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Nikolai Pavlovich Goloubev (1888–1965)

by J. A. Zanadvoroff

This article was published:

Nikolai Pavlovich Goloubev (1888-1965), medical practitioner and community leader, was born on 5 January 1888 at Okhansk, Perm province, Russia, son of Pavel Goloubev, schoolteacher, and his wife Natalie, née Sobolev. Nikolai attended senior school at Tobol'sk, Siberia, and in 1909 entered Tomsk University (M.D., 1918). Called up in 1915, he served as a junior intern in military hospitals at Tiumen and Tomsk. Having been discharged on 4 April 1918, he passed his final university examinations before being mobilized in June by the White Russian army and allotted to the Vanguard Field Hospital. Goloubev retreated on the 'Icy March' from Omsk across Siberia (September 1919-March 1920) with the remnants of the White forces, eventually reaching Chita, Transbaikal. He was chief doctor at various field-hospitals and assistant-commissioner (1920-22) for the All Russian Union of Towns Committee.

With his wife Anna Alexandria and their son, he settled at Suifenhe (Pogranichnaya station), Manchuria, on the Chinese Eastern Railway where he opened his own hospital in October 1923; he also became official medical officer to the Chinese Maritime Customs Service. In 1930 he moved to Harbin and practised at the German-Russian hospital. The Japanese and Soviet Union's invasions of Manchuria, and the Chinese Civil War, created a volatile political climate for the large and impoverished Russian community. Goloubev headed a number of charitable organizations and often jeopardized his own safety by interceding with the authorities on behalf of his compatriots. He joined the Harbin branch of the Chinese Trade Union of Railway Employees, and was chief of the surgical ward (1945-49) and consulting physician (1949-53) at the Central Hospital, Chinese Changchun Railway; he also lectured on surgery at the medical school, was director of the trained nurses' courses and belonged to the Scientific Association of Russian Doctors.

Divorced from Anna, in 1953 Goloubev married Elisavetta Blavdzevich, née Shefranovskaya, at Harbin; she was a widow with three children. He retired on an old-age pension in April 1956 and arrived in Sydney with his family on 24 December in the Changte. Appointed vice-chairman of the Eparchy [Diocesan] Refugee Committee by Bishop Savva of Australia and New Zealand, he helped Russian newcomers in Sydney. In August 1957 he was nominated to a committee that considered appeals to enter Australia, and gave useful and humane advice based on his knowledge of some of the applicants from Harbin. Many of his former patients, who had managed to reach New South Wales, organized a petition to the Department of Health requesting recognition of Dr Goloubev as their qualified medical practitioner. This petition was 'met with kind consideration and approval', and he established a surgery in 1959 at Strathfield where he continued to practise until his death. A humanist and a devout Christian who worshipped at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Strathfield, he was wise and tolerant, and generous with his time and money.

Goloubev changed the spelling of his surname to Goloubeff and was naturalized in 1962. He wrote poetry, painted in oils, played chess and belonged to the Sir Benjamin Fuller Foreign Language Memorial Library. Stocky in build, with grey-blue eyes, he was an outstanding figure among his countrymen in Australia. He died on 9 December 1965 at his Strathfield home and was buried in Rookwood cemetery. His wife survived him, as did the son of his first marriage who had emigrated with Anna to Tasmania.

Select Bibliography

  • Edinenie (Unification, Sydney), 24, 31 Dec 1965
  • naturalisation file, SP1122/1 item N61/37113 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. A. Zanadvoroff, 'Goloubev, Nikolai Pavlovich (1888–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Goloubeff, Nikolai

5 January, 1888
Okhansk, Russia


9 December, 1965 (aged 77)
Strathfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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