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Soviet photographs from 1918, 1918

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Finding Aid for Soviet Photographs from 1918

Scope and Content of Collection

Soviet photographs from 1918 convey the social upheaval of Russia during a transitional period when the new government was instituting massive changes in social programs while fighting a civil war. Photographers and cinematographers employed by the Photography and Film Committee of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment recorded these images as they travelled through Russia on propaganda trains, then sent their raw footage to the newsreel production studio in Moscow where it was compiled and edited into films. A number of these images are stills from the first Russian weekly newsreel Kinonedelia (Film Week), edited by the young Dziga Vertov in his first job in cinema.

The collection contains numerous views of mass events meant to show popular support for the leadership, such as Moscow street demonstrations on May 1, August 11 and November 7. These feature workers marching with banners, military exercises, and major figures such as Bukharin and Sverdlov addressing the crowds.

Images of civil war include views of monuments ravaged by bombing in Iaroslavl, Kiev and Kazan, and extensive coverage of a major fire at a storage facility on the Moscow-Kazan railroad. There are also many views of Trotsky inspecting Red Army troops, both at Kodynka field (Moscow) and elsewhere. Coverage of Trotsky's Kazan campaign is one of the collection's highlights, with views of the leader traveling with sailors on the Volga, speaking to crowds in remote areas, and giving awards for distinguished service.

The photographs portray new social programs such as physical education camps for children, and legal institutions such as juried trials. They also portray the dismantling, according to decree, of monuments to Alexander II, Alexander III, and Skobelev. The Fifth Congress of Soviets is documented in views of delegates waiting to enter sessions, views of the arrival of key figures such as Sverdlov, Bonch-Bruevich, and Trotsky, and views of Latvian soldiers standing guard following the Socialist Revolutionaries' revolt.

There are 595 photographs organized in rough chronological order. While most are 12 × 17.5 centimeters or smaller, a few are panoramas.

Note: While nearly all English captions are translations of the Russian, where there is no Russian caption, an English one has been provided if it was possible to identify the event or location.

Arrangement note

Arrangement is in rough chronological order.

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