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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Praskovia Angelina: Hero of Socialist Labor



Praskovia Angelina (also Praskov’ia Nikitichna Angelina) (1913-1959)


From Soviet Women, 1953:


The collective farm system has produced a large number of experts in obtaining high harvest yields. Many of them are women.


The highest cotton yield in the U.S.S.R. has been obtained by two Azerbaijan collective farm women, Basti Bagirova and Shamama Gasanova. The largest sugar beet yield in the world has been obtained by the Kazakh collective farm women Olga Gonazhenko, Darikha Zhantokhova and Batai Tatenova. By using scientific methods, collective farmer Anna Bardeyeva, of the Moscow region, obtained exceptionally high yields of the new Moskovka variety of spring wheat-34 centners per hectare (over 27 cwt. per acre).


In 1948 Praskovia Angelina, a famous tractor driver at the Staro-Beshevo machine and tractor station, who is a member of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., a Stalin Prize Winner and a Hero of Socialist Labour, published her autobiography. This very interesting book tells the life story of a woman both of whose parents were farm labourers and who herself began to work as a farm labourer when she was eight years old. It is the story of a woman who is prominent in the affairs of her country, a woman whose fame has spread beyond the frontiers of the Soviet Union.


Praskovia Angelina, of Staro-Beshevo village, in the Stalino region, was the first Soviet woman peasant to learn to drive a tractor. That was in 1930. Her example was followed by other peasant girls, and in 1931 Praskovia Angelina organised the first team of women tractor drivers in the Soviet Union. Collective farm women everywhere followed her example. There was a rapid and remarkable increase in the number of teams of women tractor drivers. The initial results of the work of these teams were summed up at a U.S.S.R. conference of women tractor drivers and leaders of women's tractor teams, held in 1937. These showed that in 1936, 55 brigades were working areas of about 1,000 hectares* per tractor, and 300 brigades were working areas of about 790 hectares per tractor, at a time when the average for the country was 463 hectares.


Today scores of thousands of women are tractor drivers and heads of tractor teams.


*One hectare equals approximately 2.47 acres.


From the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1979:


Born Dec. 30, 1912 (Jan. 12, 1913), in the settlement of Starobeshevo, Donetsk Oblast; died Jan. 21, 1959, in Moscow. Organizer and team leader of the first women’s tractor brigade in the USSR; public figure. Twice Hero of Socialist Labor (1947 and 1958). Member of the CPSU from 1937.


Angelina graduated from courses in tractor operation in 1929 and started to work as a tractor operator at the Starobeshevo Machine and Tractor Station (MTS) in Donetsk Oblast. She organized a women’s tractor brigade at this MTS in 1933 and led it for 25 years. In 1938 she made the appeal to Soviet women: “One hundred thousand friends—to the tractors!” Angelina’s appeal brought a response from 200,000 women.


In 1940 she graduated from the Moscow Timiriazev Agricultural Academy. During the war years, she worked as the leader of a women’s tractor brigade in the Kazakh SSR. She was deputy of the first five convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. She was a delegate to the 18th-21st congresses of the CPSU. Angelina was awarded three Orders of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. She received the State Prize of the USSR in 1946. She was the author of the book People of the Kolkhoz Fields (1948).


***

Angelina sadly died at the young age of 46 in Moscow, 1959.


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