Endangered Archives

EAP657: Saving the original lifetime archive of the well-known Ukrainian poet, artist and thinker, T.H. Shevchenko

Mr Dmytro Stus, International Civic Society Organisation 'International Foundation of young scientists support in sphere of digital and IT technologies'
2013 award - Major project
£13,907 for 6 months

Archival partner: National Taras Shevchenko Museum

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Project Overview

The aim of this project is to digitise and preserve the collection of archival materials related to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (9 March 1814–10 March 1861) – the famous Ukrainian writer and painter, whose literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature, as well as Ukrainian language. His archival collection has remained scattered until recently, and valuable nineteenth century documents have been kept in deteriorating conditions. This project will digitise approximately 60,000 pages and make them available to scholars and the public worldwide.

Most of T.H. Shevchenko's archival documents have a lot of physical damage. Due to a lack of proper preservation conditions during WWI and WWII, the paper has become brittle and decrepit. Some documents had been kept in private collections, whilst others remained in the special security section of the National Art Museum, which resulted in significant damage of archival documents as the underground premises did not have appropriate storage facilities. Further deterioration may make it impossible to preserve the valuable content of T.H. Shevchenko's documents.

The materials to be digitised reflect different lifetime periods of Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko. None of the documents have previously been copied or digitised as this archival material had been held in different private collections of Shevchenko’s friends and relatives from all over Ukraine until just 10 years ago. The collections had then been brought together, arranged in chronological order and subject, evaluated by experts and made available to history researchers, museum curators, filmmakers producing documentaries and students.

The collection includes original archival documents about the professional and private life of Taras Shevchenko, and documents describing the period of the lifetime of Shevchenko, more than 50% of which he wrote.

The collection of scanned documents will be made available online on the National Taras Shevchenko Museum website, and copies will also be deposited with the British Library.

Project Outcome

The project successfully digitised 162 archival folders and 198 books, dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries – a total of 60,000 images. Copies have been deposited with the National Taras Shevchenko Museum and the British Library.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

  • EAP657/1 Archival documents related to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko
  • EAP657/2 Books related to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko

The catalogue is available here.