Masaryk Society Collection at the Archive of Masaryk University
The collection contains documents of the Masaryk Society, citizens' illegal initiatives, which originated in Brno and Prague in 1988. The society organized events for the return of Masaryk's name to the public space and cultivated the regime of suppressed knowledge and awareness of the philosopher and first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.
Žerotínovo náměstí 449/3, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
The Masaryk society, branch Brno
Provenance and cultural activities
The initiative of the Masaryk Society at the end of the time of normalization can be found in a pious act at the Masaryk's tomb in Lány on September 14, 1987. The unofficial ceremony wanted to honour the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the first president of Czechoslovakia. The event was attended by a group of Brno intellectuals: Jaroslav Mezník, Josef Podsedník, Dušan Slávik, Jan Šimsa, Milan Jelínek and others. On the basis of this particular experience, they decided to draw attention to the anniversaries, works and ideas of TG Masaryk, due to their academic background, these efforts were connected with research and scientific activities aimed at the work of the President of Czechoslovakia in its historical and philosophical context. They planned to carry out their activities publicly and legally, so in the spring of 1988, they drafted the statutes of the organization that would make TGM a reference and it was named this, which hid the intention to mirror the organization of the same name that operated in Czechoslovakia in that spirit from 1946 to the beginning of the 1950s. Renewers of the Masaryk Society responded to the regime which deliberately suppressed awareness of the founder of the nation state, the absence of his personality in the public space, the media, and school education. All of this was in addition to the anniversaries of Masaryk's death, his birth and the founding of Czechoslovakia. The group of founder of the Masaryk Society in Brno coordinated its process with the granddaughters of Tomáš G. Masaryk, Anna and Herberta, and other like-minded individuals from Prague, such as Jiří Doležal, Josef Hanzal, František Kopecký, Karel Kučera, Milan Machovec, Anna and Herbert Masaryk, Dalibor Plichta, Jana Seifertová, Vladimir Šalda, Vladimír Tvrz, Otto Wichterle and others. Thus, practically two sections of the intended society were created and in 1988, they asked Ministry of the Interior of the Czechoslovak Republic for its official approval. However, the formation of the society was not allowed. Nevertheless, despite the official rejection of the state authorities, the Brno section of Masaryk's society began to develop many activities that year including a series of residential lectures, some of which were extended by samizdat, expeditions to Masaryk's tomb in Lány, pilgrimage to Štefánik's Mound on Bradlo, an event to return the name of Masaryk Street, then known as Victory street, in the center of Brno. About a thousand participants joined this petition in spite of the ever-present danger of persecution. The petition was publicly handed over to the Municipal National Committee (today the Municipality of Brno). After the revolution in November 1989, the work of Masaryk's society became official and expanded to a number of branches in many Czech cities. The Brno section experienced a period of increase of its members and public interest in the personality of TG Masaryk, but gradually, it became a circle of several older people in the 1990s, whose outputs, mainly public lectures, ceased to find a more substantial response. The activities of Brno Masaryk Society were terminated in 2012 due to lack of public interest.
Description of content
The collection is of small volume, contains materials of the foundation of Masaryk's society and its Brno organization in 1988, news from the first years of its activity, petitions, lecture texts, photographs, albums of documentaries and photographs of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk's personality mostly from 20s and 30s of the 20th century. The whole collection was given to the Archive of Masaryk University in 1992. The youngest documents in the collection were also from this year.
- graphics: 0-9
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
- photos: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Brno, Czech Republic
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Zapletal, Tomáš
Jaroslav Mezník, „Obnova Masarykovy společnosti v letech 1988-1989,“ Odkaz. Listy Masarykovy společnosti, no. 4 (1996):, 10-11.
Jiří Doležal, „Jak jsme začínali,“ Odkaz. Listy Masarykovy společnosti, no. 6 (1997): 4-6.