Ucrainica at Harvard celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University in 1973. This is the eighth exhibition of rare Ucrainica held by the Houghton Library. The first was held in 1970 and the second in 1973, two were staged in 1974, one was mounted in 1976 in celebration of the centenary of the Ukrainian immigration to the United States, another was prepared in 1979 on the tenth anniversary of the Ukrainian Studies Program, and the seventh was organized in 1980 for the quadricentennial of the Ostrih Bible.
Ukrainian books were first collected by the University Library well prior to the foundation of both the Ukrainian Studies program at Harvard University in 1968 and the Ukrainian Research Institute in 1973. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Library began to expand its acquisitions into areas concerning Eastern Europe. Many of these earliest Ukrainian acquisitions came to Harvard from funds established by individuals such as Harvard graduate Charles Minot (1810-1866). From the 1940's to 1970's, Philip Hofer, founding Curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton Library, and notably Bayard L. Kilgour, Jr., Harvard Class of 1927, greatly strengthened Harvard's collection of Ukrainian early printing, history and literature.
A systematic plan for the development of Harvard's library collection on Ukraine, however, did not really begin until the Committee on Ukrainian Studies was formed in 1968. Ukrainian Studies at Harvard University came about through the initiative of students, members of the Federation of Ukrainian Student Organizations in the United States. In 1957 they began a fund drive within the Ukrainian-American community under the guidance of Stephan Chemych, Founder and President of the Ukrainian Studies Chair Fund, to raise an endowment to support three professorial chairs and the Ukrainian Research Institute.
The Committee on Ukrainian Studies issued an appeal to private collectors either to donate or to help purchase library materials that would benefit research and instruction in Ukrainian studies. The appeal was answered enthusiastically by the Ukrainian-American community, who made their private collections available to the Harvard University Library either through gift or sale. Donors, through financial contributions, also made possible the purchase of library materials, such as the rare items of Ucrainica from the library of Sergei Diaghilev, the renowned ballet impresario, and Sergei Lifar at an auction in Sotheby Parke Bernet Monaco (1975), as well as their technical processing and preservation. The tireless acquisition, cataloguing and maintenance of Ukrainian library materials has been carried out by former Widener Library and Institute librarians Edward Kasinec, Oksana Procyk, Larissa Trolle, and Jaryna Turko Bodrock.
The importance of the Ukrainian library collections at Houghton Library and Widener Library, as well as in specialized collections such as Anthropology, Divinity, Fine Arts, Law, and Music, to the overall mission of the Ukrainian Research Institute cannot be overstated. These rich resources have helped fulfill the Institute's mission of the advancement of knowledge about Ukraine in the United States. This mission was originally conceptualized twenty-five years ago by the Institute's founder, Omeljan Pritsak, first Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History, who served as the first director until his retirement in 1989, and by Ihor Sevcenko, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine Literature and History. The library collections promote the research and teaching of the three endowed professorships in Ukrainian philology, Ukrainian literature, and Ukrainian history within the Departments of History and Slavic Languages and Literatures; attract numerous visiting scholars, graduate and undergraduate students from near and abroad; and support the Institute's ambitious publications program of monographs, occasional papers, and its scholarly journal, Harvard Ukrainian Studies.
The Institute has become one of the foremost institutions of Ukrainian scholarship in the West. It is a meeting place for scholars with diverse national and disciplinary backgrounds. Through its long running weekly Seminar in Ukrainian Studies, its various conferences, colloquia, and symposia, and vibrant Ukrainian Summer Institute, the Ukrainian Research Institute has fostered an atmosphere for the independent exchange of ideas in not only the study of Ukrainian history, language, and literature, but also contemporary culture, economics, politics, and society.