Life as a Girl in the Soviet Union

“Peasant girls. [Russian Empire] – Library of Congress,” accessed January 30, 2020,

As we look at the gallery of pictures taken by Prokudin-Gorskii’s, you can see that many of his pictures were taken outdoors. As I analyzed this picture I can see that these three young peasant girls are wearing thick long dresses, shoulders covered, with head coverings, and on holding berries on a plate. This made me believe that they were religious or conservative especially since this picture was taken in 1909. It was interesting the facts I learned because after some research, Russia had the highest amount of women with higher education requirement jobs than any other country in Europe, many women were teachers, lawyers, doctors and many other professions (Wolanski). This was because Russia really wanted to improve their countries economic status. It was also mentioned that in 1918 the Russian Government created legislation that wanted to weaken the family and marriage, this was put in place so that people would focus on the country (Wolanski). When looking at this picture you would not think that that about any country let alone Russia. You can even see the crooked wood house in the background which shows where these girls lived. Peasants were the majority in the early 1900 and agriculture was their main source of their food and income (Simkin, 2020). Berries were very popular and grown in the rural areas, they symbolize the gifts of the forest and dacha which is very important in Russian culture (Every Culture). During the 1900s religion was a very big part of the Russian Empire and many belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church (Simkin, 2020). When I think of peasant, I picture people a low income person with clothes that look more worn out and look very old. The girls in this picture are wearing dresses that look like they are made from nice clothing. This picture is very interesting on the social and economic transformation.

Russia in 1900, 2020 Accessed 1/28/2020

Russia, Accessed 1/28/2020

The role of Women in Soviet Russia, Molly Wolanski Accessed 1/28/2020

11 thoughts on “Life as a Girl in the Soviet Union”

  1. This is such a lovely photo! I find the image of the peasant girls in their colorful, traditional clothing so compelling — and as you say, there’s such a contrast between what they are wearing and the rough hewn logs of the buildings behind them.
    One of the tricky things about analyzing an image like this is the time period. The statistics you cite about women’s employment and reforms in marriage and family law are from AFTER the revolution (1917). Check the Freeze text for a discussion of peasant life in the 19th century. And think about how political groups like the populists and the SR’s understood peasant life in the 19th century.

  2. Siria,

    Your post incorporated many different bits of information that I had never learned before! Mainly, the fact that Russia had the highest number of women with higher education requirement jobs. I found this interesting and think that it is often forgotten or just plainly ignored when people talk about Russia in the 20th century.

  3. This is such an interesting picture and a great read! I had no idea that Russia had the highest amount of women with higher education jobs in all of Europe. I also hadn’t really given the symbolism of the berries and the religious aspects much thought at all on my first look at this image. You drew some really cool conclusions and relationships from this image to what we’ve been studying!

  4. It is truly amazing the insane amount of meaning that one can find in a photo when you truly look into it. This shows Gorskii’s genius and uniqueness in what he was trying to show in his depictions of the Russian people and society during this time period. I also didn’t know just how educated Russian women were in comparison to the rest of Europe. it really just shows the deeper cultural divide between East and West that has persisted to this day.

    1. Every time I look at a picture I always have to remind myself that saying a picture is worth a thousand words! It was surprising to learn about how educated Russian women were at the time period. Thank you for your comment(:

  5. Hey Siria, very interesting selection and it’s quite fascinating how Prokudin-Gorskii was able to replicate real life colors with such accuracy at the time. I found it interesting that Russia has such a matriarchal culture compared to other Western nations, this must’ve helped tremendously when Russia lost countless men in WWI and nearly an entire generation in WWII. Great choice of picture, good discussion topic!

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