Petro Mohyla Society for Ukrainian Scientific Lectures

ID: 105

The union was aimed at the popularization of science in the Ukrainian language. From 1909 it regularly organized lectures on various scientific topics in Lviv. The main seat of the Society was Lviv, branches were also established in other cities and towns. It participated in the foundation of the "Ukrainian University in Lviv."


The establishment of the Petro Mohyla Society for Ukrainian Scientific Lectures was planned for the beginning of 1905 as a reaction to disputes between scientists within the Taras Shevchenko Scientific Society. The union foundation is often dated 1908 (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 171); however, the founding meeting took place in December 1906. The statutes were formally approved by the Galician Governor's Office on September 19, 1906 (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 171). Energetic activity was launched in early 1909, after the chairman of the Society, Oleksandr Kolessa, was elected to the Austrian Parliament.

The aim of the union was to popularize science among the Ukrainian-speaking community. This was to be achieved through regular lectures, which were to be publicly available and easily understood. Not least, they had to become visual. The union spent most of their first budget on purchasing sciopticons (devices for image projection) (Society Statute, 3). Lectures were not limited thematically, they were often related to the areas of professional interest of the volunteer lecturers. The only requirement was to give them in Ukrainian (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 171). The lectures were varied and fairly well-attended. The first series held in January 1909 was attended by 165 to 300 attendees (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 171). Later, lectures were held regularly, most often on Sunday afternoons in the premises of larger societies, especially those of the Sokil and the Ruska Besida (Stifter, 2015, 293-316).

They were patterned after British "university extensions" (courses), which spread from the late 19th century in the Habsburg monarchy too (Stifter, 2015, 293-316). At first, the Society did not plan to organize lectures in the country. Instead, there were distributors among the audience, who conducted their own lectures in turn in the Prosvita Society's reading rooms. Initially, the leading members of the society intended to publish periodicals and irregular publications, which, however, was not implemented (Society Statute, 1912, 3).

Due to agreeing with the Prosvita on the date of the latter's congress in early 1909, the Petro Mohyla Society succeeded in attracting many new members from all over Galicia and the Russian-run part of Ukraine. The updated statute of 1912 also explicitly provided for the establishment of branches and circles, which were to be coordinated by the head office in Lviv. Thanks to these efforts, it was possible to hold regular readings in 19 cities and towns in the spring of 1912 (CDIAL 762/1/3:1). The society took an active part in the Shevchenko celebrations of 1914. They purposefully planned readings in the countrywhich were dedicated to the poet and his work and to the Galician cult of Shevchenko (CDIAL 762/1/6:1).

During the First World War, meetings and regular lectures did not take place. The chairman of the society, like many other members, stayed in Vienna, where he focused on representing the interests of Ukrainians in the parliament and in cultural and scientific institutions of the Habsburg Empire. Only in November 1920 did a full-fledged meeting take place, and Ivan Rakovetskyi was elected a new chairman.

In the early 1920s, the union was involved in the development of the "Ukrainian University in Lviv" (CDIAL 310/1/6:3). They paid special attention to the educational component of the courses, the importance of their educational function was emphasized, and it was recommended not to be limited to lectures, but to promote active participation in discussions, which should arouse greater interest in science (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 246). Not least, this was seen as a task of national importance. At the meetings held between 1924-1933, the union's activity was low. They were able to resume more active work only under the guidance of the newly elected chairman, Ilarion Svientsitskyi.

In 1939, during the Easter holidays, a conference was held to celebrate the anniversary of the Society (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 309-314). In the same year, the Society was forced to cease its activities due to the occupation of the city by the Soviet Union.

By 1939, the Society had 69 members (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 326). Only persons of Ukrainian ethnic origin could become members of the Society (Society Statute, 1909, 4). Speakers did not have to be  its members. They were invited to lectures by Ukrainian intellectuals (CDIAL 762/1/6:1). Initially, most of the union's assets came from the private funds of the founding members, primarily Oleksandr Kolessa. Subsequently, the Society was financed through the funds raised for the lectures. However, these revenues were small, especially given that the ticket price was deliberately low so as not to repel potential visitors (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 169).

Before the First World War, more attention was paid to popular lectures on natural sciences. They were held in proportion almost as many times as lectures in the humanities (mostly Ukrainian studies and Ukrainian literature), and they often had a much greater resonance than the latter. The ban on regular lectures, imposed by the Polish government in late 1922 in response to the establishment of the "Ukrainian University in Lviv", also affected the Petro Mohyla Society. Because of that, the Society had to focus on individual lectures and other formats, for example, conversational evenings with authors (Герцюк, 2014, 367-377; Кріль, Лешкович, 2011, 444). In the interwar period, thematic series of lectures most often took place on the occasion of Ukrainian writers' anniversaries. In 1936, there was a series of lectures on "Ukrainian Studies", which was positively received by the Ukrainian intelligentsia (Герцюк, 2014, 376).

In 1993, at a meeting in Lviv, a successor organization of the same name was founded (Minutes of the Society's Meetings, 319-322).

Related Places


Vul. Teatralna, 22 – The House of Officers (former Peoples’ House)

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Vul. Vynnychenka, 24 – research institutions building (former residential)

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Pl. Rynok, 10 – former Lubomirski Palace/ Prosvita building

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Illia Kokorudz, a founding member;
Oleksandr Kolessa, a founding member; head of the society in 1906–1920;
V(olodymyr) Kucher, head of the society in 1924–1933;
Volodymyr Levytskyi, a founding member;
Denys Lukianovych, head of the society in 1937–1939;
Ivan Rakovych, head of the society in 1920–1924;
Stepan Rudnytskyi, a founding member;
Ilarion Svyentsitskyi, deputy head in 1920–1924, head of the society in 1933–1937;
Rev. Dr. Illia Zhuk, a founding member.



1. Christian H. Stifter, "Universität, Volksbildung und Moderne – die "Wiener Richtung" wissenschaftsorientierter Bildungsarbeit", Universität – Forschung – Lehre Themen und Perspektiven im langen 20. Jahrhundert (Wien, 2015), 293-316;
2. Дмитро Герцюк, "Товариство українських наукових викладів ім. Петра Могили у Львові: Історико-педагогічні аспекти діяльності (1908–1939 rr.)", Prace Naukowe,  Akademia iм. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie. Pedagogika, 2014, t. XXIII, с. 375-376;
3. Михайло Кріль, Наталія Лешкович, "Товариство українських наукових викладів іменем Петра Могили (1908–1939 рр.)", Вісник Львівського університету, серія історична, 2011, №46. с. 444;
4. Протоколи засідань Товариства українських наукових викладів ім. Петра Могили (1906–1939 рр.), (Львів, 2012), 326 с.;
7. Центральний державний історичний архів України (ЦДІАЛ) 762/1/3:1;
8. ЦДІАЛ 762/1/6:1;
9. ЦДІАЛ 310/1/6:3;
10. ЦДІАЛ 762/1/6:1.
Author: Martin Rohde
Editors: Vasyl Rasevych, Taras Nazaruk
English translation: Andriy Maslyukh