New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History
Edited By Donald Filtzer, Wendy Z. Goldman, Gijs Kessler and Simon Pirani
Part III: Family, Food, and Work:Strategies for Survival, 1884 to the Present
Part >>> Family, Food, and Work: Strategies for Survival, to the Present 8=6EI:G “Earning My Own Crust of Bread”: Labor in the Lives of Discontented Wives in Late Imperial Russia Barbara Alpern Engel In the townswoman (meshchanka) Anastasiia Petrova, having com- pleted a dressmaking course in St. Petersburg and obtained her certificate, set off for the city of Baku, where she found work as a dressmaker and seamstress. To supplement her income, “being very literate”, as she put it, she copied documents for several trading establishments in the city as well. Then, in January , she made the “big mistake” of getting married to Aleksei Petrov, a man she barely knew, who was then employed as a shop clerk in one of Baku’s many oil companies. Something – it is never clear exactly what – went very wrong, very quickly. Anastasiia herself referred to “endless quarrels” and to “the complete incompatibility of our char- acters”, while Aleksei cast aspersions on her sexual fidelity and claimed she refused “without any reason” to join him in Moscow, where his work had taken him. In her appeal for the separate internal passport that would permit her to remain in Baku, submitted three years after her wedding, Petrova emphasized how her ill-considered marriage had come to threaten her work: Two to three times a year, he demands that my passport be taken away […] and that I be sent to him under police escort [po etapu], and the like. As a result of these demands, I must...
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