Abstract

In this essay, the authors analyze and interpret facsimiles of important original documents—published here for the first time—that are deeply relevant to the education of the young Ayn Rand at the University of Petrograd. This definitive reading of source material provides significant documentation of Rand’s courses, teachers, and textbooks—and what she might have learned from them. Other original source materials are revealed to advance further investigations of this key period in Rand’s life. Recent commentary on Rand’s education in Gary H. Merrill’s book, False Wisdom, is also considered.

This essay offers a wide-ranging analysis of the first published facsimiles of key documents regarding Ayn Rand’s education at the University of Petrograd (1921–24). Analyses of these documents were published previously in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in two articles by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (1999b; 2005), later incorporated as the first two of three appendices to the second edition of Sciabarra’s book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 363–91).1 In the third appendix of that second edition (393–99), later in Sciabarra 2017 and his lead essay to The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom (Sciabarra 2019, 39–40 n. 2), Sciabarra replied to additional criticisms of his historical research and the distinct interpretations he brought to the data.

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) first came into possession of some of Ayn Rand’s university records back in 1997, and Sciabarra offered to investigate these records—with no compensation for his work—and to share his findings with the institute, ostensibly for use in an “authorized” biography being prepared by its affiliated scholars. Sciabarra promised to delay any publication of his own interpretation of the source material until after the appearance of their biography. ARI countered with a proposal to provide Sciabarra with the materials for his investigative purposes, on the condition that he share his findings with the institute but agree never to publish the transcript or any articles about it. Sciabarra (1999a) rejected this offer unequivocally and vowed to find and interpret the university records independently.

In October 1998, through diligent detective work, Sciabarra’s research associates were able to uncover one version of Rand’s transcript in the Central State Archive of Saint Petersburg. His initial findings (“The Rand Transcript”) were published in the first Fall 1999 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Later, in preparation for his 2005 interpretive essay, “The Rand Transcript, Revisited,” Sciabarra published additional information on Rand’s education, based on photocopied materials provided by Blitz Information Services for Anne C. Heller, who generously shared these documents with him—subsequently referencing Sciabarra’s work in her biography of Rand (Heller 2009, 41, 432 nn.). Sciabarra worked closely with historians George L. Kline, Bernice Rosenthal, Michael David-Fox, and Peter Konecny, among others, but the university records in his possession were poorer quality photocopies of originals, not fit for print reproduction.

In 2020, Pavel Solovyev found evidence of Ayn Rand’s personal file on the website of the Saint Petersburg Archive (https://spbarchives.ru); he ordered copies of the relevant documents and, on 31 October 2020, posted digitized images of these to the public Ayn Rand Facebook Group page (Solovyev 2020). This collection of pristine images contained many of the documents that Sciabarra had referred to in his previous Rand transcript essays. In this essay, many of those images appear in print for the first time, for the benefit of all future Rand scholars. Sciabarra and Solovyev have worked diligently to translate, contextualize, and interpret this material, but their publication here simultaneously invites other scholars to examine and evaluate, thus widening the circle for interpretive analytical work on this important period in Rand’s formative intellectual development.

The authors shed light on certain mysteries that have long surrounded Rand’s education, while leaving several issues still unresolved. They conclude with the presentation of a table that illustrates how our understanding of Rand’s education has evolved over the past quarter century, while addressing criticisms of previous interpretations of the data.

As Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 70–73) reminds us, Petrograd State University was involved in a far-reaching reorganization of its structure in the years following the Bolshevik Revolution. Mikhail Pokrovsky, who was one of the organizers of the State Scientific Council in 1919 and the Institute of Red Professors in 1921, was also one of three figures (along with Anatoly V. Lunacharsky and Nadezhda Krupskaya) instrumental to the formation of Narkompros (the “People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment”):

Narkompros united the existing schools of history, philology, and law under a social science college, or fakul’tet obshchestvennykh nauk, within each university (Fitzpatrick 1979, 68). The new social science program aimed to introduce concepts of Marxist methodology and scientific socialism. Though the non-Marxist professors resented these innovations, they were not required to demonstrate proficiency in Marxist studies. In fact, many of them continued to teach courses that had a subtle anti-Soviet bias. A continued shortage of Marxist teachers led the Central Committee to abolish many of the social science colleges that had been established, though Petrograd University was unaffected by this policy change (69–71).

The Narkompros policy innovations fundamentally altered the organization of the university. The original university structure contained three major colleges (or faculties) [as explained to Sciabarra by historian George L. Kline]:

  1. The istoriko-filologicheskii fakultet, or College of History and Philology, broadly defined to include philosophy.

  2. The fiziko-matematicheskii fakultet, or College of Mathematics and Physics, which included geology, chemistry, and other hard sciences.

  3. The iuridicheskii fakultet, or law school.

The new university structure placed the College of History and Philology under the social science banner. A leftist academician, Nikolai Ya. Marr, brought to the newly organized social science college a greater emphasis on ethnology and linguistics studies. Archaeology and anthropology were also included.2 The law school was officially dissolved since it lacked Marxist professors. It continued to function unofficially, under the title of “former law department,” until its reestablishment in the autumn of 1926. Later, the economics department was absorbed by the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, and the social-pedagogical department was made part of the Herzen Pedagogical Institute (Fitzpatrick 1979, 72–73)…. (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 70–71)

In the early 1920s, the study of history was slowly supplemented by courses designed to increase politgramota or political literacy. Social science curriculums in the pedagogical institutes were modified to include new Marxist subjects and requirements. Hence, many of the history courses [the young Ayn Rand] took initially were probably condensed to include themes in political economy, dialectical method, and historical materialism (Shteppa 1962, 29, 36). (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 73)

The Personal File of Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum

The Personal File of Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum (which can also be transliterated as Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) from the Saint Petersburg State Archive (SPBGU, fond R-7240, opis 5, delo 3576) (TsGA SPB, 1921–24) provides an extraordinary portrait of the young Ayn Rand’s educational experiences.

The cover of the file (Figure 1) is written in the pre-1918 alphabet, with a reference to the “Imperial State University”; the former name of Petrograd University was, of course, Saint Petersburg University, changed to Leningrad University by the time Rand graduated in 1924, only to return to its original designation as Saint Petersburg State University in 1992.

Figure 1.

The Cover (TsGA SPB 1921–24, cover)

Figure 1.

The Cover (TsGA SPB 1921–24, cover)

Signs of the Student Purge

Page 1 of the dossier (Figure 2) states: “By the decision of the governing body of Petrograd State University Alissa Rosenbaum was dismissed on 13.12.1923 [13 December 1923] from the ranks of students due to academic backlog.” But this was no academic backlog; it was part of a concerted effort by Bolshevik authorities to “ruthlessly … expel and exile those students who could not prove their proletarian background” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 72). We will discuss this matter in greater detail below.

Figure 2.

Page 1 (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 1)

Figure 2.

Page 1 (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 1)

Request to the Rector

On page 2 of the dossier (Figure 3), there is a request written in the young Ayn Rand’s own handwriting, upon admission to the university (dated 25 August 1921). On 2 September 1921, the request was granted (signed in blue pencil in Figure 3 below). The document is translated as follows:

A Request to the Rector of the First Petrograd University, From Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, graduated from School No. 7 in Yevpatoria and resident at 25th October Prospekt, 120 [Ed: former Nevsky Prospekt, returned to its original name in 1944]. I ask you to accept me within the ranks of students of the First Petrograd University, Social Sciences Faculty, Social and Pedagogical Section. I hereby append a copy of my metric record, a copy of my certificate of graduation from school, an extract from my House Committee and a photo.

It is somewhat ironic that the request was accepted on 2 September 1921—a date that has particular significance for those familiar with Atlas Shrugged. It was on that date in 1946 that Rand began writing her magnum opus; it is the date in the opening scene of the novel and of several other key events (including Francisco d’Anconia’s “money speech”) throughout.

Figure 3.

Rector Request (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 2)

Figure 3.

Rector Request (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 2)

Page 3: Alissa’s Diploma

This copy of Alissa’s diploma (Figure 4) was received after she finished her studies at the university. It is dated 13 October 1924, signed by her to indicate that she received the original. Below, we will discuss in more detail the subjects noted therein, along with those who were among the most likely teachers of the courses listed. Because it is an official diploma, this document has the highest quality in the entire file.

Figure 4.

Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum’s Diploma Copy (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 3)

Figure 4.

Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum’s Diploma Copy (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 3)

The diploma (Figure 4) reads:

Top-left header:

RSFSR

People’s Education Commissariat

Leningrad University

Faculty of Social Sciences

13 October 1924

No. 1552

Certificate

The presenter of this [document], Rosenbaum Alissa Zinovievna, born 20 January 1905 [Ed: based on the Julian calendar still used at the time] and admitted to the Petrograd State University in 1921, by 15 July 1924 has fulfilled all requirements of the curriculum of the Social and Pedagogical Department of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Leningrad State University and received credits for the following subjects:

  1. General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)

  2. History of the Development of Social Forms (or Institutions)

  3. Psychology

  4. Logic

  5. French Language

  6. Historical Materialism

  7. History of Worldviews (Ancient Period)

  8. Biology

  9. History of Greece

  10. History of Rome

  11. Russian History

  12. Medieval History [Ed: This is rendered as “Middle history”]

  13. History of Socialism

  14. Special Course: Social Movements in 14th Century France

  15. Special Course: History of the Crusades

  16. Modern History (Ed: “Modern” might also be translated as “Recent”)

  17. Modern History of the West [Ed: Here the adjective is actually “newest,” referring to the last hundred years prior to the course date; it is synonymous with “Contemporary History of the West”]

  18. History of Modern Russia [Ed: Alternatively translated as “History of Contemporary Russia”]

  19. History of Pedagogical Doctrines

  20. Methodology of the Social Sciences

  21. The Politics and Organization of Popular Education in the USSR

  22. Special Course: History of Medieval Trade

  23. Political Economy

And also got the credits for three seminars:

  1. Seminar in Modern History (16th Century England)

  2. Seminar in Modern History (17th Century France)

  3. Seminar in the History of the Middle Ages (the Medieval Estate)

In certification of this the Faculty of Social Sciences has issued to her, Rosenbaum Alissa Zinovievna, this certificate bearing the required signatures and stamp of the Leningrad State University.

Rector of the Leningrad State University, professor

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, professor

Chairman of the Social and Pedagogical Department

Secretary of the Presidium of the Faculty of Social Sciences

To the left, in black ink: “I received the certificate of graduation, 13 October 1924. A. Rosenbaum”

Down below the line: “Leningrad Governorate Section of Literature and Art (Gublit) No. 15135. 1st copy. State Typography of the Executive Committee of the Volodarsky District, Starorusskaya [street] 2-5. Order No. 395”

It was this document that was the subject of Sciabarra’s first analysis of “The Rand Transcript” in the debut issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Sciabarra [1999b] 2013). It should be emphasized that in the Branden Biographical Interviews (Interview 6, conducted on 3 January 1961), Rand accurately recalled to both Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden (Frank O’Connor was also present during the interview) that she had enrolled in a program of historical-pedagogical studies and that her courses in history centered on the Middle Ages.

The Yevpatoria School Records

Figure 5 is a copy of Alissa’s school record from the Yevpatoria School No. 4 dated 30 June 1921. The copy is handwritten and on very poor-quality paper. All of Alissa’s grades are “highly satisfactory.” Apart from the requisite courses in mathematics, physics, history, and general science, there are also courses in French, German, and Latin! Interestingly, the only course without a mark is No. 16 (“Political Economy,” which was typically presented from a Marxist-Leninist perspective); the record indicates only that the subject was “studied.” The saga of courses in “Political Economy” would continue well into Rand’s Petrograd University years, as we discuss below.

Figure 5.

Alissa Rosenbaum’s Yevpatoria School Records (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 4)

Figure 5.

Alissa Rosenbaum’s Yevpatoria School Records (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 4)

Record of Alissa’s Birth

A handwritten copy of the metric record from Saint Petersburg Synagogue (Figure 6) indicates Alissa’s birthdate. It reads:

RSFSR, Sector of Administration of Petrograd Soviet

Capital Section of the Civil Records Bureau, August 13th 1921.

No. 5064.

Petrograd, Uritzky Square 6, phone 13–50. Telegram address “Stolichnezags”

Certificate

This stamped certificate is given to certify that in the Petrograd Jewish metric book about births in 1905 it is written under No. 8: Daughter Alissa was born on January 20 (Shevat 27) [Ed: Julian calendar] to pharmacist Zellman-Wolff Zorakhovich Rosenbaum and his lawful wife Hana Berkovna (aka Anna Borisovna) and prayers were offered on the same day in 1905.

Signed: Head of the Petrograd Civil Bureau, Archivist K.F. Buriman

Stamp: [Civil] Bureau of Smolny part [Ed: Up to 1917, “part” could be translated as “precinct” but it could also be translated as “district”] of Petrograd certifies that this copy [is identical] to the original given to citizen Zelman [Ed: or Zellman or Zellmann; this is a Yiddish name, derived from Zalman (Salman), which is the form of Shlomo, that is, Solomon]3 Rosenbaum, 20 August 1921

Figure 6.

Saint Petersburg Synagogue Record (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 5)

Figure 6.

Saint Petersburg Synagogue Record (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 5)

The First Matricul

In the Branden Biographical Interviews (Interview 6, 3 January 1961), Rand mentions that “we had little books where they entered the subject and the professor signed and you could have three marks: Perfect, Passing or Failure.” In actuality, the grades are listed as “highly satisfactory,” “satisfactory,” or “passed”—failures were not recorded. The appearance of “passed” is associated with the implementation of the Narkompros decree of 31 [18 in the Julian calendar] May 1918, “on cancellation of grades,” which abolished all grades but was difficult to immediately implement (Varakuta 2016). The “little book” to which Rand refers is called a “matricul.” The origin of this word is Latin (“matricula” for “list” or “register”). In Imperial Russia, this was the name of a document certifying the admission of a student to the university, and also serving as the examination book. In some universities it was called a “matricul,” in others a “student’s list,” but the vernacular was always “matricul.” In informal (and even formal) speech this name for the examination book was used up until the 1950s. (The adjective “matriculated” applies to students in possession of matricula as distinguished from nonmatriculated students or lecture-goers—that is, those enrolled in courses but not formally admitted.)

There are two copies of Rand’s matricula in her university records. Here is the opening page of the First Matricul (Figure 7). It is completely handwritten and shows that Alissa is a student of the Social Sciences faculty, which included the social-pedagogical and literature divisions. The First Matricul cover is written completely in the pre-1918 reform script with “yat” as “e” where needed and “yer” after consonants in the end and also “i” in “itta” style where needed. While the opening page or cover (Figure 1) is simply an old file cover left from pre-1914 stockpiles (note the use of “Petersburg” rather than “Petrograd”), this one is handmade possibly by Alissa herself (we are not completely confident that it is Alissa’s authorship here, but her letter in Figure 24 below is definitely her writing).

Figure 7.

Opening Page of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 10)

Figure 7.

Opening Page of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 10)

It reads:

File No. 2379 2856/21

Student of the State Petrograd University

Faculty of Social Sciences

Social and Pedagogical and Literature and Art Department

Surname: Rosenbaum

Name: Alissa

Patronymic name: Zinovievna

Below are Pages 1 and 2 of the First Matricul (Figures 8 and 9). The columns of the First Matricul, page 1 are translated in Table 1:

Table 1.

Column Headings for the First Matricul, Page 1

Subject name Exam date Teacher’s surname How the exam was carried out, in the scope of the entire course or part thereof Examiner’s signature Exam mark Remarks and note about carrying out practical work 
Subject name Exam date Teacher’s surname How the exam was carried out, in the scope of the entire course or part thereof Examiner’s signature Exam mark Remarks and note about carrying out practical work 
Figure 8.

Page 1 of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 11)

Figure 8.

Page 1 of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 11)

Figure 9.

Page 2 of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 12)

Figure 9.

Page 2 of the First Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 12)

The columns for the First Matricul, page 2 are translated in Table 2:

Table 2.

Column Headings for the First Matricul, Page 2

Subject name Exam date Teacher’s surname Examiner’s signature Exam mark  
Subject name Exam date Teacher’s surname Examiner’s signature Exam mark  

In the First Matricul (Figures 8 and 9), the grades received by Alissa in 1922 are clear. For example, she received “highly satisfactory” grades for “Psychology,” “Logic,” “History of the Development of Social Forms (or Institutions),” and “History of Worldviews (Ancient Period).” For the standard communist subject, on the “General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics),” she received a “satisfactory” grade. With regard to all of the signatures on the matricula, Sciabarra offers this caveat (explained in his original 1999 “Rand Transcript” article):

[T]he signatures next to each listed course were not necessarily or ordinarily those of the teacher. In most, if not all, cases, the signatures were of the rector, or the vice-rector, or the dean of the social sciences, or the department chair. (During the period in question, the school moved to unite the social sciences and the humanities. Prior to 1922, the rector was Vladimir M. Shimkevich, while the dean of the social sciences was N. S. Derzhavin. There were many other officials who would have acted as official signatories on the document.) Given this fact, even legible signatures, analyzed by handwriting experts, would not necessarily yield more information on the specific teacher of each course. Nevertheless, a more detailed examination of the university archives might reveal additional information both about the courses offered and the professors who taught them. That investigation awaits the attention of future scholars. (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 364)

In “The Rand Transcript, Revisited” (2005), Sciabarra adds that the dates shown in the columns “were usually certified after the fact—in some instances, much later” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 387).

The time for “the attention of future scholars” has arrived and Pavel Solovyev has provided us with meticulous in-depth research into Alissa Rosenbaum’s personal file. His in-depth investigations of the signatures on the matricula greatly enhance our knowledge of Rand’s most likely teachers—and what she was taught.

Educated in Russia himself, Solovyev maintains that typically if the signature could be traced to a specific teacher, then that teacher was the most likely person to have taught the course. But, like Sciabarra, he recognizes that the chaos that marked the 1921–24 period of Rand’s university education may have led alternate professors or even junior assistants to sign the matricula. This current investigation provides the highest level of accuracy of signature identification yet published.

An omnipresent thread that runs in the tapestry of academic life during the period of Alissa Rosenbaum’s university education was the politicization of scholarship, in which some professors targeted their colleagues as “counterrevolutionaries,” leading to their dismissal from teaching posts or exile abroad, only to be attacked later by university and state administrators who rewarded their formerly “loyal” informants with internment in prisons and concentration camps or execution by firing squad. As we will see, the lives of many of Rand’s professors at Petrograd University—regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations—were affected profoundly by this tragedy of mounting proportions, which devastated an entire intellectual generation.

In the First Matricul (Figure 8), the course on “Psychology” (graded “highly satisfactory”) is signed on 4 March 1922 by Vitaliy Stepanovich Serebryannikov (1862–1942) (the signature reads as ВСЕРЕБРЕННИК). Serebryannikov was the son of a church vicar, educated in various religious seminaries at Vyatka and Saint Petersburg (Shindarov 2011). Like Nikolay Onufriyevich Lossky—whom Rand recollected as having been her teacher for a course in ancient philosophy—Serebryannikov studied abroad in 1892–93 with the experimental psychologist Wilhelm Wundt (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 40). It was not unusual for philosophers to earn their degrees under the direction of scholars of psychology. It was under Wundt that Lossky himself earned his doctorate in 1907, with a dissertation on “The Foundations of Intuitivism.” Indeed, during the first half century of modern psychology, psychology and philosophy were not sharply divided. Psychologists and philosophers often shared journals and academic departments. Even today, some psychology books get a B designation from the Library of Congress (B was originally reserved for philosophy). Wundt, when already famous in psychology, started a journal called Philosophische Studien (Philosophical Studies). Some prominent figures, including William James and John Dewey, were professionally identified both as philosophers and psychologists.

Hence, despite his formal study in “psychology,” Serebryannikov primarily taught the history of philosophy and its relationship to the history of law. He went on to receive his doctorate in theology in 1909 (Serebryannikov n.d., 1892). He became a full professor in Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, where he taught psychology, with strong religious overtones, while also becoming a member of the Philosophical Society at Saint Petersburg University. After the Bolshevik Revolution, he continued to teach experimental psychology in Petrograd University from 1919 to 1924, when he was removed from his post. After he left the university, he graced various other educational organizations, moving to Vyatka in 1934—most probably to avoid the beginning tide of reprisals against “old-timers” in the capital cities. He spent the final years of his life as an employee of the Vyatka regional library and died in 1942.

Serebryannikov’s course was not one in empirical “psychology” as we know it. Much of his work focused on philosophical psychology and the philosophy of mind, with an emphasis on the thought of René Descartes, John Locke (about whom he wrote a master’s thesis; see Serebryannikov 1892), Gottfried Leibniz, and Immanuel Kant. These philosophers—not the psychologists of the day—were the central focus of this course.

The course on “Logic” (also graded “highly satisfactory”) was signed on 7 April 1922 by renowned professor of philosophy, Ivan Ivanovich Lapshin (1870–1952) (the signature reads as ILAPSHIN [ИЛАПШИН]). Sciabarra’s 1999 article proposed that the most likely teacher of this course was the chair of the Philosophy Department, Aleksandr Ivanovich Vvedensky, the distinguished neo-Kantian philosopher. He noted, however, in his 2005 article, that Lapshin’s signature was clearly associated with this course. Solovyev now confirms this finding.

Lapshin was a Saint Petersburg native whose father was an Orientalist scholar and whose mother was a music teacher from England. At the Historical and Philosophical Faculty of Saint Petersburg University, Lapshin’s mentor was Vvedensky. In the later 1890s, after he went abroad to study in England, he returned to Saint Petersburg, where he taught the history of pedagogy, psychology, logic, and other subjects from 1919 to 1922. He also taught higher women’s courses to schools and gymnasiums and remained a significant figure in the philosophical circles of Saint Petersburg in the first two decades of the twentieth century. He wrote many articles for the Brockhaus and Evfron dictionary, translated William James’s Textbook of Psychology into Russian, as well as several books on logic and philosophy (Lapshin 1906; 1910; see also Sidorchuk and Malinov 2012–21a).

Though a neo-Kantian, like his mentor Vvedensky, Lapshin, in such works as The Laws of Thought and Forms of Knowledge (1906), focused much attention on the organic interrelationships between philosophy, science, and art. Even in an elementary course on “Logic,” where he would have focused on the traditional theory of the syllogism and the nature of scientific reasoning, he would have emphasized the temporal and spatial coexistence inherent in the law of contradiction—highly dialectical themes of the dynamic and systemic vantage points required for a genuine grasp of the fundamental laws of logic (Lossky 1951, 167). As Sciabarra points out, though Lapshin was a critic of dialectical materialism, his neo-idealist orientation shared much with Lossky’s dialectical perspective: “Like Lossky, Lapshin stressed the importance of mutual immanence in his rejection of solipsism and its ‘“false metaphysical dualism between things in themselves and the knowing subject”’ (quoted in Zenkovsky 1953, 2:689)” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 365).

After the October Revolution in 1917, Lapshin continued to teach logic and psychology and published an important two-volume work on the history of philosophy (Lapshin 1922). This was the last course Lapshin taught prior to his exile abroad in 1922 with other noted Russian intellectuals—including Lossky and the famed historian Lev Platonovich Karsavin—on one of the “Philosophy Steamers” (Chamberlain 2006; Timofeychev 2017). He settled first in Berlin, then in Prague, where he spent the rest of his life. His later research activities focused on the psychology of creative work and Russian aesthetics (Lapshin 1935). He died in Prague in 1952 (Sidorchuk and Malinov 2012–21a).

Rand received a passing grade for “French Language.” Solovyev confirms Sciabarra’s 2005 findings that the course was most likely taught by A. Larond (the signature reads as ALAROND—АЛАРОНД)—that is, Andrei Alexandrovich Larond (Félix-André LaRonde), who was born in 1871. The signature is dated 8 June 1922. Larond worked as a lecturer in French language at the university from 1900 to 1931, when he was expelled from the Soviet Union on espionage charges.

A Frenchman born in Trouville, he attended École Polytechnique and École Pratique des Hautes Études, in the Philosophy Department, where he studied Russian and various Caucasian languages. In 1897–99, he trained in Saint Petersburg (Laronde 1897), and after a brief period in France, he returned to Russia again in 1900, where he taught French language at Saint Petersburg University and some other educational organizations, publishing a few books on teaching French (Laronde 1915a, 1915b). In the 1920s, on the recommendation of philosopher Ernest Leopol’dovich Radlov (to whom we will return below), Laronde also worked in the Petersburg Library, soon becoming one of its key members, creating various indices for historical journals (Vakhtina 1999–2003; Sidorchuk and Rostovtsev 2012–21b).

In 1931, he was arrested by OGPU on espionage and embezzlement charges and exiled abroad (Vakhtina 1999–2003). His later fate is unknown, though at least one French publication (Laronde 1934) suggests he was alive and well in 1934.

The important course on the “History of the Development of Social Forms” was signed on 15 June 1922 by Nikolai Andreyevich Gredeskul (1865–1941). The signature reads as ГРЕДЕСКУЛ. Born to a family of noblemen of Moldovan origin in Kharkov Governorate (now Ukraine), Gredeskul enrolled in Kharkov University and graduated in 1890 from its Law Faculty, where he became a full professor of law in 1905 (Gribovsky 2020). He authored an important book on the fundamentals of law (Gredeskul 1900) during this period. After the First Russian Revolution of 1905, he became one of the founders of the Constitutional Democratic Party (K-D or Kadet Party) and was elected to the First Russian Duma (parliament) in 1906, albeit for a short time because it was dissolved two months later. Gredeskul was even arrested for a few months for signing the “Vyborg Appeal,” calling for peaceful resistance against the oppression of the tsar’s government.

Over the following years, his views gravitated from a liberal to a nationalist perspective; during the First World War, he left the Kadet Party, and even published a nationalist brochure (Gredeskul 1916). Unexpectedly, after the October Revolution of 1917, he publicly accepted the Bolshevik agenda, despite most of his immediate family having left Russia. From 1921 to 1925, he taught civil law in the Faculty of Social Sciences of Petrograd University, continuing to develop a synthesis of his previous ideas with Marxism (Gredeskul 1926) and even with biology (Gredeskul 1925). (Gredeskul’s interests parallel the work of Lev Semyonovich Berg, another biology scholar at Saint Petersburg University, whose Theories of Evolution presented a quasi-teleological approach to evolutionary change.) Gredeskul ceased publishing in 1930 due to illness and died in 1941 in Leningrad shortly before commencement of its siege.

Gredeskul’s intellectual evolution was the subject of Sciabarra’s 2005 essay, “The Rand Transcript, Revisited”:

Like other intellectuals and writers of his generation, [Gredeskul] expressed a Silver Age fascination with Friedrich Nietzsche. As Mikhail Agursky (1994, 263–64) tells us: “Nikolai Gredeskul … a professor of social science and former Rector of Kharkov University, was a founder and prominent member of the Cadet Party. He, too, quickly accepted the October Revolution as a Russian national revolution. In his zeal he joined the Bolshevik Party and became a Marxist philosopher. In 1926 he published a book, Russia, Before and Now (Rossia prezhde i teper), in which he confessed his fascination with Nietzsche, claiming that the bourgeoisie abuses Nietzscheanism. Meanwhile, ‘Superman, if one looks only at his internal meaning … is a man of superior will and superior doubts … in this internal meaning [the image of Superman] is glorious to a proletarian, not at all so to a bourgeois.’” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 388)

This passage is from Gredeskul’s essay on dialectics, “Is It the Fate of Natural Science to Be Mechanistic or Should It Become Dialectical?” (“Byt’li estestvoznanin mekhanicheskim ili stat’ dialekticheskim?”), which highlights the larger dialectical motif of the era that so dominated Rand’s education at the university. At the end of his 1925 work, Origins and Development of Social Life, Gredeskul went so far as to say that “sociology as a science must become Marxist or it will cease to be as a science!”

Sciabarra ([1995] 2013) notes that “Gredeskul’s daughter Ludmila was a student … [at] the Stoiunin gymnasium—the school Rand herself attended as a girl, founded by N. O. Lossky’s in-laws, in which Lossky himself taught” (388).

The course on the “General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)” is graded “satisfactory,” signed on 18 August 1922 by Yakov Mironovich Magaziner (1882–1961). The signature reads as ЯМАГАЗ. This too confirms Sciabarra’s 2005 findings. Magaziner regularly taught this course on the Russian constitution, which Alissa Rosenbaum attended.

Like Gredeskul, Magaziner was also a native of the city of Kharkov. Born to a family of Jewish artisans, Magaziner enrolled in Kharkov University in 1901 but was quickly expelled for participation in the student revolutionary movement. During his student years, he published “The Absolutism of the People,” which, in dialectical fashion, called for social revolution as the means to resolving Russia’s ongoing political crises (Magaziner 1905). Five years later, he moved to Saint Petersburg and enrolled in the Law Faculty of Saint Petersburg University, from where he graduated summa cum laude in 1909 (Kravtsov 2006). Prior to 1917, he published a series of books on the theory and history of law, the most notable of which was dedicated to the sovereignty of the people, written from a social-democratic point of view (Magaziner 1905). By verdict of the Saint Petersburg Court of Justice, this book was confiscated and destroyed, and only a few copies are extant to this day. Unable to teach, he practiced law. But, from 1918, the new Bolshevik authorities elevated him to the position of professor at Petrograd University, where he taught public law and the theory of law from 1918 to 1924 (Magaziner 1919, 1922; Bodnarchuk and Rostovtsev 2012–21).

In 1937, he was arrested on charges of spying for Great Britain but was unexpectedly released in 1938. During the Second World War, he taught in Sverdlovsk Law Institute, later returning to Leningrad University, from which he was fired yet again in 1949 during an anti-Semitic wave of reprisals against “cosmopolitanism.” Even his books were removed from libraries. However, Magaziner somehow avoided further hardships and in the late 1950s continued his studies in the history of law (Magaziner 1957). In 1961, he died in Leningrad.

The final page of the handmade First Matricul (Figure 9) contains only one course record, “Political Economy,” graded as “satisfactory,” dated 26 November 1922, and signed by Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher (1878–1933). The signature reads as КУЛИШЕР. We will discuss some possible discrepancies with regard to this course later in this paper.

Kulisher was born in Kiev to a family headed by a Jewish lawyer. He studied at the Law Faculty of Saint Petersburg University from 1896 to 1900, concentrating in economics (there was no Economics Faculty at that time), graduating summa cum laude. Afterward, he spent a few years in several European countries advancing his studies in economics (Vinogradov 1995). Shortly after his return to Russia in 1906, he published a seminal work on the history of capital gains in Western Europe (Kulisher 1906, 1908). He continued teaching on the history of economics at Saint Petersburg University, the Higher Commercial Courses and the Psychoneurological Institute. In the wake of the October Revolution, he remained at the university. Despite a brief arrest by the Cheka in 1919—he was released after pleas from his colleagues—he continued his work first at the Law Faculty and later at the Faculty of Social Sciences, teaching political economy, tax law, the history of the economy, and other subjects until 1930 (Kulisher n.d.; Barinov and Rostovtsev 2012–21a).

During the 1921–24 period, the very years that Rand was in attendance, Kulisher was the director of the Economic Research Institute at Petrograd University. His Essays on the History of Industrial Forms in Western Europe from the Thirteenth through the Eighteenth Centuries, which grew out of his master’s thesis, was recognized by many twentieth-century historians as a work that exhibited a depth of historiography rich in the tradition of the German Historical School. That school’s approach centered on the notion of “totality” in social analysis—that is, a consideration of the full context of the interrelationships between economic, political, cultural, institutional, and historical factors (Sancristán 2014, 154). Kulisher no doubt brought this dialectical sensibility to this course in “Political Economy”—much as he did to all the courses he taught.

Kulisher continued to publish several additional books on the history of economics (see Kulisher 1925), but in the 1930s, the ideological intensity of Marxist-Leninist dogmatism was on the rise, and he was criticized by hardliners in academia as part of the so-called “Academic Case”—an attempt to “cleanse” the Academy of Sciences of alleged “counterrevolutionaries.” This whole affair adversely affected his health, and he died in 1933 after a prolonged illness (Vinogradov 1995).

The Second Matricul

The First Matricul ends abruptly in 1922, and all of its contents were transferred to the Second Matricul, which provides a completely detailed listing of all the courses, signatories, and dates for Rand’s studies at Petrograd University. Solovyev agrees with all previous commentators on this period—that it was a time of total disarray in all facets of social and economic life. And it is reflected in the documents of the time. Having worked in various archives through the years, Solovyev attests that most Soviet universities wrote their internal documents on low-quality secondary scraps of papers torn out of old account books, school record books, and so forth—all the way up until the 1960s. The only exceptions to this collection of scrap paper were the published books of Marxist classics, always produced on fine-quality paper and distributed by the millions.

The Second Matricul contains Alissa’s surname handwritten on the front cover (Figure 10). The title page of the Second Matricul (Figure 11) is now printed in new post-1918 script, though the university is still named “Petersburg University” (which is strange as the city was renamed Petrograd following the outbreak of the Great War). Alissa’s date of admission is now shown as 2 October 1921.

Figure 10.

The Front Cover of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13)

Figure 10.

The Front Cover of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13)

Figure 11.

The Title Page of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13a)

Figure 11.

The Title Page of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13a)

The back side of the front page (Figure 12) contains Alissa’s photo and issue date—23 February 1923—and is very similar to the way such Russian matricula look today.

Figure 12.

Second Matricul Photograph of Alissa Rosenbaum (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13ob)

Figure 12.

Second Matricul Photograph of Alissa Rosenbaum (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 13ob)

The Second Matricul: Page 1

Page 1 of the Second Matricul (Figure 13) documents the course titles, signatures, grades, and dates of the courses that Rand attended:

Figure 13.

Page 1 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 14)

Figure 13.

Page 1 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 14)

On page 1 of the Second Matricul and all subsequent pages, the columns as shown in Table 3 contain the following headings (there is no column for the “surname of the teacher”; see also note 2 below). The “attendance note” is almost always left empty; it most likely referred to whether the student was present or not—a pre-revolutionary practice that continued for some time thereafter.

Table 3.

Column Headings for the Second Matricul

Name of subject or practical exercises Number of hours Attendance note  Mark received at the exam Signature of examiner or dean Year, month, date  
 Lecture Practical exercises       
Name of subject or practical exercises Number of hours Attendance note  Mark received at the exam Signature of examiner or dean Year, month, date  
 Lecture Practical exercises       

What follows is our report of the information contained in the Second Matricul, in the order in which this information appears; the numbering of the courses differs somewhat from the ordering found in the Rosenbaum diploma above (Figure 4).

The first seven lines are written in the same ink and by the same hand, as are the dates. They are almost an exact replica of the records from the First Matricul. The only exception is that Course 6 (“Political Economy”), initially ascribed here to Solntsev—most likely Sergey Ivanovich Solntsev (1872–1936), a professor of political economy in the faculty of the Social Sciences, from 1920 to 1925—is crossed out and ascribed to Kulisher (Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher) in grayish ink, which makes it consistent with the First Matricul. To the right, written 90 degrees from the text in the last column, one finds the phrase: “Correct. Secretary I. Glebov [Ed: or M. Albov, more probably] 3 March 1923.”

Whether Rand studied with Solntsev or not, it’s worth noting that his work was fully within the Marxist tradition; it centered on the history of economic development, class formation, and class struggle across Europe. As with many of his contemporaries, his student years were marked by dismissals for participation in student revolutionary activity, for which he was exiled from Moscow for two years. He later enrolled in the Law Faculty of Saint Petersburg University, graduating summa cum laude in 1904. Like Kulisher, he taught “Political Economy” in the various educational facilities of Saint Petersburg. In 1913, he became a full professor at Tomsk University. His main works during this period focused on salary as a “distribution problem” (Solntsev 1911) and on the history and development of social strata (Solntsev 1917). From 1917 to 1920, Solntsev taught at Odessa University, later returning to Petrograd University where he taught “Political Economy” at the Law and Social Science Faculties until 1927 (Barinov and Rostovtsev 2012–21b), continuing to publish works on the subject (see, for example, Solntsev 1924). By 1927, he became a full member of the Academy of Sciences. He died in Moscow in 1936.

The way in which the handwriting is rendered throughout the Second Matricul, sometimes spreading across numbered lines, it appears as if the number of courses Rand took exceeds the number of courses on her diploma. But a careful study of the record shows that, in many instances, course titles are written in between the lines. For example, the course on “Historical Materialism” appears between numbers 6 and 7. It should be noted that because the information often crosses lines, Sciabarra, in his 2005 study, depending on an even less clear photocopy of this document, mistakenly attributed the signature of Ivan Adamovich Borichevsky (1886–1941) to course 7, “History of Ancient Worldviews (Ancient Period).” Below, our extended analysis reveals much more about that extremely important course in Rand’s Petrograd education.

“Historical Materialism” was one of those required “Soviet” courses, for which Alissa earned the grade of “highly satisfactory.” Dated 23 February 1923, the signature, which reads as БОРИЧЕВСКИЙ, is, indeed, that of Borichevsky. In the Second Matricul, to the right, in the last column, there is a clear verification of Borichevsky’s status as teacher of this course: “Checked, head of secretariat V. Gerakova.” We have confirmed, from the 1924 Leningrad Address Book (Ves’ Leningrad 1924, Otdel Vtoroy: 56), that V. I. Gerakova was head of the secretariat of the faculty at this time.

Borichevsky was born in Plungiany in the Kovno Governorate (now Plunge, Lithuania) and graduated from the History and Philosophy Faculty of Saint Petersburg University in 1915, where he joined the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democratic Party. From 1918 to 1920, he lived abroad. According to the memoirs of N. O. Lossky (1968, 212–15), Borichevsky was sent to Lausanne by the Bolshevik authorities to study philosophy, a preparatory for the introduction of “red professors” into the universities. Upon returning to Russia in 1921, Borichevsky was immediately appointed professor to the Philosophical Faculty of Petrograd University (Shakhnovich 2013), where he taught this course on “Historical Materialism.” Soon thereafter, he headed the “History of Philosophy” Department—even as Vvedensky retained the title of chair of the Philosophy Department until his death in 1925 (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 464 n. 6). His works centered on the materialist philosophy of science (Borichevsky 1922) and the history of philosophy (Borichevsky 1925). After closure of the faculty in 1930, he delivered lectures on materialism and atheism to various Leningrad educational organizations. In 1937, his brother and wife were arrested; his brother was executed the following year. But Borichevsky himself somehow avoided reprisals and was even reinstated to the university in 1941. He perished of hunger during the blockade of Leningrad in late 1941 (Shakhnovich 2013).

Sciabarra (2005) previously noted the recollections of Pitirim Sorokin ([1924] 1950, 247, 284), who was among the exiled intellectuals of 1922. Sorokin lambasted Borichevsky as one of those newly appointed Bolshevik teachers who subjected students to amateurish scholarship. His expertise was limited to Spinoza, Epicurus, and materialism, and it was said that he made embarrassing mistakes in the presentation of Plato’s philosophy, which were the subject of the students’ ridicule (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 81–82).4 He was an outspoken member of the Society of Militant Materialists and the Scientific Association of Marxists, where he lectured through the Union of Militant Atheists (see Borichevsky n.d.).

Whatever Borichevsky’s failings as a philosopher, Rand would have studied key works in the tradition of historical materialism in this course. As Milgram (2012, 95) points out, Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin’s book, Theory of Historical Materialism: Popular Textbook of Marxist Sociology, was one of the standard textbooks for the course in “Historical Materialism,” surveying the development of the project from Plato and Hegel to Marx, moving from its idealist beginnings to its culmination in the materialist incarnation of Marx’s “scientific” socialism. References abound throughout the book to Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Milgram claims that the book shows an “opposition to Aristotle”—especially those aspects of the Aristotelian corpus dealing with social hierarchy. Bukharin and Evgeny Probrazhensky’s more “elementary” book, The ABC of Communism, may have also been among the course readings (96).

Whereas Milgram sees an “opposition to Aristotle” in the work of Bukharin, it is not without some irony that Rand’s philosophical “foes” long credited Aristotle as having been the “fountainhead” of dialectical inquiry, as Hegel ([1840] 1995, 130) himself proclaimed. Marx, Engels, and Lenin—many of whose works Rand studied as “required reading” at Petrograd University—equally recognized Aristotle as the father of dialectics. Engels ([1878] 1947, 29, 29n) called Aristotle “the Hegel of the ancient world,” who “had already analyzed the most essential forms of dialectic thought” (see also Marx [1867] 1967, 59, 408). And Lenin argued that within Aristotle lies “the living germs of dialectics and inquiries about it” (see Lenin [1914–16], “On Aristotle’s Metaphysics,” in Selsam and Martel [1963] 1987, 361).

Though outside the scope of this paper, it is worth mentioning that Sciabarra’s ongoing methodological project has been the reclamation of dialectical method in the service of a radical, libertarian social analysis. He views Rand and other contemporary thinkers in the classical liberal and libertarian traditions as deeply radical, critical, and highly dialectical analysts of social problems. Rand herself long argued that she owed her largest philosophical debt to Aristotle, and she agreed with philosopher Martin Lean that her own approach was, indeed, “dialectical” (see Sciabarra 2019, 39–40, n. 2). If anything, these philosophical crosscurrents show that Rand had a greater methodological debt to Aristotle than even she realized—even if the kernels of dialectical thinking to which she was exposed in her university studies often had a Marxist hue.

The Rand-Lossky Connection, Revisited

And so, we come to the all-important course 7, “History of Worldviews (Ancient Period).” Before attempting to resolve all the mysteries surrounding Rand’s relationship with philosopher N. O. Lossky, let us recall the story she told about having taken the final examination for that course at her professor’s house. In the Branden Biographical Interviews (Interview 6, 2 January 1961), Rand stated:

And when my turn came—and he was giving the exam at his own house because it was really after the end of the courses at the university—and a whole line of students waiting, and he would take us one at a time into his study. And it was quite a lengthy procedure. So he started asking me questions and all he was asking me was Plato. I had hoped that he would give me some questions on Aristotle. And Aristotle was the beginning, this was the first time that I had studied him and I was liking him very, very much, particularly the two of them, I took sides very violently, and he didn’t ask me a single question on Aristotle. They were all on Plato and I recited it very dutifully. I knew exactly what the theory was and he asked me all over, you know different kind, what was Plato’s view on this or that and I would explain it. And finally, he looks at me, slightly sardonically, and he asks: “Tell me, you don’t agree with Plato, do you?” Now I had not said anything but I think he gathered it by my tone of voice. And I said “No I don’t.” He asked me: “Will you tell me why?” And I answered, “My views on philosophy are not part of the history of philosophy yet but they will be.” And he said, “Give me your book”—the exam book—which I did. He signed it, and handed it back to me without a word, said “Goodbye, next person.” And I looked in the book and it said “Perfect.” And I passed it on the first exam.

This story has been retold by Harry Binswanger ([1993] 1994) and by both Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff in Michael Paxton’s 1996 Oscar-nominated documentary, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. Sciabarra is listed as a “Research Assistant” in the credits to this film, for having facilitated the use of a photograph of Lossky, provided by Lossky’s son, Boris (who is also credited on screen). If anything, Boris’s willingness to share the photograph expressed his own belief that, despite his initial doubts about Rand’s story (see Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 80–85), Rand had indeed taken the last course that his father ever taught in any capacity at Petrograd University (367–69).

But let us not forget that it was Sciabarra who first raised doubts as to the veracity of Rand’s memory of this encounter with Lossky in the 1995 first edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. It was in that book that Sciabarra—who ultimately endorsed Rand’s recollections of Lossky—presented evidence that subjected these recollections to intense scrutiny, due to the complex historical events of the period during which this course was taught. In both his 1999 and 2005 articles, Sciabarra confirmed that Lossky’s name appeared nowhere in the Rand transcripts, positing that Lossky’s signature could not have appeared given that Lossky had been shuffled off to the Institute for Scientific Research, a university annex, from which he could continue to teach, but could not act in any official capacity, given that he was under investigation by Soviet authorities for his “counterrevolutionary” ideas. His persona non grata status made it impossible for him to sign either the First or Second Matricul.

We can confirm that neither the First nor the Second Matricul contains the signature of N. O. Lossky. Whereas Rand recollected that she had received a “Perfect” grade for the course from the celebrated philosopher, the Second Matricul shows the highest grade possible: “highly satisfactory.” The signature, however, is that of Ernest Leopol’dovich Radlov (1854–1928), and it is dated 30 April 1923, which would place it outside Rand’s first academic year, contrary to her memories of the event.

A colleague of the exiled Lossky, Radlov himself would also encounter troubles with the Soviets, who blocked him from teaching in late 1923, and in 1924, removed him from the administration of the library he directed. Figures 14 and 15 provide examples of Radlov’s signature, albeit from the 1880s, which show consistency with the signature on the Second Matricul.

Figure 14.

Radlov’s Signature, approximately five lines from the bottom (TsGIA SPB 1873, 21)

Figure 14.

Radlov’s Signature, approximately five lines from the bottom (TsGIA SPB 1873, 21)

Figure 15.

Radlov’s signature on a diploma, Saint Petersburg University, Historical and Philosophical Faculty, 1889 (bottom left) (TsGIA SPB 1873, 23)

Figure 15.

Radlov’s signature on a diploma, Saint Petersburg University, Historical and Philosophical Faculty, 1889 (bottom left) (TsGIA SPB 1873, 23)

In his previous work on the Rand transcript, Sciabarra maintained, with supporting evidence, that Lossky continued to teach after his expulsion from the university proper, and even under conditions of ill health, intermittently, throughout the spring and early summer of 1922, before his August 1922 exile. This course would have been conducted at the university annex, as well as at his home, where Rand claims to have taken her final examination. That too would be consistent with the facts. Barbara Branden (1986, 42) tells us that “[e]ach day, [Rand] walked three miles to school and three miles back, wearing old, torn summer shoes.” The walk to Lossky’s home from her own residence would have been far easier. In his research, Solovyev has discovered in the 1922 Petrograd address book that the Lossky residence was located at Kabinetskaya 20 (Ves’ Petrograd 1922, 589–590)—named as such because many of the members of the Imperial Court Cabinet once lived there. It was renamed Pravdy 20 by the Bolsheviks after 1923—the namesake being the place where a printing press for the Pravda newspapers was located in 1912. Depending on Rand’s residence at the time, it would have taken her roughly fourteen to twenty-five minutes to walk to the Lossky household for her final examination. (Similarly, if Radlov was the professor in question, he lived at Sadovaya Street 18 [Ves’ Petrograd 1922, 593–594], a mere fifteen- to twenty-one-minute walk from Rand’s residence.)

So, given Rand’s recollections of Lossky being the professor who taught “History of Worldviews (Ancient Period),” why, then, do we find the signature of Radlov for the course in question? There are several possibilities.

First, since Lossky would have been barred from being an official signatory for the course, it is possible that this duty was passed on to his close friend, colleague, and coeditor, Ernest Radlov. Lossky and Radlov had coedited a philosophy journal called New Ideas in Philosophy (from 1912 to 1914), which was discontinued at the beginning of World War I (Lossky and Radlov 1912–14). Together, they tried to resume the publication of a new scholarly journal of philosophical works called Thought in 1922. It was a short-lived endeavor. As the Bolsheviks clamped down on academic freedom, Thought ceased publication after only three issues. Note that even an intermittently sick Lossky was still coediting an academic journal well into 1922, prior to his exile in August of that year.

It is possible also that since the signatory date is 30 April 1923, the delay in signing the document was due precisely to Lossky’s departure—and Radlov may have been asked to provide a substitute signature at that later date.

A second, highly unlikely possibility is that Rand took the course with Lossky in the Spring semester of 1922 and failed it and therefore had to repeat the course—failures were not registered in any matricula. We say “unlikely” because, as we have seen, Rand herself testifies that she passed the course in her first attempt and received the highest grade possible, contradicting any suggestion that she could have failed the course.

A third possibility complicates matters a bit. The Ayn Rand Institute–affiliated scholar Shoshana Milgram (2012, 108 n. 23) has confirmed that Sciabarra’s rendering of the transcript “correspond[s] to what can be found in the Ayn Rand Special Collections at the Ayn Rand Archives”—even though she questions his interpretations of the material. Sciabarra (2017) has criticized Milgram’s contention that the course in question was a yearlong class taught by Aleksandr Vvedensky (1856–1925)—a claim that cannot in any way be verified by reference to the First or Second Matricul, since Vvedensky’s name appears nowhere as a signatory. As Sciabarra (2017, 332) observes:

Milgram (2012) is correct that Vvedensky too “found himself in some political jeopardy, because of his mockery of the Bolshevik students” (94). But it is also true that, as Lesley Chamberlain (2006) has put it, “[e]very generation has its godless opportunists and the one in Lossky’s midst was a moral philosopher … called Professor Alexander Vvedensky” (19–20). Vvedensky made his peace with the Bolsheviks so as to avoid the voyage into exile taken by Lossky and many of their other intellectual colleagues aboard “the philosophy steamer.” Vvedensky retained his chair of the philosophy department and continued teaching until his death in 1925.

In other words, there is no reason why Vvedensky would have been barred from being an official signatory to any course, including a course on ancient philosophy that he had taught several times in the past (albeit under a different course name; more on this below). But, again, we cannot find any evidence of Vvedensky’s signature anywhere on the matricula. Granted, Sciabarra himself has argued that the lack of a signature would not automatically disqualify Vvedensky as the teacher of any course in particular, since “signatures next to each listed course were not necessarily or ordinarily those of the teacher” and that “many other officials … would have acted as official signatories” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 364). But, clearly, given Vvedensky’s position as chair—and the far more extensive evidence uncovered on Rand’s university education in this study—it is almost incomprehensible that a professor such as Vvedensky would have failed to sign any of the “little books” that contained records of Rand’s coursework, teachers, and grades.

But if, indeed, the course ran a whole year—and Rand’s recollections of the length of the course are open to interpretation (see Sciabarra 2017, 326–27)—there is another possibility that might be considered. Perhaps the course began in the Spring of 1922 and extended into the Fall of 1923. Perhaps Lossky taught the first half of that course, passing the torch to his comrade Radlov to finish the job, given that Lossky was exiled from his native land in August 1922, which would have made Radlov—and not Lossky—the professor whom Rand mistakenly recollected as Lossky in her famed story of that final examination. After all, she did describe the professor as having “white hair,” and a photo of Radlov suggests as much (see Figure 16).

Figure 16.

Ernest Leopol’dovich Radlov (Bychkova and Mikheyeva 2006, 212)

Figure 16.

Ernest Leopol’dovich Radlov (Bychkova and Mikheyeva 2006, 212)

Born in 1854, Radlov would have been sixty-eight years old in 1922–23, sixteen years older than Lossky. He continued teaching at the university until his dismissal in the autumn of 1923 but continued to work in other organizations until his death in 1928. With regard to Lossky’s appearance, however, it cannot be forgotten that Rand certainly knew of him, given that she studied at the Stouinin gymnasium (founded by Lossky’s in-laws), where he occasionally taught. She even spells out Lossky’s name to Nathaniel and Barbara Branden in Interview 6 of the Branden Biographical Interviews, remarking that she had even seen New York Times Book Review advertisements for Lossky’s books translated into English. While she remembered Lossky as an elderly man with white hair—even though he was only fifty-two years old at the time and had little hair—Sciabarra has argued that based on a 1922 photograph of him (Figure 17), “it is clear that Lossky has a graying beard and looks quite haggard, certainly much older than a man in his early fifties. He had been deathly sick in the fall 1921 semester, which left him looking frail and much older. If that illness had not aged him, then being routinely targeted by Soviet authorities, and interrogated by the GPU, certainly would have had an effect on both his appearance and temperament” (Sciabarra 2017, 328).

Figure 17.

N. O. Lossky, circa 1921–1922, GPU file (see Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 390)

Figure 17.

N. O. Lossky, circa 1921–1922, GPU file (see Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 390)

A photo of Aleksandr Vvedensky—which bears no resemblance whatsoever to Rand’s description of the professor who taught the course on the History of Worldviews (Ancient Period)—is provided in Figure 18 for the sake of comparison. Sidorchuk and Malinov (2012–21b) note only that Vvedensky taught courses on logic and methodology in 1921, the first year of Rand’s attendance at the university, and these are the final subjects listed, though he continued to teach until his death in 1925. It should also be noted that A. I. Vvedensky is named as a professor of the social sciences faculty (Ves’ Leningrad 1925, Otdel II, 56), but by 1926 he is no longer listed (Ves’ Leningrad 1926, Otdel II, 42). He is also not mentioned anywhere in Oldenburg and Karsky (1926).

Returning to the issue of the placement and length of the course in Rand’s first academic year, even Milgram (2012, 106 n. 12) suggests that, if we can assume that the courses are listed in approximate chronological order, a course listed seventh would place it squarely in Rand’s first year at the university—precisely in the spring 1922 semester of that academic year. But Milgram vacillates on the length of the course. As Sciabarra (2017, 327) writes:

[O]n the one hand, [Milgram] recognizes that from 1896 through 1918, when the course on the “History of Ancient Philosophy” was offered, it was taught by Vvedensky. But it was offered in both single-semester and yearlong configurations. Even so, we are concerned specifically with the 1921–22 academic year, and there is no evidence in the transcript or in any existing university records that shows the “History of Worldviews” course to be anything other than a single semester. Even Rand’s “special courses” and “seminars” in history, her major area of study, are listed as single-semester courses.

On the other hand, in her biographical essay “The Life of Ayn Rand: Writing, Reading, and Related Life Events,” which appears in the Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand, Milgram (2016) states flatly that Rand’s “favorite class from the first year was a full-year course in ancient philosophy, focused on Plato and Aristotle” (23). Yet, in the endnote corresponding to this sentence, Milgram (2016, 38 n. 9) provides no additional evidence that would remotely confirm the course as a yearlong study or that Vvedensky taught the course. Instead, she engages in a circular argument that merely repeats the unsubstantiated claims from her previous essay (and refers specifically to “Milgram 2012, esp. 92–94”).

Milgram attempts to disqualify Lossky as the course teacher because she knows—from the evidence that Sciabarra unearthed in the first edition of Russian Radical (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 80–85)—that Lossky was very ill in the fall semester, and therefore could not have taught a yearlong course. Despite having no additional evidence—and in contrast to the evidence that we have now unearthed—Milgram believes that “Vvedensky … probably … taught the course (as he often did)” and that Rand’s recollections were “likely a confusion” (Milgram 2016, 38 n. 9).

Given Solovyev’s newest revelations, it appears that there are only two courses that might have run for two (nonconsecutive) semesters. It is doubtful that a course of two semesters could have had such a dramatic interruption in time, but it is possible given the turmoil and disarray of the period. The first of these courses was “Political Economy,” listed as a single course on Rand’s diploma, though it clearly appears twice on the Second Matricul, first, signed with a “satisfactory” grade by Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher on 26 November 1922, and in the second instance, signed with a “passing” grade by Mikhail Ilyich Olenov (or Olyonov or Olenyov) on 25 July 1924. We address this course at greater length below. The second course that may very well have extended for two semesters (though it too is listed as only a single course on Rand’s diploma; see Figure 4) is “General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics),” for which she received a “satisfactory” grade on 18 August 1922 (signed by Yakov Mironovich Magaziner) and its companion course, “Soviet Constitution” (not listed on the diploma), for which she received a “passing” grade on 11 July 1924 (signed by Evgenii Engel; see below).

There are other issues that militate against Vvedensky being the teacher of the course. While the Vvedensky-penned textbook, Lectures in Ancient Philosophy (Saint Petersburg: University of Saint Petersburg, 1911–1912) had extensive chapters on Plato and Aristotle, and could have been used for this course, as Milgram suggests, there is no evidence to suggest that Vvedensky was a “Platonist” as Rand described her professor. Indeed, Vvedensky was the chief disciple of neo-Kantianism in Russia, and, as Lossky (1951) himself observed: “All of Vvedensky’s works and all his courses, devoted to logic, psychology and the history of philosophy, definitely reflect a philosophical thought based on Kant’s criticism” (163; emphasis added).

Lossky himself relied heavily on original sources, giving them his distinctive interpretive slant, as well as supplemental readings from Wilhelm Windelband’s History of Ancient Philosophy. Indeed, though Lossky had earned his bachelor’s degree under Vvedensky at Saint Petersburg University, he went abroad to Germany to study with Wundt, G. E. Müller, and Windelband himself—from whom he learned the importance of mastering the art of philosophic integration. He may very well have used research materials from his forthcoming work on Types of Worldviews, which echoed the dramatically altered title of the course in question—and was published as an article in 1924, a mere eighteen months after he would have taught this course. It was extended into a larger monograph in 1931 (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 370; see also Lossky 1978, 32, 56). There is no record of Vvedensky ever having taught “History of Ancient Philosophy” under the newly designated course name.

Furthermore, it can be argued that Lossky was far closer to the “Platonist” foe of Rand’s memories than either Vvedensky or Radlov. Lossky’s “ideal-realist” perspective did, in fact, contain certain key aspects that would have led Rand to characterize him as a Platonist. Sciabarra (2017, 331–32) reminds us of Zenkovsky’s work on Russian philosophy, which characterized Lossky’s epistemology as having been influenced by “the doctrine of the ‘beholding of ideas’ [Ed: or “Forms”]—in Plato’s sense” (Zenkovsky 1953, 2:670). For Zenkovsky, Lossky’s doctrine of “intellectual intuition” contains important Platonist elements throughout “the dialectic of Lossky’s philosophic system” (668). Nikolai Starchenko (1994) emphasizes further

that in Lossky’s self-characterized “organic understanding of the world,” “any object had two inseparable aspects”—“real being” and “ideal being.” In this fashion, Starchenko contends, Lossky has concretized a “hierarchical dichotomous picture of being revived from Plato” (659). He quotes from Lossky’s 1927 work, The Freedom of the Will, where Lossky argues explicitly in favor of a combination of “the Leibnizian doctrine of monads as substances with the doctrine of ideal elements in the spirit of Platonism” (quoted; 660). (Sciabarra 2017, 331)

While Sciabarra is not persuaded that this would qualify Lossky as a “famous Platonist,” given significant Aristotelian elements in Lossky’s system of thought (see Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 45–50), it certainly matches up more closely with Rand’s later recollections of her intellectual standoff in the final examination at Lossky’s home.

It should be noted that while Lossky had deep differences with the neo-Kantianism of Vvedensky, his approach also differed from Radlov’s. His colleague was, in fact, a chief interpreter of the work of his other close friend, the Russian Symbolist philosopher, Vladimir Solovyov. He was also the author of introductory works on philosophy and on the history of Greek ethics, as well as the Russian translator, in 1887, of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Radlov n.d.; see also Radlov 1921) and, in 1891, of Aristotle’s On Interpretation (Radlov 1891). There is nothing in his biography or bibliography to suggest that Radlov was a philosopher influenced by Plato in any meaningful sense.

Given the presence of Radlov’s signatures in the matricula, however, it is necessary to provide a brief biographical portrait of him. Born in Saint Petersburg, Radlov was of German origin. His father and both his grandfathers were scientists. After graduating from the Philosophical Faculty of Saint Petersburg University, he studied at Berlin and Leipzig Universities, specializing in classical Greek philosophy (Bychkova and Mikheyeva 2006). Upon returning to Saint Petersburg, he started his service at the Imperial Public Library—work that would last for most of his active intellectual life. He also authored a dictionary on philosophical definitions (Radlov 1911). Before 1917, he taught logic, philosophy, and the history of philosophy in various educational institutions throughout Saint Petersburg. He was a member of the Scientific Committee at the Ministry of Education; his last civil rank was state councilor, analogous to brigadier in the army.

After the October Revolution, he maintained his post at the Public Library and was appointed its director, a post that he held until 1924. At the same time, he taught at Petrograd University, delivering lectures on the history of philosophy and logic at the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty. In the wake of the first “ideological purge” of 1922, in which staunch Marxist-Leninists replaced many of the “old-timers” in key posts, Radlov was dismissed from his university teaching activities on 1 September 1923. In the final years of his life, he continued to work at the Public Library as a librarian in the Philological Department. His colleagues tried to promote his election to the Academy of Sciences, but that was not to happen. He died in Leningrad in late 1928 at the age of seventy-four.

Radlov’s philosophical views were profoundly influenced by Vladimir Solovyov. He wrote several books on Solovyov’s ideas (see, for example, Radlov 1913). His philosophical approach can be broadly identified as “idealist.” According to Zhebelyov, he never created a philosophical system on his own but was totally dedicated to teaching existent ones to his students (Bychkova and Mikheyeva 2006). And yet, the connection to Solovyov is not incidental in the case of Radlov’s philosophy. As Solovyov’s chief interpreter, Radlov embraced, like so many others in the history of Russian thought (from the Slavophiles to the Nietzscheans, neo-idealists, and Russian Marxists), the revolt against “dualism”—or what Rand would have later termed, a rejection of false alternatives. In a sense, Rand criticized the undialectical ways in which many thinkers “resolved” conventional dualities—mind versus body, ideas versus matter, theory versus practice, reason versus emotion, morality versus prudence, and so forth—by embracing one pole or the other in an act of philosophic reductionism. For Rand, this resulted in a battle between the “mystics of spirit” (the idealists, rationalists, and subjectivists) and the “mystics of muscle” (the materialists, empiricists, and intrinsicists).

For all their dialectical proclivities, the anti-dualists in Silver Age Russian thought often fell into one-sided “monistic” resolutions to those false alternatives—hence the epic battle between “idealists” and “materialists” in the early postrevolutionary period. But the dialectical motif remained a guiding principle, regardless of the “idealist” or “materialist” orientations of Silver Age thinkers. For example, Solovyov’s attempted synthesis of experience and reason, empiricism and rationalism, echoed Hegel’s mantra, “The True is the whole” as expressed in The Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel [1807] 1977, 11). It was a phrase that even Peikoff (1991), Rand’s protégé, would later cite in his presentation of her philosophy (4), as a means of emphasizing the organic unity and interrelationships of real-world phenomena and the contextual integrity required to apprehend and explain them. For Solovyov, as for Hegel, no particular thing can be grasped if it is cut off from the totality—the larger context—which gives it meaning (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 28).

In any event, given all the evidence that we have weighed here, we are unable, at the present time, to resolve the mysteries surrounding the Lossky-Rand connection. Perhaps there are still records hidden in the Institute of Scientific Research, the university annex to which Lossky was transferred, or elsewhere in the Saint Petersburg archives or in the Lossky family archives, that will someday shed greater light on this issue.

Still, Sciabarra and Solovyev agree that even if Sciabarra, Binswanger, Peikoff, Paxton, Boris Lossky—and Rand—are incorrect with regard to N. O. Lossky being the professor of the course in question, this would not in any way detract from Sciabarra’s central historical and methodological contention. As “the dean of contemporary Russian philosophers” and, perhaps, “the only Russian philosopher who [had] constructed a system of philosophy in the strictest sense of the word” (Zenkovsky 1953, 2:658), Lossky was emblematic of the dialectical breadth of Silver Age Russia, the very period during which Rand came to intellectual maturity. That dialectical approach—emphasizing the importance of grasping the full systemic and historical context of any issue, event, or social problem, through an examination of its interrelationships with other issues, events, or social problems—was prevalent in virtually all the courses that Rand attended, conveyed by most of the professors who taught them and on display in most of the textbooks she would have read.

Majoring in History

As a major in history, Rand was especially exposed to this dialectical sensibility in the works and teachings of the many noted historians with whom she studied at Petrograd University.

Courses 8 (English History, Sixteenth Century) and 9 (French History, Seventeenth Century)—both graded as “passed”—were signed by Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya (1878–1942) on 24 May and 21 June 1923, respectively (the signature reads as Н.БОТКИНА-ВРАСКАЯ). Born in Saint Petersburg, a daughter of a senator and member of the State Council, S. B. Vraskiy, she graduated from Bestuzhev Higher Women’s courses in 1900. Like many young people of that age, she became infatuated with social democratic ideas, took part in student protest rallies in 1901, and was exiled from the capital, although subsequently she was allowed to move to Germany for further studies at Heidelberg University (Verblovskaya 2006). She wrote a thesis on the works of Andreas von Rebmann, a historian of the French Revolution (Wrasky 1907). She later enrolled in the University of Sorbonne, majoring in the history of the French Revolution and graduated in 1914. As the First World War loomed, she returned to Saint Petersburg, and continued teaching history until 1917, when she moved to the Crimea with her husband, S. M. Botkin, where both taught at Tavrida University. After the untimely death of her spouse during the 1918 influenza pandemic (the “Spanish flu”), she returned to Petrograd University in 1919 and taught Modern European History and other subjects until 1923 at the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty. She was abruptly dismissed from the university during the ongoing “purge” of the intellectuals—probably due to her “noble” ancestry. In the following years, she taught German and French languages in various institutes of Leningrad, only to die of hunger during the blockade of the city in May 1942 (Verblovskaya 2006).

Botkina-Vraskaya was influenced by the works of Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs, who had a major impact on many of the historians at Saint Petersburg University. He was considered one of the founders of the Russian school of medievalism—one of Alissa’s chosen areas of historical specialization (Krivonozhenko and Rostovtsev 2012–21a). Since the records now show that Botkina-Vraskaya was teaching precisely these courses starting from 1921, we have greater evidence for her having been the actual instructor, with Alissa as her student.

Biology (course 10), graded as “highly satisfactory,” was signed by K. Adrianova (or Abramova)—spelled as К.АДРИАН—on 26 June 1923. According to the 1923 Petrograd Address index (53; 203 in the file), among the teachers in the faculty of mathematics and the physical sciences was an instructor named K. A. Adrianova-Fermor (see also “List of teachers of the Bestuzhev courses” n.d.). She may have been among the alumni of Higher Courses for Women, which lists her full name as Kseniya Aleksandrovna Adrianova (née Fermor). Born in 1883, somewhere in Kovno Governorate (TsGA SPB 1928, 135), she studied at Saint Petersburg, specializing in zoology and coauthoring a few papers on protozoa with famous Russian zoologist S. V. Averintsev (Averintsev and Fermor 1911; Fermor 1913). She also taught zoology at Bestuzhev Higher Women’s Courses at the Saint Petersburg University Library from 1914 to 1918 and is noted in some publications as one of only three staff at the Zoology Department at the Petrograd/Leningrad University in the 1920s (Konashev 1994; Fokin 2011) up until at least 1926 (Oldenburg and Karsky 1926, 148). She continued to publish scientific papers on single-cell organisms (Fermor-Adrianowa 1925). Her husband, Fyodor E. Adrianov (1884–1942)—also a teacher and later a school principal—perished during the Leningrad blockade. Ksenia’s fate is unknown: she is mentioned as an employee of Leningrad Chemical and Technical Literature publisher (Lenkhimtekhizdat) for the last time in the Leningrad address book of 1934 (Ves’ Leningrad 1934, XIV: 5).

The “History of Greece” and the “History of Rome” (courses 11 and 12, respectively)—both graded on 30 June 1923 as “highly satisfactory”—were signed by Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov (1867–1941). The signature reads as СЖЕБЕЛ. Zhebelyov worked as a professor at the Historical and Philological Faculty from 1904 to 1927 and later became a member of the Academy of Sciences. His specialty was the Hellenistic and Roman periods (see Amosova and Tikhonov 2012–21). Like other thinkers and teachers in late Silver Age Russia, his approach had enormous scope, stressing the interdisciplinary study of political history, the history of social life, culture, art, epigraphy, historiography, archaeology, and philosophy (he was actively involved in translations of the works of Plato, Aristotle, and the Greek historian Appian of Alexandria). A sample of his signature from a 1911 book matches that in the Second Matricul (Figure 19).

Figure 19.

Signature of Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov (Zhebelyov 1911)

Figure 19.

Signature of Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov (Zhebelyov 1911)

Born in Saint Petersburg to a family of a merchant, Zhebelyov graduated from the Historical and Philological Faculty of Saint Petersburg University in 1890 and continued to work at his alma mater, teaching ancient history and becoming a full professor in 1899 (Grekov 1941). His first major works are related to the history of ancient Greece (Zhebelyov 1898; 1903); he also translated and published several works of major Greek thinkers, including Thucydides (Zhebelyov 1915), Aristotle, and Plato. After the October Revolution, Zhebelyov remained at Petrograd University, even serving as its dean rector for a short time in the early 1920s. He continued to teach the histories of ancient Greece and Rome at the Social Sciences Faculty and published a book on archaeology (Zhebelyov 1923).

However, as a scholar of the “ancien régime,” he was dismissed from the university in 1927. Yet, he was elected a full member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences the following year (Frolov 2007), subsequently working in the Institute of History of Material Culture. His prolific work exceeded three hundred publications (Grekov 1941). In late 1941, after the German blockade had encircled Leningrad, he remained there as head of a special committee overseeing the affairs of scientific institutions. He died of exhaustion by the end of that year (Bazhenova 2015).

Even though Zhebelyov was considered an “old-school” thinker who would have placed great focus on the ideas that shaped the history of the ancient world, there is little doubt—under the political conditions of the day—that he would have integrated texts into his courses with a decidedly Marxist historiographical approach to the study of antiquity.5 This would have included especially the works of A. I. Tiumenev, which greatly influenced academic scholarship and university teaching during this period, including his epic Essays on the Socioeconomic History of Ancient Greece, published in three volumes between 1920 and 1923, and Did Capitalism Exist in Ancient Greece? (1923). In that same year, V. S. Sergeyev’s History of Rome was published and used as a supplementary text for the subject (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 74).

The Second Matricul: Page 2

At the top of page 2 of the the Second Matricul (Figure 20), in “Russian History” (course 13)—graded as “highly satisfactory”—was signed by Alexander Yevgenievich Presnyakov (1870–1929) on 11 September 1923 (the signature reads as АПРЕСНЯК). Born in Tiflis (now Tbilisi in Georgia) to the family of a railroad engineer, he studied at Saint Petersburg University (the Law Faculty), but later moved to the Historical and Philosophical Faculty, graduating in 1893, with a major in Medieval Russian history (Zhukovskaya 2017). As one of the brightest students of the famed historian, Sergey F. Platonov, Presnyakov remained at the university’s Russian History Department to prepare for professorship. His major works include a monograph on the principal laws of Kievan Russia from the tenth through the twelfth centuries (Presnyakov 1909) and a history of the Supreme Senate of the Russian Empire of the mid-eighteenth century (Presnyakov 1911). After the October Revolution, he remained at the university and was named a full professor in 1918, teaching until 1929. He later became a member of the Academy of Sciences. In 1922, Presnyakov was named director of the Historical Research Institute at Petrograd University. In his lectures, he was noted for his “extraordinary precision and clarity,” with an emphasis on historical research as an interpretive science of facts, irrespective of one’s historiographical approach.

Figure 20.

Page 2 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 18)

Figure 20.

Page 2 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 18)

Over time, at the newly formed Faculty of Social Sciences, where he taught ancient and modern Russian history, he began to integrate key Marxist ideas on the dialectical dynamics of historical development into his interpretive framework, even though he never fully identified as a Marxist himself (Kaganovich 2001; Shapiro 2005). He was the chief formulator of what became known as the Saint Petersburg Historical School, “a non-party historian who was influenced by Marxism in an unconventional (i.e., nonorthodox) manner in the 1920s” (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 464 n. 7; see also Rogozny 2014; Zhukovskaya 2012–21a). He died in the fall of 1929 from cancer (Rogozny 2014).

One interesting sidenote on Presnyakov: Like Lossky, he taught at the Stouinin gymnasium, the grammar school that the young Alissa Rosenbaum attended between 1914 and 1918.

“History of the Middle Ages” (course 14)—graded “highly satisfactory” (dated 26 September 1923)—was most likely taught by Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch (1887–1936). The signature reads something like НЦЕМ. He was a specialist in medieval and modern European history and an associate professor (“Dozent”) at the Social Sciences Faculty, General History Department from 1922 to 1927. Like Karsavin, who was chair of the History Department through 1922, he too was a student of Grevs. Historians such as Karsavin and Tsemsch were deeply influenced by the notion of historical development as a structured totality, in which different levels of generality—the person, the family, the nation—relate internally, with each constituting and expressing the other (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 373). Tsemsch was focused especially on the historical interrelationships of state, legal, and economic formations (see Sosnitski and Rostovtsev 2012–21b).

Born in Moscow to a hereditary noble family (his father was a procurator at the Supreme Senate and a counselor at the Ministry of Justice), he graduated in 1905 from the Historical and Philosophical Faculty of Saint Petersburg University with a major in the medieval history of Western Europe. Subsequently Tsemsch taught history in various schools and colleges at Petersburg, including Kostroma University (from 1919 to 1920), returning to Petrograd University again to teach in the newly formed Faculty of Social Sciences (Smorchkov 2013, 379–84). Here, he became assistant professor in the General History Department and taught medieval history, including special courses on medieval trade and agricultural society in the early Middle Ages. In 1927, he moved on to the Leningrad Library. Because his views were closer to the non-Marxist “old school,” it is no surprise that in 1935 he was arrested as a “socially alien element” and was sentenced to three years in prison, exiled later to Chkalov (today’s Orenburg), where he died from cancer in 1936 (Volftsun 1999–2003). His wife was executed as a “Polish spy” a year later (Smorchkov 2013).

This was only the first of many courses that Rand took on the Middle Ages. Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 74) has observed that early on in Rand’s education, she would have been exposed to several major works in medieval and early modern history that had a distinctly “bourgeois” flavor. But these “idealist” approaches still embodied a dialectical sensibility inherent in the Russian mindset, relating historical events and social institutions to the larger dynamic and systemic context in which they were embedded. This was reflected throughout the history curriculum, which relied on books by P. Vinogradov (Book of Readings on the History of the Middle Ages), D. N. Egorov (The Middle Ages through Their Monuments), and D. M. Petrushevsky (Essays on Medieval Society and State and Essays on the Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe).

Over time, texts that were more explicitly Marxist in their historiographical approach came to dominate the curriculum, including works by N. M. Pakul and I. I. Semenov on the Dutch and English revolutions (Shteppa 1962, 36–38). On Russian History, S. I. Kovalev’s General History Course was also among the textbooks used during this period. Whether it was the “old-school” idealist orientation or the more materialist orientation of the Marxist-Leninist texts, Alissa was consistently taught to view history through a dialectical lens, which stressed the full context of interconnections among cultural, economic, and political institutions.

Throughout this period, the work of Petrograd University historian Nikolai Ivanovich Kareyev (1850–1931) was also adopted for course study. A moderate in politics, Kareyev (sometimes transliterated as “Kareev”)6 was influenced less by Hegel and Marx and more by such radical Russian thinkers as Aleksandr Herzen, Dmitry Pisarev, Pyotr Lavrov, and N. K. Mikhailovskii (Kline 1967). It might be said that Kareyev’s uniquely “dialectical” approach was among the first to introduce core notions of contemporary “chaos theory” into historiography, diverging from those who saw the historical process as a “systematic” progression toward some universal end. Quoting Kareyev, Zenkovsky (1953) tells us: “‘History is not a straight line,’ he wrote, ‘it is not a regular design traced out on a mathematical plane, but a living fabric of irregular and sinuous lines, which are intertwined in the most varied and unexpected ways…. The march of world history is a chaotic concatenation of chances…. We must introduce the concept of chance into history’” (1:374).

This historiography informed all of his works in general use at the university in which he taught, such as The Peasants and the Peasant Question in the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century (1879), Studies in the History of the French Peasants from Earliest Times to 1789 (1881), his three-volume dissertation, Basic Questions of the Philosophy of History (1883–90), his seven-volume History of Western Europe in Modern Times (1892–1917), and his three-volume study of Historians of the French Revolution, praised by the Soviets as “the first composite survey—not only in Russian but anywhere in the historical literature—of the historiography of the Great French Revolution” (GSE, vol. 11, 1976, 441).7 Even Piotr Kropotkin (1902), the Russian anarchist, praised Kareyev as among those who genuinely understood the French Revolution. Kareyev also did extensive work on the fathers of the Latin Church, the medieval humanists, and the development of socioeconomic forms and authored Essays from the History of Roman Landownership and Essays on Florentine Culture (GSE, vol. 7, 1975, 418).

The signatory for the “History of Socialism” (course 15)—graded “highly satisfactory”—was most likely the historian and bibliographer Ivan Sergeyevich (Israel Samuilovich) Knizhnik (Vetrov) (1878–1965). The signature—dated 20 November 1923—reads “Iv. Knizh” (ИВ. КНИЖ). Born in Ananiev (now Kherson Region, Ukraine) to a poor rabbinical family, Knizhnik-Vetrov (the surname “Knizhnik” means “sofer,” an obvious reference to a Jewish scribe; “Vetrov” was his later revolutionary alias) received higher education in Kiev University at the Law Faculty in 1903, despite various arrests and exiles for his involvement in revolutionary activity (Trukhanovsky et al. 1965). After 1904, he emigrated to France where he became close with many anarchist thinkers in the tradition of Kropotkin. Upon his return to Russia, he was arrested again and spent several more years in prison and in exile. His ideas evolved in the direction of “Christian socialism”—especially the “God Builder” Symbolist teachings of D. S. Merezhkovsky, Vladimir Solovyov, and such “Nietzschean” Marxists as Maxim Gorky, with whom he had extended exchanges in the pages of Pravda en route to enthusiastic support for the October Revolution. He published much in Pravda, to the approval of Lenin himself, eventually being appointed in 1919 to the Central Committee of the Proletkult, a mass Bolshevik organization aimed at the development of proletarian culture through educational and literary means, as a necessary complement to the social, political, and economic transformations envisioned by Marxist-Leninists.

A historian and bibliographer, Knizhnik-Vetrov taught in both the History Department of Petrograd University and in the adjacent Petrograd Communist University (see Knizhnik-Vetrov n.d.). His focus was on the recent history of revolutionary movements, contributing to the growing Marxist-Leninist literature of the period (Knizhnik-Vetrov 1924). He also authored a biography of P. L. Lavrov, a significant figure in the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionary movements (Knizhnik-Vetrov 1925). The period of mass reprisals in the 1930s led to some of his books being removed from libraries, but it didn’t affect his continuing work in the field of revolutionary historical movements until the last days of his life. He died in 1965 (Trukhanovsky et al. 1965).

“History of Social Movements in Fourteenth-Century France” (course 16) graded as “passed”—was again signed by Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch on 17 December 1923. Tsemsch is also the signatory on 30 January 1924 for “History of the Crusades” (graded as “passed”). This can be seen below course 17, in red pencil.

“Modern History” (on the line for course 18), graded as “passed,” was signed 15 May 1924, most likely by Alexander Germanovich Wulffius (or, alternatively, Vulfius) (1880–1941), appearing here as “A. Vulfi” (А.ВУЛЬФИ). Wulffius was born in Saint Petersburg, of Baltic-German origin, to a father who was a railroad accountant and a mother who was a teacher. He graduated from the Lutheran School of St. Peter (Petrischule) in 1897 and then from the Historical and Linguistic Faculty of Saint Petersburg University in 1902 (Gruzdeva 2012). He remained at the General History Department to prepare for a professorship. In 1911, he defended a master’s thesis on the history of religious freedoms in Europe, and a doctoral thesis on the Waldensian religious movement five years later; both were published as monographs (Wulffius 1911, 1916). During this period, he taught geography and history in Petrischule and various other educational facilities in Saint Petersburg. After the October Revolution, Wulffius became a privatdozent at Petrograd University in the General History Department, which soon became a part of the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty, where he delivered lectures on modern European history.

In the 1920s, he published works on the history of religion, including a coauthored work on the Reformation, with Karsavin and Zhebelyov, the latter who taught the courses “History of Greece” and “History of Rome” attended by Alissa Rosenbaum (Wulffius 1922). He also continued teaching in Petrischule until its full secularization in 1927, at which point his teaching at the university ceased (Zhukov 2010). Wulffius was most likely removed as yet another “undesirable” intellectual. His religious affiliation (he was Lutheran) and German origin decided his fate. In 1930, he was arrested for the first time and exiled to Siberia for three years, returning in 1933—only to be arrested again in 1937 and sent to a concentration camp in Vorkuta, where he died of lung disease in 1941 (Zhukov 2010).

There is little doubt that Wulffius taught this course. One of his listed courses (according to Krivonozhenko and Rostovtsev 2012–21b) is, indeed, “Modern (or ‘Contemporary’) History,” which presumably focused on European history. A signature of his, taken from a 1923 book (Main Problems of the Enlightenment Age), which was auctioned in Israel, matches the signature on the Second Matricul (see Figure 21).

Figure 21.

Signature of Alexander Germanovich Wulffius (Wulffius 1923)

Figure 21.

Signature of Alexander Germanovich Wulffius (Wulffius 1923)

The next course, “Contemporary (or ‘Modern’ or ‘Newest’) History of the West”—graded as “passed”—was signed on 6 June 1924 by the preeminent historian Evgenii Viktorovich (Grigory Vigdorovich) Tarle (1874–1955). The signature reads as ЕТАR (Е.ТАР). From 1918 to 1930, he was a professor in the Department of General History at the Social Sciences Faculty. An example of a Tarle autograph (Figure 22) matches matches the signature on the Second Matricul. Among his officially listed courses is one on the “History of the West in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” (see Barinov and Rostovtsev 2012–21c)—clearly reflected by the information contained in this Second Matricul.

Figure 22.

Signature of E. V. Tarle (Tarle 1940a)

Figure 22.

Signature of E. V. Tarle (Tarle 1940a)

Tarle was born in Kiev to a Jewish merchant family—and was proud of his Jewish heritage. It is said that he once entered an auditorium in the 1950s and announced: “I am not French, I am Jewish and my surname is Tárle!”—rather than Tarlé—a very brave thing to say during the anti-Semitic years of Stalinist rule (Sirotkin 2002).

Tarle studied at the universities in Odessa and Kiev, specializing in history and graduating in 1896. He went on to teach history in various schools in Kiev. One of his first works was a monograph on Italian history in the Middle Ages (Tarle 1901a, 1901b). His master’s thesis on More’s Utopia and his two-volume doctoral dissertation on The Working Class in France during the Revolutionary Epoch are considered classics. However, his liberal views and his growing relationship with political radicals led to his arrest and exile from Kiev. In 1902, he moved to Saint Petersburg and began to work in the General History Department of Saint Petersburg University. His courses were extremely popular partially because he was a very talented lecturer (Grin 1999–2003). He published a book on the history of France (Tarle 1907), a subject that preoccupied much of his scholarly work until the end of his life. The Continental Blockade (1913) and The Economic Life of the Kingdom of Italy during the Reign of Napoleon I (1916) were also among his early works.

Tarle was an enthusiastic supporter of the February Revolution, given his socially democratic political views (see Grin 1999–2003). But he was quite cautious and even wary of the October Revolution later in 1917. Fortunately, the Bolshevik terror did not affect Tarle, and his university career continued to develop. He became a full professor and a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1921, teaching modern history in the Social Sciences Faculty and actively participating in European history conferences.

In the early 1930s, however, he was arrested as part of the “Academic Case” for manifesting non-Marxist views and was sentenced to five years in prison (Erickson 1960). The sentence was augmented to exile, but he didn’t serve his full term and was able to return to Leningrad in 1933. Several years later, he wrote one of his most famous books, a biography of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (see Tarle 1940b, second edition), which was republished several times throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s (Erickson 1960).

After the Second World War, he moved to Moscow, where he continued to teach history at the Moscow Institute of International Relations. During his long and productive life, Tarle published over six hundred works prior to his death in 1955; the posthumous omnibus edition consisted of twelve volumes. His prolific writing and archival work led to the publication of books centered on European imperialism, diplomatic history, the French bourgeoisie, and the Crimean War, contributing to his receipt, in the 1940s, of three State Prizes.

Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 375) reminds us that Tarle was a student of I. V. Luchitsky. He qualified as “the first historian of the Russian school to focus on the history of the working class” (GSE, vol. 25, 1978, 385). Despite the various persecutions he faced throughout his life from Marxist-Leninists, his textbooks on higher education and his “process-oriented” emphasis on historical interpretation (GSE, vol. 25, 1978, 386) contributed much to the development of a distinctly dialectical historiography, reflected in his writings and lectures (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 462 n. 28).

The next course, between lines 20 and 21, is “Modern (or ‘Contemporary’) History of Russia,” graded as “passed.” It was signed on 22 June 1924 by someone with the name Mikhail (the start of the signature reads МИХ). This might refer to Mikhail Nikolaevich Martynov (1889–1970), a student of Presnyakov, who taught contemporary history at the faculty starting from 1924, which would coincide with the June 1924 date listed here (see Martynov 2012–21 for a short bio).

However, upon closer inspection, the signature seems to read “Mikh. Tsvib.” (МИХ.ЦВИБ.)—which would signify Mikhail Mironovich Tsvibak (1899–1937). Records show that he taught “Russian History in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century” in 1924 (Zhukovskaya 2012–21b). In the 1922 Petrograd address book, he is already mentioned as deputy dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (Ves’ Petrograd 1922, 629–630).

Tsvibak was born in Melitopol (now Ukraine), to the family of a Jewish mechanical engineer. He began his studies at Petrograd University shortly before the 1917 Revolution, but his studies were interrupted by the Civil War, where he fought from 1919 in the ranks of the Red Army, returning to Petrograd only in 1921, to become a main commissar to the university appointed by the Cheka (the Soviet secret police at that time). His main responsibility was to “fight White students and professors” (Brachev 2008).

After finishing his studies in 1923, he was appointed to the top ranks of the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty. In 1922 and 1926, he was named as a “deputy dean” (Ves’ Petrograd 1922, 629–630; Oldenburg and Karsky 1926, 153). He taught recent Russian history, strictly from a Marxist point of view. He engaged in open class warfare with his colleagues at the university. But even he made a fatal ideological mistake in 1925 by supporting the party line of Grigori Zinoviev (of the “workers’ opposition”), who was an influential Bolshevik figure in the early Soviet leadership. When political currents defeated that party line, Tsvibak was fired from the university in 1926 and sent to Tashkent (today’s Uzbekistan) to direct the Central Asian Museum, effectively in exile.

Three years later, he was able to secure his return to Leningrad, where he started teaching “ideologically pure” subjects comparing “mechanistic and dialectic directions in Marxist historiography” (Brachev 2008). The “mechanistic” view was reductionist in its belief in the linear, deterministic development of historical forces. By contrast, the “dialectical” view stressed an “emergent” approach to historical development, far richer in its consideration of the multifaceted factors at work in the project for social change.

Among the texts that Tsvibak would have used for this course was M. N. Pokrovsky’s Russian History in Briefest (1923), which skewed toward a more dialectical rather than mechanistic historiography, even as it embraced a typically Marxist-centered emphasis on the predominant role of economic forces in shaping Russia’s social and historical development.

In the early 1930s, Tsvibak took an active part in the “Academic Case,” smearing the renowned historians of the “old school”—namely, Tarle and Platonov (Zaidel and Tsvibak 1931)—accusing them of being “pro-reactionary.” Tarle and Platonov were subsequently arrested and exiled (Platonov died two years later, while in exile). Such active participation in the beginning wave of reprisals did not help Tsvibak much, however: for the past “sins” of supporting Zinoviev he was fired from the Communist Academy in 1935 and again exiled to central Asia. Events accelerated, and after Zinoviev was convicted in 1936, Tsvibak’s time had finally come. In the deplorable political conditions of the time, not even his past “class” baiting could save him. He was arrested in early 1937, swiftly tried, and executed in May of that year (Brachev 2008).

The next course, situated between lines 21 and 22, is “History of Pedagogical Doctrines,” which was graded as “passed.” It was most probably signed by A. Vallner (“А.ВАЛЬНЕР”)—that is, Artur Gansovich Vallner (or Valner, Germanized as Wallner) on 25 June 1924. The 1926 Leningrad Address Book (Ves’ Leningrad 1926, Otdel II, 42) lists him as an associate professor at Leningrad University, and from 1923 to 1925, he appears as a rector at the Estonian Pedagogical University (Ves’ Petrograd 1923, Otdel Vtoroy, 31; Ves’ Leningrad 1924, Otdel Vtoroy, 62; Ves’ Leningrad 1925, Otdel II, 62).

Vallner was born in Reval (today’s Tallinn, Estonia) to a working-class family (Tallinna Linnaarhiiv 1874–1939). Head of the local Estonian community, he studied at Saint Petersburg University, from which he was soon expelled and compelled to finish as an external student. He then taught mathematics in the colleges of Saint Petersburg. He was a Bolshevik in his political views and joined the party in 1917. In July of that year, he became one of the chairmen of the first Estonian National Assembly and sat in session with the founders of the newly independent Estonian state, such as Konstantin Päts and Jaan Tõnisson, in the Toompea castle in Tallinn (Rahvusarhiiv 1917). Their paths drifted apart very soon: Vallner was a radical socialist, while most others were traditional liberal democrats. He remained on the side of the Reds, even actively participating in the Red Terror in mid-1918 (Jürjo 2008).

In Petrograd, he taught courses on pedagogy and the history of education in various Estonian community universities, the Zinoviev Communist University, and Petrograd University. He authored works on pedagogy and various Bolshevik propaganda materials for an Estonian audience (Vallner 1919; Vallner et al. 1920). In the second half of the 1920s, Vallner was a director of the Estonian Pedagogical University in Leningrad (Kolosova 2006). As with so many before him, the political oppression of the day eventually came back to haunt him. Despite all the loyalty he showed to the Red cause, he himself was arrested in 1936, convicted, and sentenced to ten years at the Solovki concentration camp. A year later, he was tried again and executed in the infamous Sandarmokh death camp in Karelia (Barinov and Rostovtsev 2012–21b).

As to the contents of this course, Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 376–77) explains that, during this period, the pedagogical doctrines that were taught as part of the curriculum were heavily influenced by the policies of Anatoly V. Lunacharsky (one of several “Nietzschean” Marxists, such as Stanislav Volsky, Aleksandr A. Bogdanov, Vladimir A. Bazarov, and the aforementioned Gredeskul and Gorky). As head of Narkompros, Lunacharsky embraced progressive pedagogy in the tradition of John Dewey, five of whose books were translated into Russian between 1918 and 1923, stressing crucial dialectical insights about the reciprocal links between education and socioeconomic processes. Moreover, Sciabarra writes, “‘Activity methods of learning,’ with increased pupil participation and student-teacher meetings, was the educational credo of the day” (376).

“Methodology of the Social Sciences” (the course listed between lines 22 and 23)—graded as “passed”—was signed on 1 July 1924 most likely by Alexander Evgenyevich Kudryavtsev (1880–1941). The signature reads as АКУДР. Kudryavtsev was a teacher at the Faculty of Social Sciences from 1923 to 1925, and this is among the courses he taught at the university (see Sidorchuk and Rostovtsev 2012–21a).

Born in the Kuban Region to a priest’s family, Kudryavtsev studied at the Historical and Philosophical Department of Yuriev University (now Tartu University in Estonia). He later taught history at his alma mater. He participated in the early revolutionary movements and was arrested several times and banned from teaching. In 1912, he moved to Saint Petersburg, where in 1918 he became a full professor and taught in various colleges and universities including the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty at Saint Petersburg University, teaching history and methodology of the social sciences (Sidorchuk and Rostovtsev 2012–21a). His most-known works cover the medieval history of Spain, first published in 1937—and still in circulation in Russia to this day (Kudryavtsev 2019). He remained in Leningrad as the Second World War began and perished from starvation during the blockade of the city toward the end of 1941.

Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 377) reminds us that whoever taught this course, it was, essentially, a course on the application of dialectical methods to social science inquiry. He writes that this approach

required that one view society as a developing system, that is, not as a random conglomeration of unrelated organizations and institutions, but as an integrated, evolving totality of related structures and processes. It stressed “reciprocity between things and the reciprocity of aspects and moments within a thing” (GSE, vol. 8, 1975, 190). It celebrated Lenin’s “methodological conclusion,” “one of the basic principles of the dialectic,” that “in order to genuinely know an object, one must seize it and study it from all sides, with all its interconnections and [mediations]” (GSE, vol. 8, 1975, 186).

Interestingly, Kudryavtsev’s 1937 book on medieval Spain opens with a preface that frames his interpretation of Spanish history as the “history of the Spanish people, a main acting force of Spanish historical process. This is not my idea; it has been a backbone in Marx’s essays about Revolutionary Spain.” This work alone contains at least twenty references to Marx, an indication of his intellectual debt to Marx’s dialectical historical methodology.

The last course listed on the second page of the Second Matricul is “Politics and Organization of Popular Education” and was graded as “passed.” It was signed as “V. ZELEN.” [В.ЗЕЛЕН.] on 5 July 1924. Among the professors of the Faculty in the 1924 address book (Ves’ Leningrad 1924, Otdel Vtoroy, 56), there is V. A. Zelenko—who was named as the possible teacher of this course by Sciabarra back in 2005 (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 377). Vasiliy Adamovich Zelenko (1878–1957) was a well-known pedagogue who promoted school education and the integration of socialist culture, science, and art. A copy of a page from his 1919 file shows his signature; it is identical to the one in the Second Matricul (Figure 23).

Figure 23.

Signature of Vasiliy Adamovich Zelenko (Zelenko 1925)

Figure 23.

Signature of Vasiliy Adamovich Zelenko (Zelenko 1925)

Zelenko was born in the Illuxt district in the Kurland governorate (now Ilūkste, Latvia) to the family of a railroad worker. He started as a worker himself and then as a teacher at a local elementary school. As early as 1903, he joined the illegal Social Democratic Party in Riga, before being arrested and fleeing abroad, where he attended the University of Zurich. After his return to Russia, Zelenko taught in various elementary schools in Petrograd and also served as a librarian (Zelenko 1925). After the 1917 Revolution, he was immediately appointed director of Petrograd Institute of Out-of-School education and became a full professor. In the following years, he also taught pedagogical methods at the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty of Petrograd/Leningrad University (Oldenburg and Karsky 1926, 155) and wrote books on elementary education (Zelenko 1917, 1923).

Since he was initially a member of the Menshevik wing of the Social Democratic Party, his fate was sealed, like so many of his “comrades”; in 1937, he was arrested and exiled from the capital cities to live in Siberia, to be freed only in 1956 after a general amnesty following the Twentieth Party Congress. He died a year later near Samara.

The Second Matricul: Page 3

On this final page of the Second Matricul (Figure 24), we find Rand’s seminar on the “History of the Middle Ages (The Medieval Estate)” (25) and a “special course” on the “History of Medieval Trade” (26). Both courses—graded as “passed”—were signed by the aforementioned Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch on 28 May 1924 and 11 June 1924, respectively. The signature looks the same.

Figure 24.

Page 3 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 19)

Figure 24.

Page 3 of the Second Matricul (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 19)

The course on the “Constitution of the USSR and RSFSR” (which appears between lines 26 and 27)—graded as “passed”—was signed on 11 July 1924 by Evgenii (or Heinrich) Alexandrovich Engel (1887–1942). The signature appears as ЕЭНГ. It should be noted again that this course is not listed on the official diploma as a separate entry. We can infer that it was, in essence, a completion of the course of study begun under the listing, “General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics),” whose first segment was taught by the legal and constitutional scholar Yakov Mironovich Magaziner. Engel was a professor in the Law Department from 1921 to 1928. Author of Essays on Materialist Sociology (1923), he was the chairman of the first Presidium of the Association of Marxist Scholars (located at 1 1, Universitetskaia embankment). He was committed to a Marxist sociological conception of the dialectical interrelationships between society, law, and relations of power (Sosnitski and Rostovtsev 2012–21a).

Born in Pyatigorsk in the Caucasus to a family of a photo studio owner of Prussian or Austrian origin, Engel graduated from the Law Faculty of Saint Petersburg University in 1905 and taught law at various private educational facilities before the 1917 Revolution. In the 1920s, he became a full professor at the newly formed Social Sciences Faculty and was quickly appointed its dean. His teaching activity was mostly centered on Soviet law, though he taught and published widely in the field of sociology (Engel 1923a) and constitutional theory (Engel 1923b). His ultimate fate is not clear; various sources give conflicting dates of his death: either 1932 (Frey 2005, 3728) or 1942 (Syrykh 2011, 854). It is probable that he perished during the reprisals against the school of academician A. V. Chayanov, an advocate of agrarianism and worker cooperatives, in the 1930s.

The final course—actually, the second time that this course title appears in the Second Matricul—is “Political Economy” (which can be found between lines 27 and 28). It is graded as “passed” and was most likely signed by Mikhail Ilyich Olenov (or Olyonov) (1876–1957) on 25 July 1924 (the signature reads as ОЛЕНОВ). He worked as professor of the Political Economy Department from 1923 to 1930 (see Rakovsky and Malinov 2012–21). The appearance of this course twice in Rand’s Second Matricul requires some further exploration (see below).

Olenov was born in the Nyzhni Sirohozy village in the Tavrida governorate (now the Kherson Region in Ukraine) to a family of city dwellers. He graduated from the Medical Faculty of the Kiev University in 1904, where he joined radical student groups. Before the 1917 Revolution, he mostly taught at colleges and small commercial schools. After 1917, he joined the Red Army and served as a field medic throughout the Civil War (Gucheva 1999–2003). After demobilization, he moved onto academic work and taught political economy from a strictly Marxist-Leninist point of view throughout the educational facilities of Petrograd, including the Social Sciences Faculty at Petrograd University (Rakovsky and Malinov 2012–21). He was the author of several Marxist-Leninist works (Olenov 1906, 1926). In the 1930s, he also served as an economic sciences counselor at the Public Library in Leningrad and actively participated in the Marxist Scientific Society. He died in Leningrad in 1957.

Additional Matricula Documents

There are other pages within the Second Matricul file that are worthy of scholarly attention. For example, there is an updated request (Figure 25), handwritten by Alissa Rosenbaum, asking to be exempt from payment for her studies at the university (since her mother, Anna Borisovna Kaplan, was a member of an educational trade union), which was granted (red stamp “exempt”). Ironically, though the Bolsheviks claimed to create free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of seven and seventeen, Soviet higher education was notcompletelyfree until at least 1958 (Korablyova 2004; Shandulin 2017)! Interestingly enough, this request is written completely in the pre-1918 spelling! It should be noted that some members in certain intellectual circles both within the Soviet Union (especially in 1920s) and in emigration remained true to the old writing as a form of protest against Bolshevism (“it is refused only because it is Bolshevist”) (Karmanova 2018).8

Figure 25.

Request for Tuition Exemption (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 23)

Figure 25.

Request for Tuition Exemption (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 23)

It reads:

To the commission for payments

From the student of Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social, Pedagogical and Literature and Art Department, Alissa Rosenbaum, enrolled in 1921, file No. 2856.

A request

I request to be exempt from payment for my studies because my mother is an education worker and I am dependent on her. Hereby I append my mother’s documents, a certificate of her service, a certificate from the house manager and a copy of her membership ID.

A. Rosenbaum

Another document (Figure 26) also bears various “exempion” stamps. Most probably the two first from the top are the stamps that confirm Alissa’s exemption from tuition each academic year, 1923 and 1924. The third stamp says: “Card is present”—dated 25–26 March 1924; the final signature says “re-registered, ONO [Section of People’s Education].” The signatories are most probably those of clerks or secretaries.

Figure 26.

Second Matricul “Exemption” (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 19ob)

Figure 26.

Second Matricul “Exemption” (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 19ob)

The following pages were also contained within the Second Matricul file. Another request handwritten by Alissa (Figure 27), dated 15 July 1924, asked the university to provide her with a certificate declaring that her studies had been completed. In blue pencil, it states: “to be regarded as graduated after finishing the political economy course.”

Figure 27.

Alissa’s Request for Certification (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 16)

Figure 27.

Alissa’s Request for Certification (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 16)

Figure 28, dated 15 August 1924, states that Alissa passed the “Political Economy” course. It is signed by the same Olenov whose signature can be found on the final page of course listings in the Second Matricul.

Figure 28.

Mikhail Ilyich Olenov-signed Writ (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 15)

Figure 28.

Mikhail Ilyich Olenov-signed Writ (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 15)

Another writ (Figure 29) declaring that Alissa had passed yet another Soviet subject (on the “Soviet Constitution”), dated 11 July 1924, bears the signature of Evgenii Engel, who also signed the final page of course listings on the Second Matricul for that specific course. As we’ve suggested, it seems to have been a concluding segment of the required course on the “General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).” It does not appear as a separate course title on Alissa Rosenbaum’s official diploma.

Figure 29.

Evgenii Engel certifies the “Soviet Constitution” course (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 17)

Figure 29.

Evgenii Engel certifies the “Soviet Constitution” course (TsGA SPB 1921–24, 17)

Political Economy and Political Complications

As we alluded to above, there is yet another mystifying issue in the Rand matricula. Rand is clearly credited on her diploma with having taken a single course in “Political Economy” toward the fulfillment of the requirements for her graduation from the university. And yet, it is the only course listed twice on the Second Matricul. As noted above, on the final page of the First Matricul, one finds “Political Economy,” graded as “satisfactory,” dated 26 November 1922, and signed by Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher. On the Second Matricul, that information is reproduced, except the signatory is Sergey Ivanovich Solntsev, with the date intact. But the Solntsev signature is crossed out, and Kulisher’s signature appears above it, as a correction. As we noted above, the correction was acknowledged on 3 March 1923 by Secretary I. Glebov.

But then, on the final page of listed courses, we find “Political Economy” again, this time graded as “passed” and most likely signed by Mikhail Ilyich Olenov on 15 July 1924. The additional documents, in which the young Alissa requests certification that she has, indeed, fulfilled the requirements for having passed the course (dated 15 July 1924), are followed up by a writ, signed by Olenov, dated exactly one month later, indicating that Alissa did, indeed, pass the course. What could be the reasons for this duplication and the need for recertification?

First, it could have been possible that “Political Economy” was the only course requiring two semesters of work, resulting in a single recognition of its fulfillment on Alissa Rosenbaum’s diploma. But given that the first semester was passed with a “satisfactory” grade on 26 November 1922 and that the second semester was simply “passed” on 15 July 1924 suggests a separation of more than one and a half years, very unusual for the completion of a yearlong course.

There would be no indication of Alissa having failed the course, since “failed” was not a grade that would be recorded on any matricula. Then, again, it must be remembered that Alissa was dismissed as part of a student purge on 13 December 1923. Perhaps because of this dismissal she would have been compelled to take the course again, to be reinstated under condition she pass the exam. But this is highly suspect given she had received a “satisfactory” grade from Kulisher in the first listing of this course in both matricula. On her request to the Faculty Praesidium, dated 15 July 1924, the same date that she passed the final exam under Olenov, there’s a pencil resolution above her text stating “to be regarded as finished studies after passing the political economy exam,” signed by T. Weinre. Our research indicates a Tatyana Iosifovna Weinrebe in the 1925 Leningrad address book (Ves’ Leningrad 1925, Otdel X, Ukazatel’ Zhiteley Leningrada: 66), who was an archivist. Perhaps she was also a clerk at the university; her address was eighteen minutes’ walking distance from the main building.

Another possibility here is that the subject was taught again in 1923, but this time strictly from a more heavily Marxist-Leninist perspective. Though a Soviet sympathizer, Kulisher was still a representative of the “old school,” who had published much scholarly work long before the revolution. Perhaps Alissa might have been compelled to take the course again under more politically correct conditions, since political economy has always been one of the main backbones of what was becoming the predominant Marxist-Leninist ideology. Perhaps Alissa argued with a Marxist teacher, was dismissed, and then, later, somehow reinstated.

But even Alissa’s “dismissal” in December 1923 is shrouded in mystery. If a student was dismissed but eventually received a diploma, this student had to have been reinstated. The student would have had to write an official request to be reinstated. But there is absolutely nothing in the file to indicate such a request.

Solovyev has done additional research because Alissa’s dismissal doesn’t seem to fit the time frame of any of the student purges that were conducted during her years at Petrograd University. There was one carried out in 1922, after the decision of the Petrograd Party Committee on 23 May 1922—long before that December 1923 date, and it would have been highly unlikely for the administration of Petrograd University to have waited so long. A second student purge took place after the decision of the Sovnarkom (the Council of People’s Commissars) on 16 May 1924 (see Konecny 1994). Nikiforova and Kizilov (2020) refer to this discrepancy and also to private communication with a Russian historian named Rozhkov about these two purges, finding no evidence of any purge in December 1923.

On the other hand, Ermoshko (2011) has dealt extensively with the 1917–25 period and refers to several files of students in the same archival fond as the Rand file. It is said that although the aim of the party decision was clear—to remove students of undesirable social origin—in practice the decisions were masked as “removing students for academic failures.” This has not been denied even in the Soviet historiography during the Soviet period. Ermoshko uncovers one student dismissal that has the same resolution (for academic failure) with the same dismissal date as Alissa Rosenbaum’s (13 December 1923). So, it is indeed very possible that Rand was a belated victim of the 1922–23 purges after all.9

As Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 463 n. 4) has explained, “Rand herself stated in her biographical interviews with Barbara Branden that she had been ‘somewhat reckless’ in her overt anticommunism in her first year at university. The conditions of the student purge that Rand describes in We the Living were also autobiographical; Rand herself was expelled in December 1923 but was ‘later readmitted.’ Federman (2012, 84 n. 24) tells us that Rand was actually ‘readmitted three months later’ (March 1924), and that she graduated in July 1924.” Because the length of the university’s education had been reduced from five to three years in 1920–21, and because “the purge commission decided to pass over those students who were on the verge of graduating,” Rand had escaped that purge by “sheer accident,” as she later remarked (72).

Concluding Thoughts: Addressing the Critique of Gary H. Merrill

In concluding this essay, we turn our attention to criticisms of Sciabarra’s previous historical work by Gary H. Merrill (2021), in the recent book, False Wisdom: The Principles and Practices of Pseudo-Philosophy. In chapter 11 (“Ayn Rand: Mostly Borrowed, Nothing New?”), Merrill focuses on Sciabarra’s two transcript articles, as they appear in the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Merrill credits Sciabarra’s quest to “track down Rand’s university transcript […] following many years of effort, tribulation, misdirection, and deception,” as detailed in Sciabarra’s “Investigative Report: In Search of the Rand Transcript” (Sciabarra 1999a). “Sciabarra’s rendition of the transcript includes brief descriptions of the courses Rand took in the area of philosophy as well as a number of speculations concerning both the content of those courses and their influence on Rand’s thinking and approach to philosophy,” Merrill states. But he laments the fact that “copies of the original transcript (in Russian and unedited) have never been made available to the public,” that all we have is “reports, summaries or ‘translations’ of the transcript,” which we have to “assume … are mostly accurate, although there are good reasons … to be cautious and not to feel overly confident in this assumption.” It’s clear that his frustration is directed not at Sciabarra but at “the actions of some of her followers,” who “exhibit aspects of discouraging inquiry” (244), since “[r]equests for such evidence are met with either silence or diversion” (309).

Merrill’s larger point, which is not the subject of our discussion in this article (see Long 2021, an independent review of Merrill’s book in this issue), is that Rand’s work shows no evidence of “someone who has been competently instructed in philosophy, its methodologies, and its standards—and then been held to those standards as part of that educational and training process” (309). If anything, her “work shows every sign of someone who, in philosophy, was self-taught.” Rand’s major was history, Merrill emphasizes, and “there is no credible evidence that she ‘minored’ in philosophy in any meaningful sense of that term” (309).

For Merrill, “Sciabarra’s summary of [Rand’s] academic transcript … is an interpretation of a translation of the original Russian transcript (not available for independent examination) and is dense with groundless speculation.” Even if we were to assume that Sciabarra’s “translation is competent and accurate” (309), it shows only twenty-six courses, fifteen of which are in history, three in social science, one in foreign language, and four that are “ideological.” Only two, Merrill claims, “Logic” and “Political Economy” might have had “significant philosophical content” (310). Logic might have offered Rand lessons in “Aristotelian syllogism, informal logic, and what today we would call ‘critical reasoning,’” while “Political Economy” would have been an ideological course heavily slanted toward Marxist theories of economics and value. “Perhaps it was in the logic course where Rand learned about Aristotle, in conjunction with some treatment of him and Aquinas in her courses in ancient and medieval history,” but “[t]his definitely is not a picture of someone ‘minoring’ in philosophy…. Where are the courses devoted to the history of philosophy?” (310).

Dismissing Sciabarra’s attempts to “establish Rand’s use of ‘dialectical’ methods” as an exercise in tilting at windmills, he asserts that Sciabarra “can’t make his argument even remotely convincing … because he seems to have too much integrity to make the strong (though certainly false) claims necessary to support this view. Instead, his descriptions of the courses, their content, and the roles of various professors and their influence on Rand’s understanding of philosophy is littered with speculations about which instructor ‘probably’ or ‘likely’ taught a course that Rand took—and then even more speculative suggestions and implications are made about what areas or topics or approaches in philosophy would have been covered in the course on the assumption that the speculation concerning its instructor is true!” (310). Additionally, he argues that Sciabarra’s “attempt to link Rand to Lossky was a house of cards” and “there is no evidence that Rand ‘studied’ with Lossky in any sense” (311).

In light of all that we have uncovered here, Merrill, Milgram, and other commentators can now inspect the evidence, which challenges their criticisms fundamentally. We can only concede that the Rand-Lossky connection remains a mystery—and that somewhere, lurking deep in archives yet to be uncovered, that mystery may yet be solved. Nevertheless, the evidence is incontrovertible that Rand received an education with some of the finest professors that Petrograd University had to offer and that she was fully schooled, both philosophically and historically, in the methods of dialectical inquiry—the “art of context-keeping”—which would have a profound impact on her radical approach to social theory.

Appendix: An Evolving Understanding of Rand’s University Years

Table 4 summarizes the material we have uncovered in this essay, while comparing it to previous studies published by Sciabarra in this journal (and later as appendices to the second edition of his book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical). We believe that the current study offers the most advanced analysis of the evidence yet published, not simply because it is the first time that actual facsimiles of these historical documents have been made available to a larger scholarly community, but also because it has been accompanied by a thorough investigation of the information included within these documents, especially the signatories on the matricula.

Table 4.

Our Evolving Understanding of Rand’s University Education

IIIIIIIVVVI
Course title “The Rand Transcript” [1999] (all guesses) “The Rand Transcript, Revisited” [2005] “The Rand Transcript Revealed” (current) Grade Date of signature 
Psychology I. I. Lapshin M. V. Serebriakov? Vitaliy Stepanovich Serebrennikov Highly satisfactory 4 March 1922 
Logic A. I. Vvedensky I. I. Lapshin Ivan Ivanovich Lapshin Highly satisfactory 7 April 1922 
French Language A. Larond Andrei Alexandrovich Larond (Felix-Andre LaRonde) Passed 8 June 1922 
History of the Development of Social Forms K. M. Takhtarev N. Gredeskul Nikolai Andreevich Gredeskul Highly satisfactory 15 June 1922 
General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Magaziner Yakov Mironovich Magaziner Satisfactory 18 July 1922 
Political Economy Kutishchev? Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher: In First Matricul; in second matricul Sergey Ivanovich Solntsev’s signature is crossed out, with Kulisher’s written above it Satisfactory 26 November 1922 
Historical Materialism Radlov? Ivan Adamovich Borichevsky Highly satisfactory 23 February 1923 
History of Worldviews (Ancient Period) N. O. Lossky N. O. Lossky (though signature is misidentified as Borichevsky) Ernest Leopoldovich Radlov Highly satisfactory 30 April 1923 
Seminar in Modern History (16th Century England) Sergei Rozhdestve-snky Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya? Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya Passed 24 May 1923 
Seminar in Modern History (17th Century France) Evegenii V. Tarle Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya? Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya Passed 21 June 1923 
Biology S. N. Vinogradsky or Lev Semenovich Berg K. Adrianova (or Adriasova, Abriasova, Abriakova, Adriakova)? Ksenia Alexandrovna Adrianova-Fermor Highly satisfactory 26 June 1923 
History of Greece F. F. Zelinsky or Borvis Vladimirovich Farmakovsky S. Teplov or S. Ya. Tep lov? Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov Highly satisfactory 30 June 1923 
History of Rome Michail T. Rostovtsev or O. F. Val’dgauer S. Teplov or S. Ya. Tep lov? Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov Highly satisfactory 30 June 1923 
Russian History Sergei Fyodorovich Platonov Presnyakov? Alexander Yevgenievich Presnyakov Highly satisfactory 11 September 1923 
Medieval History Lev Platonivich Karsavin Shchip or Tsip or Schep (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi)? Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Highly satisfactory 21 September 1923 
History of Socialism Aleksandr Yvegenievich Presnyakov Iv. Kli. (could be I. I. Konrad)? Ivan Sergeyevich (Israel Samuilovich) Knizhnik (Vetrov) Highly satisfactory 20 November 1923 
Special Course: Social Movements in 14th Century France Nikolai Ivanovich Kareev Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 17 December 1923 
Special Course: History of the Crusades Ol’ga Antonovna Dobiash-Rozdestvenskaia Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 30 January 1924 
Modern History Evegenii V. Tarle Alexander Germanovich Wulffius (Alexander Robert Wulffius) Passed 15 May 1924 
Modern History of the West Nikolai Ivanovich Kareev Piren or Tren? (E. V. Tarle?) Evgenii Viktorovich (Grigory Vigdorovich) Tarle Passed 6 June 1924 
Modern Russian History N. Rozhkov Mikhail? Mikhail Mironovich (Meyerovich) Tsvibak Passed 22 June 1924 
History of Pedagogical Doctrines V. A. Zelenko A. Tsel (might be Tsvikida?) Artur Gansovich Vallner (Arthur Johann Vallner) Passed 25 June 1924 
Methodology of the Social Sciences Tarle, Kareev, or Takhtarev A. Kuprianov or Kuprianova? Alexander Evgenyevich Kudryavtsev Passed 1 July 1924 
The Politics and Organization of Popular Education in the USSR V. A. Zelenko V. A. Zelenko? Vasiliy Adamovich Zelenko Passed 5 July 1924 
Seminar in the History of the Middle Ages (the Medieval Estate) Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 28 May 1924 
Special Course: History of Medieval Trade Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs? [N. Ivanov? N. Ivashov? In the “attendance remark” column?] Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 11 June 1924 
The Constitution of RSFSR and USSR E. A. Engel? Evgenii Alexandrovich (Heinrich) Engel Passed 11 July 1924 
Political Economy II Agenov? Mikhail Ilyich Olenov (or Olyonov or Olenyov) Passed 15 July 1924 
IIIIIIIVVVI
Course title “The Rand Transcript” [1999] (all guesses) “The Rand Transcript, Revisited” [2005] “The Rand Transcript Revealed” (current) Grade Date of signature 
Psychology I. I. Lapshin M. V. Serebriakov? Vitaliy Stepanovich Serebrennikov Highly satisfactory 4 March 1922 
Logic A. I. Vvedensky I. I. Lapshin Ivan Ivanovich Lapshin Highly satisfactory 7 April 1922 
French Language A. Larond Andrei Alexandrovich Larond (Felix-Andre LaRonde) Passed 8 June 1922 
History of the Development of Social Forms K. M. Takhtarev N. Gredeskul Nikolai Andreevich Gredeskul Highly satisfactory 15 June 1922 
General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Magaziner Yakov Mironovich Magaziner Satisfactory 18 July 1922 
Political Economy Kutishchev? Iosif Mikhailovich Kulisher: In First Matricul; in second matricul Sergey Ivanovich Solntsev’s signature is crossed out, with Kulisher’s written above it Satisfactory 26 November 1922 
Historical Materialism Radlov? Ivan Adamovich Borichevsky Highly satisfactory 23 February 1923 
History of Worldviews (Ancient Period) N. O. Lossky N. O. Lossky (though signature is misidentified as Borichevsky) Ernest Leopoldovich Radlov Highly satisfactory 30 April 1923 
Seminar in Modern History (16th Century England) Sergei Rozhdestve-snky Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya? Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya Passed 24 May 1923 
Seminar in Modern History (17th Century France) Evegenii V. Tarle Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya? Nadezhda Stepanovna Botkina-Vraskaya Passed 21 June 1923 
Biology S. N. Vinogradsky or Lev Semenovich Berg K. Adrianova (or Adriasova, Abriasova, Abriakova, Adriakova)? Ksenia Alexandrovna Adrianova-Fermor Highly satisfactory 26 June 1923 
History of Greece F. F. Zelinsky or Borvis Vladimirovich Farmakovsky S. Teplov or S. Ya. Tep lov? Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov Highly satisfactory 30 June 1923 
History of Rome Michail T. Rostovtsev or O. F. Val’dgauer S. Teplov or S. Ya. Tep lov? Sergey Alexandrovich Zhebelyov Highly satisfactory 30 June 1923 
Russian History Sergei Fyodorovich Platonov Presnyakov? Alexander Yevgenievich Presnyakov Highly satisfactory 11 September 1923 
Medieval History Lev Platonivich Karsavin Shchip or Tsip or Schep (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi)? Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Highly satisfactory 21 September 1923 
History of Socialism Aleksandr Yvegenievich Presnyakov Iv. Kli. (could be I. I. Konrad)? Ivan Sergeyevich (Israel Samuilovich) Knizhnik (Vetrov) Highly satisfactory 20 November 1923 
Special Course: Social Movements in 14th Century France Nikolai Ivanovich Kareev Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 17 December 1923 
Special Course: History of the Crusades Ol’ga Antonovna Dobiash-Rozdestvenskaia Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 30 January 1924 
Modern History Evegenii V. Tarle Alexander Germanovich Wulffius (Alexander Robert Wulffius) Passed 15 May 1924 
Modern History of the West Nikolai Ivanovich Kareev Piren or Tren? (E. V. Tarle?) Evgenii Viktorovich (Grigory Vigdorovich) Tarle Passed 6 June 1924 
Modern Russian History N. Rozhkov Mikhail? Mikhail Mironovich (Meyerovich) Tsvibak Passed 22 June 1924 
History of Pedagogical Doctrines V. A. Zelenko A. Tsel (might be Tsvikida?) Artur Gansovich Vallner (Arthur Johann Vallner) Passed 25 June 1924 
Methodology of the Social Sciences Tarle, Kareev, or Takhtarev A. Kuprianov or Kuprianova? Alexander Evgenyevich Kudryavtsev Passed 1 July 1924 
The Politics and Organization of Popular Education in the USSR V. A. Zelenko V. A. Zelenko? Vasiliy Adamovich Zelenko Passed 5 July 1924 
Seminar in the History of the Middle Ages (the Medieval Estate) Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs Shchip or Tsip or Schep? (maybe F. I. Shcherbatskoi?) Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 28 May 1924 
Special Course: History of Medieval Trade Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs? [N. Ivanov? N. Ivashov? In the “attendance remark” column?] Nikolay Sergeyevich Tsemsch Passed 11 June 1924 
The Constitution of RSFSR and USSR E. A. Engel? Evgenii Alexandrovich (Heinrich) Engel Passed 11 July 1924 
Political Economy II Agenov? Mikhail Ilyich Olenov (or Olyonov or Olenyov) Passed 15 July 1924 

The columns are labeled by (I) course title; (II) informed “guess” about the potential teachers of each course, as found in Sciabarra’s first article, “The Rand Transcript” (Fall 1999); (III) evidentiary “guess” about the potential teachers of each course as found in Sciabarra’s second article, “The Rand Transcript, Revisited” (Fall 2005); (IV) the current view (offered by this article, “The Rand Transcript Revealed”), in which the actual signatories in the matricula have been assessed as the most likely teachers of the listed courses; (V) the grades for each course; (VI) the date of the signatures found in the matricula.

NOTES

The authors would like to thank Marsha P. Enright for introducing them to one another, and both Robert L. Campbell and Roderick T. Long for their commentary on an earlier draft of this article. We’d also like to thank the Penn State Press family for their assistance in bringing this piece to fruition, especially Joseph Dahm for his incomparable editing talents and Rachel Ginder and Komal Ganjoo for their helpful guidance in the production of this essay.

1.

In this essay, co-authors Chris Matthew Sciabarra and Pavel Solovyev refer to themselves in the third person. All images appear in black-and-white in the print edition of this journal; they are reproduced in their original color in all electronic formats.

2.

Nikoloz Iak’obis dze Mari, Russianized to Nikolai Yakovlevich Marr, was born in Kutaisi, Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire, in 1865. His father, a Scotsman named James Murray, gave him his un-Georgian, un-Russian surname. Marr was an ethnographer, folklorist, and linguist specializing in the languages spoken in the Caucasus, which in those times led to his being identified as an Orientalist; he also conducted archaeological digs in the area. He studied, taught, indeed spent his entire academic career at Saint Petersburg University. The reader has perhaps noted that Marr organized the social science college around his own research interests. When Marr is remembered today, however, it is not for his collections of folk sayings or his findings at the ancient capital of Armenia or his analyses of the many languages spoken in his native region. He is known as a crank with a theory about the origins of human language. Marr claimed that a “Japhetic” family of languages arose in the Caucasus, particularly in the vicinity of Georgia, and came to include languages like Ancient Egyptian and Berber and Basque well before there were any Indo-European languages. Japhetic languages spread widely but were later reduced in most places to a substratum, lurking among the lower orders of society, after conquerors imposed Indo-European languages, which largely continued to be the languages of the ruling classes. Eventually the Japhetic theory boiled historical linguistics down further to a set of four primordial monosyllabic exclamations, from which the full vocabulary and structure of every language supposedly unfurled over time. The theory was officially rewarded during the Soviet era, not least with a Japhetic Institute for Marr himself, on account of the “class” character that Marr pointedly claimed for his theory. In 1934, Marr died in Leningrad after suffering from influenza and a stroke (Marr, n.d.). Despite his high status, Marr’s theory was sharply criticized by the Georgian linguist Arnold Chikobava, who was able to publish his work under the protection of some of Stalin’s local cronies. In 1950, an article, seemingly derived from a long report delivered to Stalin by Chikobava himself, came out under the ruler’s byline: it denounced the Japhetic theory as confused, incorrect, and pseudo-Marxist. Marr was fortunate to be deceased (Japhetic theory, n.d.). Thanks to Robert L. Campbell for this point.

3.

Rand’s father’s name has been rendered as Zinovy (Sciabarra [1995] 2013, 64) or Zinoviy (Nikiforova and Kizilov 2020, 19). As Nikiforova and Kizilov explain, this form comes from the practice of the Russification of Jewish names in Russia either due to conversion (not the case here) or just due to convenience. Many secular Jews did that; as Zelman-Wolff Zorakhovich became Zinoviy Zakharovich, Hanna Berkovna became Anna Borisovna, Ayn Rand’s uncle Moishe Berkovich became Mikhail Borisovich, and so on.

4.

It should be noted that in the First Matricul, Lapshin signed in the “Examiner’s surname” column, Gredeskul and Larond signed in both. Serebryannikov, Magaziner, and Kulisher signed in the column named “Examiner’s signature.” In the Second Matricul, all signatures are in the column named “Examiner’s or Dean’s Signature” (which is the only one with the surname).

5.

Ernest Radlov (whom we discuss below), like Sorokin, Lossky, and others, also ridiculed Borichevsky. One poem, which reads like a congratulatory piece to Radlov (with no author attribution provided), was found in the Russian National Library (in the Manuscripts section in Radlov’s personal archival fond). In it, there is this verse: “Later, drawn on skullcap / Fearsome like a Terrible Ivan / In his speech that’s tart and sharp / Hails Borichevsky a dead man.” The reference to this poem is in Bychkova and Mikheyeva 2006, 227.

6.

Solovyev points out that Zhebelyov clearly incorporated the Marxist historiography of the period into his own approach as well, in a rather elegant way that coalesced with his pre-revolutionary work. In Frolov 2007, there is a mention of Zhebelyov’s 1932–33 work about Saumakos, a leader of the Scythian rebellion against Paerisades V, King of Bosporus. It was ambitiously called First Revolutionary Rebellion on the USSR Territory (Bosporus roughly corresponds to modern Crimea). Zhebelyov hypothesized that Saumakos was a slave and his rebellion was a powerful uprising of exploited slaves.

7.

Both Sciabarra ([1995] 2013, 414) and Milgram (2012, 86, 106 n. 7) have noted the presence of the name Kareyev from Rand’s Red Pawn and the name Karsavin in Rand’s first novel, We the Living. Each work drew heavily from her experiences in the Soviet Union and as a student at Petrograd University, and suggests that she must have been aware of the names and reputations of these professors in the History Department.

8.

It is also of interest to note a letter that Ayn Rand (n.d.) wrote to Alexander Kerensky when he was already in the United States (there is no record of any response from Kerensky in the Ayn Rand Archives). The most interesting part of the letter is the last paragraph. It is translated but the crossed-out words and the final parenthetical line are omitted from the translation as presented by the Ayn Rand Archives. Solovyev translates that last paragraph as follows:

Please forgive me my Soviet spelling; I was educated in Soviet Russia Soviet university and (now) I cannot write otherwise. I am not confident in my Russian style at all because in recent years I wrote, thought and worked in English and I hope you will forgive me.

With deep respect,

Ayn Rand [Ed: written as Ранд (Rund) and not Рэнд (Rand) as it should be spelled and pronounced]

(it is not my Russian and not my real name)

As we have noted above, with regard to Figure 24, and the intellectual battle between those who adhered to the pre-1918 and post-1918 alphabets (Karmanova 2018), the young Alissa Rosenbaum asking for a tuition exemption in the early 1920s clearly knew how to “write otherwise,” though she wrote the letter to Kerensky using exclusively the post-1918 spelling system.

9.

Solovyev takes issue with Nikiforova and Kizilov (2020, 135), who claim that Alissa Rosenbaum could not have completed her degree with the “highest grades” because there were only pass-fail options during her university years; clearly that is not the case from our investigation of the matricula. An independent review of the Nikiforova and Kizilov book appears in this issue; see Grigorovskaya 2021.

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