State Factory Clerks in the Urals in the Petrine Era: Recruitment and Working and Living Conditions
Clerks working at state plants of the Urals during the 1720s constituted a social stratum. The number of clerks was growing considerably due to the intensive construction of plants, the opening of several plants a year, the rapidly expanding system of management bodies of the mining department, and the increase in the flow of documentation. One of the peculiarities of the formation of the corps of clerks in the mining department was extensive regulation of their behaviour and working activities. Vasily Tatishchev did it through his orders to the factory commissar in 1721 and 1723, which revealed his talent as an administrator. Referring to these documents and archival sources, the author conducts a comprehensive examination of the position of Ural clerks in the 1720s describing their number, the difficulties of forming their staff, working hours, salaries, the system of punishment, living conditions, and other components of their everyday life. The author demonstrates that the clerks’ workload grew constantly as specialists were scarce while the number of documents increased. Plants had difficulty replenishing their staff as province and uyezd civil institutions refused to share their specialists with mining administrations. The author concludes that working conditions for clerks kept deteriorating drastically as higher and central bodies demanded that they draw up and send reports on the operation of the plants, introduction of plants of new kinds, forms, and changes in the dispatch times. Finally, the author characterises instances of pay checkages caused by the clerks’ inability to draw up reports on time. Also, they were at times deprived of half of their payments or kept under surveillance and chained until they completed urgent work.
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