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People

History is generally concerned with people and change, therefore historians seek to analyze the transformations that societies and civilizations have undergone throughout history. The Center’s Educational Platform uses an array of analytical tools to understand the past and to reconstruct the multiplicity of past human experiences. Our materials exemplify how the experiences of people have changed over time and how people have transformed their ideas, imagination, institutions, or cultural practices on a profound level. The modules and resources within this theme are concerned with human relationships, corporeality or bodily experiences, emotions, self-representation, community, and the ways people have struggled while inhabiting a shared world. We offer a range of sources to support historians  in connecting  the accounts of individuals and group movements with narratives that allow us to view  our past through a critical perspective. Examining the tension between individuals and collectives improves our understanding of difficult questions concerning historical problems, so that we can have a fuller picture of how the past has shaped global, national, and local relationships between societies and people.

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Primary Sources

Documents (34)

Image for “A Collective of Individuals.” Booklet of the Volyn Amateur Film Studio, 1987
“A Collective of Individuals.” Booklet of the Volyn Amateur Film Studio, 1987
The source provided below is a promotional booklet from the Soviet amateur film studio “Volyn,” located in Lutsk. Unlike studios that were under the authority of and funded by trade union organizations, this studio was affiliated with the oblast department of culture. The booklet highlights the achievements and activities of the studio. This type of publication was widely circulated and exchanged at competitions and festivals of various levels. The presence of such printed materials could further indicate the level of financial support for the studio.
Image for Program of the amateur film competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work,” Kharkiv, 1974
Program of the amateur film competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work,” Kharkiv, 1974
This program is part of the multi-stage film selection for the Soviet-wide competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work.” It features a compilation of works from the most active studios in the Ukrainian SSR at the time, including film titles and authors’ names. It provides information on the gender and social distribution within the amateur filmmaking movement, as well as its geographic spread. It is striking to note that most listed authors are men. Characteristically, each name is accompanied by a profession, though not always accurate, highlighting the diversity of individuals involved in amateurism. Attention can also be drawn to the film titles and their formats. Many amateurs utilized the professional 35mm format,...
Image for Resolution on work of Lviv oblast amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers, 1986
Resolution on work of Lviv oblast amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers, 1986
This document is a resolution of the Lviv Oblast Council of Trade Unions regarding the organization of an oblast seminar for leaders of amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers. It is a common example illustrating the degree of formalization and bureaucratic structuring within the coordinated amateur film community during the Soviet era. In its contents, we discern a distinct chain of command prevalent within the inter-republican hierarchy: the Ukrainian Republican Council of Trade Unions — the Lviv Oblast Council of Trade Unions — the Lviv Oblast Club-Laboratory of Trade Union Cinematographers — People’s Film Studio (one among several).
Image for Galician Holiday Cooking in the Letters of the Hlynskyi Family, 1890s-1920s
Galician Holiday Cooking in the Letters of the Hlynskyi Family, 1890s-1920s
The letters presented here are from the correspondence of the Hlynskyi family: the Greek Catholic priest Isidor Hlynskyi, his mother Yuliia Hlynska (née Bilynska), and Anastasia Kuzyk, the housekeeper in Isidor's household. They discuss various topics, including the festive menus of church celebrations in the Galician village of Butsniv near Ternopil, where Isidor Hlynskyi served as a priest from 1887 to 1931. The author of the first two letters, dating approximately from 1890 to 1892, is Yuliia Hlynska, the widow of the priest Kuprian Hlynskyi, Isidor's mother, who lived in Cherneliv-Ruskyi. These letters are written in Ukrainian and transcribed in Latin script. The choice of the Latin alphabet was likely influenced by Hlynska's...
Image for Christmas and Easter in Lemberg in 1908: The Case of One Multidenominational Family
Christmas and Easter in Lemberg in 1908: The Case of One Multidenominational Family
Teofil Hrushkevych a teacher of classical languages at the Second (German) Gymnasium in Lviv, commenced his diary in 1895, though it was only after his retirement in 1906 that his entries became regular. The extant handwritten diary comprises eight notebooks, documenting entries for 1895, 1903, and 1906 (intermittent), and for 1908-1915 (almost daily). Typically, the author penned his notes in the evening, commencing with a depiction of the weather, followed by an account of the day's events: personal matters, such as receiving a pension, settling bills, visiting friends or acquaintances, attending church services, and social engagements, such as participating in meetings of Ukrainian societies to which he belonged, attending the theatre or a...
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“Proletarian Journey” in Soviet Ukraine by Fred E. Beal, 1937
Fred Beal’s memoir, A Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow, was published in New York in 1937. Beal, an American textile worker deeply involved in the labor movement and trade union organizing, resided in the socialist city of “Novyi Kharkiv” [New Kharkiv] from 1931 to 1933, which was established for workers of the Kharkiv Tractor Plant. This city served as a foreign enclave, hosting up to 800 workers and their families. In 1933, prompted by his experiences, Beale published a propaganda pamphlet in English titled Foreign Workers in a Soviet Tractor Plant: A Pictorial Survey of the Life of Foreign Workers and Specialists During the Period of Socialist Construction 1931-1933 (M-L: Iskra revolutsii,...
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Images (11)

Image for View on the Monument to the Soviet Constitution, Lviv 1940
View on the Monument to the Soviet Constitution, Lviv 1940
The monument to the Soviet constitution, or the Stalin Constitution, was built in Lviv in October 1939. The authors were the sculptor Serhyi Lytvynenko and Kyiv artist Mykhailo Dmytrenko, it’s possible that, the artists adapted the project, originally conceived in Moscow, to the new city conditions. The sculptors Yevhen Dzyndra and Andryi Koverko carried out the project, but the participation of Lytvynenko’s student the young sculptor Yakiv Chaika is also a possibility. The monument was made in the ceramic-sculpture factory, which opened on Muchna St. in 1939. The location for the monument was chosen in the city centre, the “island” on the boundary mark of the Hetman embankments, between Yahellon’ska st. and Holy...
Image for Members of the cinema club in the village of Novooleksandrivka, Ukrainian SSR, during a film shoot, May 1981
Members of the cinema club in the village of Novooleksandrivka, Ukrainian SSR, during a film shoot, May 1981
In addition to film studios, which predominantly comprised adults, the network of amateur filmmaking also encompassed groups tailored for children and teenagers, typically organized within houses of culture or schools. Oversight of these groups was typically carried out by representatives from People’s Studios and local film clubs. The archival caption of this photograph reads as follows: “Members of the cinema club at the House of Culture in the village of Novoaleksandrovka, Belovodsk district, Voroshilovgrad oblast, during a film shoot. From left to right: students Naydysh A, Petrov P, the club’s leader Kolesnik V. I., student Burian V. — village Novoaleksandrovka, 15 May 1981, by Y. Khromushyn (outdoors against the backdrop of a river).”
Image for Film amateurs of the steam locomotive and car repair plant, photograph dated of 1956
Film amateurs of the steam locomotive and car repair plant, photograph dated of 1956
“The initiators of a film studio at the steam locomotive and truck repair plant (from the left to the right) Slutskyn S.S., Art Club Director of Tool and Inventory Shop, Skybalo G.L., Director of Radio Broadcasting Center, and Zirka A.V. are looking through the first shots of the new film about the plant, Lviv December 7th, 1956". This archival record accompanies this photograph in the Central State Audio/Visual and Electronic Archive (until the recent times called Central State G.S. Pshenychnyi Filming Archive) in Kyiv. Despite it is the official representation of film amateurs that was probably created for the purpose of media publications, careful analysis of the details makes it possible to discern...
Image for Wall newspaper of Kostyantynivka’ bottling plant, 1967
Wall newspaper of Kostyantynivka’ bottling plant, 1967
This wall newspaper is part of a series of wall newspapers from the Kostiantynivka bottling plant, created in 1967. The series consisted of 13 excerpts dedicated to local participants in the fights against the White Guards after the First World War. Thirteen newspaper issues reveal the plant's history, explain its name "13 Executed Workers Plant", and call for the publication of photographs and memories related to the confrontation with the White Guards. The presented here example tells the story of the family of Bobylov Aleksandr Semenovych and Bobylova-Chumychkina Mariia Semenivna, who were participants in the revolutionary movement. In 1918-1920, Kostiantynivka underwent numerous power changes, seized first by the White Guards and then by...
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...
Image for Photo of the physical exercises, Lviv, 1927
Photo of the physical exercises, Lviv, 1927
The photo is from Stepan Haiduchok collection. It is one of the series of photos of physical exercises. The format is adjusted to the composition: five women stand in one row and demonstrate the body positions as part of dynamic exercises (bending forward, arm stretching, steps). The static vertical lines of the trees in the background contrast with the movements of women. The expressiveness of the composition is built on tonal and texture contrast. The composition is divided in half by the horizon line. The background of the photos' lower part (grass) has a neutral tone, so the dark skirts and light legs are distinctly presented. Conversely, the background of the upper part...
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Videos (1)

Image for Collective of Communist Labor at Shoe Factory, 1960
Collective of Communist Labor at Shoe Factory, 1960
  Television news of the Lviv Television Studio followed the operators of Ukrkinochronika who chose shoe factory No. 3 as a model enterprise of the city’s light industry. The television camera shows to the audience Kateryna Lysak, an exemplary employee of the enterprise that was granted a status of a “communist labor enterprise”. At such enterprises, the example of the pioneers was to be followed by other workers, and a television clip told the people of Lviv about leaders of production and how the shoe factory was developing.
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Audio (5)

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Legend about the “disguised emperor” during the First World War
This source is the audio recording of the legend about the events of the First World War. The storyline describes an “emperor” who was incognito inspecting his army and its provisions. The prototype for the protagonist is Franz Josef I (1830–1916), the emperor of the Austrian Hungarian Empire. This artistic image shows the elements of naive monarchism. The type of “just and kind” ruler is based on his favorable attitude to Galician Ukrainians, who he took as loyal to the Habsburgs. This social myth about the “loyal troops” consisting of Ukrainians was reflected in the prose but also in songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Our emperor is getting old...
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Grine kuzine (Green Cousin), song about emigration, 1921
The song, with a debatable authorship, was written for a Jewish theater. It was performed both in Europe and in the United States, and it became one of the most popular migrant works. The word “green” was an ironic definition of new immigrants who did not navigate well in American reality. The song “Green Cousin” raises the issue of disappointment of migrants in America, where hard work exhausts new-comers and does not bring the expected profit. The “Columbian state” appears not as a dream country where dreams come true, but a society of inequalities. Despite the hilarious music and satirical plot, the song shows the anxiety of emigrants due to the lack of...
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A brivele der mamen (A Little Letter to Mama), song about emigration, 1907
The song was written by a Belarusian composer and singer, Solomon Smulewitz (1868-1943) in 1907. The author also had experience of migration to the United States. The song became very popular. In particular, it was used as a basis for a theatrical production and a film in Yiddish. The work raises the issue of migration caused separation of families. While the son who went to America has a successful life and a new family, his mother feels abandoned. Before her death, she asks her son not to forget to read Kaddish, a memorial prayer for her. The problem of separated families remained common to all migrants, but in this text the Jewish prayer...
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“Goldene land” (Golden land), song about emigration, 1889
The song was written by a Lithuanian Jewish poet, Eliakum Zunser (1840-1913) based on his own experience of emigrating to the United States. The song "Golden Land" touches on the issue of new migrants, whose high expectations fail. The American city turns out to be a space full of dirt, noise, and poverty. Although jobs are available, they are poorly paid and dangerous to health. America is also not a place of social equality, because like in Europe, there is a disproportion in the distribution of wealth. This is an urban experience that was shared by many Jewish migrants who found work in the textile industry, or like Zunser himself, in the printing...
Image for Song of the Communist Labor Brigades
Song of the Communist Labor Brigades
"Song of Communist Labor Brigades" was written in 1956 by the composer Arkady Filipenko (1912-1983), who, in addition to academic music, wrote works for operettas and films. The verses to the song were written by another outstanding figure of Soviet culture of the Ukrainian SSR, Oleksa Novitsky (1914-1992), who was a military correspondent during the war, and later became a Shevchenko scholar. Both authors had the "right" biographies for writing the anthem of the communist labor brigades, which was performed at official events in the Ukrainian SSR, and was also published in large numbers for performance by professional and amateur groups. The song has a solemn mood and asserts that the communist labor...
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Modules (5)

The Soviet government aimed to profoundly transform the styles and structures of people’s everyday lives, encompassing housing, leisure, and work. Particularly ambitious projects were conceived and executed during the 1920s and 1930s. Workers were at the forefront of Soviet social policy, with the Bolshevik Communist Party depicted in Soviet discourse as the avant-garde of the proletariat, primarily serving the interests of the working class. 
The early vision of amateur filmmaking in the Soviet Union was characterized by the pragmatic idea of using the new media not only for entertainment but also to involve a wide range of citizens in the production of newsreels and to create a network of correspondents across the country to cover the construction of socialism. 
The end of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century is known as the period of mass migration from Europe to other continents, when more than 55 million people changed their place of residence. In particular, this process captured the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, where a difficult economic situation, job shortages, and persecutions stirred various groups of the population to leave. Such groups included both Ukrainian and Polish peasants, and Jews from urban centers who were small-scale craftsmen or workers. Most often, they moved to the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, where labor was needed at factories or farms.
The socialist competition in the USSR went through several stages in its development: the shock work [udarniki] of the turn of the 1920-30s; self-supporting brigades [khozrastchetnyie brigady]; the Stakhanov movement of the mid-1930s; the thousanders [tysiachniki], etc. of the period of the Second World War; the Stakhanovism-shockwork of the period of “restoration of the national economy” (1950s); then, from the end of 1950s, the movement for a communist attitude to work [kommunisticheskoie otnosheniie k trudu]. Since the 1970s, when the Soviet economy was already depending solely on natural resources, the socialist competition turned into a painful obligatory fiction, although it officially ended only in the second half of the 1980s.
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 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 in legal codes of most European states. This way, the new economic order was enshrined in the law, where...

Digital stories (1)

У 1950–1960-х роках на підприємствах Радянської України поширилися практики, скеровані на удосконалення праці. Двигуном цього процесу були так звані передовики – учасники руху трудящих СРСР за комуністичне ставлення до праці та за виховання людини комуністичного суспільства.

Reflections

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Syllabi (19)

East-Central Europe played a vital role in the global history of mass migration and experienced an enormous variety of mobility processes in the long 19th and short 20th centuries. For instance, mass emigration from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires and the Soviet Union, human trafficking, labor migration, forced migration during WWI and WWII, refugee crises and asylum, travel, and professional mobility. The voluminous scholarship on this chapter of migration history has lots of gaps and, notably, is almost absent from history curricula. This introductory course broadens our lens to examine the role of migration and mobility for the places where it occurred as well as the experiences of migrants, displaced persons, refugees, and...
The field of social history has achieved the edge of its popularity in 1950-1980s. It was strongly connected with other disciplines, such as economics, demography, sociology, and allowed historians to reach a much wider range of research themes. Since the 1960s, the social history of the Jewish people became important and influential part of the studies. Historians were exploring the possibilities to study Jewish community with new tools and integrating different representatives of Jewish community – workers, women, immigrants, criminals - in a research. Since 1990s historians of Jewish past shifted their interest to cultural studies. However, in the last years, we can see an economic turn, which signifies the search for a...
This course forms a part of Jewish History and Culture of East Central Europe in the 19th-20th Centuries summer school. The syllabus is availible only in Polish.
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.
In our mini-course we will explore cultural interaction between Jews and non-Jews (Ukrainians, Poles, Russians) in the borderlands of the Habsburg and Romanov empires. This is interaction that may have been conscious or unconscious, and may have involved encounter, appropriation, negotiation, exchange and destruction.
The course intends to show the possibilities afforded by applying the gender (cultural sex) perspective in the study of Jewish culture. Proceeding from the analysis of the role of the woman and man in traditional Jewish society, we will present gender difference in the process of modernization among Jewish women and men. In looking at autobiographical materials, we will trace characteristic stages and stories, as well as life’s choices of Jewish maskilim (advocates of Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment). We will use the examples of the life and work of Pua Rakowska (known as "the Grandmother of Zionism") and Sara Szenirer (reformer of the traditional education system of Jewish girls) to analyze the problem...
This short course looks at Jewish history in the context of two multinational empires: the Russian and the Habsburg. Both of these states must be understood as fundamentally pre-modern, non-national (even anti-national) political structures, a fact that is crucial for understanding Jewish history here. In the mid-19th century, the great majority of world Jewry made its home in this region and even at the end of the First World War, after the great wave of emigration to the Americas, western Europe, Erets Israel / Palestine, and South Africa, the Jewish presence here was considerable. In 1918 even antisemites could hardly imagine a Warsaw, Wilno, Lwów, Odesa (etc.) without Jews.
This course covers the period from the partitions of Poland through the Russian and Habsburg Empires, the Soviet Union and interwar Poland. Students will familiarize with the geopolitical results of Russia’s westward and Austria’s eastward expansions and will focus among other overarching themes on the shtetl, the unique East European Jewish habitat; on Hasidism, a Ukraine-born popular movement of religious enthusiasm; on the interaction between Zionists and Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia; on the development of Ukrainization and Yiddishization (or Ukrainian and Jewish korenizatsiia) in the 1920s and the situation of Jews in Poland in the 1920s; on the Holocaust and its aftermath; on Ukrainians and Jews in the dissident movement; and on Jewish-Ukrainian...
This course was a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school (July 13 – August 7, 2015. Center for Urban History. Lviv, Ukraine).
This course was a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school.
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.
This course forms a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school.
This intensive 5-lecture mini-course (12 academic hours) takes a close look at various urban centers (sometimes the shtetl-like and sometimes the city-like) that shaped Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian cultural encounters that inspired the rising literary figures to explore East European multi-cultural urban legacy and make this legacy central in their creative writing. Students will explore various forms of East European urban culture—a shtetl (Chortkiv and Berdychiv), a provincial center (Chernivtsi and Ternopil), a city (Kyiv), a metropolis with a strong East European diaspora presence (Montreal and New York). This course will provide students with methodological tools at the intersection of the literary and cultural studies, urban studies, and social history.
At the end of the eighteenth century the Russian Empire acquired the largest Jewish population in the world. Although Jews and Christians had lived side by side with one another for over three hundred years in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, their life-worlds were distinct. The Great War, the Russian Revolution, and the Holocaust radically transformed the Jews of Russia, however, and the distinct culture of Russian-Jewry remains a crucial part of Jewish heritage today.
The course will cover the major development of the East European Jewry from the mid-eighteenth century till the present. More specifically, it will focus on the apparently largest category of modern Jewish history, i.e. modernity itself. The course will start with the discussion of what modernity means in contemporary scholarly discourse, and—more specifically—how it is applied today in historiography of East European Jewry. This introduction will provide a frame for the focus of the course: the analysis of the changing life patters and differing strategies of adopting, rejecting, or negotiating modernity in every-day lives of East European Jews.
This intensive 5-lecture mini-course (12 academic hours) introduces key broad themes that explore modernization and anti-modernization, urbanization and migration, secularization and acculturation and a new stratification of the Jewish society in East Europe. While it looks at the Russian empire and its western borderlands and Austrian Empire and its eastern borderlands, it focuses on Ukraine in its to-date geographical boundaries that include Galicia and Bukovina. The course does not have any prerequisites and provides broad contextualization of the selfimposed and empire-orchestrated reforms within the Jewish society against the backdrop of the Late Imperial Russia and the "long nineteenth century."
The course offers a short introduction to some of the key concepts and literary and cultural practices that shaped the represenations of modern Jewish spaces in Eastern Europe as well as their contemporary reconstructions and exhibitions. While focusing on (Jewish) Poland and Yiddish culture, this course introduces critical tools for understanding and interpreting modern (Jewish) contructions and experiences of space and place.
In 1939, on the eve of the Holocaust, east European Jewry constituted the most important and culturally influential Jewish community in the world. As a result of half a century of mass migration, up to 90% of world Jewry either lived in Eastern Europe or were children of immigrants from there. Jews were particularly prominent in East European cities. In Galicia, for example, Jews constituted a plurality or majority of nearly every major city. (L’viv was an exception, where they made up “only” a quarter of the population.) This course will survey the modern history of this once vital community – social, economic, political, religious and cultural – from the Polish partitions until...
The field of social history has achieved the edge of its popularity in 1950-1980s. It was strongly connected with other disciplines, such as economics, demography, sociology, and allowed historians to reach a much wider range of research themes. Since the 1960s, the social history of the Jewish people became important and influential part of the studies. Historians were exploring the possibilities to study Jewish community with new tools and integrating different representatives of Jewish community – workers, women, immigrants, criminals - in a research. Since 1990s historians of Jewish past shifted their interest to cultural studies. However, in the last years, we can see an economic turn, which signifies the search for a...