I’ve travelled the world to learn..

..I must return from Russia with love’

Yes, I’m still on the subject of Russia!  This coloured sketch of Leningrad reminds me of Lowry paintings with all the matchstick people, though maybe with slightly brighter colours!  It’s been cut out of a Russian newspaper and is in the folders I’ve been working on for the past few days, all related to Russia and a visit by Ethel Froud (NUWT General Secretary from 1913 until 1941) and another NUWT member Miss M. Conway, to Russia in 1926.  As I mentioned in my previous post the visit was organised by the Teacher’s Labour League and there was a full schedule for the visit as you can see below, this is only an outline of the visits planned for the first 8 days of the visit, there are another 2 pages following on from this! 

page from the diary of events for visit to Russia, 1926, Collection ref UWT/D/83/6 ©Institute of Education

This diary of events has proved really useful in deciphering some of the words on the back of the photographs I showed you all in the last post.  Following on from this diary are typed notes of each visit.  Most of these are quite clinical, outlining the history of where they visited, who they met without any personal impressions given.  However there are some bits which contain more personal reflection on the visit and some interesting comments.  An example of this is the notes from a visit to a Home for Aged Teachers (this could be the Home for Educational Workers which is photo 10 in the slide gallery on my last post).  Many of the teachers staying in the home spoke some French and English so were able to talk about their life in the home.  They had their own garden areas, music, radio, a political club and a circulating library.  They controlled their own household food and productions with a garden and handwork.  According to the writer of the report they were particularly interested in the NUWT woman secretary (there were 45 women and 5 men living in the home).  There is also lots of interesting details given on the maternity care and rights of women working in a Wool factory they visit, including details of the contents of each of the rooms in the factory crèche, right down to the number of bed, the towels in the room as well as the length of maternity leave – 2 months before and 2 months after birth.

Looking back at it now I wonder how controlled the visits were, did they really get a chance to speak to anyone honestly, were the people they did talk to chosen by their hosts.  As it stands though it’s a fascinating look at Russia through the eyes of women teachers from England.


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