Every Mother is a Working Mother?: an Overview of Women, Work and Domestic Labour in the Soviet Union, 1927-1941

Hannah Parker

(Department of History, University of Sheffield)

In the decades following the Revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War, women in the Soviet Union were ‘emancipated’ by state policies from the domestic servitude to which they had been subjugated under tsarism. Soviet theorists and policy makers acknowledged the necessity of re-forging the patterns of daily life that had constituted the old regime. The monogamous nuclear family and its associated network of generations, which had structured daily life for subjects of the Russian empire, would therefore no longer form the foundation of everyday life, and patterns of daily behaviour would undergo a revolution in service of the construction of socialism. This ‘overhaul’, so to speak, of the daily lives of subjects of the Russian Empire would create the New Soviet Man and Woman, who were to be tasked with the construction of socialism in the new Soviet state.

The New Soviet Woman would be (nominally, at least) granted right to a variety of social institutions and provisions which would facilitate her emancipation and integration into the labour force outside the home. Yet, a catalogue of obstacles – such as an inability by the state to finance socialised childcare, and a failure to reach a theoretical consensus on the future of the Soviet family – meant that the execution of this vision was far from straightforward. Women remained primarily responsible for work in the home, as well as outside it. Despite attempts to reconfigure the role of the ‘mother’, and disaggregate it from its function of the socialisation of children, motherhood maintained a symbolic status in the ideological vocabulary of the young Soviet State.[1] This article will present an overview of these contradictions, which stemmed from the diverging visions of the future of the Soviet family.

‘Most of this housework is highly unproductive, most barbarous, and most arduous, and it is performed by women’:[2] Motherhood and Domestic Labour in Early Soviet Ideology

On a rudimentary level, Marxist and Marxist-Leninist theorists had long considered the division of labour in the nuclear family to be the root, and first incidence of, class oppression. Engels, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, stated that capitalism had emerged following ‘the historic defeat of the female sex. The man seized the reins in the house also, the woman was degraded, enthralled, the slaves of the man’s fist, a mere instrument for breeding children.’[3] The ‘withering’ of the nuclear family was therefore a priority of theorists. In the early years of the revolution, there took place some real discussion of the meaning of sexual equality. This discussion largely focused on how best to free their time from domestic activities, and provide their children with the state childcare that would raise them as truly socialist citizens, free from the individualist ties that had blighted society under tsarism. Of particular concern was the connection between the new generation and the tsarist past, through the cyclical ‘biological’ time of their mothers.[4] Drawing upon Engels’ work, in On the Emancipation of Women, Lenin demonstrated the low regard in which childcare and domestic labour were held, by writing that:

‘the chief thing is to get women to take part in socially productive labour, to liberate them from “domestic slavery”, free them of their stultifying and humiliating resignation to the perpetual and exclusive atmosphere of the kitchen and nursery’.[5]

As a result of the Soviet ‘liberation’ of women from the home, Engels’ prediction would then be realised: the nuclear family should ‘wither away’, to be replaced by the socialist collective.

The members of the short-lived Zhenotdel, the women’s department of the Party established in 1919, and their writings, presented the new Soviet society a variety of possibilities for the substitution of maternal domestic labour, and (often) the preservation of the relationship between mother and child.[6] Special attention was paid by the government to the ‘liquidation of illiteracy’ among women, since illiteracy, in their eyes, presented a significant obstacle to women’s political consciousness and participation in labour outside the home.[7]  Moreover, the 1918 Code on Marriage, the Family and Guardianship, was the first (and only of its time) to go so far in its remit. It allowed women to freely divorce their partners, liberalised access to abortion, abolished ‘legitimacy’ as a legal principle, and allowed parties to a marriage to take the family name of either the husband or wife. In short, the construction of a robust public identity for women, outside the home, and distinct from her male relatives, was facilitated by the law (although women had claimed public identities and agency in the decades leading to 1917 anyway).[8] However, since socialism was still merely under construction, and women had by the 1920s simply been provided with the necessary tools for their emancipation, the responsibility for equality lay in part with Soviet women themselves.

By the end of the 1920s, the state’s responsibility for social matters was shrinking, whilst the socialist obligations and responsibilities of individual family units increased. Definitions of the family broadened too, to provide an informal system of social security for those affected by the economic hardship experienced following the Civil Wars. The 1918 Code failed to resolve, and in some cases even exacerbated, social problems – such as female unemployment, destitution, and abandonment. In an attempt to address these problems, the 1926 Code began to reinstate a more socially conservative model of the family, with a view to resolving the social problems that had persisted, or been aggravated by, the legislation of the 1918 Code. Significantly, wishing to provide some sort of care for women in times of financial hardship, the Code recognised marriages as a private affair, making ‘unregistered’, or ‘de facto’ marriages legal, and presuming a relationship with a man would provide some material security. The ‘nuclear family’ was, by 1930, politically ‘reinstated’, in an effort to crack down on the problems that soaring rates of divorce, alimony disputes, and social instability had caused. In particular, Soviet authorities sought to redress the problems of bezprizornost’, (homelessness/destitution) and beznadzornost’ (neglect), both of which they considered children to be at risk when their mothers worked long hours outside the home.[9]

The Soviet state, throughout the 1920s, executed a variety of policies, intended to draw newly ‘Soviet’ women out of the home, and into the workplace permanently, though the degree to which this was successful was highly questionable. Women were, hypothetically, fully entitled to education, employment, and wage and labour equality. Marriage was secularised, divorce and the right to abortion legalised. A variety of the aforesaid socialised childcare arrangements, such as crèches, nurseries and communal kitchens were proposed. As women were ‘granted’ equality with men, the suffering they had experienced as a result of their confinement to the home, should have been alleviated.[10] Once these principles were established in Soviet society, bourgeois phenomena such as domestic violence, child abandonment and ‘destitution’, abortion, ‘prostitution’, suicide, and domestic disharmony more generally should have disappeared, having been socially ‘necessary’ only as symptoms of capitalist oppression.[11]

In actuality, the nuclear family remained the bedrock of society in the new Soviet state, both practically and ideologically. Likewise, though the exact form of family life had been broadened by the upheavals of the 1920s, women retained responsibility for the majority of labour within it, both as mothers and homemakers, as scant thought was paid to the question of who would undertake this labour once women were freed from it. Even members of the revolutionary movements, around the time of the Revolutions, had maintained their dependence upon their families, and most women (as well as some men) routinely took time out of revolutionary activities to tend to issues of childcare and domestic labour, as Katy Turton has recently demonstrated in ‘Gender and Family in the Russian Revolutionary Movement’.[12]

Moreover, though the ideal of the emancipated woman with ‘equal rights’ (ravnopravlenaia zhenshchina) remained consistent in Soviet discourse, her form and precise purpose were subject to ideological fluctuations in the emphasis of social and family policy throughout the 1920s and 1930s, as well as contradictions in Bolshevik gender theory. The relationship of women with domestic labour was never resolved, and the Soviet mother was never extracted successfully from the fabric of Soviet society. As Hannah Proctor has pointed out, the social and material conditions of the 1920s in the Soviet Union ultimately meant that motherhood itself, and the individual mother-child bond, required re-conceptualisation as a ‘revolutionary act’, the necessary prerequisite for the happy socialist children upon whom the socialist future depended.[13] Though women were still required in the factories, by this time their presence in the home was demanded with increasing frequency by Soviet discourse, for the upbringing of the new Soviet generation.

The ‘woman question’ had been declared to have been solved by 1930, epitomised by the closure in the same year of the Zhenotdel, or ‘Women’s Department’, which had been gradually side-lined from mainstream politics since its establishment. It was 1936 that marked the culmination of this ‘economistic’, and seemingly socially conservative turn, with the publication of the Decree ‘On the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood’, and the Stalin Constitution later that year, which declared that socialism had been achieved, along with full equality between the sexes. The legislation prohibited abortions, increased material aid to women in childbirth, established state aid to mothers of large families, extended the network of social childcare. It also tightened divorce law, also making penalties for non-payment of alimony more severe.[14] Evidently, the legislation introduced the glorification of motherhood to the Soviet political agenda, as well as the legal protection of the institution of the nuclear family. The culmination of the rehabilitation of the nuclear family in the social policy of the mid-1930s is known as ‘the Great Retreat’, a term coined by Nikolas Timasheff in 1946.[15] The central thesis underlying the concept of the Great Retreat argues that the utopian policies first established upon succession to power must ultimately be modified, so as to preserve power and fully, if selectively, establish other utopian principles. The thesis has proved influential, and has prompted several formative works on the social policy contradictions inherent to the Stalin era. Though with regards to the continuities present with the anxieties about the disintegration of family in the 1920s, the social and political rupture 1936 presented must be called into question. Lauren Kaminsky, for example, has argued in her study of utopian family policy under Stalin that the policies which constituted the Great Retreat were in actual fact, explicitly utopian in their ‘promotion of equality’, acknowledging as they did, the insecurities to which the social policies of the 1920s had exposed women.[16] In truth, it appears that continuities between interwar and Stalinist Soviet policy did exist were substantiated by contemporary Soviet time-budget studies, as well as letters from women to authorities, documenting their responses to their political environments – to which the focus of this article shall now turn.

Gendered Time Budgets in the 1920s and 1930s

Time budget studies from the Soviet Union in the 1920s, collated by Michael P. Sacks, appear to confirm these preliminary conclusions, demonstrating that state inattention to the issue of domestic labour, and the uncertainty over the ideological suitability of the nuclear family, meant that in real terms, little changed in the lives of Soviet mothers, as the state defaulted on its commitment to the socialisation of domestic labour. According to Sacks, they show, ‘the differences between the pattern of male and female time use were acute and consistent’ – and, in fact remained relatively consistent into the 1960s.  Though men and women spent a similar amount of time on their employment and its related activities in the 1920s, women spent around three times as much of their time on housework as men.[17] Crucially, Sacks’ comparison of Soviet time budget studies shows clearly that in areas where a higher proportion of women were single and/or childless, women’s free time per month was substantially higher – though still substantially lower than their male counterparts – indicating the widespread acceptance of childcare as women’s work.[18]

The intensity of the dual burden upon working women increased throughout the 1930s, demonstrated in David Hoffman’s Stalinist Values: the Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941. The time budget studies used by Hoffman show that in addition to full time employment, women’s domestic labour time averaged four to six hours per day, in contrast to the one hour managed by men.[19] Time budget studies provided in John Barber’s ‘Working Class and Political Culture in the 1930s’ also suggest that time spent on ‘employment related activities’ declined amongst women from the 1920s to the 1930s, and was redirected to housework.[20] Therefore, although the Great Retreat might be considered a fairly radical discursive move toward social conservatism, in its rehabilitation of the family. The phenomenon is properly understood as a pragmatic endorsement of the social infrastructure which had been consolidated throughout the 1920s, in which women performed ‘socialist labour’ both inside and outside the home. Our attention should now turn to the written responses of women to the state on these issues, in the context of these contradictions, to understand how they endeavoured to negotiate most effectively these conflicting demands on their time and their bodies.

Mothers and Workers: Negotiating Dual Identities

Public letters – in this case, those written from citizens to state officials – will be used to assess how Soviet mothers were able to reconcile their competing public identities as mothers and workers, to demonstrate their agency in the early Soviet state. Women’s letters to officials and newspapers saw them reproduce official discourse to articulate different aspects of their lives, revealing their understandings of their gender identity as it was constructed by the new Soviet state.[21] Women in the early Soviet period – both as working mothers and as working women – arguably sought to exploit their dual statuses to establish a space in Soviet society which was more bearable, both ideologically and materially.[22]

Frequently, women employed their dual status to offer critique to the Soviet state on legislation that affected them. Often, in letters of this kind which propose alterations or additions to Soviet legislation, women described themselves with ‘compound identities’, with epithets as ‘mother-worker’, ‘mother-teacher’, ‘mother-collective worker’, and so on.[23] One woman sought in her letter the addition to the legislation of a commitment to the creation of ‘specialist circles’ for ‘woman-mothers with infants’. With this unusual (though not unique) wording, she displayed a complex understanding of the New Soviet Woman.[24] Her compound identity of ‘woman-mother’ suggests not that her identity as a woman exists quite separately from her motherhood, but that this is ideologically recognisable as a concept. Her public labour is contained within this aspect of her identity, whereas her service to the next Soviet generation is implied by her identity as a ‘mother’. Additionally, the fact that this request was sent in response to article 122, which codified equality between the sexes in the Soviet Union, implies that the author’s understood that the equality afforded to women by Article 122 was insufficient, if it did not at least facilitate an informal support system in the workplace for women once they became mothers.

Evidence can also be found that throughout the 1920s, when attention was focused on women’s roles in the workplace, rather than the home and family, women were able to legitimise their continued presence in the home as mothers ideologically. Letters of gratitude, sent in response to the 1936 Decree (which outlined material provisions and incentives to mothers of larger families), frequently suggested a discursive acceptance that women’s dual identities – in the workplace and the home – was part of Soviet power, rather than an indication that it had not yet arrived.[25] One such letter, exemplifying this trend, suggested that prior to the codified promise of material assistance, the author’s role as a mother to a large family was treated with hostility by her peers on her collective farm. The author exclaimed: ‘Glad we are now that the state wants to give us, the mothers, such a great help, for which, of course, we thank it!”[26] Indeed, her inclusion of the temporal condition of her gratitude is telling. The author here emphasizes that her labour at home and in the work-place has been hitherto unacknowledged. Women in the early Soviet period – and in particular, those with children – were consistently expected both to build the new socialist state in the workplace, and to raise (members of) the new socialist society in the home. The practical contradictions this presented were sharply felt by Soviet mothers, whose full energies were expected to be dedicated both to their roles as mothers, and as productive workers. In addition to this, as Soviet citizens, these ‘working mothers’ were expected to pursue self-improvement, e.g. through education, and political engagement.

Conclusions

Despite subsequent waves of legislation, and several attempts to refocus the ideological lens on the role of women in society, Soviet policy and ideology could not resolve the continuous double burden that was assigned to working women – and particularly, working mothers. In spite of this, women were able to ascribe a sense of public legitimacy, and ultimately agency to their dual roles in Soviet society, as workers in the factory and in the home. Early Soviet responses to the ‘Woman Question’ created, in essence, the ‘double burden’ shouldered by Soviet women. Women’s full energies were demanded both inside and outside the home. As the fledgling state struggled to meet its theoretical commitments to socialised child-rearing, communal domestic labour, and social equality between the sexes, it defaulted to the working women it had sought to liberate from the burden to undertake to provide the necessary labour. This burden was, as Sacks stated, ‘acute and consistent’ for women throughout the 1920s and 1930s, as state policy claimed both to revolutionise and stabilise the lives of women at work and in the home.

So, as the first decade of Soviet power came to a close, the social and political significance of women as mothers and workers was enshrined in Soviet policy. Women were extolled both as workers and peasants, and as the cultivators of the ‘future of [the] country’ – as mothers.[27] Both the roles of mother and worker had, by the 1930s, been admitted to the Soviet ‘pantheon of heroes’.[28] The ideological requirement that they enthusiastically fulfil both these roles presented women with significant personal and practical hardship. They were however, frequently able to employ both public identities to exercise their agency in what was, undeniably, a highly authoritarian society. Though in practice, the double burden was overwhelming, in communication with Soviet authorities, working mothers could take on the symbolic significance of their dual identity in its totality. Working women and working mothers could evoke aspects of their identities to amplify both their achievements and their hardships, if not to critique the restrictions their dual burden placed upon them, to negotiate a more bearable settlement as Soviet mothers and workers.

Bibliography

Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF)

  1. 9424 Ministry of Justice of the USSR (1936-56, 1970-1991)
  2. 1 d.1476 Proposals and amendments made by the institutions and citizens of the USSR on the draft law on marriage, divorce, alimony, and abortion, 1936.
  3. 3316 Central Executive Committee of the USSR (1922-1938)
  4. 41, d. 40 Clippings from newspapers and reports with the proposals on the draft Constitution of the USSR to Article 122, first edition

Published Primary Material

‘Decree on the Prohibition of Abortions, the Improvement of Material Aid to Women in Childbirth, the Establishment of State Assistance to Parents of Large Families, and the Extension of the Network of Lying-in Homes, Nursery schools and Kindergartens, the Tightening-up of Criminal Punishment for the Non-payment of Alimony, and on Certain Modifications in Divorce Legislation’, via http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1936-2/abolition-of-legal-abortion/abolition-of-legal-abortion-texts/protection-of-motherhood/ [last accessed 30/04/2018].

Lenin, V.I., ‘Speech at the Fourth Moscow City Conference of Non-Party Working Women, 1919’, in The Woman Question: Selections from the Writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, (New York, 1951).

Lenin, V.I., ‘International Working Women’s Day’, in On the Emancipation of Women, (Moscow, 1977).

Lenin, V.I., ‘The Working Class and neo-Malthusianism’, in On the Emancipation of Women, (Moscow, 1977).

Stalin, J., ‘The Greatest Reserve of the Working Class’, in On the Emancipation of Women, (Moscow, 1977).

Secondary Sources Cited

Barber, J., ‘Working Class and Political Culture in the 1930s’, H. Gunther (ed.), The Culture of the Stalin Period, (Basingstoke, 1990), pp. 3-14.

Bernstein, F.L., The Dictatorship of Sex: Lifestyle Advice for the Soviet Masses, (Illinois, 2011).

Bernstein, F.L., Burton, C., Healey D., (eds), Soviet Medicine: Culture, Practice and Science, (Illinois, 2010).

Brooks, J., When Russia Learned to Read, (Princeton, 1985).

Brooks, J., Thank You Comrade Stalin! Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War, (Princeton, 2003).

Burbank, J., Russian Peasants Go To Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917, (Bloomington, 2004).

Clark, C.E., Uprooting Otherness: The Literacy Campaign in NEP-Era Russia, (New Jersey, 2003).

Dobson, M., ‘Letters’, M. Dobson, B. Ziemann, (eds), Reading Primary Sources: the Interpretation of texts from nineteenth and twentieth century history, (London, 1998), pp. 57-73.

Engel, B., Breaking the Ties that Bound: the Politics of Marital Strife in Late Imperial Russia, (2011).

Engels, F., The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, (Moscow, 1992).

Fitzpatrick, S., ‘Supplicants and Citizens: Public Letter Writing in Soviet Russia in the 1930s’, Slavic Review, 55:1, (1996), pp. 78-105.

  1. Goldman, Women, Revolution, and the State, 1917-1936: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, (Cambridge, 1993).

Hearne, S., ‘the “Black Spot” on the Crimea: Venereal Diseases in the Black Sea Fleet in the 1920s’, Social History, 42:2, (May, 2017), pp. 181-204.

Hoffman, D.L., Stalinist Values: the Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941, (London, 2003).

Kaminsky, L., ‘Utopian Visions of Family Life in the Stalin-Era Soviet Union’, Central European History, 44, (2011), pp. 63-91.

Kotkin, S., Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilisation, (London, 1995).

Kristeva J., ‘Women’s time’, SIGNS, 7:1, (1971), pp. 13-35.

Lenoe, M., ‘Letter-Writing and the State: Reader Correspondence with Newspapers as a Source for Early Soviet History, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 40:1-2, (1999), pp. 139-169.

Naiman, E., Sex in Public: the Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology, (Princeton, 1997).

Parker H., ‘Voices of the New Soviet Woman: Gender, Emancipation and Agency in Letters to the Soviet State’, University of Sheffield, 2018.

 

Proctor, H., ‘Women on the Edge of Time: Representations of Revolutionary Motherhood in the NEP-Era Soviet Union’, Studies in the Maternal, 7:1, (2015), pp. 1-20.

Quigley, J., ‘The 1926 Soviet Family Code: Retreat From Free Love’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 6:1, (1979), pp. 166-174.

Sacks, M.P., ‘Unchanging Times: A Comparison of the Everyday Life of Soviet Working Men and Women between 1923 and 1966’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 39:4, (November, 1977), pp. 793-805.

Timasheff, N., The Great Retreat: The Growth and Decline of Communism in Russia, (Nw York, 1946).

Tippner, A., ‘Girls in Combat: Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia and the image of Young Soviet Wartime Heroines’, Russian Review, 73:3, (2014), pp. 371-388.

Turton, T., ‘Gender and Family in the Russian Revolutionary Movement’, M. Ilic, (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Women and Gender in Twentieth Century Russia and the Soviet Union, (Basingstoke, 2018), pp. 70-81.

Waters, E., in ‘Victim or Villain? Prostitution in post-Revolutionary Russia’, L. Edmondson (ed.), Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 160-167.

[1] Overviews of the various approaches to the reconfiguration of motherhood in the new Soviet state can be found in H. Proctor ‘‘Women on the Edge of Time: Representations of Revolutionary Motherhood in the NEP-Era Soviet Union’, Studies in the Maternal, 7:1, (2015), pp. 1-20; and in particular from chapters 1 and 2 of W. Goldman, Women, Revolution, and the State, 1917-1936: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, (Cambridge, 1993).

[2] V.I. Lenin, ‘Speech at the Fourth Moscow City Conference of Non-Party Working Women, 1919’, in The Woman Question: Selections from the Writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, (New York, 1951), p. 43.

[3] F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, (Moscow, 1992), p. 92.

[4] The ‘monumental’ reproductive time of women is proposed in J. Kristeva ‘Women’s time’, SIGNS, 7:1, (1971), pp. 13-35. Its application here suggests that cycles of reproduction caused Soviet theorists great anxiety about following the revolution, as they were considered to ‘chain’ the new state to the past. For more on this, see ch. 5 of E. Naiman in Sex in Public: the Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology, (Princeton, 1997).

[5] V.I. Lenin, ‘International Working Women’s Day’, in On the Emancipation of Women, (Moscow, 1977), p. 82.

[6] H. Proctor, ‘Women on the Edge of Time’.

[7] An overview of the struggle to ‘liquidate’ illiteracy is presented by C.E. Clark, Uprooting Otherness: the Literacy Campaign in NEP-Era Russia, (London, 2000), J. Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read, (Princeton, 1985), and J. Brooks, Thank You Comrade Stalin! Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War, (Princeton, 2003).

[8] A fuller exploration of the agency exercised by women in the public sphere in the Russian Empire is provided by Jane Burbank, in Russian Peasants Go To Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917, (Bloomington, 2004), and Barbara Engel, Breaking the Ties that Bound: the Politics of Marital Strife in Late Imperial Russia, (2011).

[9] W. Z. Goldman, Women, Revolution, and the State, p. 308. The question of ‘retreat’ by the Soviet State on the principles of ‘free love’ can be explored more fully in W. Goldman, ‘Freedom and its Consequences: the Debate on the Soviet Family Code of 1926’, Russian History, 11:4, (December, 1984), pp. 362-388, and in J. Quigley, ‘The 1926 Soviet Family Code: Retreat From Free Love’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 6:1, (1979), pp. 166-174.

[10] Jeffrey Brooks has persuasively argued that early Bolshevik leaders successfully constructed the vanguard party as a benefactor to the public, in effect establishing a ‘moral economy of the gift’, having ‘granted’ the public social and material freedom. For more on this, see J. Brooks, Thank You Comrade Stalin!.

[11] V.I. Lenin, ‘The Working Class and neo-Malthusianism’, in On the Emancipation of Women, (Moscow, 1977), p. 31. For more on early Soviet anxieties about female sexual behaviour, see E. Naiman, Sex in Public, F.L. Bernstein, The Dictatorship of Sex: Lifestyle Advice for the Soviet Masses, (Illinois, 2011), S. Hearne ‘the “Black Spot” on the Crimea: Venereal Diseases in the Black Sea Fleet in the 1920s’, Social History, 42:2, (May, 2017), pp. 181-204, and E. Waters, in ‘Victim or Villain? Prostitution in post-Revolutionary Russia’, in L. Edmondson (ed.), Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 160-167. The literature on Soviet ‘struggles’ against social problems more broadly is vast. Select examples include D.L. Hoffman, Stalinist Values: the Cultural Norms of Stalinist Modernity, (Ithaca, 2003), C.E. Clark, Uprooting Otherness: The Literacy Campaign in NEP-Era Russia, (New Jersey, 2003), and F.L. Bernstein, C. Burton, D. Healey (eds), Soviet Medicine: Culture, Practice and Science, (Illinois, 2010).

[12] K. Turton, ‘Gender and Family in the Russian Revolutionary Movement’, M. Ilic, (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Women and Gender in Twentieth Century Russia and the Soviet Union, (Basingstoke, 2018), pp. 70-81.

[13] H. Proctor, ‘Women on the Edge of Time’

[14] ‘Decree on the Prohibition of Abortions, the Improvement of Material Aid to Women in Childbirth, the Establishment of State Assistance to Parents of Large Families, and the Extension of the Network of Lying-in Homes, Nursery schools and Kindergartens, the Tightening-up of Criminal Punishment for the Non-payment of Alimony, and on Certain Modifications in Divorce Legislation’, via http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1936-2/abolition-of-legal-abortion/abolition-of-legal-abortion-texts/protection-of-motherhood/ [last accessed 30/04/2018].

[15] N. Timasheff, The Great Retreat: The Growth and Decline of Communism in Russia, (New York, 1946).

[16] L. Kaminsky, ‘Utopian Visions of Family Life in the Stalin-Era Soviet Union’, Central European History, 44, (2011), pp.

[17] M.P. Sacks, ‘Unchanging Times: A Comparison of the Everyday Life of Soviet Working Men and Women between 1923 and 1966’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 39:4, (November, 1977), p. 798.

[18] Ibid., p. 798.

[19] D.L. Hoffman, Stalinist Values: the Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941, (London, 2003), p. 115.

[20] J. Barber, ‘Working Class and Political Culture in the 1930s’, H. Gunther (ed.), The Culture of the Stalin Period, (Basingstoke, 1990), p. 5.

[21] The use of letters as a source in Soviet History has produced a growing field of literature. A short selection of key works includes M. Dobson, ‘Letters’, M. Dobson, B. Ziemann, (eds), Reading Primary Sources: the Interpretation of texts from nineteenth and twentieth century history, (London, 1998), pp. 57-73; S. Fitzpatrick, ‘Supplicants and Citizens: Public Letter Writing in Soviet Russia in the 1930s’, Slavic Review, 55:1, (1996), pp. 78-105; S. Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilisation, (London, 1995); M. Lenoe, ‘Letter-Writing and the State: Reader Correspondence with Newspapers as a Source for Early Soviet History, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 40:1-2, (1999), pp. 139-169.

[22] For a more detailed exploration of the ways in which Soviet women related their lives and aspects of their identity to the regime, and a fuller analysis of the letters outlined below, see my doctoral thesis: H. Parker ‘Voices of the New Soviet Woman: Gender, Emancipation and Agency in Letters to the Soviet State’, University of Sheffield, 2018.

[23] Though examples of compound identities are found in most kinds of communication with authorities by women, a number of examples of compound identities were found in a file of responses to article 122 of the Stalin Constitution, which ratified the protection of the equal rights of women with men, e.g., GARF, f. 3316, op. 41, d. 40, ll. 5, 6, 12, 18, 19, 21.

[24] GARF, f. 3316, op. 41, d. 40, l. 18.

[25] Many letters in this vein are found in a collection of women’s responses to the 1936 Decree: GARF, f.9492 op.1 d.1475. More on women’s tendency to explain their unhappy experiences under Soviet power as a result of the time and work required to ‘unfold’ the Revolution into the corners of everyday life across the USSR can be found in my thesis, H. Parker ‘Voices of the New Soviet Woman: Gender, Emancipation and Agency in Letters to the Soviet State’, University of Sheffield, 2018.

[26] GARF f.9424 оp. 1 d.1476 l. 130. Italics my own.

[27] Stalin, ‘The Greatest Reserve of the Working Class’, p. 44.

[28] The phrase ‘pantheon of heroes’ was first encountered in A. Tippner, ‘Girls in Combat: Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia and the image of Young Soviet Wartime Heroines’, Russian Review, 73:3, (2014), pp. 371-388.