crown CU Home > Libraries Home
Columbia University Libraries Archival CollectionsRare Book & Manuscript Library Collections

   Raisa Berg Papers, 1898-2006.

Download and Print CitationContact Bookmark Share

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.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

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): Material is in English, French, German, Russian
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in six series:

Return to top


Scope and Content

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 Files include published and unpublished works, extensive research notes and data, drafts and fragments.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

Subseries I.1: Correspondence with Individuals, 1941-2005

Contains professional and personal letters (many with Raisa Berg's replies) of various individuals including many prominent scholars, writers, poets, and public figures. Arranged alphabetically. Unidentified, family, and outgoing letters, group greetings and postcards are stored at the end of the series. Unidentified correspondence organized chronologically; outgoing letters to identified addressees organized alphabetically and to unidentified addressees in chronological sequence.

Subseries I.2: Correspondence with Organizations, 1975-2001

Comprises correspondence with various organizations, including publishers, universities, magazines, etc. Organized in alphabetical order. (Some correspondence with organizations is a part of personal correspondence and could be found in Subseries I.1: Correspondence with Individuals)

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.

Subseries II.1: Scientific Writings and Works on the History of Science, 1937-2002

Typescripts, manuscripts, and reprints of writings on Drosophila research, genetics and the history of genetics, general biology and the history of biology. Materials are arranged in several groups: articles and talks, lectures, dissertations, monographs and projects (organized alphabetically within each group); collection of works; reviews, forewords, abstracts, grant proposals, expeditions logbooks, experiments and research logbooks and data (organized chronologically within each group); tables, data, and notes related to various unidentified research and works, slides, photographs, and microfilms with research data and reference materials don't have formal organization.

Subseries II.2: Memoirs, 1980s-1990s

Manuscripts and typescripts of R. Berg's memoirs Sukhovei, its English translation Acquired Traits; Zolotye rytsari v strane sotsializma, and memoir note on Iosif Brodskii. There are also reviews on published memoirs and related materials.

Subseries II.3: Essays about Various People and on Popular Science; Publicistic Works, 1950s-2006

Published and unpublished articles and essays; radioscripts; reprints, typescripts, manuscripts, notes; related research materials. Arranged in few groups: personalia, popular science, publicistic works. Contains Manuscripts, typescripts, reprints, andclippings. See also Subseries II.1--Collection of works in 3 volumes Genetika i evoliutsiia: Box 34, Folders 8-16

Subseries II.4: Prose and Poetry, 1940s-1990s

Manuscripts and typescripts of Berg's original prose and poetry of various years.

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.

Subseries VI.1: Writings by Others, 1919-2003

Articles on scientific subjects and history of science. Reprints, off-prints, typescripts (many with authors' inscriptions). Organized alphabetically by authors. Also contains programs and publications of various conferences (stored at the end of the subseries). Writings on general subjects, literature, etc. are parts of other series of the collection; references are provided.

Subseries VI.2: Printed Materials, 1937-2004

Contains books and brochures, magazines, newspapers and clippings.

Subseries VI.3: Various research and reference materials, 1939-2004

Publications on various scholars by various authors; articles of various authors on retinoblastoma; and records of "Soveshchanie po genetike i selektsii pri redaktsii zhurnala 'Pod znamenem marksizma'" of 1939.

Return to top

Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

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.

Return to top

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 2011 Katia Shraga

Finding aid written 06/2011 Katia Shraga

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion August 23, 2011 Finding aid written in English.
    2011-08-23 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

Return to top

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.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Art Works.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Printed Ephemera.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Alpatov, V. V. (Vladimir Vladimirovich), b. 1898.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Berg, L. S. (Lev Semenovich), 1876-1950.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Binevich, E. M. (Evgenii Mikhaĭlovich).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Biology--Soviet Union--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bonnėr, Elena, 1923-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brodsky, Joseph, 1940-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chetverikov, S. S. (Sergei Sergeevich), 1880-1959.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Delone, Vadim, 1947-1983.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dissenters--Soviet Union--Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ėfroimson, V. P. (Vladimir Pavlovich), 1908-1989.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ėtkind, E. G. (Efim Grigor'evich), 1918-1999.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Geneticists--Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Genetics--Soviet Union--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gershenzon, S. M. (Sergei Mikhailovich).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginzburg, Aleksandr, 1936-2002.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Human Rights--Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ignatov, Pavel Grigor'evich.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Korzhavin, N. (Naum), 1925-2018PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Liubishchev, A.A. (Aleksandr Aleksandrovich), 1890-1972.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medvedev, Zhores A., 1925-2018PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Meilakh, Mikhail.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Popovskii, Mark Aleksandrovich.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Refuseniks--Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sakharov, Andrei, 1921-1989.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shmal'gauzen, I. I. (Ivan Ivanovich), 1884-1963.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shvarts, Evgenii, 1896-1958.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Smakov, Gennady.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sosnora, Viktor.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Starovoitova, G. V. (Galina Vasil'evna).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Timofeev-Resovskii, N. V. (Nikolai Vladimirovich), 1900-1981.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Vorontsov, N. N. q(Nikolai Nikolaevich).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Return to top

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)

Return to top