Historians of the Russian empire have used Soviet citizen’s diaries to gain insights into “Stalinist subjectivity,” that is, the ways that individuals actively incorporated the Bolshevik ideal into their very sense of themselves. But diaries and other intimate sources have barely been tapped as a means of exploring ways in which the Soviet system likewise brought meaning to the lives of Americans and other foreigners. American women’s diaries and letters reveal both their genuine excitement—about Soviet schools, theatre, public spectacles, nurseries, workers’ housing, laws supporting maternal and child health, the “new morality,” and the simple fact of women’s visibility in public life.
By Ian Goodale In an unpublished letter to the Soviet daily newspaper Izvestiia, Liudmila Chukovskaya wrote that “muteness has always been the support of despotism.” This quote is cited in the booklet, Czechoslovakia and Soviet Public, compiled by the Radio Liberty Committee in New York in August 1968 to analyze the coverage of the Soviet invasion of […]
By Volha Dorman U.S. government officials have often been hesitant to take the Soviet Union to task on their humanitarian crimes. This reluctance to confront Moscow was usually an effort to avoid worsening already poor relations. After World War II, for example, the U.S. was willing to let Soviet war crimes committed during the war go […]
By Peter Worger Tucked into the pages of Nikolai Punin’s diary is a sliver of silver paper made into the shape of a fish. Its scales have been drawn with what appears to be black marker or charcoal in an Impressionist style on one side and in a Cubist style on the other. The fish […]
by Rebecca Johnston On August 18, 1921, Anatoly Lunacharsky, the People’s Commissar of Enlightenment, wrote a letter to Jozef Unszlicht, a founding member of the Cheka, the Bolsheviks’ revolution-era secret police that eventually morphed into the KGB. As Commissar of Enlightenment, Lunacharsky was accountable for the educational, artistic, and creative development of all of Soviet […]
by Charley Binkow How does a nation fight a war of ideas? When the battlefield is popular opinion, how does a state arm itself? In 1949, the United States found its answer. Their weapon: the airwaves. The CIA launched Radio Free Europe in 1949 with the hopes of encouraging Eastern Europeans to defect from the […]
My mother, Rae Straw, and her friend Pam had an odd assignment in 1979 for two travel agents from Houston: selling the Soviet Union to American tourists. For travel agents, such familiarization or “FAM” trips were a regular occurrence, but going to the Soviet Union during the preparations for the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a unique experience.
Four great books and three great documentaries about the history and people of Siberia.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, into earth’s orbit. Traveling at around 18,000 MPH, the spherical device circled the earth every 93 minutes, transmitting radio pulses from its protruding antennae around the globe.
We are celebrating Women’s History Month this year with recommendations of new books in Women’s History from some of our faculty and graduate students. From third-century North Africa to sixteenth-century Mexico to the twentieth-century in Russia and the US, and more…