7 Ordinary Russian People of 19th Century

Ordinary Russian People of 19th Century

Posted on November 22, 2014 by tim


This is probably one of the oldest collection of photos of Russian people. What makes it more interesting are that they are not some aristocratic high class ladies or gentlemen dressed as if they are going to a party, but regular people from the streets caught in the act of their profession – like the one on top, who is a water delivery man right from the streets of 19th century St. Petersburg – as it was seen by great Russian classical writers. If you ever read Dostoevsky this is a chance to see the real photos of people he was describing as the time caught in this photo matches the time of his stories.

Here the water delivery men take the water inside the rich house. You can see the particular detail caught in the photo – the paving of the street is far from perfect and the house porch is starting to decay, too. 

Two young boys with firewood, one is raising his hat in the manner of greeting the photographer.

A “dvornik” – yardman – a class of people that cleaned streets and the yards of public and private properties. Stereotypically considered to be the most drunk among people. Often lived in small rooms in the yard. 

This is a dvornik, too. He has a big shovel and a broom, his main instruments. He also has a wicker basket to put trash in.

A cabman. Looks like he was caught next to that porch where the water delivery was taking place, too. These guys were known for being always drunk, too – just imagine, they had to be outside and ready to give a ride to people at all time during the cold Russian winters. How tough do you need to be to cope with that.

A stoker – a guy who used to take care of the furnaces in old Russia. Just look, almost all of the guys in this post use high class leather boots.

A stone mason with two bricks, each brick bears a company logo.

Peasants out in the field having lunch.

Another cabman, went inside to get some hot tea from the Samovar on the table. Just look at how thick his coat is to withstand all this cold while driving the cab.

A small store owner. Looks like his boots are the most shiny of them all.

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7 Responses to “Ordinary Russian People of 19th Century”

  1. Jon Skelley says:

    Thank you very much for the historical pictures. I never tire of seeing them

  2. Erik says:

    Thank you

  3. Douglas says:

    The photo with question. The woman appears to be selling basil….basilik.

  4. john says:

    Great pics.

  5. Martin Barlow says:

    One of the most interesting posts I have seen on ER. Easy to imagine these characters peopling the streets in the novels of Dostoyesvsky, Goncharov, etc.

  6. Lucy Parker says:

    Thank you for a very interesting post. People must make a living.

  7. Matjaz says:

    Great pics

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