75 Soviet Era Photo Chronicles

Soviet Era Photo Chronicles

Posted on February 25, 2007 by

soviet photo 1

Our visitor Alex has submitted 119 photos of Soviet Era Russia from his collection. He wanted to post it at the "Submissions" section of our newly opened English Russia forum, where people already post some entertainment stuff from Russia, but decided to send all at once.

That's a long series!

Across the network:


soviet photo 2

soviet photo 3


Across the network:

75 Responses to “Soviet Era Photo Chronicles”

  1. Delicious says:

    Will someone explain #58. It’s the one with the kids in underwear and sunglasses standing around a box that’s emitting green light.

    • ringm says:

      Russians don’t get enough sun, especially in winter.

      • vovse_ne says:

        Very funny…
        Don’t you know anything about our sun? Especially in summer? Especially in the southern parts of the land?

        • ringm says:

          Let’s make it “MOST Russians don’t get enough sunlight” if you insist. But that’s not funny at all.

          Everything is fine somewhere around Sochi. However, somewhere around Murmansk and even St.Petersburg, kids have very high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency due to low exposure to UVB. This causes rickets and all other kinds of bone problems, so either UV therapy or vitamin D supplements are absolutely necessary.

          I’m not even speaking of skin problems, and various kinds of mental problems, depression and sleep disorders.

          Не надо мне про солнечную Россию рассказывать – я сам в Питере вырос :)

  2. Acts_of_Atrocity says:

    The is a medical preventive care procedure – phototherapy. The lamp in the middle beams ultraviolet and bright visible light. Sessions were held in schools and kindergartens during late autumn and winter time, when there was little natural insolation, to prevent hypovitaminosis, and improve immunity in children.

    • D says:

      This is one of the few memories I have before I left Belarus as a kid. They made us strip down to underwear, put on those glasses and stand around that light. I never knew what this was and it always intrigued me. I thought it was some sort of experiment. Glad to know it’s just misguided medical practice. Still very strange.

      • Acts_of_Atrocity says:

        Nothing strange about it – thing really works.

        • Vassil says:

          We had those in Bulgaria, too, and yes, they do work – although the school nurses never bothered explaining this to us at the time. Apart from preventive sessions like these, light therapy can be used to treat psoriasis, eczema, vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder.

    • Grisha says:

      Yes. I remember the smell from this lamp. Yesss happy time, my childhood.

  3. Bert says:

    Alex, thanks for the interesting photos and props for the great scan quality!

  4. Robert says:

    Something I find interesting is advertisement. Pepsi Cola machines, Pepsi Cola t-shirt, so on. When were this photos taken and what’s the secret, evil red history behind Pepsi Cola?

    These photos are very interesting; I’d just like to know a bit more of the history behind them, to be honest.

    • Oles says:

      That’s right, Pepsi sales people traveled along with Nixon when he visited the Soviet Union in 1959. They even got president Chruchev to drink it.

  5. Goofy says:

    The kids are adorable.
    The rest is depressing.
    Well, perhaps that’s always the case…

  6. Vorthos says:

    These are amazing! I just wish there were some captions or any type of decription for some of them.

  7. Dennis says:

    Spasibo! It’s amazing how some of these very, very familiar items are still found all over the FSU. I recogized many details from these photos that I myself witnessed in Chisinau, Moldova in 2003! Some things haven’t changed, really.

    Oh, and the children are adorable, of course.

  8. Vitaliy says:

    Most of these images are from books such as “A day in the Life of Soviet Union”

  9. rufus says:

    Let there always be the sky, let there always be the sun…

    I like the photo where a guy standing in a tube and reading a book while holding the dog with the same hand.

  10. kyle says:

    Love the pictures! I visited Russia in 1998, and while different, not that different from the pics. Brought back a lot of GREAT memories! thanks.

  11. D says:

    This is the best post. When I look at these pictures and what they stand for I realize how clueless I was when I was one of those kids.

  12. ericsongs says:

    All of these photos are remarkable in one way or another. I was even more intrigued by pic #80. What is happening on this gentleman’s back? I think this site is wonderful because it never fails to show me how much people are alike all over this planet. Only fashion seems to separate us; and that is a delightful difference!

  13. VladimirS (Russia) says:

    Oh! That’s my childhood! It was happy time!

  14. Alena says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos! Brought back a lot of happy memories.

  15. Texas1 says:

    Those school uniforms are ugly. They should have at least had something sexy like the naughty catholic school girl uniforms. :)

  16. D says:

    oh, that brought back so many memories of my childhood. It all seemed so happy and good then.

    Love the one of a woman serving kvas out of the barrel… i remember many hot summer days, and (slightly) impatiently queuing for my own glass of the drink! Can’t buy the stuff in Australia. *sigh*

    • Grisha says:

      it is impossible to make okroshka (soup) without it. =(

      • D says:

        I know… :( Its been many years since I’ve had a bowl of it.

        I wonder if they still sell kvas in Russia… or, at least, the concentrate stuff that was pretty close to the stuff in barrels.

        • Grisha says:

          Yes barrels are very rare, but consentrate is okey. And you can buy it everywhere and even in winter. I made okroshka 5 days ago. It was good

          • D says:

            Hmmm :) that sounds promising! Thank you!

            (I am planning a trip to Russia this year, must look out for the concentrate… After living elsewhere for many years, it’s amazing what you miss!)

          • Alnair says:

            Nope. They are still quite a usual thing throughout the country. Since the drink is tasty, refreshing (it is really to satisfy the thirst, while it’s impossible with your coke ;) and cheap, it’s really popular.
            *sighs* I lived in this country only for three years. And then suddenly got into another one…

  17. D says:

    P.S. Thank you!! :)

  18. Mix says:

    Yes, my childhood was a great time, thanks for a good memories :). My children will grow up in quite different country.

  19. hazzamanazz says:

    Nice photos, great quality! I’m brazilian and always want to known how was the every day life in Soviet Union!

    But…America in the 70’s/80’s wasn’t a nice place either, with horrible and dirty cities, so I don’t understand why is depressive.

    NY City was a jungle in the 80’s, remember?

    [ ]‘s

  20. Nikapol says:

    превед учаснеги )))

  21. erin says:

    i really liked that there was an abacus in nearly every shop – very quaint (and i mean that in a good way). these pictures are exactly the kind of thing that makes me stop in at englishrussia.

  22. Loki says:

    Мля, а я тоже под такой лампой загорал :) #58

  23. Аня says:

    Полностью согласна! А мне наша форма очень нравилась! И очень жаль, что мне почти не удалось в ней походить, тк я пошла в школу в 92. Фотки отличные!

  24. Real says:

    I have been increasingly interested in all things I can read or see about cultures outside of the US. Especially countries like Russia and the former Soviet occupied states. Not that I slight or dislike my life in the US, just that I see that people are generally having similar lives to one degree or another. As another wrote, its a fashion difference.

    Perhaps its a little more than that, but it really is governments that are at odds. People do not have to be. I am not.

    I took to the clothes the various people were wearing. Reminds me of the US in the 70’s as I recall them and pictures of before that time, even to the US 1950’s. Cool stuff. While I was no fan of 1970’s US Pop culture, the regular folks like me seemed to appear much as these people do.

    My interest is learning all I can about other places and one day travel to them. The advantage to me is having an idea what a place and people are like. The history is so rich in Europe and Asia. Thanks to the poster who shared these.

  25. adios says:

    Horoхорошие фотки.особенно хорошо смотрятся под Большой Детский Хор СССР

  26. genna says:

    great pix. Like with some of the others, this is a walk down memory lane for me (I was a kid in central ukraine in the late 70’s). Thanks a bunch for posting these.

  27. Maestro Dennis says:

    It’s quite amazing to look on yong pioneers – I think that in modern times and in the USA it would be considered as sexually explisive materials. Did we really live through this time and didn’t notice that? I am 32 now and surtainly remember growing up in early 80th and being pioneer, but I had never thought that I would see it any different other then just a “pionerskoe detstvo”.

  28. Johnny says:

    These pics have been an educational experience for me as I have been interested in Russia for some time now. “my girlfriend’s great grandfather was a memeber of Czar Nicholas’ Cabinet” So she at least has blessed me with her Russian charms!

  29. mankiboj says:

    great pictures!

    greetings from hungary


  30. Yuri Konstantin says:

    Ah..Those photos brings me back old memories of my childhood…
    Good times that will never come back.
    Where are my Soviet Union??

  31. Guyver says:

    Awesome collection I say!

  32. Manbir Gill says:

    Thnx for this amazing insight of the soviet life.It would be really nice if u write an article along the pics . i am jatt from Punjab ,India . we too are a proud race….
    I long to visit Russia , i have heard great stories from friend who went to Moscow on student exchange programs….
    hope i get an opportunity soon. how do they treat tourists(especially Indians) in Russia?

    • Elmo bg says:

      I am not sure i read an article somewhere that they did not like Chinese people but i think these are single cases and are over but in any case i will b sad if something happened to you.

  33. Samtakoy says:

    I’m glad I went through my childhood in USSR, – best you can imagine. As kids we got a chance to experience the best of what Soviet Union had to offer, without ever knowing the hardships our parents had to endure. Funny enough, even things like standing in long lines for domestic goods with my Mom, never seemed unpleasant or annoying, – never new any different. Went to Ukraine recently, – not much has changes, aside the fact that everything is available and accessible for purchase. And me, of course. I’m not the same, not a child anymore, and that you can never bring back.

  34. nick says:


  35. georgh says:

    Hi, you have a very interesting set of photographs here, thanks for posting this entry.

    I have a book ‘A day in the life of the Soviet Union’ with many photos you show here (as someone has already said). The book claims that all these images were photographed on May 15th, 1987.

    It would be interesting to know if the rest of the pictures shown here are from the same ‘operation’ but they were not published in the book.

    I do no expect any response, because this is an old entry, but I think it is interesting to know.


  36. Mixas says:

    You got Stoly, we got Pepsi – good deal right? Thats how it worked.

  37. japanesepoliceman says:

    Actualy, this is a mix of soviet era and early 90s photos.

  38. Nick says:

    Amazing! Just after the fall of communism, I remember reading an article in a British Sunday magazine (I think it was the Sunday Timess magazine). In this article was that exact picture of the little dancing girls in white. I wonder if the photographer ever knew? I’m certain it was the same picture.

  39. mogur says:

    Many of the photos were taken from a book “A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union”. There are photos all taken on the same day May 15, 1987.

    #58, The one of children by the geen light, quoted from the book (page 130-131):
    “Children at Stavropol’s school #26 catch their rays froma quartz lamp. Far from being a toddler tanning salon, this treatment has a medical purpose: it is believed to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Stavropol, General Secretary Gorbachev’s hometown, is not exactly starved for
    sunlight, but in far north cities like Murmansk the sun doesn’t rise for two months each winter. Goggles and a circle drawn on the floor insure that no one suffers an overdose.”

    Photographer- Wally McNamee, USA, 1430 hour.

    #56- Women in gov’t sponsored Committe for Defense of Peace, Khabarovsk, 1300 hour (page 102-103)
    #57- schoolchildren in Minsk start a day with calisthenics, 0900 hour (page 32-33)
    #59- little girls dancing under Lenin – Khabarovsk Kindergarten #188, 0915 hour (page 36-37)
    #60- lady on scale being weighed – Odessa, 0900 (page 31)

  40. mogur says:

    Georgh is correct about the book. I haver also.

    #58, The one of children by the geen light, quoted from the book:
    “Children at Stavropol’s school #26 catch their rays froma quartz lamp. Far from being a toddler tanning salon, this treatment has a medical purpose: it is believed to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Stavropol, General Secretary Gorbachev’s hometown, is not exactly starved for
    sunlight, but in far north cities like Murmansk the sun doesn’t rise for two months each winter. Goggles and a circle drawn on the floor insure that no one suffers an overdose.”

    Photographer- Wally McNamee, USA, 1430 hour.

    #56- Women in gov’t sponsored Committe for Defense of Peace, Khabarovsk, 1300 hour
    #57- schoolchildren in Minsk start a day with calisthenics, 0900 hour
    #59- little girls dancing under Lenin – Khabarovsk Kindergarten #188, 0915 hour
    #60- lady on scale being weighed – Odessa, 0900

  41. mogur says:

    I have a book “Journey Across Russia – The Soviet Union Today”, printed in 1977.

    It has a similar picture of children around a UV light on page 159. The location is Murmansk.

  42. artemei says:

    Фотки супер. Блин, окунулся в детство. Все-таки в советском союзе быть ребенком было самое классное время. Вот прям не завидую я нынешнему подрастающему поколению, у которого уже нет возможности гулять до 23 часов и даже не думать, что с тобой может что-то случиться… С остальным конечно было напряг, нищая была страна, все гнулись на оборонку. Но это уже другая тема. Но я рад, что мое детство прошло в СССР. И пионером был, и форму носил (тоже классная была, не рвалась, надел и пошёл в школу), и под лампой в садике тоже стоял. В общем респект за фотки.
    p.s. ныняшняя безидейная и спивающаяся россия, которой руковдит путинская мафия, вымрет через пару десятков лет!

  43. Erika says:

    The pictures with the Pepsi machines are really quite something. I didn’t even know they sold that stuff over there during that time. Funny to see how the machine seems to fill the drink into glasses instead of giving out cans or bottles. I wonder whether you had to bring your own glas to the machine. Never seen anything like that in a Coca-Cola machine.

  44. poster says:

    actually noone used his own glass there. the machine provided everyone with a single glass which told to be washed but i doubt it really was:D

  45. Dr. Chaos says:

    Super collection, really good quality too. Thanks for posting it. Alex @ #40 is soooo right. It is very sad that so much that was right about Russia was lost, at least to a degree, when the things that were wrong were abandoned. Greed and power…. (sigh) :(

  46. Cheapest-Insurance-808 says:

    hm. hope to see same more info

  47. Ike says:

    I visited USSR (Leningrad) as a young teen in mid-1980’s and these pictures bring back some memories. It was quite strange to be in a city without the typical commercial ads I was so used to see. Shops were not designet to “sell” as in the West, much less selection, hardly anything but Soviet domestic brands and many things behind a counter, not free to see and touch. Special Berjozka shops for tourists, with guard at door, where Western products such as cigarrettes could be purchased with Western currency only. Queues. But also very clean streets, brooming grandmas, no troublemakers or obvious pick-pocket candidates just hanging around where they want.

  48. Lina says:

    Yes, beeng child in Soviet Union was not so bad.It brings nice memories of my childhood. But I am feel so sorry for our parents looking at those pictures. Anyway, they were happy living like this…

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