Nikolai Anderson around 1880
|Born||Nikolai Karl Adolf Anderson
September 24, 1845
Kulina, Governorate of Estonia
|Died||March 9, 1905
Narva, Governorate of Estonia
|Nationality||Russian (Baltic German)|
|Institutions||University of Kazan|
|Alma mater||University of Tartu|
|Thesis||Studien zur Vergleichung der ugrofinnischen und indogermanischen Sprachen (1879)|
|Academic advisors||Leo Meyer|
Anderson was born in the village Kulina, Estonia close to the town Wesenberg. He went to school in Reval  and in 1865 enrolled in the University of Dorpat to study philology, where he was a student of Leo Meyer who in the same year had been appointed as the university’s professor of Germanistics and Comparative Philology. While at university he became interested in Finno-Ugric languages and quickly became an expert in the field.
In 1871 Anderson worked as an hourly paid teacher at the Gymnasium in Dorpat before taking up a post as teacher for classical languages at the Gymnasium in Minsk (now in Belarus) in 1872, but he continued his studies of Finno-Ugric languages in his spare time. In 1874, he got married and soon started a family. Nikolai Anderson’s three sons were Wilhelm Anderson (born 1880), Walter Anderson (born 1885)  and Oskar Anderson (born 1887), who all went on to choose academic careers.
In 1876 he submitted the results of his research, comparing Finno-Ugric and Indo-Germanic languages to the University of Tartu, for which he was awarded a degree in Comparative Philology. Still working as a teacher in Minsk, he continued his research, and in 1891 he gained a Magister degree in Comparative Linguistics. In 1892 his mentor Leo Meyer nominated Anderson for an honorary membership of the Learned Estonian Society (Gelehrte Estnische Gesellschaft), a corresponding member of which he had been since 1871, which was granted to Anderson in the same year.
In January 1894 he was offered a professorship in Finno-Ugric languages at the University of Kazan (Russia) to replace Mihkel Veske, which he accepted, as this allowed him to take up an academic career that would allow him more time for his research. As a professor he had the rank of Статский советник, meaning that he held personal nonility in the Imperial Russian hierarchy.
In 1898 Anderson fell ill with a nervous disorder and was hospitalized for several months in Tartu. In 1904 he relapsed and was once again hospitalized. After his condition improved in early 1905 he visited his sister in Narva, where he fell ill with Pleurisy and died shortly thereafter. Anderson was buried in Yamburg.
In his work, Anderson not only compared different Finno-Ugric languages but also argued for a genetic relationship between Finno-Ugric and Indo-Germanic languages, making him one of the first scholars to investigate possible links between these two language families. At the time of his death, Anderson was the only professor for Finno-Ugric languages in the Russian Empire.
- Anderson, Nikolai (1876), "Probe einer vergleichenden Grammatik der ugrofinnischen und indogermanischen Sprachen",
- Anderson, Nikolai (1879/1891), "Studien zur Vergleichung der ugrofinnischen und indogermanischen Sprachen", H. Laakmann (Dorpat)
- Anderson, Nikolai (1893), "Wandlungen der anlautenden dentalen Spirans im Ostjakischen", Mémoires de l'Académie impériale des sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, Imperial Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg)
References / Further reading
- "Anderson, Nikolai Karl Adolf", BBLd – Baltisches Biographisches Lexikon digital, Göttingen: Baltische Historische Kommission, 2012
- Hasselblatt, A.; Otto, G. (1889), Album academicum der Kaiserlichen Universität Dorpat, Dorpat: Verlag C. Mattiesen
- Schlüter, Wolfgang (1906), "Nekrolog: Prof. Mag. Nikolai Anderson (Obituary)", Sitzungsberichte der gelehrten estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat 1905, Sitzungsberichte der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft, Gelehrte Estnische Gesellschaft (Dorpat), pp. XII–XVI
- Kuusk, P.; Martinson, I. (1997), "Tartu astrofüüsik Wilhelm Anderson", Akadeemia 2: 358–375, retrieved 2013-03-09
- "Anderson, Walter Arthur Alexander", BBLd – Baltisches Biographisches Lexikon digital, Göttingen: Baltische Historische Kommission, 2012
- Seneta, Eugene William (2010). "Oskar Anderson". StatProb: The Encyclopedia Sponsored by Statistics and Probability Societies. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
- Bernhard Munkácsi (1905), "Nikolai Anderson", Keleti Szemle 6, pp. 180–181
- Emil Nestor Setälä (1905), "† Nikolai Anderson", Anzeiger der Finnisch-ugrischen Forschungen 5, pp. 187–189
- Pedersen, Holger (1931), Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century: Methods and Results, translated by John Webster Spargo, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press