Pioneer Journals

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pioneer Journals


in the USSR, mass children’s literary and sociopolitical periodicals published by the Central Committee of the All-Union Lenin Komsomol (VLKSM), the Central Council of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer organization, the central committees of the Union republic komsomols, the oblast Komsomol committees, and the respective republic and oblast councils of Pioneer organizations.

Pioneer journals originated in the early 1920’s. In 1922 the journal Iunye tovarishchi (Young Comrades) was first published by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Youth League and the Collegium of Children’s Institutions of the All-Union Central Executive Committee. It advocated the establishment of Pioneer detachments and explained the class nature of the children’s Communist organization and the organization’s political goals and tasks, along with its forms and methods of operation. In 1922 the journal made a collection of postage stamps and contributed it to a fund for aiding victims of famine in the Volga Region; this was the first attempt to involve children in sociopolitical campaigns. In 1924, Iunye tovarishchi merged with the journal Pioner.

Subsequently published journals were Iunye stroiteli (Young Builders; 1923-25), and Baraban (The Drum; 1923-26); the latter also merged with Pioner. Published for rural children were the Pioneer journals Iskorka (The Little Spark; 1924-33) and Druzhnye rebiata (Friendly Children; 1927-53; from 1933 to 1937 called Kolkhoznye rebiata (Kolkhoz Children). During the 1920’s, Pioneer journals entitled Pioner were founded in various Union republics, including Armenia (1929), Azerbaijan (1927), and Turkmenia (1926); Byelorusskii pioner began publishing in Byelorussia in 1924. In 1928, 18 Pioneer journals were being published, 12 for Pioneers and six for Little Octobrists. Their total circulation of 433,000 included the circulations of the specialized publications Znanie—sila (Knowledge Is Strength; 1926) and Iunyi naturalist (Young Naturalist; 1928).

The Pioneer journals of the 1920’s were oriented toward public affairs. Among their contributors were N. K. Krupskaia, M. I. Kalinin, Em. Iaroslavskii, F. Ia. Kon, V. D. Bonch-Bruevich, A. V. Lunacharskii, and A. I. Elizarova. During the 1930’s a new type of Pioneer journal appeared, which combined the literary tradition of Severnoe siianie (Northern Lights), Gorky’s journal for children, with the political acuity of such journals as Iunye tovarishchi and Baraban. Pioneer journals became considerably enlarged in scope, with sections on Pioneer and school life, literature, public affairs, science and technology, art, and sports. Writers, scientists, and heroes of labor began contributing to them. The republic Pioneer journals influenced the emergence and development of children’s literature in the USSR’s national languages. In 1936, 28 children’s journals were being published, of which 19 were in the national languages; their combined circulation was 700,000.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), many Pioneer journals temporarily ceased publication, except Pioner, Druzhnye rebiata, and Murzilka. In 1948, 15 Pioneer and children’s journals were being published, ten in the national languages; their combined circulation was 313,000.

As of 1974, 25 monthly Pioneer journals were being published, in addition to ten journals for Little Octobrists and preschoolers. Their total circulation was more than 17.5 million. Journals published in Moscow by the Central Committee of the All-Union Lenin Komsomol and the Central Council of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organizations were Pioner (since 1924), Koster (1936), Modelist-konstruktor (1966), Sovetskii shkol’nik (Soviet Schoolchild; 1938, for blind children; printed in braille), Iunyi naturalist (1928), Iunyi tekhnik (1956), Murzilka (1924, for Little Octobrists), and Veselye kartinki (Merry Pictures; 1956, for preschoolers).

Published in the RSFSR are Iskorka (since 1957, a monthly supplement to the newspaper Leninskie iskry, Leningrad), Pioner (1930, Ufa, in Bashkir), Ural’skii sledopyt (Ural Pathfinder; 1958, Sverdlovsk, published jointly with the Writers’ Union of the RSFSR), and lalkin (Flame; 1933, Kazan, in Tatar). Published in the Ukrainian SSR are Pioneriia (1923, in Ukrainian; since 1950 in Russian as well), Barvinok (1928, in Ukrainian; since 1950 in Russian as well, for Little Octobrists), and Ma-liatko (Little One; 1960, in Ukrainian, for preschoolers).

Published in the Byelorussian SSR are Biarozka (Birch Tree; 1924, in Byelorussian) and Viaselka (Rainbow; 1957, in Byelorussian, for Little Octobrists); in the Uzbek SSR, Gulkhan (Campfire; 1952, in Uzbek) and Guncha (Bud; 1958, in Uzbek, for Little Octobrists); in the Kazakh SSR, Bilim zhane enbek (Knowledge and Labor; 1960, in Kazakh) and Baldyrgan (Sprout; 1958, in Kazakh, for Little Octobrists); and in the Georgian SSR, Pioneri (1926, in Georgian), Dila (Morning; 1928, in Georgian, for Little Octobrists), and Amtsabz (Flame; 1957, in Abkhazian).

Published in the Azerbaijan SSR are Pioner (1927, in Azerbaijani) and Geiarchin (Dove; 1958, in Azerbaijani); in the Lithuanian SSR, Genys (Woodpecker; 1940, in Lithuanian, for Little Octobrists); in the Moldavian SSR, Skynteia leniniste (Leninist Spark; 1930, in Moldavian); in the Latvian SSR, Draugs (Friend; 1945, in Latvian) and Zīlīte (Titmouse; 1958, in Latvian, for Little Octobrists); and in the Kirghiz SSR, Zhash leninchi (Young Leninist; 1952, in Kirghiz). Published in the Tadzhik SSR is Mash”ial (Campfire; since 1952, in Tadzhik); in the Armenian SSR, Pioner (1928, in Armenian), Tsitsernak (The Swallow; 1967, in Armenian, for Little Octobrists); in the Turkmen SSR, Pioner (1926, in Turkmen); and in the Estonian SSR, Pioneer (1940, in Estonian) and Täheke (Little Star; 1960, in Estonian, for Little Octobrists).

The USSR’s Pioneer journals support close contacts with children’s and young people’s journals of other socialist countries.


O partiinoi i sovetskoi pechati, radioveshchanii i televidenii. Moscow, 1972.
Komsomol i molodezhnaia pechat’. Moscow, 1973.
Plamia pervykh kostrov. Moscow, 1972. Pages 293-98.
Timofeeva, N. “Iz istorii pionerskoi periodicheskoi pechati (1922–1928).” In the collection O literature dlia detei. Leningrad, 1955.
Il’ina N. “Iz istorii detskikh zhurnalov 20-30-kh godov.” In Voprosy detskoi literatury, 1957. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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