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The Dawn of Human Genetics

Subject Area(s):  Biology in SocietyGeneticsHistory of Science

By V.V. Babkov
Edited by James Schwartz; Translated from the Russian by Victor Fet

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© 2013 • 775 pp., illus. (91 B&W ), index
Hardcover • $69 34.50
ISBN  978-1-936113-70-5
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In Russia, the initial euphoria of the Bolshevik leaders for a new socialist society ... combined with a commitment to a truly universal health care system, gave a huge boost to the emergence of both the eugenic and medical aspects of human genetics. The obstacles that proved so formidable to the successful launch of the field in the West—the lack of available data on the genealogy of diseases in families, the difficulty in getting a statistically significant number of identical twins to study, and the skepticism of the medical establishment—were all swept aside in the Soviet Union. In the 1920s ... the groundwork was laid for a uniquely Russian approach to medical genetics and (the foundation of) the world’s leading center for the study of the genetic basis of many diseases and human genetics in general. The immense success of the movement, which is little known even to Russians, is brought to life in V.V. Babkov’s The Dawn of Human Genetics, as is its dramatic and violent end, which resulted in the “liquidation” of many of the country’s finest biologists, as well as a major setback to the development of world science. Like many other promising ideas and projects that were born in the Soviet Union, this one was abruptly truncated and then virtually eradicated.


Introduction by James Schwartz
A Note from the Publisher
Key to Russian Acronyms and Abbreviations
Expectations of a New Man
Three Squares by Malevich
Social and Biological Hierarchies
The Eugenics of Francis Galton
National Characteristics of Eugenics in the 1920s
Eugenics as Presented on the Russian Stage
Anthropotechnical Projects of Peter I (Historical Note), M.V. Volotskoy (1923)
Toward a History of the Eugenic Movement, M.V. Volotskoy (1924)
Eugenics in School, Yu.A. Filipchenko (1925)
Human Inheritance, Thomas Hunt Morgan (1924)
Our Eugenic Prospects, S.N. Davidenkov (1930)
The Russian Eugenics Society
Improvement of the Human Race, N.K. Koltsov (1922)
Genetic Analysis of the Psychological Features of Man, N.K. Koltsov (1924)
The Impact of Culture on Selection in Humans, N.K. Koltsov (1924)
Genealogies of Our Vydvizhentsy [Self-Made Men], N.K. Koltsov (1926)
Russkiy Evgenicheskiy Zhurnal [Russian Eugenics Journal] (1922–1930)
Bureau of Eugenics
Our Outstanding Scholars, Yu.A. Filipchenko (1922)
Full Members of the Former Imperial, Now Russian, Academy of Sciences over
the Last 80 Years, T.K. Lepin, Ya.Ya. Lus, and Yu.A. Filipchenko (1846–1924)
The Intelligentsia and Giftedness, Yu.A. Filipchenko (1925)
Izvestiya Byuro Po Evgenike [Bulletin of the Bureau of Eugenics] (1922–1930)
Branches of the Eugenics Society
Criminality of Jews: From the Research Cabinet for the Study of Criminal
Personality and Criminality, S.S. Vermel (1924)
Voprosy Biologii i Patologii Yevreev [Problems of the Biology and Pathology of Jews]
Genealogies and Pathographies
Genealogy of Ch. Darwin and F. Galton, N.K. Koltsov (1922)
The Genealogy of the Count Tolstoys, N.P. Chulkov (1924)
On the Descendants of Baron Pyotr Pavlovich Shafirov, Yu.A. Nelidov (1925)
Genealogy of the Decembrist Muravyovs, N.P. Chulkov (1927)
The Bakunins, P.F. Rokitsky (1927)
Genealogies of A.S. Pushkin, Count L.N. Tolstoy, P.Ya. Chaadaev, Yu.F. Samarin,
A.I. Herzen, Prince P.A. Kropotkin, and Prince S.N. Trubetskoy, V. Zolotaryov (1927)
Ancestors and Descendants of the Academician Karl Ernst von Baer, Yu.A. Nelidov and N.K. Essen (1928)
Decembrists (Toward the Analysis of Hereditary Traits), V. Zolotaryov (1928)
The Ancestors of Count S.Yu. Witte, S.V. Lyubimov (1928)
On the Psychopathology of Creativity: V. Khlebnikov in 1919, V.Ya. Anfimov (1935)
The Characterological Analysis of Families, M.V. Volotskoy (1933)
Klinicheskiy Arkhiv Genialnosti i Odarennosti (Evropatologii) [Clinical Archive of
Genius and Talent (of Europathology)] (1925–1930)
Society for Study of Racial Pathology
Bolshevist Eugenics
The End of Eugenics
Goals and Methods of Studies of Racial Pathology, N.K. Koltsov (1929)
The Term “Race” in Zoology and Anthropology, V.V. Bunak (1930)
Anthropogenetics and Eugenics in a Socialist Society, A.S. Serebrovsky (1929)
Letter to the Editor, A.S. Serebrovsky (1930)
Eugenics, G. Batkis (1932)
What Is Lamarxism?
Biosocial Eugenics
Primacy of the Gene and Legitimacy of Power
Change in Direction on the Philosophical Front
The First Discussion on Genetics
Early Medical Genetics
The Medical Genetics Institute
The 1934 Conference
Course on Genetics for Physicians
Genetics and Pathology (in Relation to the Current Crisis in Medicine), S.G. Levit (1929)
Man as a Genetic Object and Twin Studies as a Method of Anthropogenetics, S.G. Levit (1930)
Preface, S.G. Levit (1936)
Anthropogenetics and Medicine, S.G. Levit (1934)
Some Basic Stages of Development of Theoretical Genetics
and Their Significance from the Point of View of Medicine, H.J. Muller (1934)
The Role of Genetics in the Study of Human Biology, N.K. Koltsov (1934)
Genetics and Clinical Practice, S.N. Davidenkov (1934)
Trudy Mediko-Biologicheskogo Instituta [Proceedings of the Medical-Biological Institute] (1929–1936)
Conditional Tropism and the Moscow School
The Ideas of the Moscow School
Clinical-Genetic Analysis of Pathological Types
The Hypothesis of Conditioned Tropisms
The Rout of Medical Genetics
Letter from Muller to Stalin
7th Congress and 4th Session
S.G. Levit Attacked in Newspapers
Article in the New York Times
Human Genetics at the 4th Session
The Rout of the MGI
Neurogenetics in 1939 and 1948
Letter from H.J. Muller to I.V. Stalin (1936)
Presentation by S.N. Davidenkov (1939)
The Fate of Koltsov’s Eugenics
Koltsov and the 1936 Discussions
Academy of Sciences in 1938
Koltsov’s Institute and the Academy of Sciences
Trial by Inquisition
After Koltsov
The Origin of Altruism: Ethics from the Perspective of Human
Evolutionary Genetics, V.P. Efroimson (1971)
Homo sapiens et humanus—Man with a Capital “M” and the Evolutionary Genetics of
Humaneness (About the Article of V.P. Efroimson on the Evolutionary-Genetic
Basis of Ethics), B.L. Astaurov (1971)
Mysteries of Genetics, Yelena Sakanyan (1979)
The Biosphere and Mankind, N.V. Timofeev-Ressovsky (1968)


review:  “Reading the past reminds us that each generation believes it knows more than it really knows. Babkov’s book will illuminate our understanding of the history of science because the voices of the past come alive, no longer filtered through the historian’s mind, and they overwhelm us by their hopes, their despair, and their secular faith that what they propose will be realized through the support of the state.”
      —The Quarterly Review of Biology

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