Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Raisa Berg Papers, 1898-2006 

Creator: 
Berg, Raisa, 1913-
Phys. Desc: 
44 linear feet (44 linear feet 73 archival document boxes; 3 oversize flat boxes)
Call Number: 
BA#0531
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Raisa L'vovna Berg, prominent geneticist, evolutionary biologist, specialist in population and evolutionary genetics and morphology, historian of science, defender of human rights in the Soviet Union, self educated painter, author of numerous publications and published memoirs, was born on March 27, 1913 in St. Petersburg, in the family of the member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Semenovich Berg. In 1935 Berg graduated from the Department of Genetics and Experimental Zoology of the Leningrad State University. Her diploma studies were done at the Institute of Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, under supervision of the future Nobel Prize winner Hermann Muller. In 1939, Berg defended her dissertation and moved to Moscow and began her doctorate studies at the Severtsov Institute of Evolutionary Morphology of Animals. From 1944 to 1947, Raisa Berg worked as a senior researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Evolutionary Morphology of Animals and part time at the Zoological Institute of Moscow State University. In 1948, she started working as associate professor at the Department of Zoology and Darwinism of the Herzen Leningrad Pedagogical Institute, and in 1949 shifted to the All-Union Research Institute of Lake and River Fish Management. From 1954 to 1957, Raisa Berg worked as an assistant, and from 1957 to 1960, as an associate professor at the Department of Darwinism of Leningrad State University. In 1954, Berg was awarded the academic degree of senior research associate in genetics; in 1957, that of associate professor. In this period, she lectured on evolutionary genetics and genetic bases of evolution and on Darwinism at the Faculty of Biology and Soil Science of Leningrad State University. In 1960 through 1963, she was appointed a senior research associate of the Biological Institute of this University. In 1963, on invitation by the director of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, she moved to Akademgorodok near Novosibirsk. In this institute, she organized the Laboratory of Population Genetics, which she headed from August of 1963 through June 1968. In 1964, Raisa Berg defended doctoral dissertation at the Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Leningrad). She was elected a member of the Academic Council of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. She worked as a lecturer at the Biological Department of the Natural Science Faculty of Novosibirsk State University, giving courses on history of biology and Darwinism (1964-1965) and on population and evolution genetics (1965-1968). In 1968, along with 46 researchers working in institutions of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Raisa Berg signed a letter to the Prosecutor General of the Soviet Union and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation claiming the inadmissibility of conducting closed trials of dissidents. On March 4, 1968, the Academic Council of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics condemned Berg for "political irresponsibility" which manifested in her signing the letter. Shortly after that, in June 1968, Berg was retired from work. She has returned to Leningrad. From 1968 to 1970, Berg heads a group in the Agrophysical Institute of VASKhNIL (All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences); in 1968-1974, she was a professor of Leningrad Pedagogical University. In December 1974, Raisa Berg emigrated to the United States, where she worked at University of Wisconsin (Madison) from 1975 through 1981. In 1981, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where worked for three years as a visiting professor at the Washington University. During her "American period", Raisa Berg participated in numerous conferences around the world, lectured in Germany and Nehterlands. In 1994, she moved to France. Raisa Berg died on March 1, 2006, in Paris and was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of Raisa Berg's professional and personal correspondence, her manuscripts, research notes, and photographs. There are also personal documents, biographical materials, extensive collection of reprints and publications on genetics and biology by various authors, art works, and materials related to her human rights activity. Berg corresponded with many prominent scholars, leading biologists, geneticists, historians, writers, political activists from Russia, USA, Germany, France, Israel including Ivan Shmal'gauzen, Vladimir Efroimson, Vadim Delone, Zhores Medvedev, Naum Korzhavin, Alik Ginzburg, Andrei Sakharov, and many others. The collection contains Berg's scientific writings, articles and publications on the history of science, her dissertations, memoirs, essays about various people and on popular science, publicistic works, her prose and poetry. Files include published and unpublished works, extensive research notes and data, drafts and fragments. The collection includes photographs of many prominent scholars, poets and writers, political activists. There are also slides and negatives of R.Berg graphic works and paintings. Among research and reference materials there is an extensive collection of reprints and publications on genetics and biology by various authors, including some rare editions. There are cross-references provided throughout the finding aid. When the cross-reference refers to another item within the same series, the reference includes the specific name or title and box and folder number (this also applies to the references within same subseries and sub-subseries). If the cross-reference is to an item in another series, the reference includes the series number, series name, folder title, and box and folder numbers (this also applies to references to the items in another subseries and sub-subseries).