Tartu Ülikool 19. sajandil


{ V. Tamul Geodeet 6(30) 1994 3-4 }


Tartu Univeristy in the 19th Century


V. Tamul


Tartu University, Department of General History, Faculty of Philosophy, Tartu, EE2400




Käsitletakse Tartu Ülikooli seisundit saksa perioodi vältel (kuni 1840). Tehakse kolm põhijäreldust:

1) ülikoolil oli tegelik autonoomia kogu perioodi kestel;

2) saksa keel õppekeelena garanteeris piisava kontakti saksakeelse teadusmaailmaga;

3) ülikoolil olid tihedad sidemed juhtivate Saksamaa ülikoolidega nende professorite kaudu, kes olid saanud oma hariduse seal.


Tartu (Dorpat) University (TU), reopened in 1802, was not a very large establishment of higher education during the 19th century. The number of professors was about 40 at the beginning and fluctuated between 50 and 60 in the middle of the century. Before the closure of the Imperial University in 1918 it was more then 80. The annual number of students grew from 100 at the

beginning of the century to 2000 at the end of the period.


Generally we can divide the history of TU in the 19th century into two periods:

l.The period of the German university (from the reopening to the end of the 1880s).

2.The period of the Russian university (from the end of the 1880s to the closing of the imperial university in 1918).


TU was reopened as the Baltic provincial university (Landesuniversität). TU was intended for the three German-Baltic Provinces of the Russian Empire. The intention was to let TU be controlled by the local German-Baltic nobility. But very soon TU was transferred into Russian Imperial University governed by the Public Education Ministry of the Russian Empire. Coming under the control of the central government did not infringe TU's autonomy, which remained greater than the autonomy of the other universities in the Russian Empire at that time (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kasan and Charkow). The autonomy of TU was practically guaranteed by its German origin, by its location in the Baltic Provinces and in German-Baltic society.


The language of tuition and research-work in TU was German. This is very significant, since the time of the reopening of TU coincided with shifts in the locations of the main centres of learning in the world. Until the middle of the 17th century the development of science had been most intensive in Italy, then in England and France. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, however, Germany claimed priority, because German universities were developing into major centres of scientific research. We can talk about the German language as the international language of science during the first half of the 19th century. All the best work in world science was at that time translated into German and became, in this way, available for the professors and students of TU.


Most of the professors at TU were educated in Germany. They retained their contacts with those German universities where they had studied and had acquired their scientific degrees, and still worked, while they were employed in TU.


During the first half of the 19th century a total of 31 professors of natural and exact sciences were employed at TU. Table shows from which universities they had come to TU, and when. By studying this data, we can see the varying influence of these universities, and hence the changes in TU's academic relations in the fields of natural and exact sciences. Often one man was educated in several universities: in these cases each university is included in the data.


As we see, the employment in Tartu of professors, who had been educated at TU, was distributed quite equally between the decades during the first half of the 19th century. Professors, who had studied at the university of Berlin, special influence at that time, had a especially close academic relations between Tartu and Berlin where at the end of the period.


The graduates of the old German universities (Jena, Halle, Königsberg, Leipzig and Göttingen) were employed at TU mainly during the first and the last decades of the period.



Universities where were educated TU professors of natural and exact sciences employed in the first half of the 19th century




In addition to the universities noted in Table, TU's professors of natural and exact sciences had also been educated in 14 other, mainly German, universities, but only one or two professors in each of these.


Some conclusions:

- TU enjoyed practical autonomy during the whole period;

- German, the language of tuition at TU, guaranteed permanent contact with the German-speaking scientific world;

- TU had close academic ties with leading German universities through professors who had been educated in Germany.


Hence, it is possible to affirm: TU was during the 19th century essentially a typical German university on the same scientific level. But at the same time TU was unquestionably the strongest and most dominant establishment of higher education and research in the Russian Empire.


In fact, the professors and graduates of TU laid the foundations for the development of Russian universities and other scientific establishments. Many of the professors of Russian universities had studied in TU. Institute of Professors, which trained teaching staff for other Russian universities, operated at TU from 1828 to 1839.


In the middle of the 19th century out of the 21 academicians at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences 14 were either former professors or students of TU.


In this way TU played the role of a transit station, window or bridge functioning between West-European (mainly German) and Russian spheres of culture and science in the 19th century. Scientific and also social ideas passed from West to East through TU.




1. Archives of Estonian History: bulky stock of Tartu University (n. 402).

2. History  of Tartu  University  (1632-1982).   1985, Tallinn.

3. Piirimäe,H., V. Tanud.  1989. Tartu University. Estonia and Tartu. Tartu, pp. 23-28.

4. Tamul, V. 1992. Das Professorinstitut und der Anteil der Universität Dorpat/Tartu an den russisch-deutschen Wissenschaftskontakten   im   ersten   Drittel   des   19. Jahrhunderts. Zeitschrift für Ostforschung. 41, 1992,4, S. 525-542.



Editorial comment:


W. Struve, a graduate of Dorpat University, stack to Latin in the official publications of the University Observatory ("Observationes...") so ignoring the precedent set by his predecessor J.W.A. Pfaff educated in Germany, who already had issued in German the "Astronomische Beyträge" (no 1 - 3, Dorpat 1806 -1807). Struve's successor J.H. Mädler, upon his arrival at Dorpat from Germany in 1840, immediately changed over to German again.