Moscow, . 38 glass plates in individual paper wraps; in red cardboard box with title on piece of paper mounted. Slides in very good condition. Box rubbed, bumped and soiled, with tears, pale stamps and stickers.
An excellent example of Soviet educational slides for use in workers’ clubs. This collection showed how to behave safely on a tram in a period when it was the most common form of urban passenger transport in Moscow.
Replacing the horse-drawn tram (konka), electric tram lines were laid from 1905 to the 1910s. Tram routes linked the outskirts of the suburban Garden Ring with the city center. Moscow’s tram network was in its heyday in the early 1930s, just before the Metro system was launched. By 1933, Moscow’s trams had served 1890 million passenger journeys in total and were used by 2.6 million people per day.
This slide collection was developed by the Scientific Institute of Urban Traffic and Drivers’ Personnel under the Presidium of the Moscow City Council. Its logo is placed on slide “zero”. Slide numbers are stamped on the paper wraps. Most slides are illustrated with photographs.
Seven slides include photomontage compositions. Slide #3 contains a brief history of Moscow tram development using a “before/after” motif. Its caption reads, “instead of a horse-drawn tram…”. Slide #4 is designed to resemble an information poster in the style of a report: it features two pictures of urban traffic and the lettering read, “bus and taxi services have been organized and the tram network has been reconstructed”. Slide #9 presents statistics about the population of Moscow and how many passengers have been transported by trams and buses. To represent the date visually, the full-body portrait of a man was repeated three times in increasing sizes, the first montaged with a tram only in 1913, with the same tram and a bus for 1928 and 1933. Slide #17 advised: “Do not run from a tram stop to a bus stop” and the point is underlined graphically by the montage of a general view of a lively street with two stop signs.
Slide #33 proclaims “When you get off, watch the signals. Do not cross the path in front of a moving tram or bus” and comprises a colored photomontage of a tram, two men in its way and what appears to be the tram driver’s feet pressing a pedal and signaling the tram’s departure. Slide #35 is devoted to the construction of the Metro and combines a photograph of underground works and a wooden construction on Gorky Street (now Tverskaya). The final slide, #37, is about the different modes of Moscow’s urban transport, showing external and internal pictures of an automobile and a bus, as well as a traffic police officer and hand-drawn colored traffic lights. It states: “The Red proletarian capital deserves a civilized and disciplined passenger”.
In their totality, the slide photographs show Moscow’s streets before the Stalinist Reconstruction and the changes to the tram network that occurred in the 1930s and after: some routes became obsolete or were redirected because of the Metro system, while others were superceded by trolleybuses in the 1940s. The slides are also a valuable source on the mass education of semi-literate workers in the early Soviet Union.