Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Raisa Berg Papers, 1898-2006

Summary Information


The papers comprise correspondence, writings, memoirs, personal documents, research materials, photographs, drawings, printed materials of Raisa L'vovna Berg (1913-2006), prominent geneticist and biologist.

At a Glance

Call No.: BA#0531
Bib ID 6761446 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Berg, Raisa, 1913-2006
Title Raisa Berg Papers, 1898-2006
Physical Description 44 linear feet (73 archival document boxes; 2 oversize flat boxes)
Language(s) English , French , Russian , German .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located offsite.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in six series.



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 Files include published and unpublished works, extensive research notes and data, drafts and fragments.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).

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1941-2005

    The series consists of Berg's professional and personal correspondence with various people and organizations and includes letters from many prominent figures. Correspondence includes various related materials, such as manuscripts and clippings. Organized in two subseries.

  • Series II: Works and Writings by R.Berg; Research Data and Notes, 1937-2006

    The series comprises published and unpublished articles, monographs, papers presented at conferences and congresses, talks, memoirs, reviews, prose and poetry, essays, extensive research notes and data. Arranged in five subseries.

  • Series III: Human Rights Activity, 1975-1990s

    This series contains Raisa Berg's letters to political leaders, newsletters, leaflets and press on dissidents and refuseniks, materials of campaign for Mikhail Meilakh defense. More materials on R. Berg's human rights activity are parts of other series of the collection.

  • Series IV: Personal Documents and Biographical Materials, 1939-2003

    Contains certificates, educational and financial documents, IDs, immigration and travel documents of Raisa Berg. Biographical materials include autobiographies, CVs, bibliography of Berg's works, interviews with her, articles about her, materials on emigration of Raisa Berg's daughter Maria Shenderova; address books, business cards, calendars, exhibit catalogs, playbills, and other related materials.

  • Series V: Photographs, Art Works, and Video-Audio Materials, 1898-2000s

    Photographs and slides of various people including many prominent figures, such as Iosif Brodskii, Vadim Delone, Evgenii Shvarts, Anton Chekhov, Maksim Gorky, Lev Berg, Sergei Chetverikov, Vladimir Efroimson, Andrei Sakharov, Ivan Shmal'gauzen, Viktor Sosnora, Nikolai Timofeev-Resovskii, Galina Starovoitova, Iosif and Leon Orbeli, and many noted scholars. Photographs arranged alphabetically. Unidentified photographs, photos of faculty members of the Department of Darwinism, and family photographs stored at the end.

    This series also includes original prints, negatives, and slides of Raisa Berg's graphic works and pictures. There are also video- and audiotapes with her interviews.

  • Series VI: Research and Reference Materials, 1919-2004

    The series comprises writings by various authors, printed materials, and various research and reference materials. Organized in three subseries.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located offsite.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of the Bakhmeteff Archive. The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Raisa Berg Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


No additional materialexpected

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Mme Elisaveth Kirpitchnikov. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--2008.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Katia Shraga 2011.

Finding aid written Katia Shraga 06/--/2011.

In April 2019 oversize materials stored in three flat boxes were combined in two boxes, renumbered within the collection sequence (Box 74 and Box 75) and sent offsite. Finding aid was updated accordingly.

Revision Description

2011-08-23 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Art Works Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memoirs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Printed Ephemera Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Alpatov, V. V. (Vladimir Vladimirovich), 1898- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Berg, L. S. (Lev Semenovich), 1876-1950 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Binevich, E. M. (Evgeniĭ Mikhaĭlovich) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Biology -- Soviet Union -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bonnėr, Elena, 1923-2011 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Brodsky, Joseph, 1940-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chetverikov, S. S. (Sergeĭ Sergeevich), 1880-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Delone, Vadim, 1947-1983 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dissenters -- Soviet Union -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ėfroimson, V. P. (Vladimir Pavlovich), 1908-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ėtkind, E. G. (Efim Grigorʹevich), 1918-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Geneticists -- Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Genetics -- Soviet Union -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gershenzon, S. M. (Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ginzburg, Aleksandr, 1936-2002 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Human rights -- Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ignatov, Pavel Grigorʹevich Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Korzhavin, N. (Naum), 1925-2018 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Li︠u︡bishchev, A. A. (Aleksandr Aleksandrovich), 1890-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Medvedev, Zhores A., 1925-2018 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Meĭlakh, Mikhail Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Popovskiĭ, Mark Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Refuseniks -- Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shmalʹgauzen, I. I. (Ivan Ivanovich), 1884-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shvart︠s︡, Evgeniĭ, 1896-1958 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Smakov, Gennady Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sosnora, Viktor Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Starovoĭtova, G. V. (Galina Vasilʹevna) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Timofeev-Resovskiĭ, N. V. (Nikolaĭ Vladimirovich), 1900-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Voront͡sov, N. N. (Nikolaĭ Nikolaevich) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

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.

Sources: Zakharov, I.K., Kolosova, L.D., Shumny, V.K. Raisa L'vovna Berg (March 27, 1913–March 1, 2006). Russ J Genet 42, 1470–1473 (2006).