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Elena Romanovna Mushkina. 1979 year. Main Archive of Moscow

In 1977, the bureau of the Moscow City Committee of the CPSU and the executive committee of the Moscow City Council issued a decree “On the state and measures to improve the demographic situation and stimulate the natural increase in the population of Moscow.”

In the 1970s, demographic and everyday problems became more frequent in Soviet families. The need for public discussion of family issues grew.

One of the first to bring these problems into the public sphere and played an important role in the emergence of dating services in the USSR, journalist Elena Mushkina, whose personal fund is kept in Main Archive of Moscow… Among the documents of the fund are photographs, correspondence, creative and biographical documents, as well as documents that tell about how strongly the topic of acquaintances, marriage, family and other everyday issues among Muscovites responded.

Elena Mushkina raised the issue of the problems of the modern family in the newspaper Nedelya, where she worked as the editor of the family department since 1965. Together with her, famous writers, journalists, doctors, sociologists, sexologists and psychologists talked about the topics of home comfort, maintaining the family hearth and how to make it easier for a woman to manage her household life on the pages of the weekly. Every day, the editors received a huge number of letters from readers with gratitude and requests for help in understanding difficult life situations. After calculating the statistics, the most burning topics were acquaintance and marriage.

In the fall of 1975, a meeting on family issues was held near Yerevan, where two dozen demographers, psychologists and sociologists discussed the problems of family and marriage. Then in the magazine “Young Communist” there was an article about the reasons for the breakdown of the family, marriage for love and convenience. At the end of the article, the idea was expressed about the need to create a family service. After an excerpt of this article was published by Nedelya, and even more letters were received by the editors, it was decided to start publishing materials on the problems of marriage – each text received a huge response from readers.

In 1977, after a large number of articles on family topics in the “Week”, the bureau of the Moscow City Committee of the CPSU and the executive committee of the Moscow City Council issued a decree “On the state and measures to improve the demographic situation and stimulate the natural increase in the population of Moscow.” A department for family and marriage was created, where the heads of departments, specialists and editorial staff began to discuss how issues of demography and family were being resolved in Moscow. One of the topics of the meeting was announcements of acquaintance. In those years, some publications were already printing them, but the decision was not easy for Nedelya. However, the “Let me introduce you” strip was created.

After that, the weekly was faced with a huge number of not only letters, but also calls, and many people even came to the editorial office in person. Nedelya kept such a large layer of materials on marriage and family topics that she had to inform the propaganda department of the Central Committee of the CPSU about it. The Main Archive keeps an interesting document by Elena Mushkina – a self-made album containing photographs, letters from readers, correspondence of thematic publications of European countries, articles by journalists and other materials. Samizdat played a key role in helping citizens with family issues.

In April 1978, the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers instructed four departments to familiarize themselves with the album’s materials and prepare a certificate for the Council of Ministers. Among the tasks in the certificate indicated “To assist single citizens in creating a family.”

Finally, on January 19, 1979, the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a resolution “On advisory assistance to the population on family and marriage issues.” It was then that a dating service, consultations on family and marriage issues, a social and psychological service, helplines and other organizations began to work. A role in the creation of new families was also played by the clubs “Over 30” and “Over 40”.

You can see the Elena Mushkina fund in the reading room of the Moscow Main Archive at 82 Profsoyuznaya Street, building 1. It is open on Mondays from 09:30 to 16:30, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 to 20:00, on Fridays from 09:30 to 15:00. In the reading room, the necessary sanitary requirements are observed: tables are located at a great distance from each other, disinfection is regularly carried out in the room. Visitors are required to bring a mask and gloves.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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