russian journals in Prague such as “Zemledelie,” “Khutor” and “Khoziain.”
Antsiferoff contributed to French and English-speaking scholarly communities as well. He wrote articles on demographics and social politics for Erwin Seligman’s monumental “Encyclopedia of Social Sciences” (New York, 1930-1935). In 1929, in cooperation with several Russian émigré scholars in the United States, Professors Eugene M. Kayden and Michael Florinksy, Antsiferoff received support from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to publish his The Effect of the War Upon Cooperative Credit and Agricultural Cooperation in Russia.
In the 1930s, Antsiferoff helped found the International Institute for the Study of Social Movements, and was chosen as a member of the Institut International de l’Études Cooperatives. In 1942, Antsiferoff was recognized for his contributions to scholarship with an award from the French Academy of Sciences.
R. Iuzhakov, “Anstiferov, Aleksei Nikolaevich” in V. Shelokhaeva, ed. Russkoe zarubezh’e. Zolotaia kniga emigratsii. Pervaia tret’ XX veka (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1997), 43-45.
History of the Papers and Their Organization
In 1991, the Alexei Antsiferoff papers were donated to the Amherst Center for Russian Culture by Thomas Whitney (AC class of 1937).