Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

In 1977 the National Geographic Society (the USA) published this book of a journalist Bart McDowell and a photographer Dean Conger – 370 pages of “personalized geography”, a portrait of the huge country and its people. Two Americans travelled to all 15 republics, visited dozens of cities and made a detailed story about the Soviet Union.

The first day at school – a Ukrainian schoolgirl

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Many faces of the Soviet Union

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Ice-cream vendors in Kreschatik, Kiev

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Girls at a picture “Danae” of Rembrandt

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A small city near Novosibirsk. A docotor is examining a girl after an operation on her heart

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Residential buildings in cubistic style above the streets of restored Tashkent – the largest Soviet city to the east from the Urals.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

In winter Yakutsk builders do not let mortar freeze, they apply electric heating units and salt additives.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Trading centers and a new movie theater in Togliatti.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Children are looking out from the windows of a car at the station of the main Trans-Siberian railway.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A veteran Abram Mordukhovich and an acting colonel Dmitry Boyarkin are having lunch in a compartment of a train going along the main Trans-Siberian railway.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A young girl from Leningrad looking at the candlelight, a kid from Murmansk showing how old he is and a couple from Kiev following the fashion rules of that time.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

An employee from a state farm working in the town near Tallinn, stylish students from Erevan, a Latvian woman with a badge «Virginia is for lovers».

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Behind the crossroad in the center of Samarkand are the ruins of Bibi-Khanym mosque.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

The city farewell draftees with an orchestra.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

The newly married couple is being photographed at a wedding palace in Alma-Ata.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Church members from Odessa are listening to a baptist priest. Someone is even recording his speech.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

First-class Moldavian wine

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A family of a Ukrainian farmer Mikhail Boiko has a small house. They raise pigs, hens and ducks.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A post and a savings bank of a collective farm named after Shevchenko in the village Novye Tsybli. 2-3% of annual income from the deposits.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A police car in Tobolsk. The bright sun melted the heart of a young man.

Tobolsk is turning to a large industrial center.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

“Zhemchuzhina” (“Pearl”) cafe in Baku

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Riga is often called an eastern-European Paris.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A couple from Tallinn is hiding from the rain under the umbrella.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Traffic-controllers in Khabarovsk, the Soviet constitution declares equality of rights.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Cold winters may cause development delay that’s why children from Murmansk should take vitamins and have sessions of ultraviolet radiation.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A small red flag stops traffic

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Decorations in Leningrad. November, 7th – another anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Children playing snowballs in the yards of Murmansk, a guide is telling about the tactics of Russian troops in Borodino battle in the Moscow Region, teens from Odessa.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

“Spa” in Yalta, Alma-Ata reveres Lenin’s memory, the Volga car production plant where 111 thousands of female employees

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

November, 7th celebration.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A Yakut people’s artist Gavriil Kolesov is making sliced frozen meat for the author of the book Bart McDowell (to the right) and a translator Gennady Sokolov.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Rest of a couple from Leningrad – an evening in the company of vodka, light supper and tunes of records.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

White nights in Leningrad. A group of students are having a graduation party.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Retired soldiers

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

The cheapest “Zhiguli” model costs $7420 inside the country, however abroad it costs only $1900

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A helicopter of “Aeroflot” has delivered supplies to reindeer breeders in the North.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

In the Arctic port

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Ethnic heterogeneity in the streets of Ulan-Ude.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

The Trans-Siberian railway. A young traveller has made friends with soldiers and is rehearsing a military salute.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Baikal-Amur mainline. A master Varvara Kupova from Siberia.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

A photographer Dean Conger (to the right) and a translator Gennady Sokolov in Irkutsk.

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Prelate Nikolay is found under the cover of the book

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

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53 thoughts on “Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today”

  1. I have this book. My wife has pictures of her in the same type dress that the girl on the cover is wearing. Got to love those little pioneers of the CCCP!

    • Agreed. Whatever issues we in the west may have had with the communist system, it was not the fault of those who were forced to live under it. Most of the people in the USSR were decent human beings with the same hopes and dreams as anyone else. Having had the opportunity to meet relatives from the USSR when they visited the US in 1982 (I was 8 at the time), I can honestly say they were wonderful people. They brought me some toys from the USSR that I have kept to this day out of respect for them and what they went through to bring them to me. Oddly though, the problem was not with the Soviet side of things, but rather with US customs who showed their own prejudices while doing their jobs.

  2. I had this book, a nice book. Could someone explain, how a car can cost over $7000 inside the country in which it was built, as opposed to $1900 exported price? This makes absolutely no sense.

    • First, the exchange rate of USD/rouble was absurd, state-owned banks paid only a fraction of the true value for “capitalist” hard currencies. Second, the Commie states desperately needed hard currencies, thus they were ready to sell anything rotten West was ready to absorb for any price. It was said that e.g. Škoda 120 (piece of junk obsolete even when on a drawing board) was sold abroad at a price which did not even cover the manufacturing costs.

      • I am sure you are right, the writer meant roubles, not dollars. Nevertheless, this exporting and selling of a product below cost is probably one factor in the end of the USSR. Economic folly.

  3. It would seem that Mr. Ford’s downtrodden workers could afford the Model T they built and Soviet auto workers could not. $7400 was much money in the 70’s. Most new cars were under $6000 then.

  4. “The cheapest “Zhiguli” model costs $7420 inside the country” – man that looks like a mistake. “Zhiguli”, and namely VAZ 2101 cost 7420 Soviet roubles – remeber, as if were now:))) My father had it.
    No matter how strongly a mere mortal would burn with the desire to spend/buy US dollars on the territory of former USSR, he would be grabbed by the police and indicted of exchange fraud.

  5. Very nice pictures, but I missed pictures from Lithuania. Article says that the authors visited all the republics and yes, there are pictures from Latvia and Estonia, but none from Lithuania.

  6. Scan the book and upload. I am from Nicaragua, another communist country in the 80 and the time of communist is the better time for my country too.

  7. Very cool pictures, a glimpse into another time and place is always a welcome sight. Back then it was another world, one that did not have some of the issues that we as humans face today. Thanks very much for the uploads…

  8. ISBN 0870442198
    ISBN13: 9780870442193
    original title:
    JOURNEY ACROSS RUSSIA: SOVIET UNION TODAY

    Think I’m going to order this book just to see the rest.

  9. Lovely photo essay! I’m in U.S.A. studying about Russia in World Geography. U.S.A. & Russia should always be friends and not enemies! I do hope the two countries’ peoples can be friends. Thank you.

  10. The fotos are of very good quality. However that should be very well expected – considering the source of the fotos.

    Are they typical, normal, actual, not well-staged in these times…? Absolutely not, and not by a long shot.

    If you want to argue about these fact, go right ahead. I will not miss any moment of sleep for it.

  11. the book is great and the pictures show how generally wonderful it was to live in the FSU for many people, what they don’t show is the pictures of residents of Serbskogo Institute of mental diseases, that’s the place where many of the otkazniks were sent and kept. I was born in Ukraine when it was still Soviet and I perfectly remember having to stand in the queue at the bread shop for 2.5 hours!!! outside!!! in the cold winter morning!

    My family has a matchmaking agency and we help men from the West to find nice and family oriented Ukrainian women, and i can see that most of the guys have a genuine interest towards the history of the USSR and the time of cold war is gone, at least between Ukraine and the West

    • the book is great and the pictures show how generally wonderful it was to live in the FSU for many people, what they don’t show is the pictures of residents of Serbskogo Institute of mental diseases, that’s the place where many of the otkazniks were sent and kept. I was born in Ukraine when it was still Soviet and I perfectly remember having to stand in the queue at the bread shop for 2.5 hours!!! outside!!! in the cold winter morning!

      My family has a matchmaking agency Mordinson and we help men from the West to find nice and family oriented Ukrainian women, and i can see that most of the guys have a genuine interest towards the history of the USSR and the time of cold war is gone, at least between Ukraine and the West

  12. “I’d like to say that you always offer valid information and I have been an fascinated reader of your site for quite some time. I wanted to say thankyou really 🙂 for all the good work you do!”

  13. I made this book together with Bart McDowell and Dean Conger from the National Geographic Society 35 years ago. And I cherish every moment of our joint work back in 1974-76. It’s great to see Dean’s excellent pix on the site of English Russia. I’m glad that his brilliant photographic contribution to the book project is appreciated by the site visitors. Thank you on behalf of the three of us. God bless you and God bless Russia!

    • I am 24 years old, from mexico. I was so interested in see life in the CCCP, great i found this web. I am gonna buy this book right now.!!!

    • You were the translator! I’m sure you contributed a great deal to its success. I am a writer working primarily in the former Soviet Union and always enjoy coming back to this book. Is there anyway I can contact you to further discuss your experience with the National Geographic journalists?

  14. God bless you, mr. Sokolov and thank you so much for your contribution. I have been coming back to this site for many years now and it never fails to astonish me with amazing and genuine material, such as this book by you and the gentlemen of the National Geographic Society.

  15. Russia vs Turkey : The Geopolitics of the South & the Turk Stream Pipelines
    https://iakal.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/russia-vs-turkey-the-geopolitics-of-tuth-the-turk-stream-pipelines/

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