Century-old Georgian independence petition discovered in University of Oxford
25 May, 2018
Century-old Georgian independence petition discovered in University of Oxford
On May 26 Georgia marks 100 years of the establishment of Democratic Republic of Georgia and gaining back its independence from Russian Empire that it was deprived again by Soviet Russia in 1921. A surprising coincidence happened, one day prior to the national celebration of independence of Georgia, Georgian independence petition found in Oxford has been digitised and made public by The Bodleian Libraries.
The information and digital version of the historic petition has been published by BBC as well.

According to BBC, 111-year-old petition calling for autonomy and rights for the Georgian people has been discovered in Oxford.
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“The Petition Of The Georgian People has been held by the Bodleian Libraries since 1920, but its significance has only just been revealed. It outlines grievances against Russian policies and was signed by 3,000 men and women. It was the first time people across Georgia had spoken out for rights in this way, the Bodleian Libraries said. It was presented to the 1907 Hague International Conference but did not lead directly to independence, which came in 1918”.

As it is known, the petition was instigated by Georgian nationalist, Varlam Cherkezishvili, who escaped from Siberian exile in the 1870s and settled in London, where he became friends with Sir Oliver and Marjory Wardrop.

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Marjory Wardrop

As BBC reports, both developed a passion for Georgian culture and Sir Oliver would later donate the petition to the Bodleian Libraries as part of the Wardrop Collection.

The petition was catalogued in the 1970s but its significance was only realised in the past few weeks by Georgian academics Dr Beka Kobakhidze and Dr Nikoloz Aleksidze, and Dr Gillian Evison, from the Bodleian Libraries.

The Bodleian Libraries has now digitised the petition and made it available online to be viewed by scholars and members of the public.

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Dr Kobakhidze, Georgian Studies Fellow at the University of Oxford, said he was "honoured" to play a part in making the "forgotten names public after 111 years".

He added Georgians would be interested to see if their great grandparents or relatives names appear amongst the signatories.

Librarian Richard Ovenden said the discovery showed the "important role libraries play in the preservation and dissemination of information".

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"I hope the interest in this item will encourage greater scholarship on Georgia, the Wardrops, and this turbulent period of history," he added.

On May 26 of 1918, exactly at 5:10am, the National Council of Georgia (that was renamed into the Parliament of Georgia) adopted the Act of Independence that gave birth to the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Yet, the victory and the taste of freedom turned out to be quite short; in 1921 Georgia was invaded by the Soviet Russian army and eventually incorporated into the newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On April 9 of 1991, Georgia managed to free itself from the totalitarian system and claim back its independence, in the aftermath of the tragedy and national rally that took place on April 9, 1989.

Related stories:

Independence Day – The birth of Democratic Republic of Georgia

Oliver and Marjory Wardrop monument opens in Tbilisi

United Nations headquarters to host presentation of Georgian author Shota Rustaveli stamp
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