At a glance: History of the Shevchenko Society

The Shevchenko Scientific Society (Naykove Tovarystvo im. Shevchenka, or NTSh) was founded on December 11, 1873, in Austrian-ruled Lviv as the Shevchenko Society with the aim of fostering the development of Ukrainian literature and scholarship. The society's initiators were leading Ukrainian community and cultural figures on both sides of the Austrian-Russian border, headed by Oleksander Konysky. The society's first act was the establishment of its own publishing house in 1874.

The NTSh acquired a pan-Ukrainian importance and scholarly prestige under the presidency (1897-1913) of Mykhailo Hryshevsky.

Changes occurred in the NTSh's role and scope after tsarist restrictions on Ukrainian writing and scholarship were lifted in the wake of the Revolution of 1905.

The first world war interrupted all NTSh activities, including renewed plans to transform the society into an academy of sciences in 1916. During the occupation of Galicia in 1914-1915, the NTSh was outlawed, and its buildings and presses were confiscated; many of its valuable library, archival and museum holdings, and scholarly acquisitions were destroyed.

The NTSh was revived during the inter-war Polish occupation of western Ukraine, but it functioned on a lesser scale. Many of its members became political émigrés to the West, some emigrated to Soviet Ukraine, and the influx of new scholarly cadres declined.

In the early 1920s the NTSh organized the Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian University and the Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian Higher Polytechnic School and established relations with the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kyiv (VUAN).

With the Stalinist suppression of Soviet Ukrainian culture in the 1930s, the NTSh partly regained its earlier status in the Ukrainian scholarly world. Its international prestige remained high, as attested by the acceptance of membership in the NTSh by Max Planck (in 1923) and Albert Einstein (in 1929).

Since its founding in 1873 until 1939 the NTSh issued 591 serial volumes, 352 individual scholarly publications, textbooks and maps, 103 books of literary journalism, 95 belletristic works and 31 informational publications.

During the first Soviet occupation of Galicia (1939-1941) the NTSh was shut down. In 1940 it was forced by the Soviet authorities to dissolve, and its properties were expropriated by the state. Many of its members disappeared or were repressed, and others fled to German-occupied Poland. During the German occupation of Galicia (1941-1944) the Nazi regime did not allow the NTSh to be publicly active. Before the Soviet reoccupation of Lviv in 1944, most remaining NTSh members fled to the West.

The scholarly association was revived in Munich in June 1947, on the initiative of Volodymyr Kubijovyc and Ivan Rakovsky, by members who had sought refuge in post-war Germany.

After the mass emigration of Ukrainian refugees from Germany and Austria to countries of the New World in 1947-1949, chapters of the NTSh were established in the United States (1947), Canada (1949) and Australia (1950).

In 1951 the NTSh executive center, library and archives were transferred from Munich to Sarcelles, near Paris. In 1952 the American chapter purchased its own building in New York City and established a library and archives.

In 1955 the European, American, Canadian and Australian chapters became autonomous NTSh societies. The NTSh General Council was established in 1978, with Jaroslaw Padoch elected its first president.

Among well-known past members of NTSh were Dr. Hrushevsky, Ivan Franko, Volodymyr Hnatiuk, Dr. Kubijovyc, Patriarch Josyf Slipyj and Metropolitan Mstyslav Skrypnyk. The first president of the American Branch of NTSh was Dr. Rakovsky, followed by Nicholas Chubaty, Roman Smal-Stockyj, Matthew Stachiw, Joseph Andrushkiw and Dr. Padoch.

In Lviv the NTSh was reactivated on October 21, 1989.

In terms of publications, the NTSh continues publishing Zapysky NTSh, the primary NTSh organ, established in 1892. Since 1948 many of the volumes have doubled as collections of the various NTSh sections and as festschriften and monographs. The publication of the Zapysky was transferred to Ukraine in 1991. Beginning in 1949, the society renewed the publication of its chronicle, Khronika NTSh, which at present also is published in Ukraine.

The NTSh has also published 13 volumes (1949-1989) of encyclopedias of Ukraine, which have served as the basis for Ukraine: A Concise the Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia of Ukraine.

In addition the American NTSh has published, since 1951, 14 volumes of Proceedings and, since 1951, over 40 issues of scholarly works (issued as "Papers"), several literary works, as well as other books and informative brochures. The Canadian NTSh has published over 20 volumes of conference materials, collections of articles and monographs.

The American Branch of NTSh publishes scholarly works on its own or in collaboration with the Ukrainian Branch or with other American, Canadian or European scholarly institutions and presses. Among some American NTSh publications are: "Ukraine and Ukrainians in the World" (Ann Lencyk, ed., 1994); "Towards an Intellectual History of Ukraine: An Antology of Ukrainian Thought from 1710 to 1995" (Ralph Lindheim and George S.N. Luckyj, eds., 1996); "Ukrainian Literature in the 20th Century: A Reader's Guide to Ukrainian Literature" (by George S.N. Luckyj, 1992), Ukrainian-Czech Dictionary (2 vols. in the two languages); and "An Anthology of World Literary and Critical Thought of the 20th Century" (in Ukrainian; M. Zubrytska, L. Onyshkevych and J. Fizer, eds., 1995). In press now is a Multi-Index to the Literaturno-Naukovyi Vistnyk (1898-1932, compiled by Bohdan Yasinskyi) and an ongoing project, the Encyclopedia of Ukrainians in the Diaspora (in Ukrainian, edited by Vasyl Markus), which will have a separate volume for each continent where Ukrainians reside.

Besides having its national representation and main office in New York, the American NTSh has branches in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington. The society organizes and sponsors scholarly conferences, colloquia, symposia and weekly public lectures in New York, as well as large-scale conferences or special sessions at scholarly conferences on Slavic studies at national and international forums.

At the present time, the American NTSh is headed by Leonid Rudnytzky (who is also the international president of the NTSh World Council), with Larissa Onyshkevych serving as executive vice-presiden; Wolodymyr Stojko as vice-president and learned secretary; Wolodymyr Rak as vice-president and CEO; and Roman Andrushkiw, John Fizer, Vasyl Markus and Sviatoslav Trofimenko as vice-presidents. The American NTSh has a large library and archives, headed by Svitlana Andrushkiw. The library catalogue may be accessed on the Internet, both in Ukrainian and English, at

Membership in the society is open to university graduates who are interested in supporting Ukrainian scholarship. Based on their scholarly achievements individuals may become corresponding or full members, who then may belong to various sections (which are international): philology, history and philosophy, art, ethnography and folklore, social sciences, exact and applied sciences, biology and medicine.

Information about the Shevchenko Scientific Society may be found on the internet: or by calling (212) 254-5130, or by writing to: Shevchenko Scientific Society, 63 Fourth Ave., New York, NY 10003.

Sources: Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Vol. 4, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993); with contribution by Dr. Larissa M.L. Onyshkevych.

Shevchenko Scientific Society to celebrate 125th anniversary

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, September 20, 1998, No. 38, Vol. LXVI

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