We, the people: Profiling soviet party elites, 1900s–1990s

Katya Vladimirov, Kennesaw State University


The article profiles the upper echelon of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, specifically the members of the CC CPSU, and quantifies its evolution as a group by means of a statistical analysis of certain elements in the personnel files of CC members. The analysis is based on a database of 1,931 people whose personnel files were entered into a specially designed database with fifteen different characteristics: dates of birth and death, social origins, nationality, education, ranks, places of work, burial places, and others. A statistical analysis of the data allows a detailed profile of Communist Party elites and benefits us enormously in assessing the structure and nature of the Soviet state from 1917 to 1990. The profiling shows that the members of the highest body of party power were indeed representatives of the people: they came from humble origins and belonged to dozens of national and ethnic groups. Additionally, the generational approach leads to many other surprising discoveries that help retire many stereotypes and myths harbored by historians of Russia and the Soviet Union.