Category Archives: Imperial Academy of Sciences – Saint-Petersburg

The Russian Academy of Sciences in the Enlightenment: A Bibliography

This entry has been written in collaboration with my colleague Anna Aschauer (Universität Bayreuth).


Amburger, Erik, Die Deutschen in der russischen Akademie der Wissenschaft. Eine familiengeschichtliche Studie (1936).

Bartlett, Roger, Eighteenth-century Russia: society, culture, economy; papers from the VII International conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, Wittenberg 2004 (Berlin, Lit.: 2007).

Bartlett, Roger, Russia and the world of the eighteenth-century: proceedings of the 3. International conference organized by the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia and held at Indiana University at Bloomington, USA, Sept. 1984 (Columbus, Ohio, Slavia Publications, 1988).

Beyer-Thoma, Hermann, „Bayern und Osteuropa im 18. Jahrhundert: Gelehrtenmigration und Region.“ in Beyer-Thoma, Hermann, Griese, Olivia, Lengyel, Zsolt (eds.), Münchener Forschungen zur Geschichte Ost- und Südosteuropas: Werkstattberichte, Münchener Universitätsschriften (5) (Neuried: Ars Una, 2002) pp99–134.

Beyer-Thoma, Hermann, „Netzwerke und Migration. Wanderungen von Gelehrten aus dem evangelischen Franken nach Russland im 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert.“ in Beer, Mathias, Dahlmann, Dittmar (eds.), Über die trockene Grenze und über das offene Meer: Binneneuropäische und transatlantische Migrationen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, Migration in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1) (Essen, Klartext:2004) pp133-166.

Bradley, Robert, Sandifer, Ed (eds.), Leonhard Euler: Life, Work and Legacy (Elsevier, 2007).

Cross, Anthony, Russia and the West in the Eighteenth-Century: proceedings of the second international conference organized by the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia and held at the University of East-Anglia, Norwich, England, 17-22 Julyn 1981 (Newtonville, Mass. Oriental Research Partners, 1983).

Dahlmann, Dittmar, „Записки путешественников. Переписка Г. Ф. Миллера, Л. Эйлера и А. Ф. Бюшинга во время и после Второй амчатской экспедиции, 1733-1743.“ in Smagina, G.I. (ed.), Nemtsy v Rossii: Rossiĭsko-nemetskiĭ dialog (St. Petersburg, D. Bulanin: 2001), pp8–15.

Dixon, Simon (ed.), Personality and Place in Russian Culture: Essays in Memory of Lindsey Hughes (Leeds, Maney: 2010).

Gleason, Abbott, A companion to Russian history (Madlen, Mass., Wiley-Blackwell: 2009).

Kaiser, Friedhelm Berthold, Stasiewski, Bernhard  (eds.), Deutscher Einfluss auf Bildung und Wissenschaft im östlichen Europa. Studien zum Deutschtum im Osten (18) (Köln, Böhlau: 1984).

Kliuchevskii, Vasili Osipovich, A Course in Russian History; The Time of Catherine the Great (M.E. Sharpe, 1997).

Lieven, Dominic, The Cambridge History of Imperial Russia, 1689-1917 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 2006).

Mamikov, Valerij, Vo vremja tamozhennogo dosmotra obnaruzheny…Tamozhnja Sankt-Petersburga v zerkale vremen. (A history of the customs office of Saint-Petersburg) (Sankt-Petersburg, Izdate’stvo Sankt Peterburgskogo un-ta, 2006).

Porter, Roy (ed. ) The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 4. “Eighteenth-Century Science.”  (Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press: 2003).

Reidy, Michael, Kroll, Gary, Conway, Erik (eds.), Exploration and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (ABC Clio, 2007).

Robel, Gert, „Kärrner der Aufklärung. Hauslehrer im Rußland des 18. Jahrhunderts.“ in Lehmann-Carli, Gabriela, Scholz, Birgit (eds.), Russische Aufklärungsrezeption im Kontext offizieller Bildungskonzepte (1700-1825), Aufklärung und Europa. (Berlin, Berlin-Verlag Spitz: 2001), pp325–344.

Smagina, Galina, „Russisch- deutsche Beziehungen in der Wissenschaft im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert.“ in Smagina, Galina (ed.), Nemcy v Rossii: Russko-nemeckie naučnye i kul’turnye svjazi, (Saint-Petersburg, Bulanin: 2000), pp208–224.

Smagina, Galina, „Вклад немецких ученых в развитие российской школы в XVIII в.“ in Славогородская Л. В (ed.), Немцы и развитие образования в России (Saint- Petersburg, Российская Академия Наук: 1998).

Smagina, Galina, „Немецкие учебники по всеобщей истории в российской школе XVIII века.“ in Smagina, Galina (ed.), Nemtsy v Rossii: Rossiĭskonemetskiĭ dialog, (Saint. Petersburg, D. Bulanin: 2001), pp169–186.

Smagina, Galina. „Sankt-Petersburgskaja Akademiya nauk i prosveshenie v Rossii XVIII veka: obrazovanie i rasprostranenie znanij.“ Habilitation (Диссертация на соискание ученой степени доктора исторических наук), Институт истории естествознания и техники им. С. И. Вавилова, 2007).

Stén, Johan, Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johann Lexell’s Life and Discoveries (Springer: 2014).

Umbach, Maiken, Federalism and Enlightenment in Germany, 1740-1806 (London, Rio Grande: Hambledon Press: 2000).

Van Damme, Stephane, “Reason and Sentiment: The Enlightenment, Golden Age of the Translation of the Sciences?” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 35 (2004) pp383-389.

Vucinich, Alexander.  Science in Russian Culture (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1963).

Lost in translation: dealing with scholarship in other languages

As I would like to use this platform to broadcast the methodological issues encountered by junior researchers, this post will be devoted to that of the language barrier often encountered when reading previous scholarship on one’s research subject.

Although the logical introduction would be to mention the obvious dominance of English in current scholarship – at all levels and disciplines – I would like to address my struggles in dealing with another language, and maybe less accessible for Western researchers: Russian. I’m currently working on the scientific exchanges and networks between the Academies of Saint-Petersburg and Berlin in the 18th century.

Although the letters I’m editing,  exchanged between the two secretaries of the Academies, Jean-Albert Euler (1734-1800, son of the mathematician Leonard Euler) in Saint-Petersburg and Jean-Henri Samuel Formey (1711-1797) in Berlin, are written in French, most of the protagonists of this correspondence belong to Russia’s national Pantheon. Subsequently, most of the information – although not necessarily the most relevant – is written in Russian. Indeed, the scientists quoted in the letters are well-known by Russian historians and scientists, less so by Western ones.

Biographical entry on Vladimir Orlov, Director of the Academy of Sciences in Saint-Petersburg, in a “Who’s Who in 18th Century Russia” volume (Сухарева, О. В. Кто был кто в России.-М,АСТ.-2005.- ISBN 5-17-023261-6, p361). © E. Chaze

When I encounter a new name in a letter, I begin by searching it within the traditional instances used in such cases: biographies repositories, previous scholarship on the subject, or any other relevant primary or secondary source. But when the DNB (Deutsche National Bibliothek) is almost silent, and when a famous search engine’s only results viciously  brings you back to your own editorial work, instead of leading you towards a nicely prepared Wikipedia page ideally well researched and full of footnotes leading to book references, which strategy to adopt? The obvious way seems to…

Learn a new language: Russian for beginners?

…in order to see the broader picture and have access to all the scholarship I need. As I intend to further research this field, this would make sense and I am indeed in the process of learning the language, but am in no way yet able to decipher texts written about these Russian scientists. One another note, I also have to write my PhD in the meantime and don’t have much time to devote to a new language just right now. Ideally, historians are multilingual. Realistically, they also have to somehow earn a living when they don’t hold a secure position in academia, and sadly learning new languages is seldom remunerated.

Hence the inherent dilemma: should I attempt to describe the scientific networks between Saint-Petersburg and Berlin based on the sole primary and secondary sources written in languages I understand? Most of Western researchers interested in the subject would still find the information I unveil relevant – as they would be original ones. I could begin by doing just that, alternatively I could also attempt to

Build my own research circle

When working to become a historian, one doesn’t learn about collaboration. On the contrary, the academic field is quite a competitive and ruthless one. So it doesn’t necessarily come to mind to look out for a (preferably nice) colleague who might have just the skill you’re lacking, here Russian language.  However, while studying networks, one is bound to think about building up one’s own collaborative research circle.

And here being resourceful and reaching out, something one certainly doesn’t learn as a book nerd buried in the archives or when attending a seminar, is paramount. This is just what I’m in the process of learning and, having found a Russian speaking colleague equally eager to work on scientific networks, I’m much looking forward to share my ideas and collaborate, in order to write better documented papers on the subject and build up comprehensive and encompassing scholarship on these networks.