Nikolai Anderson

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Nikolai Anderson
Nikolai Anderson.jpg
Nikolai Anderson around 1880
Born Nikolai Karl Adolf Anderson
(1845-09-24)24 September 1845
Kulina, Governorate of Estonia (Russian Empire)
Died 9 March 1905(1905-03-09) (aged 59)
Narva, Saint Petersburg Governorate (Russian Empire)
Resting place Yamburg, Saint Petersburg Governorate
Nationality Russian (Baltic German)
Alma mater University of Tartu
Spouse(s) Adele Vogt[1]
Awards Order of St. Anna, 3rd [2] and 2nd class,[3] Order of Saint Stanislaus, 2nd class,[3] Order of Saint Vladimir, 4th class [3]
Scientific career
Fields Finno-Ugric languages
Institutions University of Kazan
Thesis Studien zur Vergleichung der ugrofinnischen und indogermanischen Sprachen (1879)
Academic advisors Leo Meyer

Nikolai Karl Adolf Anderson (24 September 1845 in Kulina, Estonia – 9 March 1905 in Narva, Estonia) was a Baltic German philologist who specialized in comparative linguistics of Finno-Ugric languages.[1]


Anderson was born in the village Kulina, Estonia close to the town Wesenberg. After receiving private tuition in Saint Petersburg[4] he attended the Gouvernements-Gymnasium (Grammar School of the Governorate) in Reval[1][4] and in 1865 he enrolled in the University of Dorpat to study philology,[5] 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.[6] 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,[5] but he continued his studies of Finno-Ugric languages in his spare time. In 1874, he got married and soon started a family.[1] Nikolai Anderson's three sons were Wilhelm Anderson (born 1880),[7] Walter Anderson (born 1885)[8] and Oskar Anderson (born 1887),[9] 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.[6] In 1892 his mentor Leo Meyer nominated Anderson for an honorary membership of the Learned Estonian Society (Gelehrte Estnische Gesellschaft),[6] a corresponding member of which he had been since 1871,[10] 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,[11] 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 (State Councillor), meaning that he held personal nobility in the Imperial Russian hierarchy.[6]

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.[6] Anderson was buried with his parents in Yamburg.[1][6][12]


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.[13] At the time of his death, Anderson was the only professor for Finno-Ugric languages in the Russian Empire.[10]

Honours and awards[edit]

References / Further reading[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Anderson, Nikolai Karl Adolf", BBLd – Baltisches Biographisches Lexikon digital, Göttingen: Baltische Historische Kommission, 2012 
  2. ^ a b "Inland", Rigasche Zeitung (in German), Riga, 38 (2), 1881-03-25, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Формулярный списокь (service record): Николай Андерсон (Nikolai Anderson)", Oskar Nikolaevich Anderson (1907-1912) (in Russian), St. Petersburg: Archives of the Petrograd Polytechnical Institute of the Emperor Peter the Great in the Central State Historical Archives of St. Petersburg, pp. 9–18, retrieved 2016-06-15 
  4. ^ a b Hradetzky, H. (1931), Schüler-Verzeichnis des Revalschen Gouvernements-Gymnasiums: 1805-1890, Reval/Tallinn: Kluge & Ströhm, p. 151 
  5. ^ a b Hasselblatt, A.; Otto, G. (1889), Album academicum der Kaiserlichen Universität Dorpat, Dorpat: Verlag C. Mattiesen, p. 586 
  6. ^ a b c d e f 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 
  7. ^ Kuusk, P.; Martinson, I. (1997), "Tartu astrofüüsik Wilhelm Anderson", Akadeemia, 2: 358–375, retrieved 9 March 2013 
  8. ^ "Anderson, Walter Arthur Alexander", BBLd – Baltisches Biographisches Lexikon digital, Göttingen: Baltische Historische Kommission, 2012 
  9. ^ Seneta, Eugene William (2010). "Oskar Anderson". StatProb: The Encyclopedia Sponsored by Statistics and Probability Societies. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 
  10. ^ a b Bernhard Munkácsi (1905), "Nikolai Anderson", Keleti Szemle, 6, pp. 180–181 
  11. ^ Emil Nestor Setälä (1905), "† Nikolai Anderson", Anzeiger der Finnisch-ugrischen Forschungen, 5, pp. 187–189 
  12. ^ Рафикова (Rafikova), Г. (G.); Ибрагимова (Ibrahimova), Ф. (F.) (2016), "Биографика Казанского университета: Андерсоны (Kazan University Biography: Anderson)", «Гасырлар авазы – Эхо веков», 2016 1/2, retrieved 2017-06-19 
  13. ^ Pedersen, Holger (1931), Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century: Methods and Results, translated by John Webster Spargo, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press