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Cicely Osmond Collection

The Cicely Osmond Collection provides a detailed visual account of everyday life in the Soviet Union during the 1920s-30s, with particularly rich material on Soviet education and training. It includes photographs, posters, children's books and correspondence.

Cicely Osmond was a teacher, socialist and keen Esperantist, who also wrote Nature Notes in the Daily Worker during the 1950s. Given her interest in education and socialism, she visited the Soviet Union on a number of occasions from the early 1930s to the 1970s, travelling widely around the country.

Two albums of photographs from visits in 1931 and 1935 are of particular interest. At a time of political and social transformation, they offer an insight into how such momentous changes shaped the everyday lives of Soviet people. They include many photographs of people at work and rest - travelling, selling their wares at markets or cooling off during a heat-wave. There are images of industry and agriculture - from collective farms to workers' flats, factory schools and industrialisation along the Volga.

However, it is the material relating to children and education that forms the core of the collection. During her visits in the 1930s Cicely Osmond visited pioneer camps, schools and kindergartens, amassing a unique collection of photographs. Among others, photographs taken at Soviet pioneer camps show boys and girls at work and leisure - gardening, doing woodwork, reading and playing sport. These photographs are supplemented by a collection of children's paperbacks published during the 1920s and 1930s, including puzzle and activity books, children's literature and information books introducing children to the changes in society. There are also examples of children's own work in the form of wall newspapers and posters.

The collection includes a host of Soviet realia collected by Cicely Osmond from the 1930s onwards - tourist brochures, menus, metro tickets and maps, theatre programmes and invitations to concerts. It also holds Cicely's correspondence with family and friends, both in the UK and the Soviet Union, much of it in Esperanto.

For more information, see feature article Reflections on the Cicely Osmond Collection, SCRSS Information Digest, Autumn 2010 issue on pages 6-9.


Boy doing woodwork at a pioneer camp, 1930s (Cicely Osmond Collection, SCRSS Photo Library)


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Kindergarten, 1931 (Cicely Osmond Collection, SCRSS Photo Library)


Collective farm near Kharkov (Cicely Osmond Collection, SCRSS Photo Library)