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Russian Peasant Views of City Life, 1861-1914

  • Barbara Alpern Engel (a1)

Extract

In the decades following the emancipation of the serfs, increasing numbers of peasants left their native villages for cities and industrial centers, in response to a growing need for cash and declining opportunities to earn it at home. At least until World War I, the vast majority of these migrants were men; women were the more stable element in the village. In the words of one student of peasant life, women “cling to the family and the land, and need particularly unfavorable circumstances to compel them to move somewhere else.“ Nevertheless, as the nineteenth century drew to a close the economic circumstances that prompted peasant men to leave villages increasingly caused women to leave as well. Like their husbands, fathers and brothers, migrant women often chose urban destinations. At the turn of the twentieth century, there were 650 peasant women per 1,000 peasant men in Moscow, and 368 migrant peasant women for every 1,000 migrant peasant men in St. Petersburg; by 1910, the proportion in St. Petersburg had increased to 480 per 1,000.

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1. Zhbankov, D. N., “Otkhozhie promysly v Smolenskoi gubernii,” Smolenskii vestnik, no. 81 (11 July 1893) : 2.

2. Joseph, Bradley, Muzhik and Muscovite : Urbanization in Late Imperial Russia (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1985), 34; S.-Peterburg po perepisi 15 dekabria 1900 g. 1, no. 1 (St. Petersburg, 1903), 168; Petrograd po perepisi 15 dekabria 1910 g. (Petrograd, 1914) : 290.

3. The provinces of the central industrial region are commonly understood to be Moscow, Iaroslavl', Tver', Kostroma, Vladimir and Nizhnii Novgorod. Accurate information on the proportion of women who migrated is difficult to obtain. Zemstvo surveys are incomplete and aggregate data do not distinguish between male and female migrants. The best survey of the zemstvo data is Z. M. Tverdova-Svavitskaia and N. A. Svavitskii, Zemskie podvornye perepisi 1880-1913, pouezdnye itogi (Moscow : Izd. Tsentral'nogo Statisticheskogo upravleniia, 1926).

4. Otkhozhie promysly krest'ianskogo naseleniia Iaroslavskoi gubernii. Statisticheskii sbornik po Iaroslavskoi gubernii (Iaroslavl', 1907) 19 : 1-2.

5. Anthony, Netting, “Images and Ideas in Russian Peasant Art,” Slavic Review 35, no. 1 (1976) : 4868.

6. My understanding of the destination of migrants from the central agricultural region is based on the figures provided by Tikhonov, B. V., Pereseleniia v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XIX v. (Moscow : Nauka, 1978 , prilozhenie 1.

7. Tsentral'nyi Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv (hereafter TsGIA), f. 1412, op. 212-48; f. 796, op. 54-199; Tsentral'nyi Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv goroda Moskvy (hereafter TsGIAgM), f. 66, op. 1-2; f. 203, op. 412.

8. As I argue at length elsewhere, peasant views of life in factories to which workers could commute on a daily or weekly basis differed from attitudes toward life at distant factories or in an urban environment (see Barbara Alpern Engel, Between the Fields and the City : Women, Work and Family in Russia [New York : Cambridge University Press, forthcoming]).

9. Dan Field, “The Province at the End of the Alphabet, ” paper presented at the Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Chicago, 1991, 9; Sbornik statisticheskikh svedenii po Tverskoi gubernii (Tver' : Izd. Tverskago gubernskago zemstva, 1885-1897), 10 : 42.

10. “Iz Kostromskoi volosti Soligalichskago uezda, ” Kostromskie gubernskie vedomosti, no. 37 (1880) : 213; Semenov, V. P., ed., Rossiia : Polnoe geograficheskoe opisanie nashego otechestva (St. Petersburg : A. V. Devrien, 1899), 1 : 103.

11. See for example F. S., “Vliianie otkhozhikh promyslov na ekonomicheskoe sostoianie i na vneshnii i vnutrennii byt kraia, ” Iaroslavskie gubernskie vedomosti, no. 24 (1892) : 2 ; Sergei, Derunov, “Selo Koz'modem'ianskoe, Shchetinskoi volosti, Poshekhonskago uezda,” Iaroslavskie gubernskie vedomosti, no. 31 (1889) : 3.

12. R. E. F. Smith and David Christian, Bread and Salt : A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia (New York : Cambridge University Press, 1984), 235–36.

13. Zhbankov, D. M., Bab'ia storona (Kostroma : Kostromskaia gubernskaia tipografiia, 1891), 114–15. On expectations, see also Timofeev, P, “What the Factory Worker Lives By,” in The Russian Worker : Life and Labor under the Tsarist Regime, ed. V. Bonnell (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1983), 84.

14. Zhbankov, Bab'ia, 27; 126, no. xxv; 127, no. xxvii.

15. Stephen Frank, ‘ “Simple Folk, Savage Customs?’ Youth, Sociability, and the Dynamics of Culture in Rural Russia, 1856-1914, ” Journal of Social History 25, no. 4 (Summer 1992) : 717.

16. See, for example, the complaints quoted in Jeffrey, Burds, “The Social Control of Peasant Labor in Russia : The Response of Village Communities to Labor Migration in the Central Industrial Region, 1861-1905,” in Peasant Economy, Culture and Politics of European Russia, 1800-1921, eds. E. Kingston-Mann and T. Mixter (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1990), 5862 ; Neil, Weissman, “Rural Crime in Tsarist Russia : The Question of Hooliganism, 1905-1914, ” Slavic Review 37, no. 2 (1978) : 232.

17. Zelnik, R. E., ed. and trans., A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia : The Autobiography of Semen Ivanovich Kanatchikov (Stanford : Stanford University Press, 1986), 4.

18. Derunov, “Selo Koz'modemianskoe. ”

19. TsGIA, f. 796, op. 197, I stol, IV otd., d. 201, 4.

20. Tenishev Archive, Gos. Muzei etnografii narodov SSSR (hereafter referred to as Tenishev archive), op. 7, d. 719, 9.

21. Tenishev Archive, d. 588, 3 (Galich, Kostroma).

22. Zelnik, A Radical Worker, 4.

23. S. I. Kanatchikov, Iz istorii moego bytiia (Moscow-Leningrad : Zemlia i fabrika, 1929), 20. See also his comment on his friend Vanka's marriage (ibid., 45).

24. TsGIAgM, f. 66, op. 1, d. 14380.

25. TsGIA, f. 796, op. 189, I stol, IV otd., d. 4333, 2-3.

26. Zelnik, A Radical Worker, 6.

27. TsGIA, f. 796, op. 154, I stol, IV otd., d. 345, 1-2; op. 197, I stol, IV otd., d. 1022, 1, 3, 4-5.

28. For the controversy, see the discussion in Barbara Alpern Engel, “Engender ing Russia's History : Women in Post-Emancipation Russia and the Soviet Union, ” Slavic Review 51, no. 2 (1992) : 312-13.

29. TsGIAgM, f. 66, op. 1, ed. kh. 12059, 1-2; ibid., ed. kh. 13398, 5-7; TsGIA, f. 1412, op. 212, d. 17, 13. See also TsGIAgM, f. 66, op. 1, ed. kh. 13465, 15662; f. 203, op. 412, ed. kh. 58, 1-2.

30. TsGIA, f. 796, op. 199, II stol, IV otd., d. 195; d. 419, 3-4. See also op. 189, II stol, IV otd., d. 5513, 2.

31. Ibid., op. 154, I stol, IV otd., d. 345; op. 197, I stol, IV otd., d. 301, 2-3. See also op. 189, I stol, IV otd., d. 4056, 13; op. 199, II stol, IV otd., d. 58, 2-3.

32. TsGIAgM, f. 66, op. 2, ed. kh. 12590, 1-2; ed. kh. 14033.

33. Ibid., op. 1, ed. kh. 13398, 8. It was not uncommon for husbands of wayward wives to accuse them falsely of engaging in prostitution. See, for example, TsGIA, f. 796, op. 184, I stol, IV otd., d. 4050; op. 189, I sol, IV otd., d. 4337; d. 4364; d. 4788; d. 5389.

34. Kozhukhov, S, “O praktike Pravitel'stvennogo Senata po voprosu o vydache krest'ianskim zhenam otdel'nykh vidov na zhitel'stvo,” Zhurnal Ministerstva Iustitsii 3 (1901) : 158–67.

35. TsGIA, f. 796, op. 197, I stol, IV otd., d. 1289, 2-3, 5; op. 199, II stol, IV otd., d. 335, 2. See also TsGIAgM, f. 203, op. 412, ed. kh. 57, 1-2 (1906).

36. Sudebnyi vestnik, no. 95 (1869) : 3; no. 3 (1874) : 4; Peterburgskii listok, no. 295 (27 October 1892) : 3.

37. Sam, Ramer, “Childbirth and Culture : Midwifery in the Nineteenth-Century Russian Countryside,” in The Family in Imperial Russia : New Lines of Historical Research, ed. David Ransel (Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1978), 223–26.

38. Trudy kommisii po preobrazovaniiu volostnykh sudov (St. Petersburg, 1873-1874), II : 126-27; TsGIA, f. 796, op. 178, I stol, IV otd., d. 3080, 2-5; op. 199, I stol, IV otd., d. 1057, 1-3.

39. See also ibid., op. 189, II stol, IV otd., d. 5299, 4; op. 199, I stol, IV otd., d. 1248; II stol, IV otd., d. 199, 201, 239.

40. TsGIA f. 796, op. 189, II stol, IV otd., d. 5675, 1-3.

41. Ibid., op. 151, 1 stol, IV otd., d. 414, 1-6; op. 199, I stol, IV otd., d. 1057, 4; op. 197, I stol, IV otd., d. 1022, 6. See also op. 199, I stol, IV otd., d. 17 and d. 1248.

42. See, for example, Boris Mironov, “The Russian Peasant Commune after the Reforms of the 1860s, ” Slavic Review 44, no. 3 (1985) : 450.

43. While acknowledging intra-village conflicts, Christine Worobec nevertheless stresses continuity in Peasant Russia : Family and Community in the Post-Emancipation Period (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1991 . Also see Stephen Frank, “'Simple Folk, Savage Customs?'” Weissman's article on rural hooliganism is an exception but Weissman's rebels are male. On the debates on the character of peasant life, see Ben, Eklof, “Ways of Seeing : Recent Anglo-American Studies of the Russian Peasant (1861-1914),” Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas 36, no. 1 (1988) : 5779.

44. Sergei Derunov, “Ocherki krest'ianskago khoziaistva v Poshekhonskom uezde, ” Trudy Imperatorskago Vol'nago Ekonomicheskago Obshchestva (September 1880) : 140.

45. Tenishev archive, op. 1, d. 719, 5, 25; L. A. Anokhina and M. N. Shmeleva, Kul'tura i byt kolkhoznikov Kalininskoi oblasti (Moscow-Leningrad : Nauka, 1964), 174. The memoirs of Semen Kanatchikov, the peasant turned metalworker, can be viewed as a case study of the influence of the city on a rural peasant.

46. For example, in 1900, 17.6% of peasant women in St. Petersburg were marriageable women aged 16 to 25 (S, Peterburg po perepisi 15 dekabria 1900 g., ch. 1, vyp. 1, 137-39).

Russian Peasant Views of City Life, 1861-1914

  • Barbara Alpern Engel (a1)

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