What We Do
The Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS)
aims to promote knowledge of the culture, language and history
of Russia and the former Soviet Union through its activities and
unique library and archive.
The SCRSS is a small, self-funding membership organisation with
management vested in Annual General Meetings and bi-monthly meetings
of its Council. The Council is elected at the Annual General Meeting,
together with a number of Honorary Officers, including the President.
The SCRSS was founded in 1924 as the Society for Cultural Relations
between the Peoples of the British Commonwealth and the USSR,
following the establishment of diplomatic relations between Great
Britain and the new Soviet state. It has continued its work uninterrupted
until the present day.
The Society's founding members were a group of key British and
Soviet artists and intellectuals of the day, including EM Forster,
Julian Huxley, Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Sybil Thorndyke,
Alexei Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf and Konstantin Yuon. They sought
to collect and diffuse information in both countries on developments
in science, education, philosophy, art, literature, and social
and economic life.
In the 1920s-30s the Society actively promoted British-Soviet
relations on a non-political basis through meetings, lectures,
film shows and exhibitions. The SCR Sections were formed - special
interest groups such as Education, Theatre, Writers, Architects
and Planners, and Legal. Now known as the Society for Cultural
Relations with the USSR, it established many branches outside
London. It also expanded its activities to include tours to the
Soviet Union and visits to the UK by key Soviet cultural and public
figures. During World War II, when Britain and the Soviet Union
were allies in the fight against Nazism, the Society organised
exhibitions and other fund-raising events to support the war effort.
From the 1960s-90s seminars, scholarships, professional and educational
exchanges were a key feature of the Society's activities. These
included the popular annual Easter Russian Language Seminar (1969-96),
scholarships to study Russian at the Pushkin Institute of Russian
Language in Moscow (1970s-80s), and exchanges of architects, actors
and young artists (1980s).
In 1992, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Society
changed its name to its current title. The Society adheres to
its founding aims of promoting co-operation between the peoples
of the UK and Russia. It continues to preserve and provide access
to its library and archive, it publishes a journal SCRSS
Digest, and organises activities from film shows and
lectures to exhibitions and seminars.
The Society became a registered charity in May 2004. Registered
Charity No. 1104012.
The Society is also a founder member of the Soviet
War Memorial Trust (originally the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund).
The SCRSS will celebrate its centenary in 2024. In late 2019 we
launched a five-year plan, Strategy 100, aimed at stabilising
and strengthening the Society ahead of that date. See our SCRSS
Appeal video for more information.
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