Children of the revolution: parents, children and the revolutionary struggle in late imperial Russia

Katy Turton

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While there has been a considerable growth in scholarly interest in Russian child- hood and youth, the presence of children in the revolutionary movement has largely been overlooked. Studies of female revolutionaries have acknowledged that family concerns often had an impact on women’s party careers, but few have explored fully the relationship between mothers and their children. Similarly, “general” historical works on the Russian revolution have rarely engaged with questions about the family lives of the predominantly male party members. This article will assess how becoming a parent affected the careers of both male and female revolutionaries, as well as the ways in which familial concerns and the presence of children had an impact on the movement itself. It will highlight that children could have both positive and negative effects on the operations of the underground, at times disrupting activities, but at others proving to be useful decoys and helpers. Children’s attitudes to their parents’ revolutionary careers will also be examined, highlighting that while some children wished they had less politically active parents, others enthusiastically helped the movement. Though expanding the scholarly gaze on the Russian underground to take in the presence of children does not change the grand narrative of the revolution, it enriches our understanding considerably and offers a new insight into the daily struggles of the revolutionary movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-86
Number of pages35
JournalThe Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • history
  • children
  • revolution
  • russia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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