Shevchenko Scientific Society

ID: 124

From 1873, it functioned as the administrative body of the union printing house. In 1892 the NTSh became a scientific society that quickly integrated into Western and Central European scientific space and was formed as a regional and national scintific center under the leadership of Mykhailo Hrushevskyi. During the interwar period, the Society functioned at the regional level, while remaining the key factor in the development of Ukrainian culture in Lviv and the center around which scholars of the all-Ukrainian caliber gathered. In 1939, after the Soviet occupation of Lviv, the Society ceased its activities, though it resumed its work for some time during the German occupation.


When the oppression of the Ukrainian language began in the Russian Empire, the Ukrainian intelligentsia decided to move its cultural and educational activities to Galicia, which was part of the Habsburg monarchy with a more liberal regime [1]. With the support of patrons, funds were raised to set up a Ukrainian printing house in Lviv, and a local scientific society was to take care of it. As a result of this initiative, the Shevchenko Society was founded, whose charter was approved in 1874 by the Austrian governor of Galicia. The society founders (for legal reasons, they could only be Austrian citizens), although receiving financial assistance, did not fulfill their statutory obligations and focused primarily on activities related to the printing house. It was not until the late 1880s that another attempt was made to unite the Ukrainian elites of Kyiv and Galicia by creating a scientific society. Oleksandr Barvinskyi, Volodymyr Antonovych and Oleksandr Konyskyi decided to reform the society and establish the Shevchenko Scientific Society (ukr. Naukove Tovarystvo im. Shevchenka, NTSh). In 1892 the Society was reformed; it was now organized on the model of European Academies of Sciences. The founders aimed to obtain the status of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences from the Vienna authorities, following the example of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow. The NTSh began to publish a scientific periodical ("Notes of the NTSh") and positioned itself as an institution loyal to the Austrian state. The society received subsidies from the state and local authorities. The amount of these subsidies increased steadily until 1914.

After Oleksandr Barvinskyi (1893–1897), the Society was headed by Mykhailo Hrushevskyi (1897–1913). The young historian proved to be a capable and energetic organizer. In a short time he managed to make the Society more visible and known in the city. In 1898 a celebration was organized on the occasion of the centenary of Ivan Kotlyarevskyi's Eneyida. The Society organized a soiree, inviting various public organizations and the most prominent figures of the Ukrainian cultural intelligentsia to participate. Among the guests were representatives of Russian-controlled Ukraine, including Mykola Lysenko, the author of the opera Natalka Poltavka, which was performed on the stage. Later, a "scientific academy" (solemn meeting) was held in the National House.

In the same year, another important event took place, which ultimately registered the NTSh on the city map: the Society bought a house on ul. Czarneckiego (now vul. Vynnychenka) 26. At the time of its founding, the Shevchenko Society was given a stockroom in the Prosvita Society building (pl. Rynok 10). In addition, the Society rented a room on ul. Akademicka (now prosp. Shevchenka 8, where the restored NTSh’s bookstore is located). The printing house was originally situated in a courtyard of a bank, later it was moved to the courtyard at ul. Akademicka, 8, while the printing house administration often changed its address (Купчинський, 2013, 146). The new building of the Society was important because it was now possible to gather all the NTSh institutions under one roof. An office of the Society was established, headed by secretary, Volodymyr Hnatiuk. The office became a meeting place for the Society members. In 1904 the NTSh opened its own binding workshop.

Hrushevskyi focused mostly on the development of publishing projects and activities. The Society was quite successful in this area. This was a relevant reason to appeal to the Galician Sejm and the Ministry of Religion and Education in Vienna to increase subsidies. There was an opinion among the NTSh members that the society, in comparison with other Academies of Sciences, such as the Krakow Academy of Sciences, was no less productive, although the amount of funding was significantly smaller. The development of the Society's publishing activities helped to attract new members from among the Ukrainian elites. Young scholars, including those from the universities of Lviv, Chernivtsi, and Vienna, as well as amateur researchers and collectors of ethnographic artifacts and folklore (frequently, these were Greek Catholic priests from eastern Galicia and the Ruthenian regions of Hungary) (Rohde, 2019), also became members, as well as prominent representatives of the Ukrainian elite from Russian-controlled Ukraine (St. Petersburg) or France, such as anthropologist Fedir Vovk.

An important aspect in the Society activities was fundraising for the academic house, which was held on Hrushevskyi’s initiative. Apart from Ivan Franko and Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, the organizing committee included Yevhen Chykalenko, a philanthropist from Kyiv, who supported Hrushevskyi's projects financially. In addition to his own donations, Chykalenko, using his personal connections, organized fundraising campaigns. He stipulated that this academic house should also accept students from Russian-controlled Ukraine. Although these donations were not sufficient, the construction started. Chykalenko claimed that donations would begin to be made when the project was completed. The construction costs contributed to a serious financial crisis in the NTSh, which was overcome only in 1907, after moving some branches of the Society to the newly built building. Attempts to obtain public funding were unsuccessful (Rohde, 2020, Galizische Erbschaften?). The house first functioned as a dormitory, the first inhabitants moving in in late 1906 (DALO 292/1/8). Among them, there were also emigrants from tsarist Russia. This contributed to the formation of a scientific community, as many of these emigrants became members of the NTSh and began working in the administration of the Society’s museum or library.

Despite the resistance of local elites, Hrushevskyi sought to keep the NTSh away from Galician politics; nevertheless, the society established regular cooperation with known local figures. It was not only about the participation of Hrushevskyi and Franko in the creation of the UNDP and their cooperation in raising funds for financial support of the Society. The main motive of the NTSh's activity was the desire of students and professors of Lviv University to have their own independent Ukrainian university, so the Society members took part in almost all parliamentary sittings on this issue. Despite his initial position, Hrushevskyi, through the Literary-Scientific Bulletin (Літературно-науковий вісник), regularly interfered in party and political affairs and caused numerous conflicts. In the NTSh milieu, his leadership style was also considered authoritarian. The Society became more and more non-public and, despite the efforts of both its individual members and the public, refused to hold regular popular science events. The consequence of this position was the founding of the Petro Mohyla Ukrainian Scientific Lectures Society. After Hrushevskyi resigned as chairman of the Society in 1913, steps were taken to establish internal and external scientific communication. In the period from September 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, and until 1916, the Society's activities took place mainly in Vienna.

This was due not only to the Russian occupation of Lviv but also to the fact that almost all members of the Society performed other dutiesat that time, engaged in political and party activities, being in military service or in the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine and living in different cities. In Vienna, they established numerous public organizations, such as the Ukrainian Cultural Council, which not only came up with the idea of ​​organizing Ukrainian schools but also promoted popular science events in the capital of the empire. Some members of the NTSh, such as Hrushevskyi and Okhrymovych, were in captivity. Many scholars returned to Lviv only in late 1916 and early 1917 and saw that the Society had suffered significant losses that needed to be repaired. In the interwar period there was a partial change in the Society’s activity trends. After the Natural History Museum and a bacteriological laboratory were founded, research in the field of natural sciences was revived. At the same time, there was a tendency to strengthen cooperation with the public of the city and the region. One of the manifestations of this tendency was the activity of the Ukrainian University in Lviv (1921–1925, Secret Ukrainian University) in which the Society actively participated (Дудка, Головач, 2018). The NTSh not only used the university premises; many of its members held key positions there. In addition, both the Society's museums and its library actively cooperated with the public. Cultural events were regularly held in the museums: for example, in 1935 a photo exhibition "Our Motherland in Photo" was organized, arousing considerable interest.

This cooperation with the public was the Society's response to the challenges of the period preceding the Second World War. At the same time, it required certain sacrifices, as the funding of public organizations in the Polish Republic decreased significantly compared to 1914. The range of Society’s periodicals was quite wide;however, in comparison with the pre-war period these editions were published much less often; professional magazines were published very irregularly. In addition to specialized publications, such as the magazine of the NTSh physiographic commission, the Society launched a large publishing project of the "Ukrainian General Encyclopaedia" (publisher Ivan Rakovskyi, 1930-1935). The project was aimed at promoting science (Savenko, 2016, 167-176).

After the Soviet occupation, all public organizations were closed; later, during the Nazi rule, they resumed their activities for some time, whichceased again in 1944. In the period from 1946 to 1950, NKVD commissions exported a significant amount of archival materials to Moscow and Kyiv (Сварник, 2005, 11–12). Almost two thirds of the former library stock are now kept in the Lviv Vasyl Stefanyk National Scientific Library, the rest are considered lost (Svarnyk 2014, 54). Ivan Franko's library and his artistic heritage, passedinto the possession of the Society after his death, are owned by the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the NASU. In the diaspora, the NTSh cells were established (France, USA, Australia, Canada). In 1989, the NTSh resumed its activities in Lviv, when an organization of the same name was created. Today the Society has branches all over Ukraine. The NTSh World Council coordinates the activities of its centers around the world.


Stories and buildings

The building at ul.Czarneckiego26functioned also as a residential building. The Society's management responsibilities included its maintenance and lease. Revenues from rent made it possible to repay loans. For some time, artist Ivan Trush rented a room for his studio there (ЦДІАЛ, фонд 309, op. 1, file 565).

The purchase of the building atul.Czarneckiego 26 for the needs of the Society, as is usually believed, became possible thanks to a generous donation from Petro Pelekhin. Somealso believed thatthe funds previously meant to finance the medical faculty of the future Ukrainian university were used here. On the one hand, it is clear that this was an unattainablegoalin the late 19th century. However, on the other hand, from a purely legal point of view, this use of the collected donations was illegal, as the documents stated that these funds could not be spent for other purposes. Thus, the purchase of a building as a central moment in the history of the Society was, in terms of law, an illegal act. This legal dispute lasted until the 1930s and ended after the death of Serhiy Shelukhin, who took care of Pelekhin's legacy (Rohde, 2020, Galizische Erbschaften?)

The Society's library was located in the Prosvita building and in the People's House. In 1899 it was transferred to a room atul.Czarneckiego 26. In 1907-1914, the library functioned in the "Academic House", and later, after the purchase of the building atul.Czarneckiego 26,was moved there and expanded. The Society's museum had a similar history, as there were no suitable premisesto accommodate it for a long time. Subsequently, the Society began to use the premises of the "Academic House." In 1914, the museum moved as well. As the move was somewhat delayed, some of the collection was still in the Academic House when the First World War broke out. Both the Austro-Hungarian and Russian troops used the house as barracks, and this caused considerable damage, as the property and equipment were partially destroyed, primarily bythe Russians. After these damages were discovered, officials in charge sent, for reasons of safety, the most valuable funds to Vienna as a precaution against a re-occupation of Lviv. During the interwar period, the library and museum were completely moved to the premises at ul.Czarneckiego 24. Both institutions were originally intended for internal use, their funds being used for research. Later, however, they became available to the public. The bookstore was located at ul.Czarneckiego 26; at first, the Society's own printed publications were sold there. After August Demel was hired as a bookseller in early 1905, the bookstore became a specialized scientific one and was provided with separate premises on ul. Teatyńska (now vul. M. Kryvonosa) (Kulchytska 2009). In 1908, the bookstore was housed in the Prosvita building in the city center and operated there until its closure by the Soviet occupation administration.

The purchase of the building atul.Czarneckiego 24 took place in 1913, after several years of difficult negotiations with the owners, who had initially refused to sell the building to Ukrainians. The money was raised thanks to significant supportfrom benefactor Vasyl Symyrenko and the Ministry of Culture and Education. The Ministry's subsidy in the amount of 100 thousand crowns significantly exceeded not only the amount of traditional annual subsidies for the NTSh but also the annual budget of the Krakow Academy.

The granting of this subsidy testifies to the NTSh’s close connection with the local and state policy of Austria-Hungary.After the tragic death of Adam Kotsko during the 1910student riots, the Ruthenian Club at the Reichsrat’s (Parliament)House of Deputies, represented by Oleksandr Kolessa and Teofil Okunevsky, declared their readiness to appease the protesters. Some state-initiated measures to resolve the situation were proposed, in particular, financial support for professors, as well as the allocation of budget funds for scholarships and subsidies for cultural and scientific societies. The governor of Galicia, whose assessment of the situation was crucial for the Ministry of Education, critically considered the proposals. The idea to turn the NTSh into a state-run Academy of Sciences was rejected immediately, as was the project to create an independent Ukrainian university. However, the governor approved a generous grant for the NTSh museum. He stressed that this was possible only if the museum was transferred from the "Academic House", since the latter as a "house of Ruthenian students was a center of radical university youth." The NTSh fulfilled this requirement, and after the house at ul.Czarneckiego 24 was purchased and reconstructed,the museum finally moved there.

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

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Vul. Vynnychenka, 26 – residential building

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

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Prosp. Shevchenka, 8 – Kyiv cinema building

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

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Kotsiubynskoho str. 21


Society Chairmen:

Kornyliy/Kornylo Sushkevych (1840–1885, chairman in 1873–1885)
Sydir Hromnytskyi (1850–1937, chairman in 1885–1887 and 1889–1891)
Demyan Hladylovych (1845–1892, chairman in 1887–1889 and 1891–1892)
Yuliyan Tselevych (1843–1892, chairman in 1892)
Volodymyr Shukhevych (1849–1915) was the interim chairman of the Society after the death of Tselevych and until the election of  Barvinskyi
Oleksandr Barvinskyi (1847–1926, chairman in 1893–1897)
Mykhailo Hrushevskyi (1866–1934, chairman in 1897–1913)
Stepan Tomashivskyi (1875–1930) was Hrushevskyi's deputy and headed the Society after his resignation
Volodymyr Okhrymovych (1870–1931) managed the local affairs of the Society in 1914 as the oldest Committee member, after  Tomashivsky joined the army; Okhrymovych was later deported by the Russian military.
Vasyl Shchurat (1871–1948) was asked in writing in 1915 to manage the Society affairs until the Committee returned to Lviv; in 1919-1923 he headed the Society as an elected President.
Kyrylo Studynskyi (1868–1941, chairman in 1923–1932)
Volodymyr Levytskyi (1872–1956, chairman in 1932–1935)
Ivan Rakovskyi (1874–1949, chairman in 1935–1939)



1. Central State Historic Archive of Ukraine in Lviv (CDIAL), 309/1/565
2. State Archive of Lviv Region (DALO), 292/1/8
3. Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv, Inneres MdI Präs 9904/1910
4. Максим Дудка, Юрій Головач, Таємний Український унiверситет у Львовi (ІФКС pre-print, 2018: 50).
5. Тетяна Кульчицька, "Друкарня та книгарня Наукового Товариства ім. Шевченка в контексті книговидавничого процесу Львова першої половини ХХ ст.",  Записки Львівської національної наукової бібліотеки України імені В. Стефаника, 2009, №1, с. 82-105. Режим доступу: http://nbuv.gov.ua/UJRN/lnnbyivs_2009_1_7
6. Олег Купчинський, "Видавнича діяльність Товариства імені Шевченка у Львові у 1874–1892 роках", in: Олег Купчинський (ред.): Наукове Товариство ім. Шевченка: дослідження, матеріали (Львів, 2013, 140–220).
7. Тетяна Савенко, Наукове товариство імені Т. Шевченка в Західній Україні у міжвоєнний період: організаційні засади, наукова і видавнича діяльність (Док. дисертація, ТНПУ, 2016)
8. Галина Сварник, Архівні та рукописні збірки Наукового товариства ім. Шевченка в Національній бібліотеці у Варшаві. Каталог-інформатор (Варшава-Львів-Нью-Йорк, 2005).
9. Галина Сварник, "Біліотека НТШ у Львові", Наукове Товариство ім. Шевченка. Енциклопедія. Том 2, (Київ-Львів-Тернопіль 2014, 35–58).
10. Martin Rohde, 'Nationale Wissenschaft' zwischen zwei Imperien. Die Ševčenko-Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1892–1918, (phil. Diss. Innsbruck 2020).
11. Martin Rohde, "Local Knowledge and Amateur Participation. Shevchenko Scientific Society in Eastern Galicia, 1892-1914", in: Studia Historiae Scientiarum, (2019, 18), pp. 165–218. DOI: 10.4467/2543702XSHS.19.007.11013.
12. Martin Rohde, "Galizische Erbschaften? Das ‚ukrainische Piemont‘ als transimperiales Projekt", in: Patlatjuk, Bohdana; Rozmus, Joanna; Remestwenski, Yuriy (Hg.): Was bleibt von Galizien? Kontinuitäten - Brüche - Perspektiven / What remains of Galicia? Continuities - ruptures - perspectives (Wien, 2020) [im Erscheinen].

[1] All the information, that is not backed by specific citations, is part of Martin Rohde's dissertation "Nationale Wissenschaft‘ zwischen zwei Imperien. Die Ševčenko-Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften", 1892–1918, phil. Diss. Innsbruck 2020.
[2] Inspection act of the Ministry of Religion and Education: it means the letter of the galician Governor concerning the implementation of the Ruthenians' requests. September 29, 1910, Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv, Inneres MdI Präs 9904/1910.

The NTSh building. The reverse is signed: "Камениці Н.Т ім Шевченка Чарнецького 26 в р. 1926 р. Світлив Екушевич [?]". Source: Vasyl Stefanyk National Scientific Library in Lviv

By Martin Rohde