Gerhard Friedrich Muller

Portrait of Gerhard Friedrich Müller

Historian, ethnographer
Born: Herford, Westphalia - 29 October, 1705
Died: Moscow - 22 October, 1783

One of the pioneers of the study of ethnography, Gerhard Müller was educated in the German city of Leipzig. He moved to Russia in 1725 and was one of the founding members of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. The main impact of his work can be found in the expeditions and studies undertaken in Siberia and Kamchatka. For 10 years he was part of a group of scientists who traveled through Siberia in order to document the peoples and cultures, and collect data for the creation of maps. Müller, as someone who was adept at describing and categorizing clothing, religions, and rituals of the many different Siberian ethnic groups, is considered to be the father of ethnography.

When he returned from Siberia, Müller took the position of historiographer to the Russian Empire. This step marks one of the first times for a historian to develop the general history of Russia through the examination of documented sources. This was to be problematic for him as he ascribed more value in the role of Scandinavians and Germans in the formation of the country. After many attacks by his colleagues, Müller was moved to the position of keeper of the national archives in 1766.