Oral history from below. Materials for the oral history of Russian peasants in the 20th century

Nakhimovsky A.D. Oral history from below. Materials for the oral history of Russian peasants in the 20th century // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №1. P. 91-125.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-1-91-125


The author analyzes the life stories of those Russian peasants who were old enough to remember collectivization. The large collection of such life stories recorded after 1990 is a rich source of materials for the oral history and other fields of study; however, this collection remains unsorted. Such scholars as the ethnographer Sergei Alymov, the sociologist Valery Vinogradsky, the linguist Leonid Kasatkin, and the historian Tatyana Shcheglova have done much work to collect these materials and to analyze them in different disciplinary perspectives. However, their descriptions remain completely isolated, and the author uses their publications to show the internal unity of their work and to explain that a single archive would be very useful for future research. After a brief introduction, the article turns into a chronological narrative of the Russian peasant history from 1918 to 1953, which consists of those key events/episodes in the lives of narrators that inevitably coincide with the key moments of history. In the comments to the narratives, the author describes the narrators’ psychological traits, their attitudes to the state, work and changes of fate, their connection with pre-revolutionary traditions, and their perception of the new reality.


Civil war, NEP, collectivization, famines of 1932–1933 and 1946–1947, migration to the city, walking, court proceedings, infanticide, war, disabled veterans.

About the author

Nakhimovsky Alexander D., PhD, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department; Head of the Linguistics Program (retired), Colgate University. 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, New York, 13346 USA. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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