Jan Tesař Collection at the Moravian Museum
The collection is important proof of the activities of a left-thinking historian, a "spiritual father" and co-founder of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS), a co-publisher of unofficial periodic Dialogy, who was imprisoned several times and forced to go to exile, where he collaborated with dissidents from other socialist countries.
Hudcova 76, 612 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Jan Tesař is a left-thinking historian who has been involved in cultural opposition in Czechoslovakia and after his forced exile also in other countries. He was a co-publisher of the unofficial periodic Dialogy and a "spiritual father" and founding member of the VONS. The collection was created in private ownership and kept in his Prague apartment. After his forced departure abroad, the collection was extended to materials held in other places of his activities, especially in Germany and France. The collection is continuously supplemented by other documents and artefacts, the majority of which are still in the hands of the author. The current covers a wide range of time from the 1940s to the present. The focus of the collection consists of the works of scholar Jan Tesař and different types of manuscripts, as well as the samizdat and exile publications and opposition activities.
The collection of Jan Tesař, deposited in the Moravian Museum, has a parallel collection kept at the Paris X-Nanzerre Bibliothèque de documentation internationale contemporaine (BDIC) under the name Collection Tesar. The French collection differs from the collection in the Moravian Museum in several important respects. It is smaller, will not be expanded, and contains only copies of the originals that were purchased at BDIC in 1988-1994. The most significant differences are the contents of the two collections: the Moravian Museum owns a set of audio recordings with political opposition activists of the 1970s in Czechoslovakia, as well as documents and memoirs of the victims of political processes in 1972. On the other hand, all materials of the estate of a historian Zdeněk Vašíček are kept in Paris.
The first part of the collection was donated to the Moravian Museum by Jan Tesař in 2012. The reasoning behind this was so that these special collections, important characters of Czechoslovak exile and dissent, could be preserved, used to educate and popularise. Today, the collection is currently used mainly for study and exhibition purposes.
Description of content
The collection of Jan Tesař is one of the most extensive ones kept in the Moravian Museum. It currently contains about 180 standard archive boxes, a part of the library and other items. The collection is continuously supplemented by other documents and artefacts, the majority of which are still in the hands of the author. The current covers a wide range of time from the 1940s to the present. The focus of the collection consists of the works of scholar Jan Tesař: manuscripts, notes and summaries from works of other authors, sources mostly in the form of interviews with witnesses, reviews, etc. A large part also includes documents related to samizdat and exile publishing activities. Jan Tesař saved published samizdats, official materials published by the Charter 77 and by the Committee on the Defence of Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS), which aimed to provide legal protection to people unfairly accused or arrested without charge.
A valuable part of the collection is a petition Podněty katolíků k řešení situace věřících občanů v ČSR demanding religious freedom from 1985, which preceded the most famous opposition petition during the communist regime called the "Moravian Challenge" and signed by more than half a million people. In terms of samizdat, the material of the samizdat workshop by Jaromír Němce, which was probably the most important producer and distributor of this literature in Moravia, is very interesting too. The collection also includes several pieces of electrical equipment used to record and listen to interviews/lectures, samizdat production and photography. The collection of Jan Tesař also contains documents and audio recordings related to the activities of other figures of Czechoslovak dissent (such as Augustin Navrátil, Božena Komárková, Jaroslav Mezník, Ludmila Jankovcová, Jiří Müller, Jan Šimsa) and audio recordings of lectures (such as Jan Patočka about T. G. Masaryk). The collection also contains articles demonstrating the personal preferences and hobbies of Jan Tesař (such as a vinyl records collection, maps and a travel guides on France). The collection is still only partly systematised and is being supplemented in co-operation with its author.
- artifacts: 0-9
- furniture: 0-9
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 500-999
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- music recordings: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- parts are closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Nečasová, Denisa
Tesař, Jan. 2014. Mnichovský komplex. Jeho příčiny a důsledky. Praha: Prostor.
Tesař, Jan. 2018. Co počít ve vlkově břiše. Práce o vytváření struktur občanské společnosti z let 1968–1980. Praha: Triáda
Centrum pro dokumentaci totalitních režimů. 2018. „Jan Tesař“. Last modified 2015.
Metelec, Matěj. 2018. „Neztotožnit se s vítězem: texty Jana Tesaře z let 1968–1980“. A2larm 2018/7. Accessed September 8, 2018.
Kordíková, Marta. 2012. Augustin Navrátil a jeho disidentská činnost. Diplomová práce FF UK. Praha.
Malaťák, Demeter, interview by Nečasová, Denisa, September 06, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection