Geographic Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Geographic Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences


a cartographic institution that also conducted geographic work.

The geographic department was established in 1739 with the aim of accelerating cartographic work for the compilation of an atlas of Russia—work that had been begun by the Academy of Sciences as early as 1726. This work was completed in 1745 with the publication of the Russian Atlas, which, despite substantial deficiencies, was an outstanding event in the history of cartography, valued highly both in Russia and abroad. The atlas contained 20 maps. The work of the geographic department received further significant development under the direction of M. V. Lomonosov from 1757 to 1765. At this time important steps were taken to train specialists in geography, topography, and cartography, to improve the study of the geography of Russia, and to develop plans for important proposed expeditions. The activity of the geographic department laid the groundwork for the geographic-cartographic work of the Academy of Sciences from 1766 to 1786, including the all-inclusive Expeditions of the Academy 1768-1774, which was a milestone in the comprehensive study of Russia.

The geographic department published about 300 maps, including general maps of the Russian Empire (1776 and 1786), and also collected an extensive archive of manuscript maps and plans. Because of the transfer of many projects to other departments from the middle of the 1780’s, the geographic department lost its significance (in 1800 it was abolished), and the main cartographic institution in Russia became the Depository of Maps.


Gnucheva, V. F. Geograficheskii department Akademii nauk 18 v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Salishchev, K. A. Osnovy kartovedeniia: Chast’ istoricheskaia ikartograficheskie materialy. Moscow, 1948.
Fel’, S. E. Kartografiia Rossii 18 v. Moscow, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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