Raţiu–Tilea Personal Library Collection at BCU Cluj–Napoca
The Raţiu–Tilea Personal Library Collection reflects the academic interests of two Romanian intellectuals living in exile, both involved in the political organisations of the Romanian Diaspora in the West and authoring relevant works on twentieth century Romania. The collection brings together a large number of publications dealing with postwar Eastern Europe, including the most appreciated academic contributions on the history of Romanian communism published in the West.
Cluj-Napoca Strada Clinicilor 2, Romania 400000
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Name of collection
Ion Raţiu–Viorel V. Tilea Books Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The Raţiu–Tilea Personal Library Collection illustrates the academic interests of two Romanian intellectuals living in exile after 1940, both members of the Raţiu family, which distinguished itself during the nineteenth century through its members’ involvement in the Romanians’ movement for civil and political rights in Austria–Hungary.
Although the institution that has in custody the Raţiu–Tilea Personal Library Collection has not made any administrative distinction between books that were originally in Viorel Virgil Tilea’s library and those coming from Ion Raţiu’s library, their trajectories can be retraced from autographs and from their topics. Most of the books dealing with the history of diplomacy during the nineteenth and twentieth century and the Second World War came from Tilea’s personal library and reflect his academic interests. The majority of books dealing with the history of the Soviet Union, postwar Eastern Europe, and the history of Romanian communism were gathered by Ion Raţiu and constitute a significant part of the sources that he used during the writing of his academic contributions on communist Romania. The books pertaining to these areas of interest may be considered the cores of the two personal libraries, but the remaining books in the collection cover a much broader spectrum of topics: political theory, philosophy, law, economics, literature, and art.
Viorel Virgil Tilea – Ion Raţiu’s uncle – was a Romanian diplomat and politician who distinguished himself as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom from 1939 to 1940. In September 1940, when the National Legionary State was proclaimed in Romania and withdrew him from office, Tilea asked for political asylum and chose to remain in the United Kingdom. From 1919 to 1972, Tilea collected a great number of books that reflect his interests as both a diplomat and an analyst of international relations during the first half of the twentieth century. After Tilea’s death in 1972, his nephew, Ion Raţiu, inherited his collection of books and documents as the continuer of Tilea’s activity of promoting democratic values within the Romanian exile.
After graduating from the Faculty of Law of the University of Cluj in 1938, Ion Raţiu was appointed in April 1940 chancellor (cancelar diurnist) at the Romanian Legation in London. In September 1940, when the National Legionary State was installed in Romania, Raţiu chose to resign from his office and to ask for political asylum. Raţiu became a journalist and a prominent figure of the Romanian exile. As a journalist working for the American news agency International News Service and later for the BBC, Raţiu had the opportunity to access a broad variety of sources concerning the Eastern Bloc. He accumulated expertise as a political analyst on postwar Eastern Europe and in the period from 1940 to 2000 he gathered an impressive library dealing with topics related to the history of communism and Cold War issues. These books represented a main source for Raţiu’s academic research on topics such as the history of communism, Western policies towards communism, and the Romanian communist regime. The library traces the intellectual origin of many of the publications and speeches that made Raţiu a political and cultural personality of the Romanian exile. Most of the books of this collection were not to be found in communist Romania due to the criticism of the communist regimes that they contain. Consequently, many of them are rare books in present-day Romanian libraries. A significant moment in the history of this collection was January 1990, when Raţiu decided to come back to Romania and to be involved in Romanian politics. At that time, the greater part of the library remained in London at the Raţiu Foundation. After Raţiu’s death in 2000, the family decided to donate most of the Ion Raţiu’s personal library to BCU Cluj-Napoca, whose director, Professor Doru Radosav, played a significant role in this transfer. The books gradually came into the custody of BCU Cluj-Napoca during the period from 2006 to 2008. In June 2009, the Raţiu–Tilea reading room at BCU Cluj-Napoca, which hosts the library, was opened to the public in the presence of members of the Raţiu family.
Description of content
The collection is made up of the personal libraries of two personalities of the Romanian exile, Viorel Virgil Tilea and Ion Raţiu, and contains more than 5,500 publications: books, brochures, albums, exhibition catalogues, and periodicals. The cores of the two personal libraries reflect their creators’ research interests, with a focus on topics relating to the history of communism, the Cold War, and the history of Romanian communism (in the case of Ion Raţiu) and the history of diplomacy and international relations (in the case of Viorel Virgil Tilea), and they also include items covering the creators’ general reading interests in a wide variety of topics such as: political science, history, political theory, economics, law, art, literature, and folklore. The same diversity is to be found when looking at the languages of the publications of the collection: English, Romanian, French, German, Italian, and Hungarian. The collection is one of the most coherent selections of books published in the West on Romania under communism, many of them used by Raţiu and Tilea for documenting their academic contributions. Due to their critical approach to the Romanian communist regime, these publications were not to be found in Romanian libraries before 1989. Thus, this collection of books has a cultural and symbolic value, but also a practical value due to the rarity of its items in Romanian libraries.
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
London, United Kingdom
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Pintilescu, Corneliu
BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2009. “Inaugurarea Bibliotecii Raţiu – Tilea la Biblioteca Centrală Universitară ‘Lucian Blaga’ Cluj” (The inauguration of the Raţiu–Tilea Library at the Lucian Blaga Central University Library Cluj-Napoca). Buletin Informativ: Biblioteca Centrală Universitară Lucian Blaga Cluj-Napoca 8: 2–4. Accessed November 14, 2017. http://aleph.bcucluj.ro/doc/buletin8.pdf
BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2017. “Donaţii şi donatori de prestigiu: Raţiu, Ion” (Donations and prestigious donors: Raţiu, Ion). Accessed November 14, 2017. ttps://www.bcucluj.ro/ro/despre-noi/donaţii-şi-donatori-de-prestigiu#pitariu. BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2017, “Donaţii şi donatori de prestigiu: Tilea, Viorel Virgil” (Donations and prestigious donors: Tilea, Viorel Virgil). https://www.bcucluj.ro/ro/despre-noi/dona%C5%A3ii-%C5%9Fi-donatori-de-prestigiu#szabo
Buzle, Nicolina. 2009. “‘Eu sunt un fel de peregrin transilvan şi revin în ţară ...’ – Interviu cu Indrei Raţiu.” (“I am a kind of a Transylvanian wanderer and I am returning to my homeland ... ” – interview with Indrei Raţiu). BiblioRev 17. Accesed November 14, 2017. https://www.bcucluj.ro/bibliorev/arhiva/nr17/biblio2.html.
Costea, Lavinia Snejana , interview by Pintilescu, Corneliu, November 27, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection