Overviews of the Collections
The Ukrainian Collections at the Library of Congress
Former Ukrainian Area Specialist
Ukraine, as a central Slavic country, plays a significant role
in the development not only of its own language, but in that of
other Slavic languages spoken in neighboring or nearby countries:
Russian, Belarussian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, and even Serbo-Croatian.
Thus publications in Ukrainian are also important for the study
of other Slavic countries, especially those bordering on Ukraine.
Ukrainian books and periodicals in history, geography and culture
are especially important for Belarus and Russia, since for centuries
(i.e., the 10th-13th centuries) these countries were under the
influence of Ukrainian (called at that time Kievan Rus') culture
and church activities.
Ukrainian art ranges from that of Kievan Rus' (architecture and
icons) to Cossack State (particularly Cossack Baroque, in architecture,
painting and literature), to the 19th Century Romanticism associated
with such representatives as Taras Shevchenko -- the greatest Ukrainian
poet and painter, and sometimes called "Rembrandt of the Slavic
world." Other prominent Ukrainian writers and scholars include
Izmail Sreznevs'kyi, a noted scholar, Mykola Kostomarov, leader
of the first political party in the Russian Empire, the Cyril-Methodius
Brotherhood in Kiev, and Panteleimon Kulish, an important member
of Osnova, an organization based in St. Petersburg that
published a scholarly and literary periodical of the same name.
There are also many primary Ukrainian sources relating to the
October revolution in Ukraine, especially in such major cities
as Kiev, Kharkiv, Sevastopol', and Odessa. Other sources deal with
Soviet policies and actions in Ukraine, particularly the artificial
famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933, and with World War II, when Ukrainian
territory was occupied by Nazi Germany.
Periodicals (official and unofficial) published in Ukraine during Glasnost and Perestroika provide
important information on this particular period in Ukrainian history
as well on developments in other parts of the USSR in the late-Soviet
period. Finally, Ukrainian publications in the period of independence
are major sources about important policy issues, e.g., the Crimea
question, Chornobyl, and the development of independent Ukraine's
relations with the outside world.
In addition to Ukrainian works published in Ukraine, books by
authors from the Ukrainian diaspora have played significant roles
in the development of Ukrainian science and scholarship in general.
Works by diaspora authors in various languages are well-represented
in the Library of Congress.
Ukraine at the Library of Congress
Before World War I Ukraine for all practical purposes did not
exist in the Library of Congress as an East European nation with
its own territory, people, and linguistic, cultural, historical,
and political identity. The Ukrainian lands were under the political
and administrative control of Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania.
Thus in the l9th and early 20th centuries Ukrainian materials were
treated as "Russian", "Austro-Hungarian" or "Romanian" in the Library's
collections. For example, the Ruska chytanka dlia nyzhshoi gimnazii [Ukrainian Reader for Lower Classes of High School], published
in Vienna in 1852, was catalogued as Russian. There were no specialists
in the Library in 1870, when the book was acquired, to explain
that in Austria- Hungary the term "ruskyi" was used instead of
Ukrainian or Ruthenian (the official Austria-Hungarian name of
that time) to denote a language spoken in Austrian-ruled Galicia,
Bukovyna and Carpatho-Ukraine.
It was not until 1902 that a Slavic specialist was engaged to
work on Slavica in the Library. At that time Alexis V. Babine was
added to the staff of the Catalog Division. Babine was instrumental
in bringing, in 1907, the Gennadii Vasil'evich Yudin collection
from Russia. Among its eighty thousand titles there were several
Ukrainian books, e.g., Taras Shevchenko's Kobzar', published
in St. Petersburg in 1860. Although written in the Ukrainian language
by the greatest Ukrainian writer, it was considered by Babine,
and consequently by the Library, as a Russian accession.
In June 1917 a Slavic Section was organized within the Semitic
and Oriental Division. Its first head was Dr. Peter A. Speck, who
served until October 1927, when he was succeeded by Babine. In
1929 the Slavic Section was made independent of the Semitic and
Oriental Division, and was reorganized as a Division of Slavic
Literature. After Babine's death, Nicholas R. Rodionoff took over
the Division. Rodionoff initiated early efforts to distinguish
the Ukrainian holdings from the Russian.
As the result of a general reorganization of the Library in mid-
1940 by Librarian Archibald MacLeish, the Slavic Division was transferred
to the Reference Department. The new Librarian devoted considerable
thought to Slavic material and outlined a program in this respect
that included three main points: (1) incorporation of Russian and
other Slavic books into the general collection instead of maintaining
them as a separate section under the Slavic Division; (2) the organization
of a Slavic Center whose purpose was to "supply learned counsel
and advice" to the users of Slavic books; and (3) "extending the
Library's Russian holdings to cover the entire field of Russian
Organization of the Slavic Center was repeatedly postponed, until
it finally was decided to establish the Slavic and East European
Division. The new Division came into being in May 1953, with its
first chief Dr. Sergius Yakobson. Yakobson had a longstanding interest
in Ukraine. In cooperation with Francis J. Whitfield he compiled
a booklet entitled Ukraine - A selected list of publications
in English and other Western languages (Washington 1940). In
1942 Yakobson reported that the Library, "through grant funds from
private organizations and foundations," was "able to utilize the
services of five refugee scholars of distinction" (Report of
the Librarian of Congress for 1942, p. 44). During his tenure
as Chief of the Slavic and Central European Division of the Library
from 1953 to 1971 -- and later as Honorary Consultant to the Division
-- he demonstrated a sound, apolitical, and scholarly approach
to the Slavic world. Among other things, he was instrumental in
arranging for the first, albeit preliminary, survey of Ukrainica
in the Library, which was conducted in 1956.
The Library's Ukrainian collection began with the acquisition
of Thomas Jefferson's personal library in 1815. Although his chief
European interest was France, Jefferson collected works from or
about other European countries. The Library's earliest Ukraine-
related book was a three-part history of different parts of Ukraine
written by Comte Jan Potocky: Historie ancienne du gouvernement
de Cherson (St. Petersburg, 1804); Historie ancienne du
gouvernement de Podolie (1805); and Historie ancienne du
gouvernement de Wolhynie (1805). A copy of the book was presented
to Jefferson by the author, and was sent through Levett Harris,
the United States Consul in St. Petersburg, on August 10, 1808.
An important compendium in the field of lexicography that deserves
mention is the Linguarum totius orbit vocabularia comparativa by
Peter Simon Pallas, first published in 1786 and 1789. This dictionary
contains 130 Ukrainian (called "little Russian") words of 18th
century Ukrainian. A third example of early Ukrainica in the Library
of Congress is a book by Petro Ivanovych Poletica (Pierre de Poletica), Sketch
of the Internal conditions of the United States of America and
their Political Relations with Europe, which was published
under the pseudonym "Russian" in Baltimore in 1826. It is an English
translation from the French original.
Apart from a few such early items, the first books on Ukraine
reached the Library of Congress in the late 1860s. In his history
of the Library of Congress, David C. Mearns furnished evidence
that some publications from Russia came directly to Washington
as early as 1868 since, at that time, many Ukrainian books were
published in Russia proper (e.g., in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Saratov,
and other cities). Early acquisitions worth mentioning are the Malorusskii
literaturnyi sbornik, edited by D. I. Mordovtsev (Saratov,
1859); O narodnoi odezhde i ubranstve rusinov, by I. F.
Holovats'kyi (detached article from an unknown magazine of the
1870s); and the journal Pravda, published in L'viv in 1868-1880.
At this time some Ukrainian publications, including several periodicals,
arrived at the Library of Congress via the Smithsonian Institution.
The Smithsonian Deposit included some very valuable publications
printed in Western Ukraine that were accessioned by the Library
in the second half of the 19th century. Among them are I.F. Golovatskii
(Holovats'kyi), O narodnoi odezhde i ubranstve rusynov ili russkikh
v Galichine i Severno-vostochnoi Vengrii; and Etnografichnyi
zbirnyk of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in L'viv, the first
volume of which was accessioned in June 1900.
By 1901 there 569 "Russian" books in the Library some of which
-- for example V. Koval'skii, Ruska chytanka dlia nyzh'shoi
gimnazii (Vienna, 1852) -- were written in Ukrainian and dealt
with Ukrainian subjects. Other books on Ukraine came into the Library
before 1901 from Western Ukraine (Galicia, Bukovyna, the Carpathian
Ukraine), which at that time was under Austro-Hungarian control.
Ukrainica in the Library of Congress got a major boost in 1906-1907
when the Yudin Collection was purchased. This collection became
the nucleus of the Russian and Ukrainian accessions of the Library
of Congress. Among the Yudin books were several publications pertaining
to Ukraine printed in Church Slavonic. The Library of Congress
has several rarities of this kind, mostly printed at the Kiev Monastery
of the Caves and the Monastery of Pochaiv. Particularly notable
are the Euchologion albo molytvoslov ili trebnyk, edited
by Petro Mohyla, Metropolitan of Kiev, 1646; and Myr z Bohom,
by Innocentius Gisel, Abbot of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves,
Valuable 19th century publications concerning Ukraine also were
included in the Yudin Collection, such as the complete set of an
important journal of Ukrainian history, literature, folklore, and
language, Kievskaia Starina. The Library of Congress is
the only library in the Western hemisphere in possession of a complete
set of Kievskaia Starina with Index. Other noteworthy serials
are the Chteniia Istoricheskogo obshchestva Nestora Letopistsa and the Chteniia Moskovskogo obshchestva istorii i drevnostei rossiiskikh pri Moskovskom Universitete. The latter publication has three volumes
of indexes for the years 1882-1901.
Other interesting items from the Yudin Collection regarding Ukraine
are N.I. Kostomarov, Bogdan Khmel'nitskii (St. Petersburg,
1884); T. G. Shevchenko, Poemy, povesti i razskazy pisannyia
na ruskom iazyke (published by Kievskaia Starina, Kiev,
1888); T. G. Shevchenko, Chigirinskii Kobzar' na malorusskom
narechii (St. Petersburg, 1867); M. Kropyvnytskyi, Povnyi
zbirnyk tvoriv, (Kharkiv, 1895); F. Pyskuniv,Slovnytsia
ukrainskoi (abo iuhovoi rus'koi) movy (Odessa, 1873); N.I.
Petrov, Ocherki istorii ukrainskoi literatury XIX st. (Kiev, 1884);
M. Levchenko, Opyt russko-ukrainskago slovaria (Kiev, 1874);
and I. Kotliarevskoho, Eneida, second edition (St. Petersburg,
The history of Ukraine is represented in the Yudin Collection
by Istoriia Malorossii by N. A. Markevych (Moscow, 1842);
Ukrainian ethnology is covered by the same author's Obychai,
pover'ia, kukhnia i napitki malorossian (Kiev, 1860). P. O.
Kulish's important book on Ukrainian folklore and history, Zapiski
o iuzhnoi Rusi, 2 volumes (St. Petersburg, 1856-1857) is also
in this collection. The Yudin Collection also included many descriptive
and historical books in French and German relating to Ukraine,
such as the 17th century Description de l'Ukraine by Beauplan.
The Library has the 1861 edition, as well as an English translation from 1732 and a translation into Russian by F. Ustrialov, published in St. Petersburg in 1832.
Among the most valuable books of Yudin's collection are the Ukrainian
classics in their early editions. Starting with the national poet
Taras Shevchenko, the Library has his Kobzar' (St. Petersburg,
1860), a publication sponsored by a prominent Ukrainian patron,
Platon Semerenko, and printed by the famous Ukrainian author Panteleimon
Kulish (St. Petersburg, 1857); Chigirinshi kobzar', also
printed by Kulish, (1867); Illiustriovannyi Kobzar', with
illustrations by the prominent artist M.I. Mikeshin (1896); and Trizna,
published in Russian in 1844 and dedicated to Princess Barbara
Repnin. Yudin's collection did not include the first edition of Kobzar',
although it did have the first bibliography of works by and about
Shevchenko: T. Shevchenko v literaturie i iskusstvie; bibliograficheskii
ukazatel" dlia izucheniia zhizni i proizvedenii T. Shevchenka,
compiled by Mykhailo Komarov and published in Odessa in 1903.
The Library also has first editions of Kulish's own historical
novel, Chorna Rada, (St. Petersburg, 1857), and of its translation
into Russian by the author himself, as well as many early editions
of works by Skovoroda, Kotliarevskyi, Kvitka, Marko Vovchok, and
other Ukrainian classics. Indeed, the Library is probably the only
place in the Western hemisphere where so many of these works are
Ukrainian historians also are rather well represented in the LC
collections, although some works are available only in recent editions
or photoreproductions, e.g., Mykhailo Hrushevskyi and Dmytro Doroshenko, Istoriia
Ukrainy-Rusy (New York, 1952-1956). Of approximately 700 books
on history in the collections, more books are devoted to the most
glorious period in Ukrainian history -- Cossackdom and the Hetmanate
-- than to any other period. The Library of Congress has practically
all of the fundamental works on this subject, including those by
D.N. Bantysh- Kamenskyi, M. Kostomarov, and D. I. Evarnitskyi,
as well as numerous works by other prominent Ukrainian historians
and foreign scholars, e.g., Joachim Pastorius, Franciszek Gawronski
and Pedro Pellicena y Camacho.
Some historical books are important not only for their scholarly
value but also because of their rarity, as they were published
in comparatively few copies during the period of Ukrainian independence
in 1917-1921, for example Ukraina na perelomi, 1657-1659,
by Viacheslav Lypynsky (Kiev, 1920). Several of these publications
were among the library holdings of the diplomatic mission of the
Ukrainian People's Republic in Washington and were transferred
to the Library of Congress at a later date, following Ukraine's
integration into the Soviet Union.
Many Ukrainian scholars have excelled in the study of folk art,
customs, proverbs, songs, dances, and related topics, and works
on these subjects are well-represented in the Library of Congress.
Prominent Ukrainian folklorists represented in the collections
include Michael Drahomaniv, Academicians Volodymyr Hnatiuk and
Fedir Vovk, Victor Petrov and others. Moreover, the Library of
Congress is richer in Ukrainian material than it may seem at first
glance, as many monographs of great importance are contained in
serials that have not been fully analyzed, Thus each of the many
volumes of Zbirnyk Istorychno-filologichnoho viddilu UAN that
were published in the 1920s was devoted in full to a certain work
of some prominent Ukrainian scholar, and some of these works are
even multivolume. Several of the Ukrainian scholars whose works
appeared in this journal later were later killed or repressed by
the Soviet regime, and their writings do not appear in other editions.
A major event in the history of LC Ukrainian accessions took place
in 1958, with the acquisition of the Ostrih Bible of 1581. This
was received on exchange basis from the Lenin State Library in
Moscow. Production of the Bible was underwritten by Prince Konstantyn
Ostroz'kyi (1526-1608), and it was printed by Ivan Fedorovych (Fedorov)
(1525-1583). It is one of three copies in North America, the others
being held in Canada. The Ostrih Bible thus became the oldest Ukrainian
book in the Library, a distinction previously held by Petro Mohyla's Euchologion of
Efforts to enlarge the collection of Ukrainica in the Library
have continued more or less successfully in the 1960s-1980s. Ukrainian
dealers in North America were most helpful in building up the collections,
as were private collectors in the United States and Canada.
The Ukrainian material in the Geography and Maps Division of the
Library of Congress includes many noteworthy maps representing
the territory of Ukraine from Russian, Polish, Austrian, and other
sources. Some maps (e.g., Beauplan, Homann, and others) date as
far back as the middle of the 17th century.
Also in the collection is the first Ukrainian map of Ukraine,
the 1:2,000,000 scale map published by the Government of the Ukrainian
National Republic in Kiev in 1919. It identifies railroads, highways,
mines of iron and salt mines, as well as the location of oil and
other natural resources. Executed under the title Ukraina: Karta
z zaliznytsiamy, shliakhamy, kopal'niamy zaliza, soli i nafty by
G. Freitag Berndt of Vienna, it has both historical and cartographic
The Law Library contains many materials relating to Ukrainian
law, some of which has been catalogued as belonging to Ukraine
proper (Ukraine, Laws and statutes), and some of which is associated
with other countries that held different parts of Ukrainian territory
at various historical periods. Much of this material is important;
in some cases it is unique. The Foreign Law Section of the Law
Library has a fairly up-to-date collection of materials in the
field of Ukrainian law.
The Old Rus' law is represented by several editions of the principal
work of that time, Rus'skaia Pravda, which was compiled
in the 11th-12th centuries and is the oldest East European code.
The laws in force in Ukrainian lands under Polish-Ukrainian domination
(1340-1648) are collected in the so-called Lithuanian Statute.
This was also used in Ukraine during the Cossack State under Kmel'nyts'kyi
and other hetmans. LC also has both of the two Ukrainian judicial
dictionaries: one Russian-Ukrainian by A. Kryms'kyi, and the German-Ukrainian
dictionary of K. Levyts'kyi, Nimets'ko-ukrains'kyi pravnychi'slovar,
2nd. edition (Vienna, 1920).
Locating materials relating to Ukraine can be difficult, owing
to the turbulent history of the country and the confusing terminology
sometimes used. Authors often use the term "Russia" in cases that
do not concern Russia proper but rather present-day Ukraine. They
very often use the term "Russia" or "Russian" to designate the
Medieval Kiev state which was called "Rus"' but situated on the
territory of present-day Ukraine. In addition, the terms "Russia" and "Russian," when
used in reference to a political rather than an ethnic entity,
were used for all territories of the prerevolutionary Russian Empire
in the period from Peter the Great to the Revolution of 1917. These
factors explain why one can find a wealth of material concerning
Ukraine and Ukrainians under the headings or titles "Russia" and "Russian".
In older bibliographies and indexes much information on Ukraine
and Ukrainians also can be found under the headings "Little Russian" and "South
Russian," both of which are translations of obsolete Russian territorial
designations for Ukraine. Needless to say, much information on
Ukraine and Ukrainians also can be found under the heading "USSR." This
is especially the case with regard to various reference tools such
as bibliographies, directories, indexes and gazetteers, in which
information on Ukraine is included in chapters on the USSR.
Finally, because parts of Ukraine belonged at various times to
Austria-Hungary and later to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and
Hungary, much material concerning Ukraine and Ukrainians can be
found under the headings "Austria-Hungary," "Poland," "Czechoslovakia," "Rumania," and "Hungary" in
works on these countries. Material also can be found under headings
such as "Galicia," and information concerning Carpatho-Ukraine
can be found under the headings and titles "Carpathia", "Carpatho-Ruthenia",
or "Carpatho-Russia" used in various non-Ukrainian publications.
All of this can make searching for Ukrainica in English language
sources difficult. For those not familiar with these problems,
the European Division can provide a number of bibliographical aids
Related material on the Library of Congress web site: