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I am currently studying the later version of the Sefer “Daas Moshe VYisroel” and came across an interesting point in Rabbi Binyomin Rabinowitz's approbation letter. It states:

"הנה מנהג חבישת פאה נכרית ברשות הרבים חדרה ונתפשטה בתוך ישראל קדושים לפני כמאה וחמשים שנה באשמת הצאר הרוסי שגזר על ישראל לשנות לבושם ולצאת בנות ישראל פרועות ראש, בשיתוף פעולה עם המשכילים מחריבי כרם בית ישראל, ועל כן במצב של לית ברירה בחרו את הרע במיעוטו גם לאחר שבטלה הגזרה נשאר המנהג מאחר שהתרגלו לזה, וכך נמשך הדבר בדורות שאחריהם עד שנשתכח מקור המשחית למנהג הזה."

The main point being that around 150 years ago, the Czar of Russia decreed that Jews should change their style of dress and that women should go bareheaded.

While I have found evidence that the 1804 Russian laws did indeed mandate that Jewish people adopt regular clothing, I have not been able to find any reference to women being prohibited from covering their hair.

I am seeking reputable sources that can shed light on this matter, preferably literature or seforim written during that time period. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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Rav Shlomo Kluger in Sh'not Chaim 316 writes:

במדינות רוסיא דהגזירה הוי שם שילכו הנשים בשערות שלהם ... בעוה"ר בזה"ז הרבה פרוצות שהולכין בכוונה בשער שלהם ... ובפרט במדינות רוסיא דהגזירה שם כן, והרבה הולכין כן מכח הגזירה ... ‏

In the provinces of Russia where there was a decree that the women walk about with their hair uncovered ... due to our many sins, these days many immodest women walk about intentionally with their hair uncovered ... especially in the provinces of Russia where there was a decree, and many walk about like this due to the decree ...

As far as I can tell the decrees under discussion started in 1851, forbidding women from shaving their hair, and extending (at least in some places) to forbidding all types of hair coverings. See this article by Eugene M. Avrutin, hosted on jstor.org (paywalled, but you can login and get free access to 100 articles a month):

Although the tsar's edict of 1851 only banned Jewish women from shaving their heads, according to the Zhitomir Jewish community, police officials forced women to remove all head coverings as well.

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    Thank you, these are two incredibly useful sources both from a Secular point of view and from a Jewish point of view. Sep 19, 2023 at 13:37
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Complete Collection of the Laws of the Russian Empire, 1851, № 25113:

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Russian in pre-reform orthography:

25113. — Апрѣля 12. Сенатскій, по Высочайшему повеленію.—О запрещеніи женщинамъ Еврейкамъ брить головы. Правительствующій Сенатъ слушали рапортъ Министра Внутреннихъ Дѣлъ, въ коемъ изъясняетъ: Государь Императоръ Высочайше повелѣть соизволилъ запретить женщинамъ Еврейкамъ брить головы. О сей Высочайшей волѣ, онъ, Министръ Внутреннихъ Дѣлъ, доноситъ Правительствующему Сенату, присовокупляя, что онъ уже увѣдомилъ о семъ Главныхъ Начальниковъ Губерній, въ коихъ дозволено Евреямъ постоянное жительство. Приказали: О семъ Высочайшемъ Его Императорскаго Величества повелѣніи, для обнародованія и должнаго, до кого касаться можетъ, исполненія, послать указы во всѣ Губернскія, Войсковыя и Бессарабское Областное Правленія и Палатамъ Государственныхъ Имуществъ, каковыми увѣдомить Министровъ, Военныхъ Генералъ-Губернаторовъ, Военныхъ Губернаторовъ управляющихъ гражданскою частію и Генералъ-Губернаторовъ.

My English translation:

25113. April 12 (24 Gregorian). Senate (law), by the Highest order. On forbidding Jewish women from shaving their heads.
The Governing Senate have heard the report of the Minister of Internal Affairs, in which (he, the Minister) sets forth: Sovereign Emperor has Highly deigned to order that Jewish women be forbidden from shaving their heads. Of this Highest will, he, the Minister of Internal Affairs, reports to the Governing Senate, adding that he has already notified of it the Prinсipal Authorities of the Governorates where Jews are allowed to settle permanently. (They, the Senate) have ordered: of this Highest will of His Imperial Majesty, for its publication and orderly, by whom it may concern, execution, send out the ukases ("decrees") to all Governorates', Armies' and Bessarabian Regional Directorates, and to the Chambers of State Property, by the means of which notify the Ministers, Military Governors-General, Military Governors governing the civil part, and Governors-General.

(yes, it does sound like that in legal Russian as well)

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In Everyday Jewish Life in Imperial Russia: Select Documents [1772-1914], pp. 302-303 the following petition is translated:

Petition of a Rabbi and Merchants of Zhitomir to Count Kiselev [Chairman of the Committee for the Organization of Jewish Life], against the Zhitomir Police (1853)

“Materialy i soobshcheniia. Goneniia na zhenskie golovye ubory, (1853)” Evreiskaia starina 8 (1915): 400–401.

The Zhitomir city police, without announcing the state order that is the basis for their actions, demand that Jewish women appear in public with uncovered heads, and they accompany this requirement with every kind of coercion and unprecedented violence. Thus the district supervisor and policemen tear off the wigs, bonnets, and other headdresses of Jewish women; they drag them by the hair to the police station or guardhouse, pour several buckets full of cold water over their heads, keep them under arrest for several days, and finally force them to sweep the streets. They drove the merchants’ wives from the theater with humiliating mockery and personal insults for appearing in wigs rather than in their own uncovered hair. These public insults and torture of the weaker sex—women—without distinction, without the smallest respect for age and status, have had very harsh consequences: some have fallen gravely ill from shame and fear, and they have also paid with their health and perhaps their lives to observe their [religious] law, without committing any civil crime.

Jewish law absolutely forbids women to display their hair, and we see the manifest mercy of our Sovereign Emperor, the All Gracious Monarch, in his imperial law of 12 April 1851: he only prohibited Jewish women from shaving their heads, but without ordering that they appear in public with uncovered heads. In other words, His Majesty does not want us to violate our law. We piously obey His Majesty’s will: all of our women wear their hair; they do not have it shaved and cut.1

However, they do cover their hair with wigs or other headdresses when appearing in public and do not differ from local Christian women of various ranks. However, to evaluate the unfairness of the Zhitomir police, one should note another imperial directive from 19 August 1852, which ordered that Jewish women who shave their heads despite the prohibition be fined five silver rubles. Hence, for violating the sovereign’s will, His Imperial Majesty established only a monetary fine. But the Zhitomir city police, for ignoring its whim, subject them [women] to public insult and torture without a trial (to which no criminal is subject and for which there is not even a designation in the Code of Punishment) and compels our women to violate their own [religious] law. What is more, by insulting women publicly, the police themselves are committing a criminal act for what is not even a mere misdemeanor in any law or decree. Our extremely difficult position gives us no choice but to seek the protection and patronage of Your Excellency, as the chairman of the Committee for the Organization of Jewish Life. We humbly ask you to issue the appropriate order to end the capricious demand of the Zhitomir city police (which has no basis in the exact meaning of the Imperial injunction promulgated by a decree from the State Senate on 12 April 1851) and to protect us from the violent coercion and torture to which our women are subjected for observing their law.

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