Postels Alexander Filippovich
mineralogist, naturalist, traveler, honorary member of the St.
Petersburg Academy of Sciences, participant of circumnavigation
researcher of Kamchatka.
Born in a pastor's family in Dorpat. In 1816 he entered to study at
the Main Pedagogical Institute, which was transformed into a
university in 1819, but until 1824 acted according to the charter of
the Main Pedagogical Institute, until the charter of Moscow
University was introduced in it. In February 1823, he graduated from
the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics with a candidate’s degree and
a silver medal, and was left at the university as a master of
mineralogy and geognosy.
In 1826, he began to teach the course of inorganic chemistry at the
university, but in August of that year he set off on the Senyavin
military sloop under the command of F.P.Litke as a mineralogist and
draftsman on a trip around the world, from which he returned in 1829
with a large supply of natural-historical materials, the processing
of which he devoted a number of subsequent years. Postels became the
first scientist of St. Petersburg University to take part in a
scientific expedition, the result of which was an extensive
collection of animals, insects, birds, herbaria, a collection of
rocks and minerals. All collections were equipped with sketchbooks.
For his published works, Postels was awarded the full Demidov Prize
from the Academy of Sciences, and also received the Order of
Vladimir 4 degrees.
Since 1830, Postels has been an assistant to Professor Sokolov in
the teaching of mineralogy; May 6, 1831 received the title of
Associate Professor in the Department of Mineralogy and Geognosy of
St. Petersburg University and was simultaneously invited to the
Academy of Sciences as the curator of the Mineralogical Museum
(which he remained until the end of 1837); later also was appointed
keeper of the Ethnographic office. In February 1833, he became an
adjunct in mineralogy at the Main Pedagogical Institute. He was also
invited to teach mineralogy at the Practical Institute of
From January 1, 1835 to January 11, 1837 he was an inspector of
private boarding schools and schools in St. Petersburg. In 1835 he
taught mineralogy at the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology.
In January 1836, due to the abolition of the post of associate
professor of mineralogy at the university, Postels became a teacher
of natural sciences at the School of Law, as well as an
extraordinary professor of mineralogy at the Main Pedagogical
Institute (from August 31, 1839 he was an ordinary professor).
In 1837 he was appointed director of the 2nd St. Petersburg
Gymnasium. Having accepted the gymnasium in a neglected form, he set
about putting it in proper order, quickly reconstructed the
gymnasium building, eliminated the old crampedness and other
inconveniences of the premises, improved the maintenance of
boarders, and requested the separation of three lower classes
overcrowded into parallel departments, finding the funds needed for
this, and in two years brought the gymnasium to a new level;
according to one of the pupils of the gymnasium of that time, “with
the introduction of Postels, significant transformations began in
the gymnasium, attention was paid to both teaching teachers and
pupils' classes, tutors were established on duty, attention was paid
to learning new languages, and the moral level was raised”.
He also taught natural sciences to the Grand Duchesses Maria and
Catherine and supervised the upbringing and education of the
children of Prince Oldenburg. In 1845 he was awarded the Order of
Vladimir of the 3rd degree.
Full member of the Russian Geographical Society since September 19
(October 1), 1845.
After 25 years of service, February 25, 1848 Postels was dismissed
from the post of professor at the Pedagogical Institute; December 7,
1849 was promoted to full state councilors. In 1850, he was
appointed a member of the Committee for the Review of Training
Manuals, in 1855 - a member of the commission for the review of
marine educational institutions, and on February 7, 1856 - a member
of the Main Board of the schools, with the dismissal of the director
of the 2nd St. Petersburg Gymnasium.
In 1862, he was a member of the Committee for drawing up a draft of
a new education for maritime educational institutions and on April
17 was promoted to Privy Councilor. When the Main Board of the
schools was abolished, on July 1, 1863 he was appointed a member of
the Council of the Minister of Education. In 1866 he was elected an
honorary member of the Academy of Sciences.
He died in Vyborg, was buried in St. Petersburg, at the Smolensk
Cape (Postels or Engelukan) in the
southeast of Ytygran island in the Bering Strait. Named in 1826 by