Radde Gustav Ivanovich

(15(27).11.1831 - 03(16).03.1903)


Russian geographer and naturalist.

A German by birth and upbringing, he fell in love with Russia and the Russian nature with all the forces of his mighty soul and gave them all of his inexhaustible energy and tremendous natural intelligence to serve them

Born into a poor family of a school teacher, he graduated from the real St. Peter and Paul gymnasium in Danzig. Due to lack of funds, he did not receive a proper natural-historical education and was forced to enroll in pharmacy students. Since childhood, who loved nature and read about long-distance wanderings, Gustav Radde dreamed of himself going on scientific expeditions. Most of all he was attracted to Spain and Russia (Crimea). Well aware that strong knowledge is needed for such enterprises, Radde independently (mostly at night) studied botany and zoology diligently, determined the plants collected during the excursions, stuffed bird carcasses. Professor A. Menge, who was so enthusiastic about science and very receptive to knowledge, remarked. He supervised Radde’s pharmacy classes, helped with tips and books.

In 1852  Radde turned to the Russian consul in Danzig A.F. Adelungu with a request to promote travel to Russia, to the Crimea. Adelung provided the young man with a passport and gave him a letter of introduction. Danzig Society of Naturalists commanded him to collect collections in the Crimea. Here Radde spent two years traveling and remained forever in Russia.

Having learned that the Russian Geographical Society plans to organize an expedition to Siberia and received recommendations for participation in this expedition from Steven, Köppen, academician F.F. Brandt and the medical doctor E.I. Rauh, Radde in February 1855 went to St. Petersburg, taking collections for the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in the Crimea.

Arriving in St. Petersburg, Radde, on the recommendation of Steven, was determined by the draftsman and collector to the mathematical department of the expedition for the study of Eastern Siberia. His travels lasted five years.

In 1855  Radde explored the environs of Irkutsk, toured Baikal on a fishing boat, visited Olkhon Island, the mouth of the Upper Angara, Barguzinsky Bay, Tolstoy Cape, and reached Guskoye Lake in the Selenginsky district by dry road.

The year 1856 was dedicated to the steppes of Dauria and the Chokondo mountain group, lying in the Trans-Baikal region, stretching along a narrow strip along the Chinese border. Only in January 1857  Radde returned to Irkutsk.

1857 and 1858 were devoted to the middle course of the Amur: Chita - Shilka - Ust-Strelka (the confluence of Shilka and Argun) - the mouth of Onon - Blagoveshchensk - the mouth of the Bureya - the present stanitsa of Radde (where he settled and spent the winter) - Ussuri - the mouth of the Ussuri, then back to the village of Radde.

On May 24, 1858 Radde's camp was visited by Governor-General of Eastern Siberia N.N. Muravyev-Amurskiy. At his request  Gustav Ivanovich  near his hut founded a Cossack village, designed for 24 Cossack families. This village by the name of its founder was named Raddovka.

In 1859  the eastern part of the Sayan Range, Tunkinsk, Nilov Hermitage, the graphite mine of Aliber, Munku-Sardyk (3,491 m above sea level; three ascents, the first two of which failed, Radde was the first ascent) were examined. January 10, 1860 Radde returned to St. Petersburg.

During the expedition to Siberia, Radde took Russian citizenship.

In St. Petersburg  Radde was appointed Conservative of the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and proceeded to office processing of materials collected in Siberia.

Radde was twice sent to the south of Russia: in 1860 he accompanied academician F.F. Brandt as an assistant for raising the mastodon found on the Ingul River near Nikolaev, and in 1862 Academician K.M. Baer to Manych and the Sea of Azov in order to clarify the causes of its shallowing.

For the first volume of the description of travels in Siberia and the Amur region, the University of Dorpat chose Radde as their honorary master, and the University of Breslav awarded him the title of doctor of philosophy. The Imperial Academy of Sciences awarded Radda her most prestigious award - the Demidov Prize.

In 1863  Radde  on the recommendation of the Director of the St. Petersburg Observatory, Academician A.Ya. Kupfer was appointed to the position of assistant director of the Tiflis Physical Observatory.

The work at the Tiflis Physical Observatory was not to be found, however, Radda did not like it. On the advice of his friends, he drew up a plan for biological and geographical research in the Caucasus, which was approved by the Vicar of the Caucasus, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich. A month after the submission of the research plan, Radde was officially charged with the obligation to make scientific journeys in the Caucasus.

Since 1864, he made a huge number of scientific expeditions to the Caucasus, the transfer of which would take a lot of space. It can be briefly said that he proceeded from the whole Caucasus, it would be difficult to say where he was not in the Caucasus; his travels form a dense network.

During the expeditions Radde collected rich collection material. Unfortunately, most of the reports, articles and monographs of the scientist were printed in German, and therefore these works remained unclaimed by the general scientific community of Russia.

In 1875  on the way from Tiflis to Alexandropol, Radda visited the Dukhobor villages - Orlovka, Gorelovka and Elenovka.

In 1894  Radde from Tiflis made a long expedition to the North Caucasus and Dagestan. In the monograph of Radde and Koenig, written on the results of this expedition, in addition to a large bio-geographical material, contains information on the history and ethnography of Chechens. In addition, in their report, scientists cited information about the height of the firn and snow border, the distribution of moraine and plants in the gorge of the Khargab river. For many settlements located along the route of the expedition, they determined the absolute height.

With the participation of Radde, Caucasian Natural History Museum was recreated and  in 1867 was opened. He headed this museum in 1868. He also became director of the Tiflis Public Library.

Radde fruitfully cooperated with the St. Petersburg Imperial Botanical Garden. Settling in Tiflis, Radde every year sent a collection of living and dry plants and seeds to the botanical garden, which he collected during his trips to the Caucasus.

Radde first described for science several species of birds and mammals. Radde gave some of these animals specific epithets from the names of people who played a decisive role in his fate and for which he was grateful all his life.

Radde was a frequent participant of international botanical exhibitions, congresses and congresses.

In 1889  he was awarded the gold medal of Queen Victoria, awarded to him by the Royal Geographical Society.

In 1890 - 1891 Radde accompanied the Grand Dukes Alexander Mikhailovich and Sergey Mikhailovich on a voyage from Sevastopol to the Indian Ocean to Batavia and the island of Sulawesi on the yacht Tamara and from Bombay to the Himalayas; in 1895 and 1897, accompanied the heir to Georgy Alexandrovich on a voyage through the Mediterranean.

In the last years of his life Radde was engaged in literary activity. Unfortunately, many of his works remained unfinished. The works published during his lifetime were devoted to zoology, botany, geology and archeology of the Caucasus. They contained a detailed description of all the collections of the museum, reviewed the history of the formation and processing of each collection, and in the department of botany was placed a general description of plant formations of the Caucasus with original photographs.

For his services in studying the nature of Russia  Radde was awarded the degree of Doctor and the rank of Privy Counselor. He was elected a corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. For long-term expeditions across the Caucasus, the Imperial Russian Geographical Society in 1899 awarded the Radde the Konstantin gold medal.

Many contemporaries noted that, having made a brilliant career, Radde remained a modest and accessible man, who always said that he was the son of a school teacher. In science and life, Gustav Ivanovich was a typical self-made man. Having large and strong ties in the ruling circles of the Caucasus, he used them only for the study of the Caucasus and for the development of his beloved creation - the Caucasus Museum.

He died in Tbilisi. The cause of death was probably kidney cancer.

The remains of the scientist were transported for burial from Tiflis to the place Likany near Borjomi. Here he had long ago designated himself a place for eternal rest - a small elevation, covered with pine forest.

Valley in the west of the island of Edge, Svalbard archipelago. The coordinates are 78° 00'N   21° 40'E.

Plain in the west of the island of Edge, Svalbard archipelago. The coordinates are 77° 55'N   21° 35'E.


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