The Romanian Childhood during Communism

Director: cercet. dr. Luminita Dumanescu
Mentor: C. S. I dr. Ioan Bolovan

The main objective of this project is the reconstruction of the way of life and of the social role of children during the communist period. The concrete objectives are:

1. The study of children organizations, from the point of view of the historian, of the way they functioned and of their social role. Under communism, the pre-school and school children were going to be integrated in the process of revolutionary education of the young generation. Soimii Patriei (an original creation of Nicolae Ceausescu – no other country of the communist block had a similar organization) and Organizatia Pionierilor played their role in the creation of the multilateral developed society and in the revolutionary education of the young generation (Educatia comunista, patriotica, revolutionara a soimilor patriei, a volume published by CNOP in 1985).

The analyze of the degree of implication of children in these organizations (especially the Pionieri) can reveal very interesting aspects about the sociological and psychological impact on children: numerous accounts testify that the position of group, detachment or unity commander was the first leadership experience in their personal history. The analyze of the school and out of school activities (agricultural practice, collecting ferrous and non-ferrous materials, patriotic work) is also circumscribed to this first objective.

2. To reveal the social role of children in everyday life: A press inquiry showed that a common memory of children about communism is the one about queuing, being strategically placed by parents or grandparents, in order to wait for the meat, milk or butter lorry. Queuing generated a true group culture, with specific language, with common games and attitudes. This group culture of children, formed during queuing, is left totally uninvestigated, although the queue as a phenomenon in itself,  has benefited by some consistent studies. The sources we base our research on at this level are mainly historical – the statutes of children and pionieri organizations, the decisions of the Central Committee of Romanian Communist Party regarding these organizations, the specific press (like Cutezatorii) and the everyday press, as well as memoirs. The method implies the analyze and the interpretation of the document (press, literature), and we see the result of this analyze as a monography of children organizations from communist Romania and of their role in building then new man.

3. To analyze the children’s consumerism (products and brands) and leisure. Included hereby are both food and usual everyday products. Also here, we want to analyze the contents of programs for children (not at all curiously, even Teleenciclopedia may be classified as a children program) and of literature – revealing a full set of specific chracaters that gave substance to that time. There are accounts testifying that, in intellectuals’ families, children took information from three categories of sources: inherited from grandparents – boxes full of Strajerul magazine, published by Straja Tarii in the time of Carol II; from school, profoundly ideologized, like the Cutezatorii (and other specific) magazines; from abroad, from the cartoon magazine Pif, a phenomenon of the years 60 – 80. It shall be interesting to discover how these cultural items contributed to the formation of the child raised under communism. Also, this objective aims to rediscover the methods of spending the spare time by children. Here we are preoccupied by children’s play during the communist period and the way they spent their holidays (in the countryside, at the grandparents, at the seaside in school camps or with the parents – through the union, in the mountains).

4. To conduct 100 interviews with men and women regarding their childhood. I will conduct interviews with 100 people, both from urban and rural areas, both men and women. In order to provide a complex portrait of the childhood I will examine the recollections of women and men from different educational, socioeconomic, and occupational backgrounds.

5. The reconstruction of the particularities of childhood through corroborating the information from documents and from interviews. For this objective I aim at superimposing the two categories of sources in order to get an as complete as possible image of the Romanian childhood lived under communism. If the written sources, given their official character, had to obey the ideological line of the party (therefore we expect to discover a profoundly ideologized childhood), the memories of those who were the children of those times might put everything under a new light, completing the image of childhood. Based on this method we aim at identifying the specific features of childhood as a structural age in communism.

6. The dissemination of the particularities of Romanian childhood under communism, both nationally and internationally, through participating in various scientific meetings (workshops, conferences), through the publication (at least four articles and a book and through a thematic website.

Work plan

For the first objective (O1) I shall have the following activities; A.1.1.researching the historical origins of children’s organization in the international context (the former communist countries); A1.2.researching the CNOP archives files, the archives of Central and Counties Committee of Romanian Communist Party, the UTC and Pioneers Houses archives (this activities involve internal mobilities); A1.3. Studing the internal rules and the structures of children s organisations.

For O2 the activities are. A2.1. researching the photography funds at the National Archives in Bucharest, the photos form Online Gallery of Romanian Communism and from private collections (involve internal mobilities); A2.2. researching the secondary sources, like memories, diaries, letters and fictional literature

For O3 I’ll have the following plan; A3.1. analysis children’s magazines (such as Cutezatorii, Pif, Vacanta); A3.2. analysis of media products for children (cartoons, cultural programs – Lumea Copiilor - The World of Childhood – radio theatre for children) at Multimedia Archive Service, Bucharest and using the private collections (involve internal mobilities); A3.3. consideration of specific food and clothing for children and identifying marks that had given specific color of that time; A3.4. researching the funds archives of school inspectorates and pioneer houses, regarding the summer camps.      

O4: A4.1.preparing a interview guide; A4.2. conduct interviews with 100 people, from urban at rural area, with different educational level and different social status (internal mobilities are included); A4.3. interviews transcriptions; A4.4. selecting and sorting the information upon specific topics

O5: A5. – Comparative analysis of information from the two categories of sources

O6: The dissemination of the results: it will be continuous from the beginning of the project. I set to submit for publication at least two and the final result of the project will be a volume regarding the childhood during the communism.

 Estimated Results

4 papers

1 book

2 international conferences

2 national conferences


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