Emeritus Professor Mark G. Field (1923 – 2015)

Mark G. Field, pictured after delivering his final Davis Center seminar, “In the Vineyards of Medical Sociology and Sovietology: Revisiting One’s Life,” on December 14, 2009. Photo: S. Failla (Harvard)

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Emeritus Professor Mark G. Field, on Wednesday, October 21, 2015. He was 92 years old.

Born in 1923 in Switzerland to stateless Russian immigrants who had fled their home city of Odessa, Mark Field arrived with his family in the United States in 1940. He attended high school in Jackson Heights, Queens, and spent a year at Hamilton College before enrolling in Harvard in 1942, where he studied Russian with Professor Samuel Cross.

He was drafted in 1944, assigned to a unit designed to communicate with Soviet troops. Shortly before the end of World War II he arrived in Germany, where he would remain stationed until he was severely injured in an accident. Following an eight-month hospitalization he resumed his studies at Harvard, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1948.

Kris Snibbe / Harvard Staff Photographer
Medical sociologist Mark G. Field, a specialist in Soviet health systems, uses a final Harvard seminar to recall a 20th century life in war, Cold War, peace, and scholarship.

Soon afterward, he took a job at Harvard’s newly opened Russian Research Center and would become one of the first students to graduate from the Soviet Union Program, earning the master’s degree in 1950. The Project on the Soviet Social System, one of the Center’s first major research undertakings, provided essential material for Mark’s doctoral work. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard in 1955 and published his first book, Doctor and Patient in Soviet Russia, in 1957.

A renowned expert on the Soviet health care system, he was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and an associate of the Harvard Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies for more than six decades.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues.