Paja Radosavljević

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Paja Radosavljević, also spelled Dr. Pavle Paja Radosavljevich,[1][2] (Serbian Cyrillic: Др Павле Паја Радосављевић; Obrež, Austria-Hungary, 9 January 1879 - St. Petersburg, Florida, United States of America, 7 April 1958[3]), was a Serbian American scientist, professor of psychology and pedagogy and one of the most loyal friends of Nikola Tesla. He is a reformer of American education,[4]one of the founders of experimental psychology and the head of the department at New York University. His close friends used to call him "Dr. Rado."

He was also an ordained Serbian Orthodox Church,[5] scientist and university professor at Columbia University who led the Serb National Federation and its organ American Srbobran based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[6][7]At the same time the well-known Serbian-American scientist Mihajlo Pupin headed the Federation of United Serbs "Sloga", formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1909.

Paja Radosavljević Ph.D., a student of Ernst Meumann, contributed a lot to experimental psychology. His most widely held works by Paul R. Radosavljevich is "Who are the Slavs?" He contributed with his articles in the journal Uzgajatelj and other publications, including books.


Pavle Paja Radosavljević was born in the village of Obrež on 9 January 1879, to father Ranko and mother Bosiljka. He had a brother, Dušan. In Mostar in 1901, he married Ljubica Krulj, with whom he had a son Milenko, who was a professor in New York. He died on 7 April 1958 at Mount Park Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. His cremated remains in an urn is now located at a cemetery in Golf, Florida.


Pavle first received his primary education in his hometown of Obrež in 1891. On the advice of his teacher and with the consent of his father Ranko, he went to further education at theGymnasium (school)|Zemun Gymnasium, which was then called the State High School in 1891. Then, in 1894, he enrolled in the Serbian Orthodox Teachers' School in Sombor. His ignorance of the Hungarian language took him to the Serbian Orthodox Teachers' School in Pakrac, and then to the Teachers' School in Osijek, where he graduated with honours. He studied experimental psychology and pedagogy in Vienna, Jena and Zurich.

In 1899, he went to University of Vienna|Vienna for further education at the Pedagogy there. The following year he went to University of Jena|Jena, and then to the University of Zurich|Zurich, where he continued his education in pedagogical and philosophical sciences. He obtained his doctorate in experimental psychology in Zurich in 1904 from the famous professor Ernst Meumann (1862-1915), the founder of modern experimental psychology. The topic of the doctoral dissertation was "Advancing forgetting over time". He also received a doctorate in philosophy.

For several years he worked as a teacher in the village of Ašanja, and then as a professor of psychology and pedagogy at the Teachers' School in Sombor, and then in Mostar. In addition to being a doctor of science, he did not get a place at the University of Belgrade because, as a psychologist and pedagogue of experimental orientation, he was not accepted by pedagogues of traditional Herbart orientation. He spoke many languages, German, French, English, Serbian, Russian, and also some Italian, Hungarian, Czech and Spanish.

Going to America

At the invitation of the Dean of New York University, Dr. Thomas Baliat on 29 June 1905 Paja boarded a ship in the port of Hamburg destined for America. When he arrived in America, before he started working at the university at the request of the head of the spiritual mission, Sevastijan Dabović|Sebastian Dabović, sent Paja Radosavljević to Chicago to help organize a hundred manual workers to buld a church and establish a church community. He went to Nikola Tesla and Mihajlo Pupin to ask for material and moral help. In the meantime, Father Dabović had already contacted a Chicago banker, who offered to sell a building to the newly-established Serbian Church-School Congregation. After St. Luke's Church in Chicago was reconstructed Radosavljević returned back to New York City. There he cemented a life-long friendship with Nikola Tesla and the two remained friend until the last days of Tesla's life in 1943.

Soko Publication

In 1911, Gary Indiana became the headquarters for the national Serbian Sokol|Sokol society[8]journal called "Soko"with Reverend Peter O. Stijačić as its first editor. Radosavlević, as the Southeast Side Serbian priest at the time, was asked to write the sokol's mission statement:

"The Serbian sokol aim to promote democracy. They accept old and young, poor and rich, teachers and merchants, doctors and laborers. Social and economic differences are erased."

In that statement Radosavljević exemplified inclusion and its power. In 1912, during the First Balkan War many Serbian Americans left the comforts of their home behind to fight against the aggression of the Ottoman Empire and rid Europe of it.[9]

Friendship with Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla and Paja Radosavljević often visited each other, had extensive correspondence, and saw each other at least once a week. Paja followed all his promotions and lectures.[10][11]And when Tesla could not go to receive some award and recognition, Paja went instead. All meetings and agreements by dates and years can be easily traced in the remaining letters. Paja Radosavljević admired Tesla's mind and genius:

"Serbian treasure, great sage, you are the beacon of local Serbs. Your world voice is the best hope for our Serbs. Your name will be taken as the light of our new culture and education"(18 June 1913).

From the extensive correspondence between Tesla and Radosavljević, one can also learn about the Serbian community in America at that time. Serbian emigrants in America gathered around two societies that were battling for power with each other: The "American Srbobran" in Pittsburgh, headed by Paja Radosavljević, and the "Sloga" society based in New York, led by Mihajlo Pupin. Radosavljević often replaced Nikola Tesla as president of various associations. All contacts of other people and institutions towards Tesla went through Paja Radosavljević. In fact, Tesla considered Radosalvljević his most sincere friend and the only one with whom he maintained a close relationship throughout the years. In the ensuing years Radosavljević stood as a sort of protector from unwanted visitors. He was like a link between Tesla and the outside world and even Tesla's own relatives, such as sister Marica Kosanović, her son, the new Yugoslav ambassador Sava Kosanović and other sister Trbojević. Serbian poet Aleksa Šantić mailed a poem dedicated to Nikola Tesla's mother, to Dr. Radosavljević, so that he could hand it over to Tesla. From all this, it is possible to see how important Dr. Paja Radosavljević was in the life of Nikola Tesla[12]Radosavljevic also informed Tesla about events back home as well as happenings among Serbs in America. A large number of Serbian expatriates came to see Tesla through Radosavljevic. Another persons who enjoyed such close ties with Tesla was List of ambassadors of Montenegro to the United States|Constaintin Fotich, who represented the Yugoslav government-in-exile and arranged the meeting between Tesla and King Peter II of Yugoslavia in the Sumer of 1942.[13]

Academic career and scientific research work

In the United States, at New York University, he studied experimental pedagogy, and then defended his second doctoral dissertation (Influences of word content on primary memory, 1908). He also analyzed the attitude of experimental pedagogy, primarily Alfred Binet and his collaborator Théodore Simon as well as Dotran.[14] Radosavljević worked for a year as an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University in California and studied medicine at the same time. When he soon returned to New York University School of Education, he was elected assistant professor (1910), then associate professor (1913) and full (1915) professor of experimentation.

In the United States, at the University of New York, he studied experimental pedagogy, and then defended his second doctoral dissertation ("Influences of word content on primary memory", 1908). For a year he worked as an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University in California and studied Medicine at the same time. When he soon returned to the Faculty of Education at New York University, he was elected assistant professor (1910), then associate professor (1913) and full (1915) professor of experimental psychology, pedagogy and pedagogy Anthropology. He remained at this university until his retirement in 1945. He visited the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (before World War II) on several occasions and gave lectures and seminars for teachers.

He has written nearly a thousand papers (monographs, textbooks and articles) published in Serbian, English, German, Russian and other languages. Professor Radosavljević has achieved results of lasting value in the field of experimental psychology, especially in the study of the laws of Memory and Forgetting. With his textbooks in experimental psychology and pedagogy, he contributed to the more complete establishment of these scientific fields, as well as to the professional development of teachers. He also wrote significant works in the field of cultural history, Ethnopsychology and pedagogical anthropology. Through extensive research and journalistic work, he can be ranked among the most prolific psychologists in the world. He is considered one of the pioneers of experimental psychology and pedagogy. He advocated methodological exactness in research in psychology and pedagogy based on the natural sciences, for the experimental study of psychological phenomena and educational practice, for objective study, and was close in psychological orientation, and in a sense preceded, Behaviorism|behaviorist orientation in psychology and pedagogical theory and practice.

He maintained constant ties with our educational institutions and teachers of the world, German, Indian, English, Russian, Chinese and Czech. He was a member of many emigrant organizations and held a significant position in them.

One of his most interesting works is the book "Who are the Slavs?: A Contribution to the Psychology of Race" from 1919. In that part, Radosavljević analyzes Slavic peoples and their relations with other peoples and predicts the domination of Slavs in the future, guided by the thesis that "if the past belonged to the Romans, the present to the Germans, the future will belong to the Slavs". This book has never been translated from English into Serbian, and one of the original copies with the dedication that Tesla received from Paja Radosavljević is kept in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. The book begins with Tesla's photograph and explanation:"The scientific spirit of modern Slavs, the greatest inventor of all time". In 1921 in New York Radosavljević proposed a common eugenic agenda among Slavic eugenicists at the Second International Congress of Eugenics held at the American Museum of Natural History with Henry Fairfield Osborn presiding. Alexander Graham Bell was the honorary president.[15]

In 1939, he published the work "Spirit of Chinese Culture and Civilization" in New York. In that part, Radosavljević noticed that the spirit of the Chinese people is close to the Serbian one and that we are similar and close at heart, so that explains the good relations and understanding of these two peoples over many centuries.


He wrote 13 books, 859 published works and 133 unpublished works in the period from 1899 to 1947. Among the main works of Professor Radosavljević are:

  • "Introduction to Experimental Psychology, I-II" (1908-1909),
  • "Psychology for Teachers of All Schools" (1908),
  • "Draft General Pedagogy for Teachers" (1910),
  • "Introduction to Experimental Pedagogy, I-II" (1910-1912),
  • "Pedagogical Anthropology in USA" (1917),
  • "Who are the Slaves? A Contribution to Race Psychology" (1919),
  • "The Positivist Pedagogy of Auguste Comte" (1920).[16]


Paja Radosavljević was awarded: Order of Saint Sava of the third grade in 1921 and in 1938 the Order of Saint Sava of the second grade, and then the Order of the Yugoslav Crown of the second grade. The Montenegrin King Michael, Prince of Montenegro|Mihailo Petrović Njegoš awarded him the Order of Merits in Defense and Security|Order of National Defense. In 1938, Paja was Nikola Tesla's deputy honorary president. He was also president of the Serbian Orthodox Church and School Congregation of New York City.

He took part in sending aid to the Serbian people in Great War|World War I and the World War II|Second World War. He was a member of the Committee for Russian Humaniterian Aid in World War II and a member of the American-Russian Cultural Society, whose honorary president was the famous Russian scientist and painter Nikolai Roerich|Nikolay Roerich. Association of Fighters of Yugoslavia|Otadžbina Association was founded on 3 June 1915, and the working president was Paja Radosavljević, who issued a proclamation for aid to Kingdom of Serbia|Serbia at the time.

In New York, he left the reform of American schooling, teaching, a hundred doctorates, founded the "Summer School", the Pedagogical Institute, and donated his library of 30,000 books to New York University. He erected a tombstone for the dean of the New York University, Dr. Thomas Baliat. Greek organizations (societies) have historical significance at New York University|NYU. The Faculty of Education at New York University also had its own Pi Lambda Theta Journal.[17] In 1934, this society dedicated the entire November issue of its magazine to Paja Radosavljević as a sign of respect:

"In recognition of his rapturous devotion to the school and his leadership that inspires his true learning and recognized success, his modesty, sincerity and friendly kindness, the eighth edition of the Pi Lambda Theta Journal is dedicated to Pavle Radosavljević."[18]

Paja Radosavljević wrote an introductory article for this issue, "The Role of Women in Education" in which he explains:

"Men can be proud of their reason, knowledge and skills, but that does not mean that they have the wisdom of women. The wisdom, logos or sophia of a woman is based on intuition, which is, biologically speaking, older than opinions and ideas because feelings or emotions are the basis of culture. Education, as part of the culture and education of the younger generation from birth to puberty, should be carried out as much as possible in the mother's family."[19]

In 2017, a memorial plaque in honor of Dr. Radosavljević was erected on the building of the elementary school "Dušan Vukasović Diogen" in Obrež.[20]


  • Iskruljev, Dr. Jovan (1971): "Dr. Paja Radosavljević, Život i rad". Belgrade: Institute for Textbooks.[21]
  • Seifer, Mark J. (2012): The Wizard, The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, a biography of a genius. Novi Sad: Stylos Art. ISBN 978-86-7473541-1.


  1. Cite journal|url= Radosavljević (1879-1958): Messages of a successful career and unsuccessful mission|first=Ivan|last=Jerković|date=January 25, 2009|journal=Zbornik Matice srpske za drustvene nauke|issue=128|pages=90–100|
  2. Cite journal|url=ПАЈА РАДОСАВЉЕВИЋ (1879—1958): ПОРУКЕ ЈЕДНЕ УСПЕШНЕ КАРИЈЕРЕ И НЕУСПЕШНЕ МИСИЈЕ|first=Ivan|last=Jerković|date=25 January 2009|journal=Зборник Матице српске за друштвене науке|issue=128|pages=89–100|
  6. name="auto"
  10. Cite book|title=Чаробњак, Живот и време Николе Тесле, биографија једног генија|last=Сајфер|first=Марк Џ.|publisher=Stylos Art|year=2012|isbn=978-86-7473541-1|location=Нови Сад
  11. Cite book | title = Wizard, Life and Time of Nikola Tesla, biography of a genius | last = Sajfer | first = Mark Dž. | publisher = Stylos Art | year = 2012 | Paja was following all his promotions and lectures. isbn = | location = Novi Sad | pages = str. 475=
  13. "King Peter of Yugoslavia Visits the United States | Harry S. Truman".
  16. Cite web | url = http: // -paul-radosavljevich | title = Paul Rankov Radosavljevich | last = | first = | date = 27 December 2017 | website = | archive-url = | archive-date = | access-date =
  17. "Front Matter". Pi Lambda Theta Journal. 8 (1). 1928 – via JSTOR.
  18. name=":0">Cite book|title=Др Павле Радосављевић, Живот и рад|last=Искруљев|first=Др Јован|publisher=Завод за уџбенике|year=1971|isbn=|location=Београд|pages=
  19. name=":0"
  20. Cite web|url=Паја Радосављевић добио спомен плочу у родном месту|last=|first=|date=27. 12. 2017|website=|archive-url=|archive-date=|dead-url=|access-date=

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