The analytical review examines the modern Russian literature and is devoted to the history of Russian liberalism of the 1840s-1880s and to its theorist Konstantin Dmitrievich Kavelin. The article is dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the thinker and covers such problems of historiography as the genesis and typology of Russian liberalism, its division and features of the main trends. The authors reveal the dynamics of the historiographical process development, specifically dwells on the debatable problems, different interpretations of which led to the formation of separate historiographical directions. Attention is drawn to the relevance of the topic associated, on the one hand, with the use of modern methodological approaches to the study of liberalism, and on the other, with reflections on its prospects in Russia of the XXI century, the acuteness and relevance of some theoretical provisions of the program of liberals of the past. It is emphasized that the study of the views and personality of K.D. Kavelin (1818-1885) gives new opportunities for understanding the history of Russian liberalism as a whole. The review analyzes and classifies the main modern interpretations of the theoretical heritage and activities of the liberal, reveals the contribution of individual scientists in the coverage of his multifaceted work, in the definition of the role in the social movement of the country. The results of the research are summed up, the prospects for further development of the topic are outlined. Copyright © 2018 by Academic Publishing House Researcher s.r.o.