«Labour gave you scientific glory»: Oleksandra Yakivna Efimenko – Modern Era Female Scientist

Oksana Drach


Introduction. The place of honour among female pioneers of science takes a well-known historian, ethnographer, the first female Doctor of History in the Russian Empire, teacher and public figure Oleksandra Yakivna Efimenko (1848 – 1918).

Purpose. In modern Ukrainian historiography, there is no comprehensive work on understanding of the personality of the prominent scholar. The purpose of this article is to study the life and work of O.Ya. Efimenko through psychohistory and gender analysis.

Results. The analysis of sources gives grounds to state that O.Ya. Efimenko was born on May 30, 1848 in the village of Kuzomen, Kolsky Uyezd of the Arkhangelsk Governorate. In 1864 she began her career as a teacher at the two-class parochial school in the town of Kholmogory, Arkhangelsk Governorate. The young teacher bent all energies to self-development. Meeting with political exile Petro Savich Efimenko defined the future of the woman. She became an assistant in his research studios, and later she became his wife. O.Ya. Efimenko studied archival materials, explored customs of the peoples of the North. Her publications started appearing in local and capital press.

A new page in the life and work of O.Ya. Efimenko was opened in 1874, when she together with her husband moved to Ukraine – at first to the city of Chernihiv, and in 1879 – to the city of Kharkiv. The scientist focused on social history, justified her concept of shared land ownership. She was an active figure in the scientific, cultural, educational and public life of the region, and devoted much effort to the study of Ukrainian history.

Since 1907 O.Ya. Efimenko taught the history of Ukraine at St. Petersburg Women’s Higher Courses. In 1910 she was awarded the degree of Honoured Doctor of Russian History by the Kharkiv University. Difficult material situation made Oleksandra Yakivna move in 1917 to Kharkivshina, where she died from the hands of bandits in 1918.

Conclusion. Settings for priority of the inner / spiritual over the external / material, formed in her childhood, became the core of the personality of Oleksandra Yakivna. Natural curiosity, persevering desire to know the world around, combined with thoroughness and conscientiousness, will become a guarantee of excellent education at the gymnasium, and will determine the life credo of the scientist – self-improvement and self-cultivation.


Oleksandra Yakivna Efimenko, populism, female scientist, Honoured Doctor of Russian History


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