A “great anti-Lysenkoite”: The centenary of Daniil Vladimirovich Lebedev

This essay discusses the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Daniil Vladimirovich Lebedev, an outstanding historian of science, bibliographer, and botanist. Trained professionally as a geneticist, Lebedev became involved in the Lysenko controversy.
He refused to disavow his teachers in genetics who had been arrested – N. I. Vavilov, G. D. Karpechenko, and G. A. Levitsky – and in 1941 was expelled from the Komsomol (Young Communist League) and from the PhD program at Leningrad University where he studied at the time. He served on the front during the war and earned many military decorations. After the war Lebedev worked at the Library of the USSR Academy of Sciences and became its director by the early 1950s, only to fall victim to a new wave of political repression and arrests. He subsequently worked at the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences (1953–1978) where he held the position of academic secretary, and at the Leningrad branch of the Institute for History of Science and Technology (1978–1986). An ardent anti-Lysenkoist, in the 1950s and 1960s Lebedev authored several infl uential publications critical of Lysenko, in the Botanical Journal and the MOIP Bulletin. He also co-authored the famous 1955 “Letter of the Three Hundred” scientists protesting against the monopoly of Lysenko and his followers. In later years, Lebedev did much to restore historical truth about geneticists and rehabilitate their memory, in particular in his position as the secretary of the Academy’s Commission for the Preservation of N. I. Vavilov’s Heritage (1966–1981). His views and advice infl uenced almost all of the authors who have written about the history of the struggle against Lysenko, including Zh. A. Medvedev, M. A. Popovsky, and V. N. Soyfer.


Recommended bibliographic description

, A “great anti-Lysenkoite”: The centenary of Daniil Vladimirovich Lebedev, Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki [Studies in History of Science and Technology], , p.  110-135

    © Studies in the History of Science and Technology: Quarterly scientific journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2015)
    ISSN 0205-9606. Индекс 70143