Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 9551
Soviet Space Medicine Videohistory Collection, 1989
The Institute for Biomedical Problems (Institut mediko-biologicheskikh problem, IMBP) was founded in 1963 to undertake the study of space medicine. It is located in Moscow, USSR, and consists of a Primate Space Flight Training Center, research laboratories and a small museum.
Oleg Gazenko attended The Second Moscow Medical School and The Military Medical Academy in Leningrad. He was a director of the IMBP (1967-1987) and was a specialist in gravitational physiology. He was a member of the first group of Soviet scientists to study the gravitational effects of acceleration and weightlessness on-board Soviet sounding rockets in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Gazenko participated in cooperative projects with the Life Sciences Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and oversaw preparation and evaluation of cosmonauts for long duration spaceflights.
Abram Moiseevich Genin attended The Second Moscow Medical School and The Central Institute for Advanced Training of Doctors in Moscow. A specialist in biophysics, Genin's early work dealt with biophysical problems of aviation, especially the mechanics of decompression disease. Genin also worked on the factors of life support in space: cabin pressure, weightlessness, and gravitational effects on the blood circulation.
Evgenii Shepelev attended The Second Moscow Medical School and specialized in the physiological effects of artificial environments. This work was essential for the successful execution of the Soviet space station program and would be critical for sending people to Mars. Shepelev used himself as the subject of the first Soviet isolation experiments in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Irina Gireeva and Vladimir Magedov were also interviewed. Gireeva was an animal technician at the center; Magedov directed computer operations in the building.
The Smithsonian Videohistory Program, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation from 1986 until 1992, used video in historical research. Additional collections have been added since the grant project ended. Videohistory uses the video camera as a historical research tool to record moving visual information. Video works best in historical research when recording people at work in environments, explaining artifacts, demonstrating process, or in group discussion. The experimental program recorded projects that reflected the Institution's concern with the conduct of contemporary science and technology.
Smithsonian historians participated in the program to document visual aspects of their on-going historical research. Projects covered topics in the physical and biological sciences as well as in technological design and manufacture. To capture site, process, and interaction most effectively, projects were taped in offices, factories, quarries, laboratories, observatories, and museums. Resulting footage was duplicated, transcribed, and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution Archives for scholarship, education, and exhibition. The collection is open to qualified researchers.
Cathleen S. Lewis, curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), interviewed Oleg Gazenko, Evgenii Shepelev, and Abraham Genin about their research and participation in the Soviet aviation and space medicine program prior to 1964, as well as their work at the Institute. Lewis was primarily interested in documenting early work in the fields of aviation and space medicine. She also visually documented museum exhibits about the Institute's work in space exploration.
Session one took place at the museum of The Institute for Biomedical Problems. Cathleen Lewis and Andreas Tamberg (interpreter) conducted a group discussion with Gazenko, Genin, and Shepelev. In session two, Gazenko narrated a tour of the museum gallery of IMBP, which showed the use of animals in space exploration. In session three, Genin narrated a tour of the museum gallery of manned space exploration, which documented the development of the spacesuit, parachute systems, and factors for life maintenance in space.
In session four, Gireeva and Magedov led tours in the Institute's Primate Space Flight Training Facility, where they discussed primate training and conditioning in preparation for space flight. Session five documented interior and exterior shots of IMBP, without narration. Finally, an audio interview with Shepelev described his work in space medicine.
This collection consists of five videotaped interview sessions, totalling approximately 5:00 hours of recordings and 86 pages of transcript. Also included is one audio interview, totaling approximately 1:15 hours of audiotape and 19 pages of transcript.
All sessions were conducted in Russian with some English translation. Sessions were transcribed verbatim in Russian and were then translated to English.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Gazenko, O. G. (Oleg Georgievich)
- Gireeva, Irina
- Magedov, Vladimir
- Shepelev, Eugenii
- Genin, A. M. (Abram Moiseevich)
- Lewis, Cathleen S., 1958- , interviewer
- Institute for Biomedical Problems (Rossiĭskai︠a︡ akademii︠a︡ nauk)
- Primate Space Flight Training Facility (U.S.S.R.)
- Science -- History
- Women -- History
- Space medicine
- Oral history
- Technology -- History
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9551, Soviet Space Medicine Videohistory Collection