Unit 7 DBQ (The Russian Revolution)

5 min readnovember 16, 2021

AP World History: Modern 🌍

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AP World Document-Based Question on The Russian Revolution

👋 Welcome to the AP World Unit 7 DBQ (The Russian Revolution). These are longer questions, so you'll want to grab some paper and a pencil, or open up a blank page on your computer.
⚠️ (Unfortunately, we don't have an Answers Guide or Rubric for this question, but it can give you an idea of how a DBQ for Unit 7 might look on the exam.)
⏱ The AP World exam has a mixture of free-response questions and allotted times. For these types of questions, there will be 1 DBQ, and you will be given 60 minutes to complete it. It is suggested that you spend 15 minutes to read the documents and spend 45 minutes to draft your response.
  • 🤔 Need a quick refresher of the unit as a whole? Check out the Unit 7 Overview.
  • 😩 Getting stumped halfway through answering? Look through all of the available Unit 7 Resources.
  • 🤝 Prefer to study with other students working on the same topic? Join a group in Hours.


Write an essay that:
  • Provides historical contextualization to start your essay
  • Has a historically defensible thesis
  • Uses at least 6 of the 7 documents
  • Supports thesis with relevant, paraphrased evidence from the documents
  • Takes into account the sources of at least 3 of the documents
  • Provides at least ONE piece of evidence beyond the documents to support your argument
  • Addresses complexity through a nuanced understanding of the documents, extended analysis of POV, Purpose, or Historical Situation


Analyze the problems that led to the Russian Revolution, and to what extent the Revolution was successful in solving these problems.

Document 1 (Hartnell, Table)


Image source unknown

Document 2 (Kaplan)

Source: Temma Kaplan, “Women and the Communal Strikes in the Crisis of 1917 to 1922” in R.Bridenthal & C. Koonz, Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 1998.
In February 1917, after three years of war during which over two million Russian soldiers died, the Russian government failed to supply food and fuel to its civilian population. Because of this failure, the women in Petrograd launched a communal strike that in its final stages culminated in the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy, against which there had been revolutionary activity for decades…The upheaval began with a communal strike in 1917, however, removed the Tsar and resulted in the creation of the Provisional Government, which was meant to lay the foundations of the liberal system in Russia…Acting in advance of the unionized working class, women precipitated the fall of the Tsar in February 1917 with demands for bread… Most of the female 55 percent labor force of Petrograd in 1917 worked unskilled positions, especially in the textile industries. After eleven or twelve hour shifts, the women returned home to wash, mend, take care of children and get food. They joined their mothers, sisters, and daughters in bread lines… Russian women used the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8 in the West but February 23 on the Julian calendar, observed in Russia) to call a meeting for “Bread and Peace,” which provoked a communal strike.

Document 3 (Radakov, Illustration)

Source: Aleksei Radakov: The Autocratic System (1917)
(From the top) We reign / We pray for you / We judge you / We guard you / We feed you/ AND YOU WORK

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Document 4 (Goldberg Ruthchild)

Source: Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild, Equality and Revolution: Women's Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905–1917 (Pittsburg, Pa., 2010)
The first years of Bolshevik rule brought substantial changes to the lives of many women. Alexandra Kollontai, as People’s Commissar for Social Welfare and the first woman in the Bolshevik Government, was instrumental in improving women’s rights. She had written extensively on the ‘woman question’ prior to the Revolution and was an advocate for sexual liberation.
The Family Code of 1918 gave women equal status to men, granted illegitimate children the same legal rights as legitimate ones, secularised marriage, and allowed a couple to take either the husband or wife’s name once married. Divorce became easily obtainable, abortion was legalised in 1920, and communal facilities for childcare and domestic tasks were introduced with the aim of relieving women of household chores.
In 1919, a Women’s Bureau (Zhenotdel) was established. Initially led by Alexandra Kollontai, Inessa Armand and Nadezhda Krupskaia, its purpose was to disseminate propaganda among working class women and attempt to engage them in public life and the revolutionary process.
The Zhenotdel also sought to promote literacy and education among women in Central Asia. In the absence of a sizable proletariat in Central Asia, the Soviets hoped that Muslim women, as the most oppressed group in the region’s patriarchal structure, could become agents of social change.

Document 5 (Treaty of Brest-Litovisk)

Source: Treaty of Brest-Litovisk, 1918.

Image courtesy of History.com

Document 6 (Lenin)

Source: Vladimir Lenin, rehearsal for a speech at Kshesinskaya Palace
"Comrade sailors, I greet you without knowing yet whether or not you have been believing in all the promises of the Provisional Government. But I am convinced that when they talk to you sweetly, when they promise you a lot, they are deceiving you and the whole Russian people. The people need peace; the people need bread; the people need land. And they give you war, hunger, no bread—leave the landlords still on the land. . . . We must fight for the social revolution, fight to the end, till the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the world-wide social revolution!"

Document 7 (Britannica)

Source: Britannica, Effects of the Russian Civil War (after the Revolution), 1920
As many as 10 million lives were lost as a result of the Russian Civil War, and the overwhelming majority of these were civilian casualties. Thousands of perceived opponents of the Bolsheviks were murdered by the Cheka, and life among the peasants was miserable. Disease, particularly typhus, was rampant, and malnutrition was the natural consequence of Lenin’s widespread grain confiscations. The almost complete breakdown of transportation made it impossible to distribute even those inadequate supplies that the government made available. Between 1914 and 1920 the number of working locomotives in Russia declined from more than 17,000 to fewer than 4,000, and the railway system, which spent much of the war under the control of White Armies, was devastated. In the cities, wooden houses were pulled down to serve as fuel, and urban workers—ostensibly the foundation of the Soviet government—began to vanish back to the countryside.

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