Augustinas Janulaitis Collection
Augustinas Janulaitis was a famous Lithuanian national activist, an active member of the Social Democratic Party, a lawyer and historian. In 1945, he became dean of the Faculty of History at Vilnius University, and later a member of the Academy of Sciences. The Augustinas Janulaitis collection, which is kept in the Wróblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, holds various manuscripts of Janulaitis' work, and documents relating to his career and life in Soviet Lithuania. His letter to the president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences reflects the difficult situation in 1946, when he was attacked by the Soviet authorities for bourgeois nationalism. To students, he was an example of an intellectual and a scholar of interwar independent Lithuania.
Vilnius Žygimantų gatvė 1, Lithuania 01143
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Name of collection
Augustinas Janulaitis Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Augustinas Janulaitis was a famous Lithuanian political and cultural activist. During the interwar period, he was a well-known lawyer and historian, and a professor at the University of Lithuania (from 1930, Vytautas Magnus University) in Kaunas. Janulaitis was also very interested in the cultural history of the Lithuanian nation. He collected material about various personalities who played an important role in Lithuania's history and culture: about the lawyer and historian Ignas Danilevičius (1787-1843), the writer and folklorist Mykalojus Akelaitis (1829-1887), the poet Kiprijonas Nezabitauskis (1779-1837), the cultural historian Simonas Daukantas (1793-1864), and others. He wrote and published biographies of Danilavičius and Akelaitis. His studies on Lithuanian culture had a huge influence on students, including Meilė Matjošaitytė-Lukšienė (1913-2009), who became a well-known cultural historian, and at the end of the 1980s, along with other Lithuanian intellectuals, she initiated the Sąjūdis movement. (Janulaitis was an uncle of Meilė Lukšienė.) During the Soviet period, Janulaitis was loyal to the regime: he participated in creating the Academy of Sciences in 1941, and was elected a member. In 1945, he became dean of the Faculty of History at Vilnius University. However, in 1946 during an ideological campaign initiated by the Party authorities against 'Western influences' and 'cosmopolitanism', he was accused of 'bourgeois nationalism'. He survived, but retired from the university and the academy. He died in 1950. Students and the younger generation of the Lithuanian intelligentsia perceived him as a representative of independent Lithuania's cultural elite. His studies on 19th-century Lithuanian culture, and his collection of documents about activists in the national revival, had a huge impact on Lithuanian historians, especially during the period of the Sąjūdis movement in 1988-1990.
The Janulaitis collection was started in 1967, when Janulaitis' wife, the painter Elena Janulaitienė (née Jurašaitytė, 1893–1982), and his niece Meilė Lukšienė gave the first documents to the Manuscript Department of the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (from 2009, the Wróblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences). Lukšienė sorted and described the documents. The collection was added to several times, in 1969, 1976, 1978 and 1981, by Janulaitis' family, his wife and Meilė Lukšienė. It was supplemented by Janulaitis' son for the last time in 1984. In the end, the collection was sorted in 1985 by the staff of the Manuscript Department. It was not accessible to the public during Soviet times.
According to scholars (Romualdas Misiūnas, Rein Taagapera, The Baltic States: Years of Dependence, 1940–1990, London: Hurst, 1993, pp. 165-172), the late 1950s and 1960s in the Baltic states are generally called 'the thaw'. Changes in the general social and cultural context in Lithuania, and cultural liberalisation, could have influenced the decision to give Janulaitis’ papers to a state institution. However, another theory is also possible. Although there is no clear proof, the decision to give the collection to the library could have been influenced by personal contacts between Meilė Lukšienė, Janulaitis’ relatives and the staff of the library and the Manuscript Department (especially Juozas Marcinkevičius, the director of the Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR).
Description of content
The Augustinas Janulaitis collection (F267) has 3,958 documents of various kinds. It illustrates the situation of a national activist and well-known scholar in Stalinist Lithuania: his attempts to adapt to the strict ideological rules and requirements of the Soviet regime; but on the other hand, the uncertainty of his position in Stalinist Lithuania. This uncertainty was caused by the fact that, to the Soviet authorities, Janulaitis was still associated with the Lithuanian national revival and the independent Republic of Lithuania. That is why he was attacked in 1946 by Party authorities, and criticised for his 'bourgeois nationalism' and for 'ignoring the Soviet reality'. After 1944, he published only one short article, about the 19th-century Lithuanian historian Teodoras Narbutas (1784-1864). Following this attack, he decided to retire, and died in 1950.
The Janulaitis collection holds various documents: his personal papers, correspondence with historians in different countries, letters to officials and various government institutions, manuscripts of his work, copies of various documents that he used in his work, drafts of articles (some published, some not), lecture notes and drafts of speeches, translations of historical articles and documents relating to Lithuanian history, and extracts from criminal and civil files (Janulaitis was a lawyer).
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
- Janulaitis, Augustinas. Praeitis ir jos tyrimo rūpesčiai [The Historical Past and Concerns of it’s Studies], in Lithuanian. Vilnius: Mokslas, 1989. Book
Author(s) of this page
- Sirutavičius, Vladas
Sperskienė, Rasa , interview by Sirutavičius, Vladas , Grybkauskas, Saulius, March 17, 2017, March 24, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection