School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Katie McElvanney


PhD student in Russian and History



I am an AHRC collaborative doctoral candidate at Queen Mary University of London and the British Library. My research examines and compares the work and role of women in the Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik press during the October Revolution and civil wars, particularly focusing on the relationship between gender, activism and journalism. More broadly, my thesis aims to provide an alternative narrative of early twentieth-century women’s reporting. Scholarship has focused on the experience of early Western women war reporters and the ‘human interest’ or ‘women’s’ angle they were forced to adhere to, largely ignoring their Russian counterparts.

Throughout my PhD, I have worked closely with the British Library on its exhibition Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths, which opened in April 2017. Stemming from my research on journalism and women’s history, my involvement in the exhibition has ranged from selecting and translating materials, to writing labels, articles for the website, and the timeline for the accompanying publication. I have also contributed significantly to the exhibition’s learning programme and have created and led a successful source-based workshop for A-Level students. In addition to my work for the exhibition, I have also been researching and cataloguing the library’s H. W. Williams Papers, a large collection of letters and documents relating to the Russian Civil Wars, which was donated to the British Museum Library in 1937 by the Russian journalist and public figure Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams.

I hold a BA in Russian and History from the University of Leeds and an MA in Russian Studies from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL.

For more information about my research please visit my page.



British Library blog posts

"Cursed Orthography": Revolution, language and idenity

Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaia: London adventures and an unlikely friendship

Writing for Equality: Early 20th-century Russian women’s journals

Child of the Revolution: The tragic story of Nelly Ptashkina

Rationing and the Red Guard: A very British perspective