Loren Graham

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Not to be confused with Lauren Graham.

Loren R. Graham (born June 29, 1933, in Hymera, Indiana) is a noted American historian of science, considered the leading scholar on Russian science outside that country.

He has taught and published on that subject, at Indiana University, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, where he is currently a research associate. He was a participant in one of the first academic exchange programs between the United States and the Soviet Union, studying at Moscow University in 1960-1961, and he has lived and worked in Russia dozens of times.

In addition to history of science, he has also written a popular book on Native American history (A Face in the Rock) and a memoir (Moscow Stories) which describes his youth in the United States and his adventures in Russia. He has also been a strong supporter of human rights and scholarship. He was a member of the board of trustees of George Soros’s International Science Foundation which gave financial support to scientists in Russia immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. For many years he has been a member of the Governing Council of the Program on Basic Research and Higher Education, which supports the combining of research and teaching in Russian universities and is financially supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Russian Ministry of Science and Education, and local groups in Russia. He is a member of the advisory council of the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation, which supports international scientific collaboration. For many years he was a member of the board of trustees of the European University at St. Petersburg and still serves on the board of a body raising money for that university. He gave several thousand books from his library to the European University which has established a special collection in his name.

In much of his work in the history of science, Graham has demonstrated the influence of social context on science, even its theoretical structure. For example, in his Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union (which was a finalist for a National Book Award) he delineated the influence of Marxism on science in Russia — in some cases, such as the Lysenko Affair, deleterious, but, in other cases, particularly in physics, psychology, and origin of life studies, positive. In his most recent work, Naming Infinity (written together with the mathematician Jean-Michel Kantor,see www.math.jussieu.fr/~kantor ) he has shown the positive influence of a religious heresy on early work of the Moscow School of Mathematics. Thus, Graham is not a proponent of any particular ideological view in science, such as Marxism or religion, but instead believes that scientists are sometimes influenced by a variety of different belief systems and philosophies. Graham holds that occasionally this influence extends to mathematics itself, as shown not only in his work on the Moscow School of Mathematics but also in his article Do Mathematical Equations Express Social Attributes? (The Mathematical Intelligencer, 2000).

In addition to writing on the history of scientific theories, Graham has written much on the organization of science in Russia and the Soviet Union, including a book on the early history of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (The Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Communist Party) and a more recent one on the situation of science in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union (Science in the New Russia, written together with Irina Dezhina).

Education, awards and personal life[edit]

Graham earned his B.A. in chemical engineering at Purdue University and his M.A. and doctorate degree in history at Columbia University.[1]

In 1996 he received the George Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society and in 2000 he received the Follo Award of the Michigan Historical Society for his contributions to Michigan history.

Graham is a member of a number of honorary societies, both American and foreign, including the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Russian Academy of Natural Science. His books have been published in English, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Greek, Persian, Korean and Chinese.

In 2012 Graham was awarded a medal by the Russian Academy of Sciences at a ceremony in Moscow for "contributions to the history of science"

Loren Graham and his wife Patricia, a prominent historian of education and a former dean at Harvard University, many years ago purchased a lighthouse on a remote island in Lake Superior and spend their summers there writing, studying nature, and serving as Coast Guard auxiliarists who have participated in many rescue operations of stranded and wrecked mariners. The lighthouse is described here

Graham's major books[edit]

  • Moscow in May 1963: Education and Cybernetics (with Oliver Caldwell), Washington, 1964
  • The Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Communist Party, 1927—1932, Princeton University Press, 1967
  • Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union, Alfred Knopf, 1972
  • Between Science and Values, Columbia University Press, 1981
  • Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History, Cambridge University Press, 1993
  • Functions and Uses of Disciplinary Histories (edited with Wolf Lepenies and Peter Weingart), Reidel, 1983
  • Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia, by Alexander Bogdanov (edited with Richard Stites), Indiana University Press, 1984
  • Science, Philosophy, and Human Behavior in the Soviet Union, Columbia University Press, 1987
  • Science and the Soviet Social Order (edited), Harvard University Press, 1990
  • The Ghost of the Executed Engineer, Harvard University Press, 1993
  • The Face in the Rock: the Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa, University of California, 1995
  • What Have We Learned about Science and Technology from the Russian Experience?, Stanford University Press, 1998
  • Moscow Stories, Indiana University Press, 2006
  • Grand Island and its Families (with Katherine Geffine Carlson) GIA, 2007
  • Science in the New Russia: Crisis, Aid, Reform (with Irina Dezhina), Indiana University Press, 2008
  • Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity,with Jean-Michel Kantor Harvard University Press, 2009
  • Lonely Ideas: Can Russia Compete? MIT Press, 2013
  • Death at the Lighthouse: A Grand Island Riddle, Arbutus Press, 2013
  • Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia, Harvard University Press, 2016


Biographical material and professional details for Loren Graham may be found in:


  1. ^ Assembly Series: Science historian Loren Graham here, Washington University in St. Louis