This volume by Dr. Frank Lorimer on The Population of the Soviet Union constitutes one of a series of demographic studies which Princeton University's Office of Population Research, under the direction of Professor Frank W. Notestein, is preparing for the League of Nations. The other volumes in this series are: The Future Population of Europe and the Soviet Union, which was published in 1944, The Economic Demography of Eastern and Southern Europe, published in 1945, and Europe's Population: The Interwar Years, the manuscript of which is at the moment of writing nearly completed.
Dr. Frank Lorimer gives us a picture in this volume of much more than the demographic characteristics of the U.S.S.R. at the present day, or before the outbreak of what we can now fortunately call the late war. He is concerned at once with the dynamics of population growth and with the ethnic and economic background and economic evolution of the vast area with which he deals. Thus, in the first two chapters and a part of the third, he traces the growth of the Russian population from the early eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century—the rise of the Russian nation and the economic structure of the Russian Empire. In later chapters he deals with the ethnic composition of the Soviet population, with the great economic and social changes which have taken place under the Soviets, with the trends of the Soviet population, especially during the period 1926 to 1939, and, in so far as the information permits, with the changes caused by the recent years of warfare. As he suggests in his Preface, the census of 1926 forms, as it were, the pivot of his whole analysis. That census provides the only comprehensive account of the people of the Soviet Union, because publication of the full returns from the census of 1939 was prevented by the war. Furthermore, the position in time of that census between the only two other complete enumerations in Russia makes it possible to analyze population changes during the preceding and succeeding intervals, 1897-1926, and 1926-1939.
In handling the material available to him, Dr. Lorimer has shown throughout a rare combination of ingenuity, judgment and care. The publication of his analysis and description, as a valuable contribution to the very important subject with which he deals, should not, however, be taken to identify the League of Nations with all the views contained in it.
As Dr. Lorimer mentions in his Preface, the United States Department of State has been good enough to allow us to reproduce maps planned in its Office of Geography and Cartography.
Our thanks are thus due to the United States Department of State, to the President of Princeton University for the arrangement under which this volume was published, to the Director of the Office of Population Research, and to Dr. Frank Lorimer himself, the author of this volume.
A. Loveday Director of the Economic, Financial and Transit Department
League of Nations September 1945 . . .