Children's Leisure Activities in Russia, 1920s-1940s Building the Lenin Mausoleum in Snow Bricks: Organising Children's Games in Pre-War Soviet Russia
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed an upsurge of interest among Russian intellectuals in play as a psychological and pedagogical phenomenon. As the Italian psychologist Giovanni Amonio Colozza, whose treatise was translated into Russian in 1909, put it, play represented 'the free and central expression of those interior things that need to be outwardly expressed'. This view of play as central to childhood development was also influenced by the work of James Sully and G. Stanley Hall, and other members of the 'child study' or 'paidology' movement. The 'mother's diaries' and 'father's diaries' extensively published by Russians in the 1910s and early 1920s regularly noted children's games as part of their record of day-to-day development, and after the Revolution, much work on recording games was also done by the Experimental Stations of Narkompros.
This psychological or anthropological view of play was only one among various approaches, however, and after the Revolution, and particularly from 1925, it began to be vigorously challenged by an instrumental view of play as a central element in peer-group socialisation and, more particularly, in learning about future adult roles. Play was used, as methodological guides for nursery-school teachers indicate, in order to inculcate 'politically correct' attitudes. Baby dolls and fashion dolls were regarded with disapproval, because they reinforced traditional gender stereotypes and, in the second case, frivolity; dolls representing members of 'national' (i.e. ethnic) minority groups were given the stamp of approval, since they could be used to tutor children in internationalism. Children were taught new variants of familiar games, such as constructing the Lenin Mausoleum with snow bricks dyed red, rather than houses or igloos, or playing Co-operative Shop and Collective Farm Market using wooden models and building blocks. Even before the Revolution, efforts to provide children with 'rational leisure' had begun (an example was the children's summer playground run by volunteers on Petrograd Side, St Petersburg, in the 1910s); now, the Pioneer and Komsomol movement devoted huge energy to efforts to 'clean up' children's games in the streets and courtyards of cities, and also among village children. Pioneers themselves were used as a 'revolutionary avant-garde' to propagandise new kinds of game among 'unorganised children': building bird-boxes instead of robbing nests, playing 'Communists' against 'Fascists' instead of 'Cossacks and Robbers', engaging in healthy and beneficial 'active games' instead of taking part in games of chance such as 'heads or tails' or playing cards for money.
The movement for 'socialisation through play' and 'rational leisure' was documented in many hundreds of publications, both in periodicals (for example,
Doshkol'noe obrazovanie [Pre-School Education],
Prosveshchenie na transporte [Education in Railway Schools],
Na puti k novoi shkole [On the Road to the New School], and
Pedologiya), and in separate short books and brochures. The selection here, taken from materials held in the Russian State Library and in the Ushinsky Pedagogical Library in Moscow, gives a representative overview of the different trends. Our choice has been carefully considered to include books published in the provinces as well as in Moscow and Leningrad, to place heavily ideologised tracts alongside more liberal materials, and to offer a spread of material covering different age groups, from pre-schoolers to pre-teens. We have concentrated on books that contain material about the actual practices of play, as opposed to schematic recommendations, and on material that is particularly characteristic of the era. The selection runs chronologically to the late 1930s (the Second World War brought a break in attitudes to this subject, as in other areas of child care).
Many of the items included are now extremely rare - the condemnation by state decree of 'pedological perversions' in 1936 led to a purge of pedagogical literature from many libraries, and, as with other kinds of functional literature, the guides were also often used till they wore out. The material that we have gathered offers a unique insight into one of the most important and characteristic areas of socialising the young in early Soviet Russia, and a window into the mentality of the 'first Soviet generations' as well.
Cult of Body: Sports and Physical Culture in Russia, 1891-1919
Sports and Physical Culture in Russia continues the new IDC series
Mass Culture and Entertainment in Russia. This series comprises collections of unique material about various forms of popular culture and entertainment industry in Tsarist and Soviet Russia. This collection is particularly significant because sports provided opportunities for transitions from tradition to modernity: athletic competition broke down class barriers, brought women into public spaces, and encouraged new modes of behavior and self-presentation.
Topics This collection offers extraordinary sources for researchers into a variety of topics. The most obvious beneficiary is the sports historian; this discipline profits largely from the scholarly recognition that sports form an essential aspect of any society's culture. Sports are essential to the evolution of the modern personality in terms of
health, competitiveness and team play.
Tourism, another growth field in academic studies, relates directly to sports. Most significantly, contemporary interest in
sexuality is informed by sports periodicals. Not only are
gender roles transformed through sports, but the visuals in these publications illustrate emergent feminine and masculine ideals.
This collection contains a wide range of information on various sports in Russia: • Sports in general
• Airplanes, Automobiles
• Body Building and Wrestling
• Football (Soccer)
• Horse Racing
• Tourism: Cycling and Mountaineering
Physical Culture and Sports at the Turn of the Twentieth Century By the turn of the twentieth century, urban Russians found themselves swept up in the "physical culture" movement that had engulfed much of Western Europe. Military conflicts had inspired governments to pay attention to the physical fitness of their populations. Sporting competitions offered a unique forum for the development of a national identity. Imperial expansion also required a combination of physical and psychological superiority that could be enhanced through sports. The rapid industrialization had brought urbanization, which generated anxieties about modernity taking its toll on the human body. Fitness clubs began sprouting up, organizations that brought together members of the emergent middle classes with shared interest in self-improvement. This was complemented by organized athletic competitions. It is this dialectic of individual effort and team spirit that makes sports so valuable as a source for analyzing the transition from tradition to modernity.
Sports played a dynamic role at a moment in Russian history, when a more traditional agrarian society transformed into a modern industrial one. Regulated by clearly articulated rules that were enforced by self-discipline, sports offered an alternative behavior model to the one that was feared by the critics of mass culture. Athletics brought women out in new public spaces, and created opportunities for cooperation among all classes.
Russian Sporting Periodicals The first journals devoted to sporting activities provided information about horse racing and hunting, especially from the 1870s. The most substantial foundation for change, though, resulted from the rapid industrialization of the 1890s that created the social and economic basis for a middle class. With structured jobs came leisure time and disposable income, even if only modest. Industrialization also brought attention to the stress of modernity on the human organism, which prompted Russians to recognize that their bodies could benefit from a new orientation toward culture, recognition that it was physical as well as intellectual. As middle-class Russians began organizing into clubs, they published small journals that disseminated information. The bicyclists were the first to do this, with
Tsiklist. In fact, they were emblematic of the connection between physical culture and modernity: their clubs included women, and met socially in Cyclist Cafés. That their journals became absorbed into other sports-oriented publications tells more about the increase in sports than a decrease in cyclists. Although the majority of periodicals in this collection, such as
K sportu! (Let the Games Begin!) and
Silai I zdorov'e (Strength and Health), cover all types of sports, journals that focus on individual sports are also included.
Airplanes, Automobiles and Yachts At first blush these might seem too elitist to be included in a collection designed to provide sources on mass culture. Competitions, however, became extraordinarily popular spectator sports. These periodicals supply information about Russian technological developments, especially the more technical ones, such as
Avtomobil'noe delo (Automobile Affairs). But the racing competitions emphasized the sporting aspect, and automobiles became included with other types of sports. When motors could be attached to boats, the notion of the "yacht" became less imperial, more sporty. Moreover, these competitions were often international, which provided a source for national pride that was not restricted to the participants themselves, but spilled over to the fans.
Body Building and Wrestling One of the most popular individual sports was body building, the quintessence of the physical culture movement. Body building laid the foundation of the physical culture movement because it promoted individual health. As men began to work out together in gyms, body building opened an important homosocial space in modernizing Russia. This helped to improve the status of wrestling, making it more than a circus entertainment. Moreover, wrestlers performed competitively before audiences that also included women. "Professor of Athletics" Ivan Lebedev's
Gerkules, 1912-1917, ultimately circulated most widely, and the addition of fiction and history about the sport anchored it in the imagination of the general population.
Silai I zdorov'e, 1909-1914, extended the physical culture movement beyond the strictly masculine, and
Illiustrirovannyi zhurnal atletika i sport, which can be translated Sports Illustrated, anticipated the contemporary journal familiar to all sports fans.
Football/Soccer Introduced into Russia by the British managers of several factories, football reflected the modern workplace with its strict regulations and dependence upon co-operation among team members. Playing the game developed physical prowess, which underscored that competition, depended upon athleticism rather than social position. The sport quickly moved beyond the factories; neighborhoods pitched in to purchase balls, and makeshift fields allowed boys around the country to cobble together teams and play with one another, in front of expanding crowds. Today the most popular sport in the world, the football periodicals chart Russia's entrance into competition.
Horse Racing The "sport of kings," horse racing attracts the most viewers because of the attraction of legalized gambling on the outcome. Among all sports, horse racing had by far the most periodicals devoted to it because of the racing forms that published the lists of "favorites" on the eve of race days. The selected periodicals included here recreate the aura of the hippodrome, where although the prices for seating separated spectators according to social class, the enthusiasm for the thoroughbreds brought all together in spirit. The Russian penchant for gambling is well known, and these publications provide a flavor missing in the sociological tracts that condemn this vice.
Skating Skaters took to the ice and to the roller rinks. They competed against each other and played together. Propriety permitted men to hold women in their arms, purportedly in order to maintain their balance. Skating improved athleticism, and was also the most social of sports. Roller rinks were also the site of several sexual scandals, because the paid instructors sometimes doubled as "Alfonses," or paid male escorts. Such journals as
Obozrenie kinematografov, sketing-ringov, uveselenii I sporta (Review of Cinema, Skating Rinks, Entertainment, and Sports) locate skating at the center of a variety of entertainments, whereas
K sportu! and
Vestnik sporta (The Sporting Herald) emphasize the national and international competitions.
Tourism: Bicycling and Mountain Climbing Sports also provided impetus to the boom in commercial tourism at the turn of the century. If the great social advantage of bicycles was that they provided a comparatively inexpensive means of individualized transportation, cycling was also fun and quickly developed into a competitive sport. The combination of fun and transportation turned cycling into a medium for touring, as is evident from the fact that around 1900 local cycling clubs started renaming themselves "tourist" and sponsoring members on local tours. Mountain climbers, although obviously less widely dispersed than bicycling, also began forming clubs and organizing tourist activities. These periodicals are important to studying tourism, and how this developed into nationalism.
Tsiklist (The Cyclist), a cycling journal, 1895-1904, integrated cycling with other sports, just as Russkii turist (The Russian Tourist), 1899-1913, brought related athletic activities into tourism.
Prof. Louise McReynolds,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Perhaps best known for their radical politics, students had held a series of nationwide strikes and protests between 1899 and 1904, and in the autumn of 1905 they turned the universities into crucial sites of revolutionary activism. Although with the rise of mass movements and political parties, students could no longer claim to be agents of revolution, the
studenchestvo remained one of the most politically active and socially engaged groups in Russian society, despite the attempts by the government to suppress such activism. At this time, both the number of students and the range of higher educational institutions expanded radically, thus meeting and feeding the growing demand for trained specialists – teachers, lawyers, agronomists, engineers, doctors. New opportunities also developed for women and minorities, especially Jewish men and women, as legal restrictions on access to higher education began to be rolled back. Between 1905 and 1917, therefore, the world of higher education formed a microcosm of Russia’s educated society.
With the collapse of censorship during the revolutionary years (1905-06) and the relative freedom of the press in the subsequent years, students published scores of newspapers and journals as well as volumes of collected articles. While the newspapers were usually short-lived, often due to external political pressure, these sources provide unique access to the heterogeneous world of the university, including academic and scholarly currents as well as the activities of the hundreds of student groups that proliferated in this period. Taken as a whole, this collection offers a cross-section of Russia’s student press, including publications from both capital and provincial cities, and from both the extreme left and the extreme right. Because the titles of publications are repetitive, they have been grouped into a series of overlapping sections so as to highlight particular thematic issues.
I. Provincial and Capital Worlds The student press provides a new and largely untapped source for urban history, both of the two capital cities – St. Petersburg and Moscow – and of provincial cities. Universities and other institutions of higher education were important cultural and political landmarks in Russia’s cities, sites not just for learning but also for social interaction and political conflict. Indeed, students participated in the everyday life of their cities, often living in poor areas, frequenting theaters and other forms of entertainment, and sometimes becoming active with local workers. All of the publications in the collection have consequently been organized according to place of publication: St. Petersburg, Moscow, and provincial cities. Most important among the provincial cities are those in Ukraine, especially Odessa, Kiev, and Kharkov.
II. Politics in the Academy Since the 1860s, students had possessed the reputation for political radicalism, and these currents remained highly important after 1905. In addition to two national strike movements (1908, 1911), progressive students continued to comment on and participate in national politics, whether leading a movement against the death penalty in 1910 (in commemoration of Lev Tolstoy) or protesting the Beilis case in 1913 (the prosecution of a Jewish man accused of the ritual murder of a Christian child). Less well known but extremely important was the rise of a conservative movement, which included both moderate and extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic groups. The student press thus provides a vital source on Russia’s political life – both inside and outside the Academy, including the development of organizations and ideologies ranging from the far left to the far right. Many of the collection’s titles have been organized into two sections according to their general political perspectives, namely left of center and right of center.
III. World War I World War I currently forms one of the most important and active topics of historical research, and the student press provides a largely untapped source. These publications illuminate, firstly, debates about patriotism, nationalism, and nationalist currents (including anti-Semitism and anti-German sentiment); secondly, the specific activities of Russia’s students in the war effort (charitable work, war industries, the military); thirdly, the social and economic world of Russia’s home-front, including the transformation of the universities and the influx of female students; and, fourthly, the political run-up to the revolution of 1917.
IV. Particular Groups The collection includes three sections focused on specific groups, namely Christian, Jewish, and female students. Though only one title was explicitly Christian in orientation, this newspaper was extremely long-lived and provided a lively forum for discussion and debate. Jewish students produced a variety of newspapers and collections, many of which were long-lived, and they discussed diverse issues, including current events, anti-Semitism, relations with non-Jewish students and political movements, and the conflict between Zionism and socialism. Finally, some titles were produced either solely by female students or by students at co-educational institutions. This section also contains two surveys of female students in St. Petersburg. It should be noted, however, that almost all general student publications contained numerous contributions by female and Jewish students and discussed issues relevant to these groups.
V. Questionnaires and Surveys In Russia, the early twentieth century witnessed a vogue for conducting statistical surveys, and these formed an important precursor of later attempts under the Soviets to gauge the behavior and values of target groups. Many of the surveys focused on students, and these sources provide important information on students’ social, economic, sexual, and political lives, including particular groups such as Jewish and female students. In addition, they will be of interest to scholars working on the history of the social sciences and statistics.
VI. Critical Collections These publications represent some of the most interesting titles in the collection, in part because publishing a volume or series of volumes was easier than producing a newspaper under the pressures of censorship. Most of these titles, which span the political spectrum, include literary works, commentary on artistic and literary currents, whether the social role of literature or modernism in the arts, and contributions to all the major political and social issues of the era. Almost all titles include numerous pieces written by female students.
The Socialist Revolutionary Party I Inventory of the archives of the Partija Socialistov-Revoljucionerov, (1834-) 1870-1934
With this publication IDC Publishers wants to draw your attention to a most interesting collection that has been microfilmed by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam (IISH). If you want us to keep you informed please contact IDC Publishers and additional information will be sent to you as soon as possible.
Partija Socialistov-Revoljucionerov The
Partija Socialistov-Revoljucionerov (PSR) was formed as the result of the unification of various groups of neo-populist tendency which had been formed in the 1890s in Russia and in emigration. In its early years it was a small, heterogeneous party, with an émigré leadership and underground membership in Russia. After “Bloody Sunday” it expanded into a mass movement. It was only then that its first congress took place, technically the founding congress. This congress discussed the draft organizational rules and approved of them as provisional rules.
The highest organ was the All Party Congress, to be convened by the Central Committee or the Party Council. Between congresses the Party Council was the highest organ. The Central Committee (CC) was elected by the Party Congress and augmented by co-option. Its composition fluctuated as a result of arrests. The Combat Organization functioned within the Party as a semi-autonomous body. Its terrorist activities were directed against representatives of state power. In November/December 1906 an Organizational Bureau was set up to coordinate the CC activities and to improve communication between party leaders and local organizations. Some special commissions of the CC were: the Military Bureau (for agitation and propaganda work among soldiers and sailors), the Commission for Peasants, and the Transport Committee (for the distribution of literature). Russia was split up into thirteen regional associations. The Organization Abroad constituted the fourteenth region. It was founded in 1903 and until 1905, with the party operating underground, it acted de facto as the most important party body. After 1922 it was the only body left.
The archive The archive consists of three groups of documents: The populist legacy (including the
Fonds Lavrov), the party archive up to 1917, and the party archive after 1917. The second group is by far the biggest, and the years 1905-1907 by far the richest. The archive is incomplete. Papers from other provenance were added to the collection (inv.nrs. 1045-1102), as for example in the case of an owner, who went back to Russia illegally and left them with the party. Some documents were damaged and the archive was disorganized due to the constant moving. In the late sixties Boris Sapir listed the notices he found on the envelopes and other packing materials. In 1983 Marc Jansen removed the documents from after 1917 and described them. For practical reasons they were preserved as a separate group. His list constitutes a part of this inventory in modified form.
Among the documents discovered was a classification scheme, drafted by S.N. Sletov in 1909 (in inv.nr. 598). There were also lists and draft lists, of which the numbers were found to match the numbers on documents, scattered all over the collection. It was decided to reunite lists and documents, wherever useful, as for instance in inv.nrs. 303-513. By using their own (draft) lists may explain why e.g. in inv.nrs. 706-711 the Second State Duma figures before the First one.
An important part of the collection is the group of documents from the regional and local committees in Russia (inv.nrs. 303-513.). They are (handwritten and processed) leaflets, resolutions, financial reports, reports on literature, notes, letters, rules, draft rules, reports of activities, circular letters, declarations, a single issue of a paper or a pamphlet, and in a much lesser degree: minutes of meetings, questionnaires, programmes. The last three types of documents are mentioned explicitly. The bulk of this part, however, is made up of leaflets.
Classifying the letters was a difficult, if not impossible, job. Many are without sender, without date, many without addresses. Some are in code. More often they were obviously meant for “Paris”, where Znamja Truda (1907-1914) and the Transport Committee used post office boxes. But then, were they meant for the Central Committee, for Znamja Truda, for the Transport Committee, or for the three of them? Some letters did not give us any clue how to classify them. They are to be found in inv.nrs. 752-770. The same was true of quite a few manuscripts. They are to be found in inv.nrs. 771-839.
Two concordances are appended to the inventory. The first one establishes the relationship between the numbers Boris Sapir used and the present numbers. The second one does the same between the numbers Marc Jansen used and the present numbers. In previous years the archives of the PSR were referred to as
narodni' eskoe dvi' enie. In the inventory the international transcription has been used. Originally the collection contained a larger amount of printed documents, but they have been incorporated into the IISH library. A small amount of photographs are now in the IISH Audiovisual Department. The term "cover" is used in the inventory to refer to groupings of 2-13 items, and the term "folder" for groups of more than 13 items. The present metrage (23.25 meters) differs from the one given in the "Guide to the International Archives and Collections"(1989). This is due to packing the documents in boxes rather than in the portfolios used previously.
There are no restrictions to consultation of the archive.
Socialist Revolutionary Party II Serials and monographs
Works written by and about well-known leaders of the Socialist Revolutianary Party, as well as publications dealing with the party itself. Among the authors, you will find the names of Chernov, Spiridonova, Grecian, Savinkov, and many others. Furthermore, this collection contains prominent journals and newspapers published by the Socialist Revolutianary Party in Russia and abroad.
35 serials and 45 monographs.
Russian Political Parties A collection of books illustrating the broad array of political parties in the former Russian Empire
Collection based on the catalogue of an exhibition on the subject, held in 1990 at the State Historical Library in Moscow, illustrating the broad array of political parties in the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The general literature concerns political life in the Russian empire and the activity of the Russian parliament (
Duma). Also included are documents of different political parties ranging from the extreme right (monarchists) to anarchist, social democrats and social-revolutionaries.