METRO Member Spotlight: The Shevchenko Scientific Society

by Ostap Kin, Archivist at Shevchenko Scientific Society

The Shevchenko Scientific Society ("the Society") is an organization of scholars and researchers working in various disciplines and dedicated mainly, but not entirely, to the advancement and development of Ukrainian studies.

The SocietyOriginally founded in 1873 in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, the headquarters of the Society were reestablished in the United States in 1947. The Society maintains a specialized library, a depository of archives, and an art collection. It provides research grants for scholars, and sponsors the publication of books on Ukrainian studies. Although the main focus of the Shevchenko Scientific Society is on scholarship and education, it also serves the general public by providing information for students about schools of higher education, facilitating neighborhood educational programs, and hosting public lectures and literary readings.

The Library
The library is located on the fourth floor of a four-story building located in the East Villageand owned by the Shevchenko Scientific Society. There is a large population of Ukrainians and American Ukrainians in the East Village, and a number of Ukrainian civic and cultural organizations are located here as well.

The library is easily accessed by public transportation and is open to the public Monday through Friday. It fulfills the needs of the members of the Ukrainian community in New York City, as well as the tri-state area scholars, researchers, and professors who work in the field of Ukrainian studies, some of whom travel from different states as well as from Ukraine and other European countries to conduct their research at the Society’s library.

The library has over 30,000 books covering many areas, including literature, science, music, art, and cinema. It also preserves a large collection of press, mainly journals and periodicals published by the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States. The library’s collection of rare books related to Ukraine has volumes which date back to 1796. Examples from the collection include the first edition of Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar (1980), the French translation of a collection of short stories Maroussia by Marko Vovchok (1878) and draft of debut collection of poetry Soniashni klarnety (1918) by Pavlo Tychyna.

Library staff regularly take part in scholarly events and conferences that take place at the Society, as well as in Ukrainian and American organizations. The library organizes exhibitions of items from its collections, newly published books, and unique publications from recent decades that have been donated to the library.

The Archive
Archival holdings at the Shevchenko Scientific Society shed light on the life and work of Ukrainians in different European and American places since the 1840’s. The catalog of archival collections at the depository is available on the Society’s website.

After the Society’s reestablishment in New York City in 1947, it continued to acquire and preserve both private and organizational collections of correspondence, writings, personal documents, photographs, subject files, and maps. A significant percentage of the archive’s collection documents the life of Ukrainians and citizens of other counties who lived in Ukraine, Ukrainian life in post-war Europe (namely in the Displaced Persons camps), and life in the United States.

The primarily language of collections is Ukrainian; however, much of material is written in English, German, Polish, and Russian. The archival collection once belonged to various literati, civic activists, politicians, professors, artists, musicians, and educators. The Archives of the Shevchenko Scientific Society plans to start publishing a series of memoirs from their archival collections.

The Bulletin of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, published twice per year, features articles about the newest acquisitions both to the archives and the library, and publishes some material from the archival repository.

To see these items in person, please visit the Shevchenko Scientific Society Library and Archives at 63 Fourth Avenue in New York. 


The image about was reprinted by permission of Ostap Kin.