Rethinking Eastern Europe

Everyday Life

In order to understand a particular historical period, it is essential to understand what daily life looked like at that time. History of everyday life – history from below, the German Alltagsgeschichte, or the Italian microstoria – is a form of social history that became popular in the 1980s. This approach intends to find links between the experiences of daily life in a certain society, and the broad social and political changes which occur in that society. Finding tensions within relations between the subject (a human) and the structure (a social system) gives meaningful insight into a specific society or culture. Our materials focus on everyday practices and rituals of urban life, discuss the history of consumerism, and shed light on experiences of metropolitan nightlife. To learn about the everyday life of a specific period means to delve into specific sources, such as autobiographies and memoirs, letters and correspondences, photographs, and private recordings.

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Primary Sources

Documents (3)

Image for Secret report on the moods among Kharkiv factory workers at the time of May Day holidays in 1929
Secret report on the moods among Kharkiv factory workers at the time of May Day holidays in 1929
The presented report illustrates types of information that are hard to find in other sources. Those are conversations during a celebratory demonstration. In the source text, we can see that people found pressing issues more important than party slogans. Workers were mostly interested in the availability of bread, work, and free sale of alcohol on festive days. Certainly, the quotes and statements of people presented in the report do not represent the entire range of topics discussed during the demonstrations. However, they allow us to at least take a look behind the settings of official manifestations. It is critical, for in 1929, Soviet celebration canon was still on the development stage. It is...
Family Correspondence from the World War I (Ivan and Ivanna Blazhkevych), 1917
Family correspondence of Ivanna Blazhkevych with her husband Ivan, who fought in the ranks of the Austrian army during the First World War.
Image for O. Halychanka. Article about travel, published in “Women’s Affairs,” Lviv, 1912
O. Halychanka. Article about travel, published in “Women’s Affairs,” Lviv, 1912
The article was published in a free supplement to the Ukrainian-language daily newspaper “Dilo" [Affair] under the name "Zhinoche Dilo" [Women's Affair]. The supplement was published every three months, during 1912, in Lviv. In the article, the author, a Ukrainian writer, journalist, and editor of this supplement, Olena Kysilevska, under the pseudonym O. Halychanka, writes about the benefits of travel for women. She refutes multiple prejudices that her female contemporaries were usually "intimidated with" as regards solo traveling. The target audience of her message included women from the "intelligent stratum," essentially the Ukrainian middle class of the time. Despite this text's light, entertaining, and somewhat ironic style, Olena Kysilewska, as an active member...
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Images (1)

Image for Olha Maria Zhydacek and her husband Hryhoriy Bandurka, Lviv, spring 1939
Olha Maria Zhydacek and her husband Hryhoriy Bandurka, Lviv, spring 1939
This photo is a testimony to a photographic practice popular in the 1930s. It was about making portraits of passers-by on the city streets. Such photos often recorded people in motion in the middle of a large street, and seemed to emphasize the belonging of those depicted characters to urban culture. In view of this, the genre of such photography can be called street portrait, the street and commercial photography. The photo shows the great-grandmother and great-grandfather of Bozhena Pelenska — Olha-Maria Zhydacek and her husband Hryhoriy Bandurka (b. 1899). Based on the Bozhena's memories, the story was recorded of the photograph and of the people in it. The photo was taken on...
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Videos (2)

Image for The Morality of Mrs. Dulska, 2013 TV Movie [Moralność pani Dulskiej]
The Morality of Mrs. Dulska, 2013 TV Movie [Moralność pani Dulskiej]
It is a screen adaptation of the same name work by the Polish writer Gabriela Zapolska, written in 1906. The play's plot reveals the problem of social inequalities and moral degradation of the Galician society at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where these inequalities were crucial. The author chose female characters as protagonists. According to literary critics, the prototype of the main character in this text, Aneli Dulska, was a prominent Lviv-based author, Mrs. Golanbova (pani Gołąbowa). The prototype’s name is also associated with a Lviv woman named Czeslawa Dulska. In response to a survey published in 1905 by the famous local newspaper Wiek Nowy, she described her housekeeping system...
Image for For the Family Hearth, a 1970 film
For the Family Hearth, a 1970 film
The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ivan Franko, written in 1892. In his story, the problem of sexual slavery (or “white slavery” in the terms of those times) and women’s engagement as its victims and enablers. The author’s choice of topic must have been influenced by the lawsuits against human traffickers that were actively taking place in Galicia at this time. One of the most high-profile cases was the Lviv trial in 1892 against 27 traffickers (men and women) accused of organizing sexual traffic abroad. The investigation confirmed 29 cases of selling girls from Galicia to brothels in Constantinople, Egypt, and India. The “white slavery” usually...
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Modules (1)

In the 19th century, the gender pact dividing public and private spheres, as man-owned and women-inhabited, found its most solid reasoning. The separation of the private and the public was accelerated by the Industrial Revolution when it fixed a role of the key “bread-winner” for the man. The gender-divided lines of responsibility have certainly existed before the 19th century, but the role of women in family economy before the Industrial Revolution was much more visible. Since the Enlightenment era, the idea of the private and the public (as female and male, respectively) has been included into legal codes of most European states. This way, the new economic order was enshrined in the law...

Digital stories (1)

The three stories presented in this text are dedicated to three different women united by one city. Sharing a common urban space, they experienced it in different ways, given their different social positions, status and starting opportunities. The time in which they had to live their lives was in one way or another reflected in microstories from the life of each of these women. The first story is dedicated to Maria Hrushkevych, a long-time employee of the Lviv post office, who was among the "first" women employed by the state. In the second, Maria Linchak will be talked about, who was a maid in the house of Teofil and Liudmyla Hrushkevych, a chorister...


Texts (0)

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Syllabi (2)

This course was a part of Jewish History and Culture of East Central Europe in the 19th-20th Centuries summer school. The syllabus is written in Polish.
This course forms a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school. The syllabus is available only in Polish.