Primers were the most widespread pedagogical books published by the Bessarabian Ecclesiastical Press from 1814 to 1918, though this category of publications was allowed by the authorities only as far as it contributed to a better study of Russian. Most of the primers were published in Russian and Romanian, and the texts were arranged in parallel columns except for the edition of 1861. The Romanian text is translated from Russian, which indicates that the books are based on Russian primers of the 19th c. approved by the synodal censorship. A characteristic feature of the pedagogical literature of the 19th century is its pronounced religious character as it was intended for use in church schools.
The majority of these books enjoyed quite a few impressions. Two main types of the primers are distinguished:
– primers with the same bibliographical description (title-page, table of contents, page numbers); –the first three editions of 1814, 1815 and 1822 – can be considered as impressions of the first primer published by the Diocesan Chișinău Press in 1814. Not a single copy of them has survived in Romanian collections (editions of 1815 and 1822 were analyzed and described by O. Ghibu and S. Giurescu in the 30ies of the 20th c. and are considered lost);
– primers published in 1842, 1844, 1854, 1859 insignificantly differ in table of contents and contain more pages. Editions of 1842 and 1844 are preserved in collections, and editions of 1854 and 1859 are known to us only on the basis of bibliographic descriptions.
Pedagogical literature of the beginning of the 20th century is the result of Russification, conducted by the tsarist authorities in Bessarabia.