“Labor as freedom, labor as burden”: on the early period of women’s professional employment in Russia

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Abstract


This article discusses the emergence of the Russian working woman employed in skilled labor from the second half 19th century until the 1930s. In Russia, educated women entered the sphere of socially significant labor during the Great Reforms. The subsequent development largely explains the position of the working woman in modern Russia - hence the topicality of the present paper. Sources for this article are record-keeping documents of tsarist and Soviet institutions, statistical information, press materials as well as memoirs. Among the factors that influenced the formation of the Russian female working class in the pre-revolutionary period were a social movement for the development of female education, the emergence of special vocational schools for women, the Zemstvo reforms, industrialization and, eventually, World War I. The article shows changes in the nature of the employment of women after the 1917 Revolution. The authors document the rapid growth of women’s participation in all spheres of the USSR’s national economy in the 1930s, in particular health care, education, and work in the apparatus of state, party and economic bodies. As a result, during this period the professional traits of the three main types of Soviet female workers were formed: the woman-doctor, the woman-teacher and the womanfunctionary. At the same time, the authors come to the conclusion that Soviet rule brought no fundamental changes in the conditions of everyday life, so that the Soviet woman-intellectual turned out to be a “fighter of two fronts” - labor and domestic.


Women are endowed by nature with such strong, clear, insightful intelligence. And this capacity remains useless to society, which rejects it, suppresses it, and stifles it. The history of humanity would have progressed ten times faster if this intelligence hadn’t been so rejected and destroyed, but instead had been allowed to function. N. Chernyshevsky. What Is To Be Done? Introduction The complex of problems related to women’s social activity and the formation in Russia of female professional groups has long been developed by Russian and foreign scientists. Initially, the “struggle for education” was directly associated with the inclusion of women in the liberation movement. Modern researchers are interested in both general issues of Russian feminism1 and specific profession-related topics. The most “traditional” issues are the issues of female education,2 gradual mastering by women of such professions as medicine,3 school education,4 mentoring, and social work,5 as well as academic science.6 Specifically, researchers’ interests center on specific features of the daily life of women engaged in professional labor under the influence of political, social, and demographic circumstances.7 It is particularly remarkable that, as a rule, researchers do not separate women from professional scholastic society due to the significant growth of their number during the first Soviet decades,8 viewing this process as the goal and result of the state gender policy.9 Research in the sphere of the “gender specifics” of professional activity gained momentum due to the scientific exchange at the annual conferences of the Russian Association of Researchers of the History of Women, held under the direction of N. Pushkareva, who herself is an initiator of new trends in this sphere.10 The subject of this article is the process of formation of the type of Russian working women employed in areas requiring skilled mental labor during the period from the second half of the 19th century until the 1930s. This process resulted in the formation of probably the largest group of the Russian working population. The labor of peasants and labor at factories and plants, even when such labor required knowledge and quali- fication, was disregarded, as it still does not determine the nature of modern female labor in Russia. Moreover, we also disregard women in creative professions due to the peculiarities of their labor and the unique nature of each one’s biography. The authors intended to answer the question of how the strengths and weaknesses of a working Russian woman were formed. What this question involves is not so much the system of values and basic attitudes of the educated woman employed, but rather the “habits” of the state and society, related to the use of women’s labor. This process is suggested to be viewed within the Weber’s approach, as a woman has surrounding obligations influencing her fulfillment of her labor and public obligations to a much larger extent than a man. The discharge from such obligations due to objective conditions generated by the tradition is effected in conformity with the type of strengthening of the rationalistic features of social action. The Difficult Beginning of Women’s Professional Labor in Russia Due to the specifics of the profession and of our past, the first women engaged in socially important professional labor were involved in obstetrics.11 The first laws regulating their obligations were adopted as early as in the eighteenth century. At that time, a midwife, a delivery nurse and an obstetrician were distinguished. A midwife was an urban or rural woman with practical obstetrics skills. A delivery nurse, however, was a graduate of an obstetric school, where young girls leaving orphanages were often sent. Their activity was regulated by the Maieutics Charter dated 30 June, 1811, which received Imperial confirmation. In contrast to an obstetrician, a delivery nurse was not entitled to give medical treatment, prescribe complex drugs, or use tools. They were all required to display decent conduct and live a sober lifestyle, in order to be able to attend an emergency at any moment. Besides delivery nurses involved in private practice, there were also delivery nurses in public service. For example, in the 1830s, the medical division of the Don Cossack Host employed five female delivery nurses.12 Probably, the first women in the whole Russian Empire to get paid for intellectual labor were English, French and German women who had come to far-away Russia as governesses of girls growing up in noble families. The “madame” from The Squire’s Daughter, a story by A. Pushkin, may serve as an example. She was “Miss Jackson, a prim and proper forty-year-old maiden lady who powdered her face, penciled her eyebrows, read through Pamela twice a year, received two thousand rubles for it, and was dying of boredom in this barbarous Russia.” The situation remained unchanged until the adoption in 1834 of the Regulation on Home Mentors and Teachers, according to which, such persons in all cases had to be Russian nationals. Boarding schools became the source of preparation of girls for such positions. Initially, girls’ boarding schools proposed two choices for their graduates - either a marriage or staying at the school as educators and teachers. During the reign of Nicholas I, women also received the opportunity to be hired by individuals and work in families of public officers, land owners, military officials, and rich merchants. Many years of isolation made graduates of boarding schools quite naive with regard to everyday life issues. In this connection, it is clear why the graduates tried to remain at the boarding schools that had become their home as long as possible. However, the position of governess in a private home was selected under the pressure of difficult financial circumstances that became worse during the post-reform time. Philanthropic ladies motivated by a feeling of compassion towards those less fortunate established societies for assistance to the poor. Among their other activities, they founded schools preparing girls from various social classes for passing examinations to become governesses or home teachers. This endeavor was guided by A. Evropeus. Giving free lectures for female audiences became an honor for university professors. In private homes, scientific courses for women were organized. The volume of the disciplines studied in obstetrics classes were already starting to reach the university level. During those years, several girls gained the right to attend lectures and classes at the laboratories of the Military Medical Academy in Saint-Petersburg as non-matriculated students, which continued for only a few months. The biography of the first Russian female physician, Nadezhda Suslova, states that the reason for termination of the female group’s classes was a prohibiting order from the minister of war. However, it seems that even before this order was issued, Nadezhda was distressed by the very atmosphere existing in the classrooms. On 22 October, 1863, Suslova’s sister Apollinariya wrote in her diary: “Sister writes it isn’t possible to stay at the academy because of the students’ obscene tricks and asks to find out if she could attend lectures in Paris. Apparently, she’ll be able do it”.13 In 1864-1867, Nadezhda Suslova took a course and was awarded a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Zurich. However, the University of Zurich was elite. Not everyone had enough resolution, self-confidence, and, primarily, funds to go abroad to study. In Russia, the first courses for women were the Alarchinskiye courses opened in 1869 by the Alarchin Bridge in the building of the 5th gymnasium in Saint-Petersburg and the Lubyanskiye courses held in Moscow, where women were prepared for examinations for the titles of feldsher and home teacher at the level of vocational secondary education. Later, during the struggle for higher education for women, there were organized public lectures that could be attended by both men and women. Held at the Vladimir District School, the courses were called the Vladimir Higher Courses for Women (1870-1875). They were formed by the women who had attended the Alarchinskiye courses and who wished to have a university-level education. The first opportunity to obtain higher education for women in Russia was provided by the Higher Courses for Women by professor Vladimir Guerrier (“Courses Guerrier”) (opened in Moscow in 1872, in Kazan in 1876, and in Kiev in 1878) with humanitarian and scientific departments. In 1878, the famous higher Bestuzhev Courses for women were opened, led by professor Konstantin Nikolayevich Bestuzhev-Ryumin. The women involved in socially useful labor by the Zemstvo reform were public teachers, physicians and feldshers. The difference between the stage of boarding schoolgirls and the stage of the post-reform women consisted in the degree of their interaction with the world of working men and the open society in general. During the pre-reform time, a former boarding schoolgirl entered the closed world of a family or a female educational institution, retaining her nun-like status, destining herself to celibacy and leaving her position after marriage. During the post-reform time, the number of women who lived by their own labor, including intellectual labor, grew significantly, which was related not only to the destruction of the landowners’ lifestyle, the undermining of the class system, and demographic factors, but also to changes in the volume and structure of the labor market in connection with the reforms. The life of a working woman of the post-reform time was reflected in the reminiscences of E. Kozlinina.14 Ekaterina Ivanovna lived a long life. Her main work was rewriting judicial documents. Initially, she was able to get this job with the assistance of her uncle, who was a secretary of the senate. She usually worked not less than 14 hours per a day, during which she wrote at least 20 senate sheets, for which, in the beginning of her copyist career, she was paid 5 copecks per sheet from the government funds. After getting married, she didn’t stop working as a copyist, and at the age of 22 years, having become a widow with three children to take care of, she was employed by the senate court. Ekaterina Ivanovna undertook the task of copying the papers of attorneys-at-law. She was already paid 30-40 copecks per sheet or 5-10 rubles per month. After a while, she started to represent interests in the world court. Her payment was the costs awarded against the defeated party for the conduct of the case and the litigation expenses. She tried to use the democratic potential of the court reform in order to make attorney’s labor available to women and submitted a request to the minister of justice to be issued a certificate on equal terms with other private solicitors. The answer was a circular completely prohibiting women from practicing law.15 At the end of her life, in 1913, E. Kozlinina wrote that true emancipation of Russian women was not possible: general and vocational education was developing extremely slowly. In her opinion, two or three generations of young schooled people were required in order to have people able to master a university program. Nevertheless, by that time, female vocational and, in particular, medical education had come a long way. N. Suslova and M. Bokova were the first Russian women who got a degree in medicine in Zurich and came back to Russia in 1867. The third woman, V. Kashevarova, obtained a diploma due to the patronage of her husband, professor M. Rudnev. The first medical courses in Russia for women were opened on 2 November, 1872 at the Medical Surgical Academy due to the assistance of the minister of war D. Milyutin and the monetary contribution of L. Rodstvennaya-Shanyavskaya. Initially, the courses had a four-year program preparing qualified obstetricians. Soon, the program was expanded to five years according to the program applied for medical faculties of a university. On 7 February, 1878, the first 30 women graduated. They were awarded with a “Female Physician” badge. However, in 1886, the courses were closed. The wife of a distinguished cadet, A. Kizevetter, reported the arguments against women in medicine, submitted by some “progressively thinking” gentleman: “…Look at a female tooth puller, for example. What would you to do if she pulled a healthy tooth out instead of a sore one? You could scold a male dentist or even give him a punch in the eye, but you could never do that to a lady!..”16 It was difficult for certified medical specialists to obtain employment, but they were accepted by zemstvos. Contrary to the expectations, peasants got used to “doctresses” faster than the authorities. Later, the city council of Saint-Petersburg adopted a resolution on acceptance of women to the council’s physicians. The labor intensity of female physicians was higher than that that of their male colleagues, which is confirmed by statistics. During the year 1887, for each of the five female physicians in the Moscow governorate there were 5.5 thousand outpatients and 249 inpatients; for male physicians, the numbers were 4.77 thousand outpatients and 241 inpatients. In Saint-Petersburg, during the same year, each of the council’s male physicians attended 6.8 thousand patients coming to the physician’s house and visited 2 thousand patients at the patient’s house; for the female physicians, these numbers made up 9.4 thousand patients and 2.3 thousand patients, correspondingly. In 1913, of the 25,927 Russian physicians, women accounted for 8%, i.e., 2,193 people. In Germany of that time, the share of women in the medical sphere was less than 0.5%, i.e., about 150 people. By law, women could hold any civil physician positions, except for the position of a senior physician, which determined the fact that 80% of female physicians practiced in governorates of zemstvos.17 However, in connection with the fact that women working in state institutions was prohibited, governmental medical positions were not available for them either. Already in the 1880s, female physicians came to private and zemsky medical institutions and remained there for permanent employment. For example, the personnel lists of the Rostov-on-Don Jewish hospital for 1886 include the surnames of female junior doctors, dentists and feldshers, which were specified in the reports for 1913 and 1914.18 The expansion of secondary medical education made the professions of dentists, obstetricians, feldshers, and masseuses widespread among women. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the cost of education provided by such courses was quite affordable even for people with low income. To attend the courses, at least three years of education in an urban or rural secondary school were required. Nevertheless, having acquired a certificate confirming the completion of the courses, the woman did not become a part of the educated elite. The profession they had obtained made it possible to avoid starvation, and was, moreover, the salvation of many women of various classes, who had to find a way to be self-sufficient, which is also important to note. Among the women involved in providing medical assistance to the population, there were many representatives of the Jewish faith. The Jewish women who preferred an independent life full of hardships and uncertainties to a marriage to a respected rabbi were guided by a common motive: they wanted to avoid the fate of their mothers, who had to carry the burden of all the wordly troubles instead of their husbands, who were preoccupied with ancient wisdom (or other wool-gathering). This fact has been described by the biographers of Gesya Gelfman, a member of “Narodnaya Volya,” and directly evidenced about themselves by Vera Shveitser and Cecilia Zelikson-Bobrovskaya.19 Often women fending for themselves crossed paths with members of various antigovernmental groups and parties. This may be explained in part by the tsarist secret police’s interest in that fact before the revolution, due to which they documented it, making it possible for revolutionary writers to later focus their attention on that circumstance. Probably, there was also an objective factor in that friendship. A single woman living separately from her relatives and not accounting to anyone for her contacts and visitors was a good address for those who travelled through the country illegally. Nadezhda Mitrofanovna Stopani, the sister of a companion of N. Bauman and V. Lenin, being a certified feldsher and living in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, let a whole group of illegals (among them, 1. Frunze, A. Bubnov, and even two women - Cecilia Zelikson and a propagandist Marusya, who later married Bubnov) live in her apartment at her own expense. When she was away for work, her guests were able to do nothing more than drink tea from the samovar. And only on Sundays the good housewife cooked a hot lunch for them. 1. Kollontai stated that “the revolution created a new type of a woman.” It was a confident unmarried girl usually living alone, working and independently choosing partners for herself. The new woman places the utmost importance on common sense and career rather than on feelings and family. Any romantic relationship such a woman might have would always be based on equality. This woman would be+ able to leave a husband she didn’t love.20 The memoirs of female party leaders written after the revolution are different from the letters of the women who were under the silent surveillance of the police. The former texts reflect the women’s certainty about their values and awareness of their historical righteousness. The latter texts are indicative of unsuccessful private lives, frequent relocations, troubles with relatives, and attempts to warm up by the fire of their companions’ activities. The investigative division of Rostov was monitoring the correspondence of local social democrats and socialist-revolutionaries. Rozaliya Likhter, a 34-year-old delivery nurse working in a Jewish city hospital, came to the attention of the police in this connection. On 1 February, 1914, she wrote to a feldsher of a zemsky hospital in Yuzovka Sophya Brovarskaya regarding Aleksey Ivanovich Lobov, their mutual acquaintance whom they had met at a meeting of the social-democratic club in Saratov. It turned out that Rozaliya spent with him the nights when she didn’t have to work at the hospital and felt younger, even though she knew that soon everything was to be ended, as he had to move away. He was married, although, as can be easily guessed, he tells Rozaliya that he has already separated from his wife and has nothing in common with her but their son. Rozaliya admires the maturity of his opinions and his developed party status: “…He is a strong man, and all our sufferings and emotions are strange to him. He is a man of integrity and has a strong Russian spirit that breaks life itself rather than be broken by it”.21 However, in 1917, after the Commission for the Establishment of a New Order published lists of secret agents of the tsarist secret police, Lobov was identified as a provocator and arrested. Twice he tried to escape, but was not successful and was shot by court order.22 The lonely apolitical teacher Zinaida Denis’yevskaya reflected in her diary the same readiness to get attached to anyone approaching her: “Why are we, working and independently living girls, so lonely and helpless? There is no family, and there is no love. Inevitably, your melancholy makes you rush to look for oblivion in some preoccupation.”23 One of the reasons for the high percentage of unmarried women with professional qualifications may be the stability of the class system in the matrimonial sphere. S. Vasil’chenko, who subsequently became a Bolshevik, described the considerations taken into account when selecting a suitable husband for a certain girl. She was a priest’s daughter and graduated from a parochial secondary school for girls. Her father wanted to marry her off to a deacon from a rich congregation. An officer or a public official was not suitable, as her parent believed them to be less prosperous than churchmen. A marriage with a merchant was not possible, as merchants married other merchants, according to the most lucrative situation.24 She couldn’t marry a peasant either, since she wasn’t taught to perform the housekeeping. That is why thousands of such girls who were partly ladies and partly commoners had to work in the positions of teachers, librarians, copyists, sellers, and stewardesses, earning their daily bread. Having achieved their desired goals, young women felt disappointed. A 19-year-old female student who was a correspondent of A. Peshekhonov, a zemsky public figure and journalist of the Russkoye Bogatstvo magazine, reproached the older generation of progressive men for the “tricks,” or misleading goals that turned out to be just an illusion of a solution to life’s problems.25 By the beginning of the twentieth century, growing groups of educated women and women who were not educated but were officially employed in the sphere of hard manual work were formed. A couple of words may also be said about them. The high rates of mortality, industrial accidents, and leaving for seasonal work resulted in a large number of incomplete families. Girls got employed already starting in early childhood. They were lucky if they could find a position as nanny in a good family. However, it often happened that they immediately went to industrial facilities. In Rostov-on-Don, a female position was deemed to be production of cigarettes at one of the city’s tobacco factories. Already at the age of twelve, girls manually rolled cigarettes, while adult women operated the factory’s machines.26 A company belonging to E. Paramonov employed a woman as a steam engine boiler operator long before the First World War.27 The need for spacious women’s departments in prisons after the 1860s resulted in the growth of such peculiar female positions as wardresses. Even before that, women became employed as attendants of female divisions in lunatic asylums. Until the 1830s, retired soldiers and Cossaks used to be employed there, but later the direction considered it to be inappropriate.28 The First World War called for women to replace the officers who went off to the front, and take up their positions as clerks, draftsmen, telegraphists, and typists. In the summer of 1915, the Rostov newspaper “Priazovskiy Kray” told about the appearance of a new profession as though it were an outrageous event: “The word “konduktorsha” (conductress) is very rude; it would be much more pleasant to hear “konduktrissa,” in the same way as female heads of girls’ high schools are called “direktrissy” (directresses)….”29 It should be noted that, in order to replace the passenger car attendants, car washers, switch tenders and train conductors who were called to the field army, large South Russian companies employed their wives for these positions. The administration saw this as its patriotic duty towards the mobilized soldiers. Positions became opened in the area of handicrafts production, and first female shoemakers started their work.30 It is curious that it took a long time for women to acquire the positions of hairdressers and barbers, as it was viewed as immoral and resisted by the direction of the union of cities and the zemsky union. Starting in 1916, women’s employment at industrial production facilities became even more widespread. They worked as assistant fitters, markers, quality checkers, and packers. After the evacuation of Baltic plants to Taganrog for the purposes of constructing new buildings, strong were women also hired.31 This was necessary for the defense of the nation, but serious men were not ready to sacrifice their principles in this regard. In May of 1916, when N. Shchukin, director of the Petrograd Polytechnic Institute for Women, asked the head of the Main Workshops of the Vladikavkaz railroad to allow the institute’s students to practice flying there, the company’s officials started looking for the most convincing reasons to refuse. After discussing the possibilities, they chose the need for an urgent execution of a state defense order that would make it impossible to provide experienced trainers for the students.32 In 1917, as soldiers came back from the front, women started to be driven out from their working places, especially from such places not requiring special qualifi- cation or effort such as inspector, quality checker, layout specialist, and tram and train conductor. The selection of the candidates for dismissal was based on the principle of fairness, when women were dismissed if they had a supporter or another source of income. However, the resolution regarding the existence of the latter was adopted by a commission based on its own information. Sometimes a woman was left in the street without any money at all. The councils of soldiers’ deputies of “rear cities” (cities not on the front) were active supporters of such measures. In the “Front Rows of the Builders of Communism” In 1917, unemployment grew in the two main areas where women were employed: education and medicine. Oversupply of specialists was apparent even back then. In 1918, the number of personnel in the Rostov city hospital was reduced with both the Don Soviet Republic and the Don Cossack government in power. The dismissal rules developed by a meeting of the hospital’s physicians did not take into account the gender aspects. Those who became employed later than the others were dismissed. Of the 16 physicians of the hospital, there were three women, and none of them were dismissed.33 The number of unemployed teachers in the area of the Don Cossack Host amounted to hundreds of people. The situation in the center of the country was made worse by the teaching staff evacuated from the western governorates in 1915-1916. After the country was separated by the fronts of the Civil War, employment of teachers depended on the local authorities - district departments of national education, management bodies of Cossack villages, and rural gatherings: whoever had power still wanted to teach children. However, it was difficult to get a position, and it was equally difficult not to lose it. According to the documents of that time, commitment to the Cossack values was the most important requirement imposed on a person employed as a teacher in a gymnasium of a Don Cossack village. Conflicts arose in this connection, and the administration tried to make them look political. Zinaida Denis’yevskaya, an apolitical teacher from the Voronezh governorate, lived in a territory controlled by the Soviets during the whole war. She complained about the hunger, cold, boredom, and the impending old age, but the main thing worrying her was the persistent passion of the communists for reforms and reorganizations. She was afraid of any consolidations, transfers, and dissolutions. However, in general, everything came down to some minimal costs. At that time, the Bolsheviks were not interested in the political views of teaching staff. In 1918, teachers saluted the Bolsheviks for the introduction of a single soviet labor school, since that made it possible for parochial secondary schoolgirls and graduates of rural secondary schools who passed an examination for the title of public teacher to become professionally equal with graduates of universities. This is the story of Rufina Ivanovna, known from her surviving diary. In the summer of 1917, she graduated from the Kazan parochial secondary school for girls. Rufa was an orphan living as a dependent on her widowed aunt and, therefore, was in desperate need of income. In December 1918, a single trip to the public education department of Laishevo changed her from a monarchist to a sympathizer with the Soviets. In her diary, she wrote: “The Soviet Russia turned out to be completely different from the one depicted by the bourgeoisie. Everyone who is ‘red,’ from commissioners to ordinary soldiers, has made the most wonderful impression on me. Something joyful, bright, and exhilarating can be felt everywhere, and in spite of everything else, in spite of the terribly high prices, the lack of everything and the need for the bare essentials, your heart is overfilled with the immense and amazing spirit of freedom and great love for all those unfortunate and unhappy. Workers of the world, unite!”34 In a month, she was appointed a teacher of the Oshnyakovo rural secondary school and began to live a vibrant professional life. Twice a week, meetings were held of the teachers of the volost. Basically, they were parties with amateur performances and concerts, dances, charades, flirtation cards, and forfeits games. There were also young men among the teachers, for which reason kisses were introduced as frequent “forfeits” at such parties. In fact, Denis’yevskaya’s diary gives a similar picture of the everyday working life of Soviet teachers during the years of the Civil War. After the Kolchak attack on Kazan in the spring of 1919 was defeated, Rufa registered for the Red Army, signing up to a new battalion as a nursing assistant. In 1920, she was captured by the Poles, but was later freed from the enemy along with other prisoners. The last entry was made in her diary on 25 July, 1920 in Zhytomyr. It is very short, only three lines long. Probably, Rufa was already suffering from typhoid fever and soon died, and her diary was taken by one of her friends who wrote on the cover: “A Human Document of Transfer of a Girl from a Parochial Secondary Schoolgirl to a Bolshevik.” The fact that the diary was later found in the Prague Collection (which is confirmed by a stamp) and, later, in a collection of prominent white émigré writer and historian A. Amfiteatrov, makes it possible to suggest that it had been a trophy seized by someone from the Wrangel’s army during the successful August attack of 1920. In most cases, participation of women in the Civil War consisted in fulfilling the duties of nursing assistants and nurses. The required knowledge was provided by practice or by short-time courses both held before the revolution (for instance, under the Red Cross Society) and organized under Soviet rule at executive committees, plants, and groups of armed forces. For both armies, nurses were a desirable trophy. As a rule, they were kept alive if they did not offer resistance or try to escape. But if they did, they were dealt with much more severely than male prisoners. The terrible death of a nurse from one of the detached units of the Terskiy Council of the People’s Commissars was remembered years later by former Red Guard member R. Bitemirov. It happened in August of 1918 in Vladikavkaz. After a large armed force of 300 workers had already been disarmed by an officer and Cossack unit and arrested, a young nurse continued to offer resistance in the same building. She fired back to the last bullet, and when there were no more bullets, she spilt some caustic liquid on the approaching Cossacks. They shot her, and then several men raped her while she was still alive. The stunned Red Guard members were watching it all through stained-glass windows.35 There was another female employment category during the years of the Civil War, which should not go unmentioned. It is doing administrative and paperwork in various institutions. It was a really revolutionary process, since civil service had been off-limits to women during the czarist rule. The very fact of separation of the country between the two governments meant a multiple expansion of the staff hierarchy. There were not enough literate people to fill vacancies, and various incidents were therefore possible, such as, for instance, the occurrence that took place in the summer of 1918 within the walls of the Tsaritsino Council of National Economy. An investigation into the suicide of the chairman of that institution, A. Babak, discovered that the reason was the unreciprocated affection he had for his secretary, princess Krymshamkhalova.36 The employees of the internal affairs department, the financial department, and other structural subdivisions of the All-Great Don Host included women and girls who had to take the places of the mobilized men. According to the surviving personnel files, women accounted for one third of lower-level employees (office clerks, record managers, telephonists, scribes, and, separately, typists). There would have been more of them if not for close competition with their colleagues who wer liable for military service but avoiding it, including young healthy men with military ranks. In particular, the case of Pelageya Alekseevna looks suspicious. She was dismissed from an administrative office of a financial department after having been arrested by the secret defense service on suspicion of being an underground worker: she had been reported due to her alleged resemblance to a Bolshevik wanted by the authorities. However, after the misunderstanding was cleared up, she did not return to the service, as her position had already filled by someone else.37 Quite massive participation by women in the work of revolutionary tribunals and extraordinary commissions is associated with the same common fact of their involvement in office work. Initially, being educated people, they performed the duties of record managers, were employed as secretaries (often with their husbands being chairmen), and later were promoted to investigators and commission chairwomen, sometimes taking over from their husbands who died or fell ill. The case of Nina Torskaya may probably be called a textbook example. Together with her husband, who was an anarchist communist, she found herself in Rostov in the spring of 1918 during the retreat of the Soviet forces from Ukraine. Her husband became the leader of the Don extraordinary commission, and his wife became a secretary. In February 1919, he died during a terrible snowstorm in an Astrakhan plain, which destroyed the XI Army. Nina started a new life, and in Astrakhan she took the position of army chief political officer, became a close collaborator of S. Kirov, and in the 1920-1930s had a successful legal career, after which she was arrested and executed by shooting. After the beginning of the military operations of the Civil War, the problem of unemployment of medical personnel disappeared. In 1919, the Don Cossack assembly instructed the military health inspector of the All-Great Don Host to develop a mobilization plan for female physicians, feldshers, the Don University students, and attendees of Medical Classes for Women for work in infirmaries.38 While the leadership had no objections to having non-professional “medical personnel” in detachments during the period of irregular forces, after the transfer to regular armies, it attempted to regulate the gender distribution of personnel in the medical units. By that time, the presence of female feldshers in companies was viewed as excessive, but in hospitals and infirmaries women could, although conditionally, hold the positions of physicians and feldshers.39 In this respect, female medical workers found themselves in the same position as the women of service corps and cultural and educational departments established in 1919 under the patronage of political sections of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army divisions. When getting acquainted with Anna Furmanova, V. Chapayev immediately understood her expected duties: “So, she will promote culture, then.”40 Cultural and educational departments faced the task of political and general education of mobilized Red Army soldiers. Starting from 1920, the system of promotion of literacy among military servicemen included two stages: fortnightly courses frequently taught by women and actual literacy education conducted by men who had passed such courses and then taught their fellow soldiers.41 After the end of the Civil War battles, the people dismissed from the army aspired to positions in civil institutions. To rebuild peaceful life, literate people were required to work in numerous central committees, national economy councils, and executive committees. Nobody paid attention to their social background or, even more so, gender. Bolsheviks of Tver wanted to employ N. Kropotkina, wife of P. Kropotkin’s nephew and grand-niece of M. Bakunin, who had studied at the historico-philological faculty of the Bestuzhev Courses for a year, as a court investigator. However, she did not want to take cases against vodka brewers and bread thieves and instead got a job at a hospital as a feldsher, since she had a nursing certificate issued by the Zemsky Union.42 In the 1920s, an influx of women into various sectors of public production was motivated by the system of delegate movement and professional education, the appearance of communal living situations, etc. In 1919 and later, the Bolsheviks intuitively found an ingenious solution to the problems primarily affecting the female population: food and textile supply, healthcare, and social care. They engaged women in the resolution of these problems, and the women were transformed from a potentially explosive home-front element into supporters of the new government. The most active and talented delegates were sent to social welfare, public education and healthcare departments as trainees in order to be employed by institutions later on. Berzin’, an employee of the Pskov governorate women’s section, explained this decision by saying that such departments are filled with “narrow-minded mediocrity, shirking their duties and irresponsible and bureaucratic petty bourgeoisie” who fulfilled nothing more than a decorative function in Soviet institutions. There, into that rotten swamp, the new working woman had to go in order to purify the stagnant atmosphere with her conscientiousness and sense of duty, but both expertise and skills are required to take the position of head or instructor of any department.43 Soviet statistics registered an explosive growth of employment of women in all spheres of the national economy during the interwar period. In 1936, the leading spheres were healthcare (72% of all the people employed in the sphere), education (56%), largescale industry (39%), and “other institutions” (31%), i.e., apparently, management. According to the 1927 All-Union School Population Census, women accounted for 60% (216,402 people) of all teachers (315,148 people). In various Soviet republics, the percentage of female teachers was different but significant: the RSFSR - 64%, the USSR - 55%, the BSSR- 53%, and the TSFSR - 41%.44 The labor army philosophy was also extended to the state’s attitude towards teaching personnel. Depending on the needs of the people’s commissariat for education, teachers could be directed to be transferred to remote communities with lack of teaching personnel.45 The legal ground for that was provided by the articles of the Criminal Code that came into effect in June of 1922. The labor union could not protect the employee’s rights, and the local management was given free rein in case of a conflict with a teacher.46 Partially, complaints of the authorities against teachers rose from the Civil War period. The wave of uprisings of the Green Army in 1920-1922 was frequently led (in addition to disappointed commanders of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army) by rural members of the intelligentsia - agronomists, librarians, and teachers. In order to make teaching personnel really Soviet, in the beginning of the 1920s, purges were conducted by “control committees” established specifically for that purpose. The position of young female teachers transferred to a new locality and left without the support of their relatives was extremely vulnerable. They were harassed by local superiors. Cases of rapes of teachers were registered throughout the country. A. Lunacharskiy talked about it at the V All-Russian Congress of Heads of Governorate Public Education Departments in May of 1926 and called those abusing defenseless women rascals and scoundrels,47 but during the years that followed the situation remained unchanged. Specialized publications “Narodnoye Prosveshcheniye” and “Uchitel’skaya Gazeta” wrote in the 1929-1930s about the growth of suicides among teachers.48 It was widely popular with lower-class party-soviet representatives to have an affair with a teacher. A Soviet strongman wanted a friend of another type, an educated woman with cultural manners unknown to his old wife born in a family of illiterate peasants or commoners. Women who rejected such proposals were dismissed for reasons of professional ineptitude. In addition to being deprived of rights, a female teacher of the 1920s was also hungry. In his report presented on 26 September, 1920 at the III session of the VII All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the people’s commissar of education A. Lunacharskiy acknowledged: “There is no person in Russia who would be hungrier or more oppressed than a teacher. I told to a teacher I met at a teachers’ convention about the expected discussion of this issue at the next convention, and her answer was: “I don’t think I’m going to be present at that convention - after all, you know how often we perish.”49 Until the period of the New Economic Policy, all the increases in salaries were reduced to nothing by inflation. And in the middle of the 1920s, one scenario became quite common with regard to the salaries of teaching personnel. Yet another pay scale reclassification and approval of new remuneration rates introduced a substantial difference in salaries of common school employees and educators working in administrative bodies. A head of the local education authority earned 200-210 rubles, and the salaries of his deputies and department supervisors made up 165-140 rubles. Besides, the scheme of incentives and benefits of that time for heads of the public education department made it possible for them to receive annual benefits, for example, for health resort treatment. During the All-Union School Population Census of 15 December, 1927, data on the amount of salaries of 315 thousand teachers were received. For example, 1st grade teachers of city schools earned, on the average, 60 rubles; 2nd grade teachers of city schools earned 102 rubles, and the average salaries of rural teachers amounted to 52-85 rubles. What’s more, those numbers were not just the wage rates. They represented the aggregate income of teachers from holding of several positions or teaching of several subjects at several schools, tutoring and other additional earnings.50 By the 1930/31 academic year, 1st grade teachers’ salaries rose slightly and amounted to 68-75 rubles.51 To put that in context, in the conditions of the developing industrialization, the average salary of administrative and technical staff in the industrial sector amounted to 210-240 rubles, and the average salary of industrial workers made up 94-108 rubles.52 This is despite the fact that, by the moment of commencement of collectivization, the sovietization efforts applied to rural teachers turned out to be successful. Rich peasants declared an “economic boycott” on Soviet-thinking teachers, refusing to sell them food products. Schools became the arena of class struggle with the use of all means available.53 On 22 October 1929, at a presidium meeting of the North Caucasus Regional Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, it was reported: “The position of a female activist teacher in the country is difficult, as the class enemy uses many methods of struggle: the usual persecution, slander, harassment, and “corruption.”54 Jumping ahead, it can be said that, in spite of the constantly growing role of Russian women in all spheres of public production, including administration and science, their contribution was not duly appreciated, becoming an object of irony.55 The nature of employment of those women working in various Soviet institutions, who distinguished themselves by contributing to the establishment of the Soviet authority, was similar to that of their male colleagues. They held multiple jobs at the same time and fulfilled social duties, were regularly transferred from one working area to another, and were relocated or had to change their activities, never getting a chance to see the results of their labor. Members of the revolution and the Civil War of the younger generation (i.e., women born in the 1890s) were an important part of the new Soviet intellectual society, studying and working at the same time. Bolshevik Ekaterina Ukrainskaya served in the Red Army from 1918 to 1921. In 1918, she retreated with the Taman Army, and in winter of 1921 crossed the Kodori pass with the 18th cavalry division. In 1929, Ekaterina held several extremely important and labor-consuming positions in the Timashevskaya Cossack village and Krasnodar at the same time: she was a 2nd grade teacher at a school, a “magazine secretary” in the district committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, and a grain collection controller! She was married and had a daughter, but the non-partisanship of her husband made her suffer. According to her, true happiness consisted for her in hard labor for the good of the working class and her native Soviet country.56 The life of such dedicated Bolsheviks as Katya Ukrainskaya was based on the so-called “bicycle effect”: they rode on as long as the pedals would turn. Any rest would have been an occasion for a nervous breakdown that could lead to either a shot from their own revolver or a mental institution. A member of the Russian Communist Party of the Bolsheviks since 1919, Dina Liber, wife of “Yuriy” Butyagin, a member of a revolutionary fighting group, who participated in the 1905 Temernitskoe uprising, served in the Red Army, worked in the Moscow committee of the party, and in 1923 was “purged” in connection with her bourgeois origin. She was dismissed and soon died by suicide.57 A safe haven making it possible for still active women with pre-revolutionary employment experience to work were the institutions of the Commission on the History of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist Party. The most distinguished elderly female workers were employed by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute at the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of the Bolsheviks. Its employees included C. Zelikson-Bobrovskaya, S. Gopner, A. Elizarova-Ulyanova, and T. Rezakova. In 1934, Serafima Gopner was awarded the degree of Doctor of Historical Sciences without defending a thesis and even without submitting a scientific text. The conclusion of the institute’s academic council was explained by the fact that the subject of her academic interest and the events of her personal life fully coincide, which resulted in her deep familiarity with the subject of history of the All-Union Communist Party of the Bolsheviks. E. Stasova, R. Zemlyachka, and V. Shveitser worked in various control commissions. After the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, V. Shveitser, P. Vishnyakova, V. Dzhaparidze, E. Stasova and a number of other old Bolsheviks asked to be sent to the front to conduct political work.58 However, they were sent to the rear. Conclusions The formation of the three female employment categories where educated Russian women showed their worth in the twentieth century - healthcare, pedagogics, and administrative (office) activity - was influenced by the age of Enlightenment. Therefore, it embraced the value of education and the ideology and traditions of the regulated state of Peter I, with its mechanism of destruction of social barriers through education. The conclusive influence on the practice of female employment was exerted by the Soviet ideology, with its “interlayer” opinion regarding the educated class with all the ensuing legal and economic consequences. The Weber’s approach mentioned in the beginning of the article proved its applicability, though only in part. A working Russian woman tried to get rid of the prejudices related to her femininity, but was not able to do it and, apparently, will not be able to do it anytime soon. This is due to the factors accompanying the process. The women seeking education and independent living were taken under the patronage of the liberation movement, resulting in their absorbing revolutionary-democratic ideas of serving the society, the people, etc. Widespread support of the progressive intellectual society assisted in the widespread introduction of courses for women. Both these factors promoted the formation of an army of female intellectual labor proletarians: qualified payroll employees who retained their subordinate position in public production and were underappreciated as a result of their large number. Of the three tasks of the socialist transformations (industrialization, collectivization and the cultural revolution), the latter to a large extent was laid on the shoulders of women but, on the other hand, failed to provide them with any real “new” life. Nevertheless, the revival of the country after the Civil and the Great Patriotic Wars was enabled, in particular, due to the existence of a personnel pool able to replenish the loss of qualified workers.

Olga M Morozova

Don State Technical University

Author for correspondence.
Email: olgafrost@gmail.com
1, pl. Gagarina, Rostov-on-Don, 344000, Russia

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor at the Department of Public Relations of Don State Technical University

Tatyana I Troshina

Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M. Lomonosov; Northern State Medical University

Email: tatr-arh@mail.ru
17, Severnaya Dvina Embankment, Arkhangelsk, 163004, Russia; 51, Troitsky Ave., Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russia

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Social Work and Social Security of NArFU

Elena A Yalozina

Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

Email: EAYalozina@fa.ru
49, Leningradsky Prospect, Moscow, 125993, Russia

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology, History and Philosophy of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

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