People's Home in Lviv

Image - The former People's Home in Lviv (today: District Officers' Building). Image - The People's Home in Lviv (1860s view).

People's Home in Lviv (Руський народний інститут Народний дім у Львові; Ruskyi narodnyi instytut Narodnyi dim u Lvovi). The oldest and wealthiest Ukrainian cultural-educational institution in Galicia. The People's Home was established in 1849 by the Supreme Ruthenian Council (at the initiative of Lev Treshchakivsky) with the express purpose of developing Ukrainian national and cultural life throughout Galicia. The institution was based on a Czech model. The Austrian government granted it land near Lviv University, on which a building (financed through private donations) was erected in 1851–64. Over time it amassed a substantial number of assets, including several buildings and a church in Lviv, two villages in the Peremyshl region, a museum, a library, and a publishing house.

The People's Home provided a spiritual haven and organizational center for various organizations and causes, most notably the Halytsko-Ruska Matytsia society (which undertook cultural-educational work and published school textbooks). Until the 1860s its work was conducted in the conservative and clerical-minded spirit of the Old Ruthenians, and the body was run by a commission set up by the Supreme Ruthenian Council before it disbanded in 1851. The leadership of the People's Home then fell into the hands of Russophiles, who took it over completely in 1872 with the enactment of a new constitution. Ukrainophile cultural and political activists were excluded from membership in the People's Home, and the institution virtually ceased to be active in promoting Ukrainian national interests. Following the outbreak of the First World War the Austrian government banned the activity of the People's Home and, in 1917, liquidated it and placed its assets under the control of a group of trustees. Under Polish occupation the trustees were replaced by a commissioner, M. Bachynsky, who turned the People's Home over to a group of conservative Russophiles loyal to the Polish state.

Much of the activity of the People's Home from approx 1900 consisted of maintaining a museum and archives. By 1924 it had amassed a library of approx 120,000 items (including 5,000 manuscripts and documents as well as the personal library of Antin Petrushevych and established archeological-historical and natural science museums. Part of the library was transported to Russia during the First World War and never returned. In 1918 the numismatic collection was lost. The official publication of the People's Home was Vistnyk Narodnoho doma, printed in 1882–1914 as a monthly publication and from 1921 irregularly. Written initially in the yazychiie and later in Russian, the publication printed scholarly articles and essays (from a Russophile point of view) in addition to internal organizational news. The People's Home was liquidated in 1939 after the Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine, and its collections were transferred to the Lviv Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and various museums in Lviv.

People's homes were established in cities and towns throughout Galicia (as well as in other Ukrainian areas) with the People's Home in Lviv as an institutional model.

Bohdan Kravtsiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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