Russian Archives: All Union Population Census

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Filmed from the holdings of the Russian State Archive of the Economy, Moscow, Russia

During World War II and in the postwar period, enormous changes had encompassed the population and territory of the USSR. These important factors emphasized the need for conducting a new series of all-union censuses in the 1950s. Changes had been wrought in the distribution of the population by gender, age, familial and marital relations, and other demographic indicators. In brief, an entirely new generation was to come of age in the postwar period, forever altering the age-gender pyramid and affecting such other indicators as the birth rate, death rate, and life expectancy.

The borders of the Soviet Union also changed. At the end of 1939, western Ukraine and western Belarus became part of the USSR, followed by the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian allied republics in 1940 and the people’s republic of Tuvin, which in 1944 entered the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic as an autonomous province and after 1961 became an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1940 the Moldavian allied republic was formed. This sudden expansion in the Soviet empire entailed significant changes in the composition of the official national population.

Soviet officials recognized the need to have accurate records of these changes in number, composition, and distribution of the population. The all-union census was intended to play a key role in the completion of tasks of the sixth five-year plan and the composition of a plan for the agricultural and cultural development of the country in the seventh five-year plan.

With the All-Union Population Census, 1959, researchers gain a clear view of the demographic consequences of World War II and the devastating impact of the war and postwar life under Stalin’s rule on the many millions who lived in the USSR during this period.

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