Population Census Summary in Moscow in 1931

March 16

By early 1930s, the Moscow authorities needed to count the city residents. It should be useful in food distribution among them - the food cards were introduced due to shortage of goods. The major demographic indices needed to be known to ensure successful system implementation.

In 1931 new ration books with coupons were issued to the Muscovites which should include a certain number of products. It depended on a specific category: all citizens and plants were divided into several product supply categories. The previous, 1926 census data got out of date, and it was decided to arrange a new one by March 1931. The Moscow Soviet fund documents filed in the capital city’s Glavarchiv reflect this process in full.

Errors and Kickbacks

The census was held since March 5 till 18. The difficulties were met right from the very start. The district plants were so reluctant that took a census of slightly more than 86 thousand people by March 11, around three percent of the Moscow population.
The census takers were scarce: for example, around five thousand people should have worked in the Stalin District, and actually there were no more than 500 , in the Lenin District, around 700 of 1,500, and during the first week, nobody proceeded to work in Svoboda factory of 150 activists.

And those, anyhow, engaged in the census, made errors too often. The categories assigned to the citizens affected the volumes of products distributed. So, when confused, it entailed far-reaching consequences. There were more serious violations as well: a census taker in the Oktyabrsky District demanded a kickback from not permanently employed citizens for assigning a category.

The errors were also made due to the poor qualification both of main district and local offices. For instance, the Oktyabrsky District trainer told the subordinates they shouldn’t going door to door but just check the lists in the house management offices and categorize people accordingly. Thereby people were assigned a wrong category or omitted in the lists at all since the house management offices could have incomplete, obsolete or invalid data.

There were times when the house management offices hindered the census themselves. The Proletarsky District illustrates that neither lists nor house registers were shown to the census takers. One householder in one of the Vorobievy Hills houses did not admitted a census in and even bashed him up in response to his explanations.

Muscovites at the Turgenevskaya Square. Mid 1930s. Moscow Glavarchiv

Urgent Measures

The Moscow Soviet had to take appropriate measures for the census to take place. They invited two thousand more census takers since March 10 from the party officials and Komsomol members. The militia was involved as well to prevent any violations.

The special commissions managed issue of ration books: the permanent City Administration central commission which reviewed applications from the plants and education institutions, and the District Soviet commission which handled applications and claims from certain citizens. They decided whether error had been made or not when assigning a category to a person. When any violation was proved the book was replaced with appropriate modifications.

When the measures were taken the census qualitative and quantitative indices began increasing. By March 17 the majority of citizens was taken census in the city districts. Such figure approximated 90 percent in the Zamoskvorechie District, for example. Finally the census allowed nonetheless to generate statistics on Moscow citizens and to issue books with product coupons.

Source: mos.ru

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