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Historical informatics
Reference:

The experience of creating a database "The photographic images of students of educational institutions of the State labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region (1940s-50s)"

Razinkov Sergey Lvovich

ORCID: 0000-0002-0018-7931

PhD in History

Associate professor of the Chair of Theory and History of International Relations, Ural Federal University; Associate professor of the Chair of Document study, Law, History and Russian Language, Russian State Vocational Pedagogical University

620012, Russia, Sverdlovsk region, Yekaterinburg, Mashstroiteley str., 11, room 509

sergerazinkov@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.7256/2585-7797.2023.4.69120

EDN:

WDUWFX

Received:

26-11-2023


Published:

06-12-2023


Abstract: The purpose of the database is to reconstruct the "ceremonial" and "non-official" portraits of students of state labor reserves (using the example of visual images of students of educational institutions of the Sverdlovsk region in the 1940s and 50s). The analysis of the information contained in the database will in the future allow answering a number of research questions and identify important characteristics of the visual image and social portrait of students: types of activities, including various aspects of work and educational activities, "bodily activity" of students; acts of human interaction and non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, body poses, etc.); objects of material culture used; everyday stereotypes of behavior reconstructed through a series of photographs; "atypical experience", description of deviant groups of students, irregular clothes, atypical behavior. When creating the database, the concepts of visual images in L.N. Mazur's historical research, D. Zeitlin's digitalization of visual anthropology, G. Kreidlin's nonverbal semiotics, and K. Girtz's "dense description" were taken into account. The results of the study are: 1) development and description of the database structure that allows taking into account the features of visual sources aimed at reconstructing the "ceremonial" and "non-official" portraits of students of educational institutions of the Sverdlovsk region in the 1940s and 50s through a detailed description of the poses, gestures, visual behavior, spatial interaction, clothes and shoes of the persons depicted in the photo; 2) primary analysis of 145 photographs from the official albums of 4 educational institutions devoted to the description of the results of their participation in the All-Union Socialist Competition in 1943-1945; 3) more accurate identification and systematization of external behavioral practices of students based on the database; 4) demonstration of the possibilities of detailed description of images by means of the database to identify individual sides of the "non-official portrait" of students. The results of the study can be used in the study of everyday life and socio-cultural portrait of students in the Soviet period.


Keywords:

database, Labor Reserves, photographic documents, nonverbal semiotics, appearance, image, factory-workshop schools, vocational schools, Sverdlovsk region, technical and vocational education

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

Thanks to the "visual turn" in historical science, since the last quarter of the 20th century, photography has gone from illustrative material to recognition of its independence as a historical source [1, pp. 3, 14, 22]. At the same time, new ideas about "visuality" are connected, first of all, with the use by historians of the concept of image, which, according to L.N. Mazur, remains "poorly structured and largely uncertain" to this day, since its reconstruction and interpretation is based not on logical principles of modeling, but on "perception"through "qualitative" methods of cognition, which has a pronounced subjective character based on sensory experience [7, pp. 100-101]. David Zeitlin, professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford, notes that "visual images are problematic [for researchers] and have a strange status in the social sciences ... they are not so much ignored as bracketed, gestures are made in their direction, but not taken seriously; visual anthropology remains [secondary] a scientific field, not being part of the mainstream, which is dominated by models based on linguistic and textual analysis" [10].

Thus, on the one hand, the interpretation of photography is carried out by a historian, mainly on the basis of a holistic, generalized, value-symbolic perception of a visual image, however, on the other hand, researchers admit the possibility of using quantitative methods and decomposition to study visual images through "generalization of empirical material ... through the use of logical (typology, modeling, structuring)" [7, p. 101]. In the latter case, computer databases can be used as an effective method of systematization of information, which allows to collectively reflect the structural, functional and dynamic features of visual sources. Computer information systems and database technologies provide: 1) effective structuring, attributive search and extraction of information about visual sources; 2) integration of the image with textual information from other sources; 3) the ability to associate information with parts of the image and contextual data extraction; 4) improvement of the quality of the image or its parts [see details: 9]. Based on the above, it seems to us that the possibility of using database technology to reconstruct the image of students of the USSR state labor reserves system in the 1940s and 1950s is very productive.

The creation of the system of state labor reserves in 1940 artificially integrated youth representatives into one social group students of state labor reserves, which was heterogeneous, uniting boys and girls of different ages (14-17 years old), origin, education, level and living conditions, respectively, the way of thinking, interests, and development were different. Such processes contributed to the formation of a specific sociocultural environment of students, which, on the one hand, was regulated by a paramilitary system of rules and norms uniting young people into study groups, on the other hand, it was "adjusted" by living conditions, informal communication, work tasks and real living conditions.

The basis for the reconstruction of the portrait of students in the system of state labor reserves is the allocation of subculture markers in the optics of "parade" (characteristics, norms and patterns of student behavior officially established by political and social institutions) and "non-parade" (systems deviating from the ceremonial portrait of stable cultural values and behavioral practices of students). The categories of such markers include:

1. Socio-demographic characteristics (gender and age characteristics, status and social positions, peculiarities of nationality and historical and cultural space, elements of urban life and educational space, by types of educational institutions and regions)

2. Cultural values, mental characteristics (group identity, worldview, value orientations and personal qualities, stable ideas about priorities, norms of behavior in different situations in school and at work)

3. Behavioral practices (educational practices, work at work, types of self-expression, lifestyle, spending free time and leisure, habits)

4. Appearance (clothes, hairstyle, distinctive signs) [5, pp. 67-69].

Photographic images of students of educational institutions of the state labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region can be applied to varying degrees in the reconstruction of markers of all these categories of sociocultural portrait of students - not only their appearance, but also some socio-demographic indicators, external characteristics of behavioral practices and collective actions of students, and even individual components of the worldview and value orientations of this social group (through the analysis of slogans, posters and other elements of visual agitation captured in the photo).

The purpose of the database "The image of students of educational institutions of the State labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region in photographic documents (1940-50-ies)" is the reconstruction of the "ceremonial" and "non-parade" portrait of students of the state labor reserves (using the example of visual images of students of educational institutions of the Sverdlovsk region in the 1940s-50s). Analysis of the information contained in The database will allow you to answer a number of research questions and identify important characteristics of the visual image and social portrait of students:

- types of activities, including various aspects of work and educational activities, "bodily activity" of students;

- acts of human interaction and non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, body postures, etc.)

- used objects of material culture

- everyday patterns of behavior reconstructed through a series of photographs;

- "atypical experience", a description of deviant groups of students, irregular clothing, atypical behavior.

Characteristics of the database structure and tables

The database is implemented in the Microsoft Access 2003 database management system and has a structure consisting of a central table "Photos", two main tables ("Persons" and "Visual agitation") associated with a central one-to-one relationship, and one additional table ("Clothes") associated with the table "Persons" with a one-to-one relationship (see Fig. 1), as well as 20 auxiliary reference tables containing systematized information (type of photo on various classification grounds, description of pose, facial expressions and gestures of a person, items of clothing and shoes, etc.) necessary to simplify the entry and processing of database information. To fill service tables with data programmatically, you need to have a library for accessing databases Data Access Objects (DAO) 3.5 and higher.

Fig. 1. Data schema (relationships between database tables)

1. The 25 fields of the "Photo" table contain a general description of each photo (type of photo for various classification reasons, dating, place of creation of the photo, educational institution, etc.) of students of educational institutions of the state labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region. Special attention is paid to the description of photography based on various classification grounds: by genre (portrait, staged, documentary, genre, etc.), the number of persons depicted (individual, group, collective), the photography plan (general, medium, large), the primary source of the photo (state archive, newspaper, family archive, etc.). Separate fields of the table are reserved for describing the interior (photo studio, classroom, workshop / workshop of the enterprise, dormitory / living room, dining room, red corner / club, facade of an educational institution, outdoors / outdoors) and the content of collective actions performed by participants in photography (production activities, educational activities, demonstration / construction, physical exercises / sports competition, rehearsal / performance of amateur performances, military training, collective reading, rest).

2. The 16 fields of the "Persons" table contain information about the visual image of the persons depicted in the photo, including posture, gestures, facial expressions, hairstyle, interaction with other persons and objects.

When describing the visual image of a student, separate elements of nonverbal semiotics are used, related to kinesics (description and interpretation of gestures, primarily hand positions, and poses a biologically conditioned, static way of placing the body in space relative to the position of its parts); oculesics (the position of the eyes, gaze and visual behavior of people in the process of communication); haptics (touch and tactile communication) [4, p. 22]. It should be noted that the use of these elements of nonverbal semiotics to describe and interpret photographic documents has significant limitations associated with the contradiction between the dynamic nature of gestures / visual behavior / tactile communication and the static essence of a photograph, in which the ability to "stop a moment" "to a certain extent limits the possibilities of knowing what is left outside the frame" [6, p. 222]. Using the terminology of K. Geertz (Clifford Geertz) and his example with two blinking boys, one of whom makes an involuntary eyelid movement, and the other gives a secret signal to a friend [3, p. 12], we can say that in the case of a photo in the database, only a "subtle description" is possible (i.e., "phenomenalistic observation" static fixation of poses and gestures), rather than a "dense description" that allows you to interpret gestures, glances, and touches of people in the photo from the point of view of communication and understanding of the image.

Fig. 2. Reference table "Hand position(s)"

3. The table "Clothes and shoes" contains information about the items of clothing and shoes worn by the persons in the photo. A detailed description of each item of clothing / footwear is assumed, indicating its type (headdress, outerwear, underwear, shoes, accessory) and type (for example, for outerwear: tunic, trousers, overcoat, jacket, coat / half-coat, skirt, dress, etc.)

4. The table "Visual agitation" contains information about the elements of visual agitation placed on the photo (indicating the texts of slogans written on banners and posters).

Data entry and primary analysis: normativity vs individuality

The sources for filling the database were albums of individual educational institutions of the state labor reserves, dedicated to describing the results of their participation in the All-Union Socialist Competition in 1943-1945, deposited in the fund of photographic documents of the Center for Documentation of Public Organizations of the Sverdlovsk region (CDOOO). The database contains information about photographs from six albums: Kamyshlovsky ZHU No. 1 for the II quarter of 1943 14 photos [CDOOO, f 221, op. 3, d. 238], Nizhne-Tagilsky RU No. 25 for the I quarter of 1944 18 photos [CDOOO, f 221, op. 3, 243], Nizhne-Tagil school of Federal Law No. 7 for the first quarter of 1944 (29 photos) [CDOOO, f 221, op. 3, d. 244], for 1944 (23 photos) [CDOOO, f 221, op. 3, d. 245] and the first quarter of 1945 (23 photos) [TSDOOSO, f 221, op. 3, 264], Kamensk-Ural school of Federal Law No. 84 for the first quarter of 1944 (38 photos) [TSDOOSO, f 221, op. 3, d. 246]. The distribution of photos in the database by type (individual, group, collective) is shown in Table 1.

Table 1.

The distribution of photos in the database by type based on the number of faces depicted

Photo Type

The number of photos in the database

ZHU No. 1

RU No. 25

Federal Law No. 7 (alb.1)

Federal Law No. 7 (alb.2)

Federal Law No. 7 (alb.3)

Federal Law No. 84

Total

individual

5

6

6

4

8

10

39

group (2-5 people)

5

2

11

9

5

20

52

collective (more than 5 people)

4

10

12

10

10

8

54

Total

14

18

29

23

23

38

145

Source: compiled by the author based on the database materials

The data on the photographs, the description of the depicted persons and the elements of their clothes and shoes were entered using a graphical form (see Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. The form for entering information about the photo in the database

When interpreting the content of visual sources reflecting the images of students of state labor reserves, it is important to establish the degree of authenticity of images, their compliance with the real conditions of life and activities of students of educational institutions. As the researchers note, from the very first years of the existence of the Soviet state, photography was endowed with a propaganda function, in the 1930s its ideological significance increased significantly, and in the first half of the 1940s visual propaganda through photography in war conditions became part of everyday life [1, pp. 20-22]. At the same time, as O. V. Gavrishina notes, since the mid-1930s, photographs have fully manifested "the desire for normality: not in the sense of normality, but in the sense of a normal, reproducible way of life," which has limited content and is associated with a very pronounced idea of due, external assessment, expert At the same time, "the identity of a person in a photograph is quite difficult to build: the values of collective and personal (public and private) are not opposed to each other, but mutually define each other" [2, pp. 41-43].

To the greatest extent, the syncretism of normativity and individuality is manifested in photographs reflecting the numerous and diverse collective actions and behavioral practices of students (see Table 2).

Table 2.

Distribution of photos in the database by types of behavioral practices of the depicted persons

Type of behavioral practice

Number of photos

production activities

15

educational activities

15

physical exercise / sports competition

11

rehearsal / performance of amateur performances

27

Military training

9

educational work with students

8

recreation, leisure, daily practices

13

Source: compiled by the author based on the database materials

By behavioral practices we mean relatively stable patterns of behavior of individuals and social groups, as a rule, repeatedly reproduced by them in typical life situations. The variety of life situations determines the breadth and, to some extent, the duality of the manifestation of behavioral practices, which, being a kind of social practices, can be collective and individual; mainly everyday, institutional, stable to habitalization, but also extraordinary, protest and variable; involving an actor as a subject or object. The database materials made it possible to more accurately identify and systematize the behavioral practices of students of educational institutions of state labor reserves (see Table 3).

Table 3.

Examples of behavioral practices in educational institutions of state labor reserves

Behavioral practices

everyday

the innocent

Educational

Theoretical training

preparing lessons for 1.5-2 hours a day

individual student's academic obligations (for example, to study only with "excellent" grades)

practical training (in training workshops / at the factory)

verification of the group, briefing before the start of the lesson

independent maintenance of the unit, the work site; front-line brigades, the movement of thousands

ideological education

conducting political information; reading newspaper articles in the dormitory

participation in demonstrations on public holidays; joining the Komsomol

military physical training

combat training

sports competitions

Household

living together in a hostel

keeping the beds and bedside tables in the room clean

the organization of a curfew by students on the floors

nutrition

moving in formation to the dining room; cleaning up the dishes after eating

public control of students over "putting food in the pot" in the kitchen

clothing and appearance

cleaning clothes and shoes every morning

performing ceremonial photos; wearing badges, expensive watches, jewelry

sleep and rest

15-30-minute walk in the fresh air before going to bed

lack of sleep due to overworking (the practice of not leaving the workplace until the norm is met) or poor living conditions

personal hygiene

wash your hands, face, neck daily in the morning and evening; brush your teeth

regular washing in the bath with a change of underwear and bed linen

health and illness

morning physical exercises

monthly medical check-up

Leisure activities

amateur art, club activities

regular attendance of clubs

participation in the organization of a concert or exhibition

entertainment; individual hobbies in your free time

reading fiction and newspapers

going to the cinema, theater

Source: compiled by the author based on the database materials

Fig. 4. The canteen of the vocational school No. 25 (enlarged part of the frame with a barefoot student).

Undoubtedly, most of the scenes captured in the above-mentioned photographs were staged, they were undoubtedly carefully thought out and selected for placement in official albums, where there was no place for random images. At the same time, displaying mainly markers of "parade" in the appearance of students, in exceptional cases, the photographic images contained in the database reflect (primarily due to the detailed description in the database of each element of the person's appearance) certain aspects of the "non-parade portrait", unsightly everyday practices of students, including those features that provided survival reflected the diversity of life's problems, demands, and demands. For example, in the photo of the dining room [CDOOSO, f 221, op. 3, d. 243, l. 42] from the official album of the vocational school No. 25 Nizhny Tagil (1944), one of the students (in the center of the photo) is dining at a table without shoes, barefoot (see Fig. 4). Identification of this fact deviations from the established form became possible, first of all, due to the possibility of a detailed description in the database of each item of clothing and shoes of the persons depicted in the photo.

Conclusion

Visual images reflected in photographs from official albums of railway, vocational schools and schools of the Federal District are an important element of the reconstruction of the socio-cultural portrait of students of state labor reserves (appearance, some socio-demographic indicators, external characteristics of behavioral practices and collective actions of students, etc.)

The database "Image of students of educational institutions of the State labor Reserves of the Sverdlovsk region in photographic documents (1940s-50s)" is aimed at reconstructing the "ceremonial" and "non-parade" portraits of students of educational institutions of the Sverdlovsk region in the 1940s-50s through the use of elements of non-verbal semiotics and the concept of "dense description" for a detailed description of poses, gestures, visual behavior, spatial interaction, clothing and shoes of the persons depicted in the photo. The photographs described in the database make it possible to visualize the appearance of students and highlight the given behavioral practices of working youth, thereby completing the formation and researcher of a holistic view of the "ceremonial" portrait of students.

Thanks:

The study was carried out with financial supportThe Russian Science Foundation (project No. 23-28-01065 "Non-parade Portrait" by Danila Kuzmich: the potential for updating the system of State labor Reserves in the subculture of students (1940s-1950s)")

Application

Example of a database entry

Field Name

Example of filling in

Description of the photo (the "Photo" table)

Photo Code

18

Heading

Students of railway School No. 1 in military training classes

Year

1943

Year_2

Type_1

2 {group (2-5 people)}

Type_2

2 {staged}

Shooting plan

3 {large}

Color photo

No

Interior

{outdoors / outdoors}

Locality

Kamyshlov

Educational institution

ZHU No. 1

Collective action

6 {military training}

Number of people

2

Approximate quantity

No

Visual campaigning

No

The original source of the photo

1 {State Archive}

Photo defects

Link to the file

F.221..3..238..25.jpeg

Archive cipher

CDOOSO. F. 221. Op. 3. D. 238. L. 25.

Note

Information about the person (the "Persons" table)

Code_persons

32

Photo Code

18

Name of the person

Paul

female

In uniform

Yes

Pose

1 {stands straight}

Facial expression

1 {big smile}

Sight

5 {sideways glance at the camera}

Head position

2 {tilt to the side}

Hand position

Haptics

Tattoos

Makeup

Clothing size

2 {by size}

Hairstyle

4 {square}

Note

Information about the person's clothing (table "Clothes")

Code_persons

32

Type

headdress

Element

takes

Uniform

Yes

Note

There is a cockade of railway workers - a crossed hammer and an adjustable wrench

Type

outerwear

Element

overcoat

Uniform

Yes

Note

On the lapels there are buttonholes with the number of the school "1 ZHU"

Type

outerwear

Element

waist belt

Uniform

Yes

Note

The plaque is engraved with the number of the school "1 ZHU"

References
1. Abilova, R. O. (2017). Photography as Source for Everyday Life Studies: Analyzing Contemporary Russian Historiography]. A Cand. Sc. Thesis (history) abstract. Kazan.
2. Gavrishina, O.V. (2011). Empire of Light: photography as a visual practice of the «modernity» era. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie.
3. Geertz, C. (2004). The Interpretation of Cultures. Moscow: ROSSPEN.
4. Kreidlin, G.E. (2002). Nonverbal semiotics: Body language and natural language. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie.
5. Larionova, M. B., Zaglodina, T. A., & Razinkov, S. L. (2023). Sociocultural markers as a basis for reconstructing the portrait of students in the State labor reserves of the USSR. Vocational education & labour market, 2, 65-80. doi:10.52944/PORT.2023.53.2.004
6. Magidov, V. M. (2005). Film and Photographic Documents in the Context of Historical Knowledge. Moscow: RGGU.
7. Mazur, L.N. (2014). «The visual turn» in historical sciences at the late 20th early 21st cc.: the search of new research methods. Dialogue with Time, 46, 95-108.
8. Pease, A. & Pease, B. (2022). Definitive Book of Body Language. Moscow: Eksmo.
9. Fischer, M. & Zeitlyn, D. (2003). Visual anthropology in the digital mirror: Computer-assisted visual anthropology. The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies. Retrieved from https://mambila.info/layers_nggwun.html
10. Zeitlyn, D. (2010). Representation/Self-representation: A Tale of Two Portraits; or, Portraits and Social Science Representations. Visual Anthropology, 23(5), 398-426.

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Over the last century, not only photography, but also documentary filmmaking have dramatically expanded the possibilities of visual history: as researcher L.N. Mazur notes, "at the turn of the 1970s and 80s, concepts such as "social portrait", "social appearance", "lifestyle", etc., begin to penetrate from sociology into the research of Soviet historians."In turn, G. Pikhan notes that in the paintings of Russian painters of the nineteenth century"The whole history of Russia and all the important topics of that time are presented. The works of artists can be a historical source." These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the reconstruction of the "parade" and "non-parade" portrait of students of the state labor reserves. The author sets out to consider the experience of creating a database "The image of students of educational institutions of the State labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region in photographic documents (1940s-50s)", as well as to show the possibilities of using the database materials for further research. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is a systematic approach, which is based on the consideration of the object as an integral complex of interrelated elements. The comparative method is also used in the work. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the very formulation of the topic: the author seeks to characterize the experience of creating a database "The image of students of educational institutions of the State labor reserves of the Sverdlovsk region in photographic documents (1940s-50s)." Considering the bibliographic list of the article as a positive point, its versatility should be noted: in total, the list of references includes 10 different sources and studies. Among the studies attracted by the author, we point to the works of R.O. Abilova, L.N. Mazur, V.N. Magidov, which focus on various aspects of the study of the "visual turn" in historical science. Note that the bibliography of the article is important both from a scientific and educational point of view: after reading the text of the article, readers can turn to other materials on its topic. In general, in our opinion, the integrated use of various sources and research to a certain extent contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to a scientific one, at the same time understandable not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone interested in both visual history in general and social portraits of students of the state labor reserves system, in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author defines the relevance of the topic, shows that "the creation of a system of state labor reserves in 1940 artificially integrated youth representatives into one social group students of state labor reserves, which was heterogeneous, uniting boys and girls of different ages (14-17 years), origin, education, level and living conditions, respectively, were different and the way of thinking, interests, development." The paper notes that "the database is implemented in the Microsoft Access 2003 database management system and has a structure consisting of a central table "Photos", two main tables ("Persons" and "Visual agitation") associated with a central one-to-one relationship, and one additional table ("Clothes"), linked to the "Person" table by a one-to-one relationship. The author writes that although most of the collected photographs are staged, "in exceptional cases, the photographic images contained in the database reflect (primarily due to the detailed description in the database of each element of the person's appearance) separate sides of the "non-fancy portrait": for example, one of the photographs captures a student dining at a table without shoes. The main conclusion of the article is that "visual images reflected in photographs from official albums of railway, vocational schools and schools of the Federal District are an important element of the reconstruction of the socio-cultural portrait of students of state labor reserves (appearance, some socio-demographic indicators, external characteristics of behavioral practices and collective actions of students, etc.)". The article is devoted to an urgent topic, will arouse readers' interest, is provided with 4 figures and 3 tables, and its materials can be used both in lecture courses on the history of Russia and in the framework of research on visual sources. In general, in our opinion, the article can be recommended for publication in the journal "Historical Informatics".