- Existence: 1925 - 2020
David Joravsky was born September 9, 1925, in Chicago to Joseph and Bertha Joravsky. After serving in the United States Army from 1944 to 1946, he was awarded a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947. Joravsky received an M.A. and Certificate of the Russian Institute from Columbia University in 1949 and married his wife Doris in the same year. He completed his doctorate at Columbia University in 1958. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University as a full professor.
Joravsky served as an instructor at Cornell University in 1953 and held the same position with Marietta College during the 1953-1954 academic year. He joined the University of Connecticut as an instructor in 1954 and remained until 1958. Upon completing his doctorate at Columbia Joravsky accepted appointment as assistant professor of history at Brown University. Brown promoted him to associate professor in 1961. In 1966 Joravsky accepted Northwestern University's offer of a full professorship.
During his tenure at Northwestern, Joravsky served on many faculty committees including the Harris Lecture Committee and the Leland Forum Committee. He was chairman of the History Department in 1966 and served a second term in that capacity during the period 1980-1983. Because of his special interest in the intersection of science and history, he was an important member of Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science and Technology. Joravsky also exercised this interest as chair of the Science for Non-Specialists Committee, which aimed to make entry-level science courses accessible to a broad array of students.
Joravsky was active in scholarly associations outside of Northwestern University as well. He was a member of the Chicago Consortium for Slavic and East European Studies and a director of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies from 1966 to 1969. Joravsky maintained memberships in the American Historical Association and in the American Political Science Association. He won research grants from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Social Science Research Council, and the International Research and Exchanges Board. Joravsky was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1961-1962, a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow in 1977-1978, and a trustee of the National Council for Soviet and East European Research from 1982 to 1988.
Joravsky published a number of articles in periodicals such as Science, Soviet Studies, Political Science Quarterly, the New York Review of Books, and The Nation. His first book, Soviet Marxism and Natural Science, 1917-32, appeared in 1961. Joravsky's 1970 book, The Lysenko Affair, won the History of Science Society's Pfizer prize in 1971. The book was used extensively for a BBC dramatized documentary about Soviet science in the 1930's. Joravsky wrote an introduction and served as editor for an English language translation of Roy Medvedev's work, Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism (1971). He published Russian Psychology: A Critical History in 1989.
Joravsky died in 2020.