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Mikhail Mikhaylovich Novikov (1876–1965)

str. 1 of 3 E.N. Evseev


Was born in Moscow on March 27, 1876. Upon termination of the Moscow commercial school in 1901 arrived on natural faculty of Heidelberg University where worked under the leadership of professors Byuchli, Kossel and Fyurbringer.

In 1904 received degree of the doctor of physiophilosophy and, having returned to Moscow, worked at Institute of comparative anatomy for professor Menzbir. In 1906 was entitled the privatdozent on department of zoology of the Moscow university and began to give a course of lectures on histology. Soon went to a foreign academic trip until the end of 1908, in 1909 defended the master dissertation, and in 1911 - the thesis on the doctor's degree.

The first period of teaching activity of Novikov proceeded not for long: in 1911 he together with other professors and associate professors of the Moscow university resigned in protest at violation of university autonomy. Same year he was elected ordinary professor of the Moscow commercial institute of department of comparative anatomy.

There is a lot of energy and forces Novikov gave to work in Moscow: he took active part in the organization of the Moscow scientific institute, consisted the member of various scientific organizations, worked in the Moscow society of testers of the nature as the editor of his editions, organized the first "Society of care about the studying children".

Novikov was elected to vowels of the Moscow City Duma, then - the Chairman of the Committee on city affairs where he made the proposal on reform of the policeman of situation. Its project was approved, but did not reach a plenum of the Moscow City Duma because of revolution.

During World War I from the Moscow City Duma it repeatedly came out to fronts with gifts and food.

From 1912 to 1917 it consisted the member of fraction of cadets in the IV State Duma, and with his participation projects of the basis of a number of new higher educational institutions and reforming of old were implemented. The bill on introduction of women's factory inspection was the first bill which is carried out by it in the Duma.

Novikov among many other representatives of the liberal intellectuals met the February revolution as release process, an opportunity to implement, at last, those plans and aspirations which throughout long time he together with the colleagues from party tried to realize, acting within the Duma. Therefore it at once actively gets into the gear of the Commission on reform of higher educational institutions formed at the Ministry of national education.

The commission was created as special body for the fastest and comprehensive development of a number of the urgent measures for national education including development of new legislative bases and issues of management of educational institutions according to change of the political system and the beginnings of autonomy of the higher school. The commission included the academicians and professors of the universities and the higher technical schools appointed the minister of national education A.A. Manuylov and also representatives of the ministry and elective members. Novikov was appointed its chairman.

Work of the commission was continued from March to October, 1917. For this very short period of the activity the commission, nevertheless, developed vigorous activity and made a number of the decisions which brought, undoubtedly, huge advantage to the Russian science and the higher school, be they are realized.

On own initiative the commission developed projects of convocation of the Meeting on reform of higher educational institutions and the Congress on reform of the higher school. The congress was not managed to be convened, but successfully last Meeting completely revised the university charter and the legislation on the higher school. Do not prevent the October revolution, by 1918 Russia would have the updated higher education system that, undoubtedly, would give new opportunities and prospects for development

Russian science, culture and country in general.

However the new power - Bolshevist Council of People's Commissars - was not interested in it at all in what Novikov had an opportunity to make sure soon.

For Novikov the acquaintance to the Soviet power began in September, 1918 when he was arrested for "the counterrevolutionary direction". Two months he stayed in Sushchevskoy prison of ChK, the Serpukhov arestny house and, at last, Butyrsky prison where it appeared in refined society of professor Kizevetter, doctor Kishkin and other members of cadet party. During the whole time of imprisonment of Novikov of his release, students of the Moscow university and Commercial institute constantly tried to obtain, however it became possible only after November 7, 1918 when amnesty on the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the October revolution was proclaimed.

Since then the arrest threat constantly pursued Novikov, and it was possible to avoid it by chance. He remembered: "Going to bed in the evening, I did not know whether I will be a free person tomorrow".

Elected in 1919 the rector of the Moscow university, he continued to direct it according to the principles of the last university charter and the status about autonomy in which development he also took active part. Therefore its activity on a post of the rector could not last long enough.

At the end of 1920 the Soviet government began to introduce own control system of the higher education meaning the state dictatorship in this area. At first underwent "reform", i.e. "old" bodies of university management were almost destroyed, and at the beginning of 1921 there was an official decree about cancellation of university autonomy and transfer of all higher educational institutions under management of the state acting through Narkompros. The new decree proclaimed also privilege of entering higher education institutions for the defined "social elements" and obligatory submission of education to the Marxist doctrine that crossed out not only the principles of university autonomy which are actively put into practice by Novikov but also attempts of reforming of the higher education system on democratic principles. Therefore Novikov in 1921 put from himself a rank of the rector of the Moscow university though he did not leave teaching activity.

Nevertheless, before expulsion from Russia Novikov managed to show the talent of the organizer, public figure and scientist in every way trying to keep the Russian science and to create conditions for its development, even in one establishment existing under the auspices of the Soviet power.

"One of institutions on which organization I put especially many cares and which conducted with great love, - Novikov admits the memoirs, - there was a Scientific commission consisting at Scientific and technical department of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy. It was one of islands on which in rough time of the beginning of the Bolshevist mode the flame of a scientific thought lighting difficult and unattractive life of the Moscow scientists peacefully burned". This commission was founded at the end of 1918. Professor of the Moscow university A.A. Eykhenvald was her organizer. The commission put the task association of separate scientific forces and institutions for the purpose of preservation and further development of the Russian science and its practical application. Activity of the commission was connected also with rendering financial support by the scientist. "It was especially important when among scientists the severe need because they could not work in the field of manual work reigned, - Novikov remembered. - The commission had no opportunity to pay the members of a regular salary, but she issued them a reward for participation in meetings, for the reports given by them, and that there was the most important, financed their scientific research". But activity of the commission continued not for long.

Soon unmotivated requirement in week time to leave borders of Russia was imposed on Novikov and other famous figures of science and culture. So in 1922 it appeared in emigration and arrived at first to Berlin, and then by P.N. Novgorodtsev's invitation - to Prague where resumed scientific and public work. Here Novikov at first was elected the chairman of the board of the Russian public university, and then his rector.

In 16 years of work Novikov directed many efforts to the university. In particular, he achieved that results of research of the university were regularly published. In 1928 to the public began to leave

"Scientific works" of the university in Russian and foreign languages. At the university, various circles, societies, seminaries were organized. Also activity of Research association under the chairmanship of Novikov, created at the university in 1933 was of great importance

Working in Prague, Novikov published a large amount of scientific works on comparative anatomy and histology of organs of vision of invertebrates, in the general biology, about effect of hormones on activity of the simplest organisms, on history of natural sciences and other problems. His book about the principle of analogy in comparative anatomy in which it planned new ways for further development of comparative and anatomic researches was of great importance. He actively participated in various international congresses and symposiums.

The organization of scientific work at the Russian zoological station in Villafranka (South of France) which Chairman of the Committee he was for long years became a big merit of Novikov.

Novikov consisted the member of many Russians and foreign scientific organizations: Royal Czech society of sciences, the German zoological society, Natural science and medical society in Heidelberg, Zoological society in Prague, the French association of anatomists and others.

In 1939 when Prague was occupied by the German troops and prospects of the university where the Slavic idea was cultivated, became quite vague, Novikov received the invitation to occupy department of zoology and a post of the director of Zoological institute in Bratislava and in the fall of the same year moved to the capital of again formed Slovak republic. In 1945 he moved to Germany where he lived with family in Regesburg, being at the same time professor of the Refugee university created in Munich.

In 1949 he moved to the USA. Lived in New York where performed with lecturing, was engaged in literary activity and headed "The Russian academic group in the USA".

M.M. Novikov in January, 1965 in New York died.


M.M. Novikov. From Moscow to New York: My life in science and policy. New York, 1952.


Russians without Fatherland: Essays of anti-Bolshevist emigration 20 - the 40th years. - M.:RGGU,2000. Documents:

State archive of the Russian Federation. F.6767 - M.M. Novikov

Victoria Mason
Other scientific works: