Ignas Jonynas Collection
The collection holds various documents (manuscripts, letters, etc) relating to the Lithuanian historian Ignas Jonynas. His works written in the interwar period laid the foundations for modern Lithuanian national historiography. During Soviet times, Jonynas was a professor of history at Kaunas and Vilnius universities. In 1949, he was severely criticised by Party activists for ‘bourgeois objectivism’ and nationalism. However, Jonynas was still very popular among students, and had a huge influence on the younger generation of Lithuanian historians.
Vilnius Žygimantų gatvė 1, Lithuania 01143
Show on map
Name of collection
Historian Ignas Jonynas Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Ignas Jonynas was a Lithuanian historian. His works and studies (especially his seminal work ‘Vytautas Household’, written in 1932) laid the foundations for modern Lithuanian national historiography. However, during the interwar period, he was not only a professional historian and professor at Kaunas State University, but also a diplomat (from 1920 to 1922 he represented the Republic of Lithuania at the League of Nations). He corresponded with historians in different countries (Russia and Poland) and had a large collection of volumes on history. Like several other Lithuanian intellectuals, writers and scholars, Jonynas appeared to sympathise with Soviet Russia (he was a member of the Society for Learning the Culture of Nations of the Soviet Union.). This is probably because he had studied at Moscow University and liked Russian culture. It explains why Jonynas decided to stay in Lithuania after 1944. He became a professor at Kaunas and Vilnius universities (from 1946, only at Vilnius University). His lectures were very popular with students, especially historians. His ideas on history were based on principles of historicism and positivism. Jonynas taught some famous Lithuanian historians: Vytautas Merkys, Mečislovas Jučas, and others. He organised special 'historical’ trips for historians around important places in Lithuanian history. In 1948 and 1949, he was attacked severely by the University Party Committee, and later by leaders of the Lithuanian Communist Party for ignoring Marxist methodology, and for ‘bourgeois nationalism’. Jonynas admitted to making ‘ideological mistakes’, and continued his professional career at the university.
The collection holds various documents, but most important for the project are those which illustrate the complicated and dangerous situation of Lithuanian intellectuals and researchers during the Stalinist period (protocols of various meetings at the university, and Jonynas’ replies to accusations).
The Manuscript Department of the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR received Jonynas’ documents from his relatives in 1959. According to Erika Kuliešienė, the historian V. Merkys, a student of Jonynas, persuaded his relatives to hand the collection over to the library. The Manuscript Department at the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR received Jonynas’ documents from his relatives, his wife Elena Ustinova-Jonynienė and his daughter Birutė Jonynaitė-Andrejevienė, in 1959. The documents were sorted out by the Manuscript Department employee Danutė Labanauskienė in 1960. The collection was not accessible to the public, only members of the Academy could use it, probably because it has a lot of documents about the history of the interwar Republic of Lithuania. Since 1989, the collection has been accessible to the public. After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, the Presidium of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences adopted new regulations for the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. In September 2009, the former name, Wroblewski, was reinstated.
Description of content
The Jonynas collection (F.105) has 756 different documents. The collection holds documents which illustrate very well the situation of a Lithuanian intellectual and scholar in Stalinist Lithuania. Jonynas was a historian, and had a career in the interwar Republic of Lithuania. Even the Soviet government recognised his achievements, which is why he was able to lecture at Vilnius University. He was also respected by the Lithuanian intelligentsia as a talented scholar, professor and independent interwar intellectual. However, his position in Stalinist Lithuania was not secure. During the ideological campaign against nationalism that was started by the government, Jonynas was attacked harshly for his anti-Marxist views. However, the historian was not persecuted, and after he admitted to ‘ideological mistakes’, he continued his career at the university. The professor was very popular with history students, because he used teaching practices that were unusual for Soviet universities during the Stalinist period (he organised special trips to important places in Lithuanian history).
The collection consists of Jonynas’ personal documents, and minutes of various meetings at which the historian was criticised, and his comments on his own views and behaviour. There are also manuscripts of his own studies and works. Most of them were published during the interwar period, some during the Soviet period, or they were not published. The third group of documents, his lecture notes, is the largest. Other parts are made up of student works, correspondence (from Poland and the Soviet Union), and copies of various historical documents.
The photographs are an important part of the collection. Twelve photographs were received by the Manuscript Department in 2013. The images show the trips with his students he organised to different historical places in Lithuania (1952 to 1954), and also photographs from his funeral.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 500-999
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Lithuania, LT-01102, Vilnius, Žygimantų g. 1
Show on map
Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
- Jonynas, Ignas. Istorijos baruose [In the Historical Area]. In Lithuanian. Edited by Vytautas Merkys, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1984. Book
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Sirutavičius, Vladas
Jonynas, Ignas. Istorijos baruose [In the Historical Area]. In Lithuanian. Edited by Vytautas Merkys, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1984. Book
Merkys, Vytautas. Atminties prošvaistės [The Gleams of Memory]. In Lithuanian. Vilnius: Versus Aureus, 2009. Book
Švedas, Aurimas. Matricos nelaisvėje [In the Prison of Matrix]. In Lithuanian. Vilnius: Aidai, 2009. Book
Labanauskienė, Danutė. Igno Jonyno rankraštinis palikimas Lietuvos mokslų akademijos bibliotekos rankraščių skyriuje [Ignas Jonynas manuscripts heritage in the Manuscripts Department of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences]. In Lithuanian. Vilnius: Lietuvos istorijos metraštis [journal], 2001, 410-424.
Kuliešienė, Erika , interview by Sirutavičius, Vladas , March 24, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection