British Museum collections, £12.99
Jacob Richter (Lenin): signatures of readers for the British Museum Reading Room
London, England, AD 1902
The real name of the architect of the 1917 Russian Revolution was Vladimir Ilich Oulianoff (Ulyanov) (1870-1924). Before he came to power, the old regime of Tsar Nicholas II (emperor 1895–1917) kept him under constant observation because of his socialist and revolutionary ideas. To confuse the Tsarist authorities Oulianoff used pseudonyms such as Jacob Richter and Lenin. He would later adopt Lenin as his preferred name.
Jacob Richter was the name he used when he first applied for a Reader's Ticket for the Library at The British Museum, with a reference from I.H. Mitchell, the General Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions (a British body set up to help affiliated unions). The Admissions Office was dissatisfied with Mitchell's reference because they could not locate his address. A second letter followed and a ticket was granted, which was claimed on Tuesday 29 April 1902. The ticket was used for about a year. During this period he was in Britain to initiate publication of Iskra, the newspaper of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP).
Lenin may have used the same pseudonym in May 1907, as there is an entry in the Temporary Admissions Register (no. 3782). He later applied to use the Library under his given name of Vladimir Oulianoff. Again, he was only successful on his second attempt and collected his ticket on 22 May 1908. He last visited the Reading Room on 11 November 1911.