Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Russian traveler
Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay was a Russian ethnographer, anthropologist, biologist and traveler. He studied the indigenous population of Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania, including the Papuans of the northeastern coast of New Guinea, called the Maclay Coast.
You know, he is the author of about 160 scientific works, mostly articles and notes, most often published in German and English. By the way, Nikolai is known as a defender of the indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia and Oceania, actively opposed the slave trade. As a scientist, he consistently adhered to the principle of the unity of the human race.
Miklouho-Maclay’s birthday is informally celebrated as a professional ethnographic holiday.
The boy was born on July 17, 1846 in Novgorod Province, Russian Empire, into a noble family. The family often moved from place to place, following the father, who was a railway engineer. At the end of 1856 the head of the family was appointed the head of the construction of the Vyborg highway. By that time, the father was already seriously ill with tuberculosis and a year later he died at the age of 41. The widow earned her living by drawing geographic maps and managed to give her children good education.
The boy studied at the University of Moscow, Faculty of Physics and Mathematics. In April 1864 he went to Germany and entered the Heidelberg University and in the summer of 1865 Nikolai was transferred to the University of Leipzig. Later he studied medicine.
In the spring of 1866, Nikolai’s scientific leader E. Haeckel decided to visit Sicily in order to study the Mediterranean fauna and invited his beloved student and assistant to travel. The war forced them to change the route, and the young man found himself in England, where he met Darwin. Then the expedition members sailed to Madeira, and from there to Santa Cruz. The local population took scientists for sorcerers. Then a group of scientists reached Morocco, where Nikolai studied the life of the Berbers and returned to Jena only in May 1867.
Later Miklouho-Maclay along with zoologist-Darwinist Anton Dorn went to Sicily. In Italy, the future famous traveler learned about the completion of the Suez Canal and decided to study the fauna of the Red Sea. After visiting Egypt, where he did a lot of research work, the scientist went to Russia and arriver there in the summer of 1869.
The traveler visited his relatives who were living in Saratov at that time and went to the capital. Soon he became a member of the Russian Geographical Society.
In 1871 Miklouho-Maclay went to New Guinea, where he spent 15 months. The people of New Guinea remember the first European who stepped on their land and lived among them as their devoted friend.
On December 24, the scientist left New Guinea on the ship Emerald. After some time, he arrived in Hong Kong, where he learned about his glory. On January 2, 1874 he came to Ambon and began to fight with slavers. In May 1875, the scientist wrote a letter to the Emperor Alexander the Second asking him to protect the Aborigines of New Guinea. Unfortunately, he received a negative answer. After spending 17 months on the islands, Miklouho-Maclay went to Australia. There he managed to interest local authorities in the project of organizing a biological station in the Watsons Bay. But he couldn’t collect enough money.
In 1881 Miklouho-Maclay headed the Marine Biological Station. At the same time, he, as he could, defended the population of New Guinea.
In January 1882 he returned to Russia where his lectures were a huge success. Because of health problems Miklouho-Maclay had to go to Europe for treatment. Then the scientist visited New Guinea for the third time. There he was disappointed, as many of his friends died.
On February 27, 1884 Nikolai married Margaret Robertson-Clark, the daughter of an important colonial official, in Sydney, and in November their first son Alexander was born. In the middle of the spring of 1886 the family moved to Russia.
The great traveler died of cancer on April 14, 1888 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire.
The Institute of Ethnography in St. Petersburg is named in his honor and many streets in Russia and the Ukraine are named after him. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Miklouho-Maclay’s birth a bronze sculpture was brought to Sydney from Russia.
After his death Miklouho-Maclay’s wife returned to Sydney. Now, his grandsons live in Australia with their families.