Alexei CHIRIKOV (1703-1748)
Captain-commander, graduated from the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1721. Together with Captain V. Bering took part in two expeditions commissioned to explore the shores of America. In 1741 he was the first to reach the coast of Alaska where Russian America was founded some 40 years later.
Fedor KARZHAVIN (1745-1812)
One of the first Russians who reached American shores by arriving from Europe. In Russia and France he studied languages, pharmacology, medicine, natural sciences and philosophy. Karzhavin sympathized with the Americans fighting for independence and joined them in 1776. He organized shipments of military supplies from French possessions in the Caribbean toAmerican forces. He equipped three ships, but lost two of them to the British and was taken prisoner. As a result, he lost all his funds. He was employed by the American government and knew well several of the leaders of that time. Karzhavin worked as a physician, pharmacist, translator and construction engineer. He wrote of his experiences in America and signed his writings “The Russian American.”
Grigorij SHELIKHOV (1747-1795)
The “Russian Columbus”, founder of Russian America. A seafarer and merchant, he organized in 1775 trade with the populations of the Aleut and Kurile islands. In 1783-1786, accompanied by his wife Natalia, he conducted an expedition to Alaska. In 1784 he founded the first Russian settlement on Kodiak Island. In 1797 Shelikhov obtained by Imperial decree a monopoly to operate a Russian-American Company and to engage in fur trade. Shelikhov published an account about his travels and discoveries in America which were immediately translated in Germany and England. His far-reaching plans included construction of new settlements and forts and developing trade within the Pacific basin.
Alexandr BARANOV (1746-1819)
The first governor of Russian Alaska. An experienced merchant, Baranov was appointed by Shelikhov to manage Russian America. Besides engaging in a lucrative trade with China, Hawaii and California, he built Novo-Arkhangelsk (Sitka), a number of forts, and studied the coast of the mainland and the islands. During his administration Captain Ivan Kuskov founded Fort Ross in Californiain in1812. Baranov established relations with King Kamehameha I of Hawaii. Subsequently fort Elizabeth was constructed on the island of Kauai in the Hawaian archipelago. Both forts are now state parks.
Innocent VENIAMINOV (1797-1879)
Missionary, linguist, geographer. He volunteered for missionary duties in Alaska in 1821 and arrived in Novo-Arkhangelsk (Sitka) in 1823. He started his pastoral work by building churches, opening schools for Native Americans, and by creating an alphabet for the Aleuts and Tlingits. He translated the cathechism, wrote a grammar of the Neutian language, founded a seminary, a hospital and the cathedral of St. Michael in Sitka. He also published papers on the languages of American tribes and on the geography of Russian America. He and the other Russian Orthodox clergy, besides being spiritual leaders, were educators and defenders of Native Americans against injustice and bias by some administrators. Called the Apostle of America, Metropolitan Innocent was cannonized by the Orthodox Church.
Dmitri MAKSUTOV (1832-1889)
The 14th and last governor of Russian America. He was a naval officer who fought against the British and French ships that attacked Kamchatka in 1854. He became governor of Russian America in 1865. For economic reasons the Russian Government decided to sell Alaska to the US. Steamships were built in Alaska and coal mining was begun on the Kenai Peninsula. Russian legislation protected Native Americans with care taken to preserve the Aleutian and other native languages. During this last period of the Russian administration of Alaska, Alaska had two seminaries and a research institute. On October 18, 1867, Prince Maksutov was in charge of transferring Alaska to the USA.
John B. TURCHIN (1822-1901)
Major General in the Union Army, was born Turchaninov in the Don Cossack region in Russia. He graduated from the Artillery School in St. Petersburg. During the Crimean war he fought against the British, French and Turkish invaders. Promoted to the rank of colonel, he served on the General staff. However, he resigned from the Imperial Army and came with his wife to the USA. In 1861 he volunteered to serve in the Union Army and was appointed colonel in charge of the 19th Illinois Volunteers. He served with his regiment in Missouri, Kentucky and Alabama. After being promoted by President Lincoln to the rank of Major General in 1862, he retired in 1864. Turchin wrote a number of reports, among them the book The Campaign of Chickamauga.
Peter DEMENS (DEMENTIEV) (1849-1919)
Founder of St. Petersburg, Florida. An officer of the Russian Imperial Guards, he retired and moved to America in 1882. Dementiev americanized his name to Demens. He started a business in an undeveloped corner of Florida that included lumbering, running saw mills, building railroads and founding a town on the Gulf of Mexico, which he named St.Petersburg after the Russian capital. He later moved to North Carolina and in 1893 settled in California. Demens liked American democracy and described American ways of life, politics, and business in Russian journals under the pen name Tverskoy.
Vladimir IPATIEFF (1867-1952)
Professor, researcher, inventor. He graduated from the Michael Artillery Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia where he was later professor of chemistry. His main interest was in the field of explosives and synthetic rubber. During the First World war he was in charge of all military industry in Russia, had the rank of lieutenant-general and was elected to the Academy of Sciences. Dissatisfied with the Communist regime, he escaped from the USSR and settled in the US in 1932, where he went on to teach at Northwestern University. As head of research at Universal Oil Co. he developed high octane gasoline. This invention made it possible to increase the speed of American airplanes, which contributed to the victory over Germany and Japan in 1945. Seventy patents were issued to Ipatieff in the US.
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Composer and pianist. He started playing at the age of four and studied at the conservatories of St. Petersburg and Moscow, graduating in 1890. He received a gold medal for his first operaAleko. His first visit to America was in 1902, when he was a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rachmaninoff was director of the Imperial Opera in Moscow. After the Revolution he escaped to Sweden and later moved to the US, where he performed as a pianist. He also wrote the operas The Miserly Knight, Francesca da Rimini, religious music and a great number of other musical works.
Stepan TIMOSHENKO (1878-1972)
Graduated from the Railroad Engineering Institute in 1901. In 1903 he was appointed professor of strength of materials at the St. Petersburg Polytechnicum. In 1906 Timoshenko was transferred to the Kiev Polytechnicum. During the Civil War in Russia which followed the Bolshevik revolution, he escaped to the West and in 1922 landed in New York. In 1927 he started to work on research at Westinghouse. In 1927 came an invitation to teach mechanics at Michigan University. In 1937 he became a professor at Stanford University. He wrote numerous papers and a classical book on strength of materials known to engineers throughout the world.
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1972)
Composer, conductor, pianist, he started playing the piano at the age of 9 and composing music at 18. He took lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov while a student at the School of Law. Ballet producer Diagilev staged Stravinsky’s Firebird in 1910, Petrushka in 1911, and Rite of Spring in 1913. In 1918 he created History of a Soldier. Russian mythology was replaced by biblical topics. Stravinsky moved to the US in 1939 where he continued his work producing two symphonies, The ballet Orpheus in 1947, and an opera The Rake’s Progress in 1951. Stravinsky’s last works were of a spiritual nature.
Alexandra L. TOLSTOY (1884-1979)
Writer, humanist and lecturer who organized assistance to Russians throughout the world. The youngest daughter of Leo Tolstoy, the world famous author of War and Peace, she edited and prepared many of his previously unpublished works. In later years, she dedicated her life to aiding refugees from the two world wars. After coming to the U.S., Alexandra Tolstoy established the Tolstoy Foundation in New York, which directed the resettlement of refugees from Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and other parts of the world. Alexandra Tolstoy was the recipient of numerous awards including a Presidential Citation for her humanitarian efforts. Her motto was “Without a free Russia there cannot be a free world.” In 1979 she was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
Vladimir ZWORYKIN (1888-1982)
The “Father of Television”, graduated from the Imperial Institute of Technology in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1912. Even while a student, he worked on a problem of transmitting images electronically. The Communist revolution forced Zworykin to go to the US, where he started working at Westinghouse. In 1928 he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1928 he received a patent for color television and, in 1938, the iconoscope and kinescope, the main components of the TV set. After joining RCA he continued to work on the commercial development of television and its application in warfare. Zworykin also contributed to the development of the electron microscope. A total of 120 patents were issued to him for his inventions. In 1978 he was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
Nicholas TIMASHEFF (1886-1970)
Professor of jurisprudence, an alumnus of the Alexander Lyceum in St. Petersburg, Russia and the University of Strasburg. After receiving his Masters degree he became professor at the University of Petrograd. Following the takeover by the Soviets Timasheff left Russia. After doing research in Germany, Czechoslovakia and France, he moved in 1936 to the United States where he was invited to teach at Harvard University. He was the author of a number of publications, the most outstanding of which are Sociology of Law, Crime Against Religion, Conditional Sentencing and others.
Igor I. SIKORSKY (1889-1972)
Airplane and helicopter designer. He graduated from the Military Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1906 and continued his education at the Kiev Polytechnicum. Although Sikorsky’s interest in helicopters goes back to 1909, he concentrated his early efforts on the design of airplanes. His greatest achievement was the construction of the largest war airplanes with four engines that were successfully used in combat against the Germans. The Bolshevik Revolution interrupted his engineering career in Russia and forced him to emigrate to the US where in 1923 he resumed designing airplanes. His amphibious airplanes crossed the Pacific and the Atlantic and were used as bombers during World War II. In 1939 Sikorsky resumed designing helicopters. In this field he achieved the greatest success of his creative career. His machines were and are used in civilian and military service. The name Sikorsky has become almost synonymous with the helicopter.
Alexander De SEVERSKY (1894-1974)
Designer of military airplanes and a pilot, graduated from the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia and from the Military Aviation School in Sebastopol. In aerial combat in World War I, he lost his leg, but later was allowed by special decree to fly again. Seversky invented an automatic bombsight, skis for aircraft, various improvements in landing gear and a method of chasing submarines. After the Bolshevik takeover in Russia Seversky escaped to America. He founded an aircraft-manufacturing firm which later became Republic Aviation. In 1921 his method of bombing battleships from aircraft was adopted by the American military. He designed most advanced fighter plains of the time. His engineering ideas included automatic pilots, refueling in flight, rocket-propelled ammunition and torpedoes. In 1942 he wrote the influencial book Victory Through Air Power.
Serge A. JAROFF (1896-1985)
Founder and conductor of the internationally known Don Cossack Choir. Throughout his 60-year career, Mr. Jaroff conducted over 9000 choral concerts and revealed to the world the treasury of Russian spiritual chant and folk song. At the 1981 ceremony, a newly elected President Reagan sent his regards saying: “Nancy and I are delighted to extend our congratulations and best wishes on the induction of Serge A. Jaroff into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.”
Michael A. WERBOFF (1896- 1996)
A well-known portrait painter who painted kings, presidents, statesmen, composers, singers, actors, painters, poets and writers, clergymen, generals and American servicemen. Werboff had a distinctive talent for capturing the essence of the events and the character of the people he painted. In 1973 Werboff was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences in Rome. In 1976 he received a citation from President Ford and Governor Byrne of New Jersey for painting the portraits of each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence for the U.S. Bicentennial. In 1988 he was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
George KISTIAKOVSKY (1900-1982)
Designer of the chemical charge that triggered the first American nuclear device. He escaped the Reds after fighting them in Russian Anti-Communist army. He moved to Germany where he began specializing in physical chemistry at the University of Berlin. In 1926 Kistiakovsky came to the US and was appointed professor at Harvard University. In 1941 he was in charge of research in explosives for the American army. His research culminated in the creation of a triggering device for the first nuclear bomb, which sealed the victory over Japan in 1945. In 1959 Kistiakovsky became science adviser to President Eisenhower. He later came to the conviction that the nuclear race is too dangerous and resigned in 1967, and returned to teaching. Kistiakovsky was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Helena T. FEDUKOWICZ (1900-1998)
Renowned ophthalmologist. She began her distinguished career teaching at the University of Kiev. In the US she served as director of ophthalmic bacteriology at New York University and Belleview Hospital. In November 1992, Dr. Fedukowicz was elected an honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology for her research and resulting textbook on external infections of the eye. First published in 1963, her book External Infections of the Eye: Bacterial, Viral, and Mycotic received international acclaim and has become a classic. Dr. Fedukowicz was a founding member of the Congress of Russian-Americans. In 1990 she was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
Alexandra D. DANILOVA (1904-1997)
“The Empress of the Ballet” as The New York Times called her, was instrumental in making Russian ballet famous in the US and throughout the world. During her illustrious career, Danilova received the highest honor a ballerina can earn, that of “prima ballerina assoluta.” She served on the faculty of the American School of Ballet in New York where she taught and choreographed. Danilova’s performance in Coppelia was shown on television from Lincoln Center. In her acting debut, she starred in The Turning Point with Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine and Mikhail Baryshnikov. In 1983 she was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
Wassily W. LEONTIEF (1906-1999)
Was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution in the field of economics. Leontief devised the input-output technique for determining how different sectors of the economy interact. The Author of many books on the subject of economics, he held a Ph.D. honoris causa from the University of Brussels. After immigrating to the United States in 1931, Dr. Leontief thought economics at Harvard University He was a consultant to both American and international heads of state on various economic questions. In 1978 Leontief became Director of the Institute for Economic Analysis at New York University. Leontief was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1980 he was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.
Mstislav ROSTROPOVICH (1927-2007)
As musical director of the National Symphony Orchestra of the USA, a position he assumed in 1977, Mstislav Rostropovich promoted the works of Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev by featuring them in his concerts. Prior to coming to the US, Rostropovich was one of the first protesters in the USSR to openly oppose the Communist regime, for which he was expelled from the USSR. After coming to the US, he sponsored Alexander Solzhenitsyn to move to this country. In addition to being a conductor, Rostropovich is well known as a cellist and composer. He studied composition under Dmitri Shostakovich and cello with his own father. Rostropovich has been repeatedly honored during his career with memberships in five academies of fine arts, some thirty medals, and a number of international prizes. In 1985 he was inducted into the Russian-American Hall of Fame.