Historical Collection of the Jakabffy Elemér Foundation
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Name of collection
- Historical Collection of the “Jakabffy Elemér” Foundation
Provenance and cultural activities
The Historical Collection was established by the Jakabffy Elemér Foundation in 2002. The purpose was to collect, organize, and provide information concerning the history of the Hungarian minority in Romania, with a focus on the period after 1989. An additional aim was to provide an institutional background for Hungarian social scientific research in Cluj, especially in the domains of political science and contemporary history. With these ends in view, the Foundation regularly organizes roundtable discussions and seminars, and it continuously enlarges its collection of manuscripts, the collection of audio materials (interviews) and documentaries, the collection of periodicals (beginning in 1990), and its library.
The person after whom the Foundation was named, Elemér Jakabffy (Lugoj, 1881 – Satu Mare, 1963) was a Transylvanian politician in Hungary and then in Romania after 1920, as well as a jurist and journalist, who dealt extensively with minority issues. In 1938, he was elected external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was kept as a minority hostage in Bucharest for eight months in the period between 1944 and 1945. He was then forced to stay in Haţeg until the end of 1954. In 1957, he moved to Satu Mare, where he led a sequestered life.
The so-called “collection of manuscripts” contains not only manuscripts, but various types of records. 1) Materials of the (former) Institute of Hungarian Studies from Budapest and the (former) Social Theory Collection of the Library of the University of Szeged (SZTE Társadalomelméleti Gyűjteménye), which includes documents concerning Hungarians from Romania dating from the 1970s and later. Whereas the documents from Szeged were preponderantly produced in Hungary, the relevant materials coming from Budapest were created in Romania and then smuggled to Hungary to prevent the Romanian political police from seizing them. These analyses and documents pertaining to the legal and sociological status of the Hungarian minority could not have been published in Romania. Consequently, they were brought to Hungary through the Hungarian diplomatic courier service. Since there are no more actively enlarged collections in Hungary dealing with the history of the Hungarian minority in Romania, many relevant materials are currently submitted to the Historical Collection of the Jakabffy Elemér Foundation. 2) Primary sources and related research reports dealing with Hungarians in Romania and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. 3) Copies of archival documents collected in 2006 by the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania, also known as the Tismăneanu Commission, with regards to the Hungarian minority. 4) Copies of surveillance files of Hungarian intellectuals issued by the Securitate. 5) Various types of legacy materials, including manuscripts that could not have been published in the period of state socialism.
The Historical Collection of the Jakabffy Elemér Foundation is to provide professional guidance for content development and digitalized materials for the platform entitled Databank – Hungarian Electronic Library from Transylvania (http://www.adatbank.ro/). Digitalizing and disseminating materials through the Databank represents a cornerstone of the Foundation’s collection development policy. The long-term objective is to provide a comprehensive picture of Hungarian society in Romania and its cultural legacy. Obviously, this includes the period of state socialism.The “collection of manuscripts” was set up by historians Nándor Bárdi and Gábor Vincze. The Foundation has no paid employees, neither for research nor for administration. The library is run by university students. New materials which are made part of the collection are also organized mostly by students, and professional input is furnished by researchers Nándor Bárdi and József D. Lőrincz. The organizational functioning is ensured by researcher Izabella Györgyjakab and the president of the Foundation, István Székely.
Description of content
The Historical Collection of the “Jakabffy Elemér” Foundation includes materials relevant to the topic of cultural opposition, such as primary sources on the study of the two samizdat journals which were made by intellectuals belonging to the Hungarian minority: Ellenpontok (Counterpoints), which managed to appear nine times in 1981–1982 and Kiáltó szó (Loud Word), two issues of which were issued in 1989. One can also mention the activity of the dissident group of Hungarian intellectuals called Limes (Limes Kör). Nevertheless, most of the documents are not about political opposition, but rather concern formal and informal strategies of individual and collective survival and analyses of these phenomena. This can be detected in issues ranging from collectivization to the functioning of the Hungarian Autonomous Region (1952–1960), the functioning of the dissident groups, the Hungarian Press of Transylvania (HPT) in the 1980s, and activities related to building up the Transylvanian Hungarian self-representation in the Ceausescu era.
The collection of manuscripts (which contains roughly 1,600 records) encompasses analyses, statistics, transcripts of interviews, and official documents created in the period of state socialism. The collection of audio materials and documentaries contains interviews conducted within the framework of various projects and submitted to the Foundation to be available to the wider public, life story interviews with Hungarian intellectuals, and documentaries related to the history and culture of the Hungarian minority (some 300 records). The life story interviews were conducted with various leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Alliance in Romania (DAHR) at the beginning of the 1990s. They also deal with their activities in the pre-1989 period. This applies to the documentaries too. Many of the movies deal with the period of state socialism. Currently, the collection is being enlarged by life story interviews done within the framework of various projects related to the research of the predominantly Hungarian-inhabited region of eastern Transylvania called the Székely Land.
Likewise, the electronic extension of the collection, the Databank (http://www.adatbank.ro/), deals with the period of state socialism. Alongside digitalized materials concerning the Hungarian cultural legacy (the section of periodicals from state socialism is currently under construction), the platform contains background materials intended to aid further research: bibliographies (thematic bibliographies, a bibliography of the works of various outstanding intellectuals, and registers), catalogues of archival documents collected and stored by other institutions, digitalized official documents (surveillance files issued by the Securitate included), and chronologies.To illustrate the relevance of digitalized materials to the topic of cultural opposition from the state socialist period, one can mention the materials of the Hungarian Press of Transylvania (1983–1989) and the related register. The HTP was edited in Budapest by Attila Ara-Kovács, one of the people instrumental in the launch of the samizdat journal Ellenpontok. HTP published primarily information and analyses obtained through unofficial sources and related to the situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania. The bilingual (Hungarian and English) publication represented an important source on human rights organizations and political movements in the West.
- legal and/or financial documentation: 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): unknown quantity
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): unknown quantity
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
László, Márton, and Csaba Zoltán Novák. A szabadság terhe. Marosvásárhely, 1990. március 16-21. Csíkszereda: Pro-Print, 2012.
Novák, Csaba Zoltán. Aranykorszak? A Ceauşescu-rendszer magyarságpolitikája I. Csíkszereda, Pro-Print Könyvkiadó, 2011.
Novák, Csaba Zoltán. Holtvágányon. A Ceaușescu-rendszer magyarságpolitikája II. 1974-1989. Csíkszereda, Pro-Print Könyvkiadó, 2011.
Raport final. București, Comisia Prezidenţială pentru Analiza Dictaturii Comuniste din România, 2016.
Author(s) of this page
- Kiss, Ágnes
Bárdi, Nándor, interview by Kiss, Ágnes, September 12, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection