Believing in Ukraine (Society «Prosvita» has its 150 anniversary)
«Prosvita (Enlightment)» is the name for Ukrainian public societies aiming at mass spreading of education, culture and national consciousness among the people, which have functioned on Ukrainian lands and beyond Ukraine since the end of 1868 and up to now. The first «Prosvita» Society was founded in Lviv on December 8, 1868 and became the largest organization in Halychyna and the head organization for other societies which later became independent. The activity of «Prosvita» was regulated by the Statute, changes to which were introduced in case of necessity. The number of members in the first years was not large: 1869 – 100 members, 1870 – 204, 1872 – 145, 1874 – 289. According to the Statute of 1891 «Prosvita» got an opportunity not only to educate the workers and peasants but also to support them economically. The society was gradually becoming all-Ukrainian. By the example of «Prosvita» in Halychyna, «Ruska Besida» emerged in Bukovyna. And after the revolution in Russia in1905 new societies appeared in East Ukraine. They were headed by outstanding writers, scientists and public men – B. Hrinchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, S. Yefremov, M. Kotsubynskyi, M. Arkas. The Russian government prohibited their activities in some years after their foundation. Instead, in 1912 the reading rooms of «Prosvita» in Halychyna were affiliated with 540 shops, 339 small lending institutions and 121 public pantries. Under the supervision of the Society there were three economic and trade schools. Throughout 1869–1918 «Prosvita» published 477 titles of books in an edition of about 3.5 million copies. In 1939 the «Prosvita» Society numbered 360 thousand members, what made up to 15% of all the adult Ukrainian population, and the network of its reading rooms encompassed 85% of West Ukrainian lands. Throughout 1868–1939 the heads of Lviv «Prosvita» were A. Vakhnianyn, Yu. Lavrivskyi, V. Fedorovych, Yu. Ohonovskyi, Yu. Romanchuk, Ye. Olesnytskyi, P. Ohonovskyi, I. Kyveliuk, M. Halushchynskyi, I. Bryk, Yu. Dzerovych, and the heads of renewed «Prosvita» were R. Ivanychuk, R. Lubkivskyi, Ya. Pitko. The Bolshevik regime that settled in September 1939 in West Ukraine abolished «Prosvita», and thousands of its activists were subjected to repression. After the Bolshevik massacre in1922 in the East of Ukraine, and in 1939 in the West, the whole burden of «Prosvita» work and book publishing was overtaken by the Ukrainian Diaspora of Europe and America, the great contributions of which we take advantage of until today. The «Prosvita» Society in Ukraine was renewed on June 13, 1988. The Communist authority forbade to hold the foundation meeting of the Shevchenko Association of the Ukrainian Language and in this way provoked the first unsanctioned political meeting, at which the Statute of the Society was adopted. That day became the date of «Prosvita» renewal and the year of 2018 was proclaimed the year of «Prosvita» in Lviv region.
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Tvorydlo, M. (1928). Ekonomichna diialnist «Prosvity». Kalendar-almanakh «Prosvity». Lviv, 106–130 (in Ukrainian).
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