Government Child Care Advice From Early Soviet Propaganda Posters

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
June 24 2014 12:18 PM

Government Child Care Advice From Early Soviet Propaganda Posters

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

The images below, all printed in 1930, reflect the government’s promotion of early-childhood health and well-being in the early years of the Soviet Union. The London School of Economics Library has collected a group of these posters—half brightly-colored, half sepia-toned—in a Flickr set.

In her book about childhood in Russia during the early Soviet period, historian Lisa Kirschenbaum writes that children and childhood were ideologically important to those involved in the Bolshevik Revolution. Children had the potential to grow into ideal communists, and communal early childhood education was seen as a good way of getting all members of the rising generation to hold consistent views. (In the United States, the conservative opposition to attempts to institute government support for day care in the early 1970s often referred, obliquely or explicitly, to the communalism of Soviet child care.)

Advertisement

By 1930, when these images were produced, the government-supported day care (or “crèche”) was doubly politically important, since young mothers were encouraged to work. In these posters, babies that look to be about 6 months old cry “I’m bored at home!” and beg to be taken to the crèche.

As Kirschenbaum writes, governmental officials considered peasant parents to be uneducated and given to antiquated habits. Fliers like the ones below that show how to hold a three-month-old infant, how to cut your child’s nails without biting them, or how to guard against flies were meant to counteract this perceived lack of savvy.

Other such instructional posters in the set offer advice on such matters as the “preparation of juice from raw fruits”; the weighing of children; and the bathing of eyes and cleaning of noses

1SovietChildcare
Crèche scene, with productive factory in the background.

London School of Economics Library.

2SovietChildcare
L: “I’m bored at home!” R: “I’m happy in the crèche!”

London School of Economics Library.

3SovietChildcare
The wrong (upper right-hand corner) and right (bottom) way to cut a child’s nails.

London School of Economics Library.

4SovietChildcare
The right (L) and wrong (R) way to carry a three-month-old baby.

London School of Economics Library.

5SovietChildcare
Objects that might harm children. L: “Don’t let small children play with sharp objects!” R: “Many children die each year from these.”

London School of Economics Library.

6SovietChildcare
“Protect your child and food from flies.”

London School of Economics Library.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Not Easy for Me, but I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 23 2014 9:01 AM Tristan da Cunha: Life on the World's Most Remote Island
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 9:42 AM Listen to the Surprising New Single From Kendrick Lamar
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand With Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.