Library and Archives

The Ukrainian collection at the Harvard University Library, the largest collection outside Eastern Europe, is located primarily in Widener Library and Houghton Library, with the remainder housed in several specialized collections on campus (Fine Arts, Music, Anthropology, Science, Law), including the Institute's own Reference Library. The Ukrainian holdings of these Harvard University libraries can be searched through the HOLLIS (Harvard OnLine Library Information System) Catalog.

HURI Reading Room

History of the Ukrainian Collection

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 Harvard 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. 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 separate financial contributions, as well as the establishment of endowed book funds, 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).

picture of bookAmong the valuable Ukrainian items in Harvard's collections are Ivan Fedorovych's Apostol and Primer (1574), the first books printed in Ukraine; the Ostrih Bible (1581); the edicts of Hetman Ivan Mazepa; the manuscript of Hryhorii Skovoroda's Dialogue; and first editions of works by Ivan Kotliarevs'kyi, Taras Shevchenko, Panteleimon Kulish, and other important nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers. Today, the immeasurable generosity of past and present donors helps the continued development of the Ukrainian collection at the Harvard University Library and its technical processing and preservation. The collection also acquires material through exchange agreements between the Harvard College Library and libraries in Ukraine and Poland.

Activities of the Ukrainian Library Program

The activities of the Ukrainian studies library program are not limited to the acquisition and cataloguing of material. The library staff of the Ukrainian Research Institute organizes exhibits, answers research queries, provides library orientations, and arranges and describes archival and manuscript collections. The Institute's library collection includes reference works and monograph titles that support courses offered by the Ukrainian Studies program in history, literature, and language, and the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute. The library also serves as a reading room for current serials, a center for reserve materials for courses in Ukrainian studies, and a repository for archival, manuscript, and ephemeral collections. The library staff is dedicated to providing reference assistance to Institute faculty, visiting scholars, and students, as well as professionals and the general community. For a general description of Harvard's library collections and hours, visit the Harvard University libraries website. Specific questions  about the Ukrainian collection at Harvard can be directed to Olha Aleksic, Petro Jacyk Bibliographer.