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Desiat' Rokiv Ukraďns'koho istorychnoho ka­binetu v Prazi

(1930-1940)

 

By Arkadii Petrovych Zhyvotko

 

Jaroslav Prokeš, Editor

 

Introduction by Edward Kasinec and Robert H. Davis, Jr.

 

                This work, originally published in Prague in 1940, in Ukrainian, catalogs the holdings of the Ukrainian Histori­cal Cabinet, one of the largest repositories of Ukrainian emigré publications, as well as Ukrainian published materials, in the interwar period.  Published in a limited edition, in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, the work itself barely emigrated at all.  The present edition is being reprinted from a copy located in the Národní knihovna in Prague.  This volume opens vast resources to the researcher, even though the Ukrainian Historical Cabinet is no longer in Prague.

 

            The events of 1917‑21 in Ukraine precipitated the emigration of tens of thousands of Ukrainian intellectuals and cultural figures to the major capitals of Central and Western Europe, and even to the Far East.  As for so many other Russian emigrés, Czechoslo­vakia‑‑and especially Prague‑‑became a leading center in the cultural life of the Ukrainian diaspora.  Emigré Ukrainians from Galicia and from right-bank Ukraine founded educational and cultural institutions in Podebrady, Uzhhorod and Prague.

 

            During the inter‑war period, Czechoslovakia was home to more than 15,000 Ukraini­ans, and it was here that Ukrainian intellectuals estab­lished three major institutions:  the Ukrainian Free Univer­sity, the Museum for the Liberation of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Histori­cal Cabinet.  Of these, only the third survives, albeit in Kiev, far from the place where the collection was origi­nally developed.  The Ukrainian Historical Cabinet, founded in 1930, was part of a larger complex within the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The founder and longtime curator of the Histor­ical Cabinet was Arkadii Petrovych Zhyvotko.

 

            The collection described in Zhyvotko's work is extraordinary for its range of both archival and printed materials.  It is divided, essentially, into five sections: 

o   Archival materials related to the history of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR);

o   Monographs;

o   Periodicals;

o   Newspapers;

o   Ukrainica, that is, works in Western languages relating to Ukrainian culture.

 

            Of the first group, the materials relating to the UNR are primarily political and document the history of Ukrainian political parties during the Central Rada, Directory, the Hetman­ate, and the decline of the UNR and the Makhno movement.  The book collection of the Ukrainian Historical Cabinet was themati­cally more expansive, and included the works of major Ukrainian literati, such as Shevcenko, Hrabinka, Kobylianska, Franko, Vynny­chenko and Lesya Ukrain'ka. 

 

            The monographic col­lection is especially rich in the classics of Ukrainian historiogra­phy, and includes works by Mytsiuk, Doro­shenko, Kostomarov and Antonovych.  The periodical collection of the Cabinet covers more than a century in the history of the Ukrainian periodical press and contains periodicals not only from the major centers of Ukrainian culture, but also the emigré Ukrainian press from Zagreb, Săo Paulo, Mukachevo and elsewhere. 

 

            Zhyvotko strove to build reasonably complete files of Ukrainian newspapers for the period 1914‑1939.  As one can see from his description, newspapers were obtained from virtually all of the centers of Ukrainian settlement, as well as from the various centers of the diaspora, such as Winnipeg, Detroit and Toronto.

 

            The German occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent comings of Soviet troops in 1945, had tragic consequences for the Ukrainian Historical Cabinet.  In 1946 its entire contents were taken to Moscow by Soviet troops, and then subsequently to Kiev.  In Kiev they were placed in the library of the Histori­cal Ar­chives.  Unfortunately, as of this writing, the library has not yet been made broadly available to the public.  On the other hand, one must assume that the opening cannot be far off and that the re-publication of this work by Zhyvotko will be one of the factors leading to public access.  In the meantime, many of the works will also be found in other repositories.

 

Desiat' Rokiv Ukraďns'koho istorychnoho ka­binetu v Prazi (1930-1940), Arkadii Petrovych Zhyvotko. Jaroslav Prokeš, ed.  Introduction by Edward Kasinec and Robert H. Davis, Jr., 1994, 108 pp., 6x9"
ISBN: 0-88354-365-6………………………….$25