Svoboda

Image - Svoboda (USA, 2010).

Svoboda («Свобода»; Liberty). The oldest existing Ukrainian newspaper and the most widely read in the Western world. Founded by members of the American Circle as a semimonthly in September 1893, it appeared weekly from March 1894 and three times a week from August 1914. Since January 1921 it has appeared five days a week. The paper was from the beginning the official organ of the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) and has been owned by it since 1908. Until June 1895 it was published in Jersey City, New Jersey, and then in Shamokin (1895–6), Mount Carmel (1896–1900), Olyphant (1900–3), and Scranton (1903–6), Pennsylvania. Until 1903 the paper used etymological spelling. In December 1906 it moved to New York, and since April 1911 it has again been published in Jersey City. The chief editors have been Revs Hryhorii Hrushka, Nestor Dmytriv, and Ivan Konstankevych (1895–7), Stefan Makar (1897–1900), and Ivan Ardan (1900–7), who were also the publishers; Antin Tsurkovsky (1907–9, 1911–12); Osyp Stetkevych (1910–11, 1912–19); Volodymyr Lototsky (1919–26); Omelian Reviuk (1926–33); Luka Myshuha (1933–55); Antin Drahan (1955–78); V. Tershakivets (1979–80); and Zenon Snylyk (1980–98). In the interwar period the associate editors were Volodymyr Kedrovsky, Yevhen Liakhovych, and Semen Demydchuk; since the Second World War they have been Ivan Korovytsky, Luka Lutsiv, Ivan Kedryn, V. Davydenko, Bohdan Kravtsiv, and Mykhailo Sosnovsky. Many prominent Western Ukrainian and émigré journalists have been regular contributors to Svoboda, including, in its first decades, Viacheslav Budzynovsky, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Pavlyk, Kyrylo Genik, Volodymyr Hnatiuk, Mykhailo Lozynsky, Bohdan Lepky, and Osyp Oleskiv.

From the outset, in addition to providing news, information, and analyses to a Ukrainian-speaking audience, Svoboda has served as an important vehicle for the Ukrainian national movement in the United States. Initially it spearheaded the fight against the Russophiles among Ukrainian immigrants and successfully discredited tsarist propaganda. It was instrumental in raising support for creation of the American Ruthenian National Council in 1914 and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America in 1940. The paper covered the Ukrainian struggle for independence, 1917–20, following the February Revolution of 1917, and expressed its support for the Central Rada, the Ukrainian National Republic, and the Western Ukrainian National Republic. In the interwar period it raised awareness of Polish oppression and atrocities in Western Ukraine, the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3 in Soviet Ukraine, and the Stalinist terror in the USSR. At that time it maintained close relations with several Ukrainian newspapers in Galicia. After the Second World War it led the action to bring Ukrainian displaced persons to the United States. Svoboda has always reported extensively on Ukrainian life in the United States and elsewhere, and also served as the main source of information for Ukrainians in Canada and Brazil before the emergence of Ukrainian newspapers there. It has contained supplements for various Ukrainian youth, community, and cultural organizations in the United States. The paper’s circulation has remained steady in the 1990s at approximately 18,000, the largest among Ukrainian papers in the West.

At various times the Svoboda Press has published several series of informational and educational booklets and brochures on a variety of topics. Since 1896, together with the Ukrainian National Association (UNA), it has issued approximately 300 Ukrainian-language books (memoirs, collections, monographs, and literary works) and over a dozen English-language works on Ukrainian history and literature (by authors such as Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Dmytro Doroshenko, Dmytro Dontsov [Snowyd], George Vernadsky, Stephen Shumeyko, Clarence Augustus Manning, W. Chamberlin, Luka Myshuha, John Panchuk, and Antin Drahan); was involved in the preparation and publication of the two-volume Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopaedia (1963, 1971); has printed the English-language quarterly Ukrainian Juvenile Magazine (1927–33), The Ukrainian Weekly (since 1933), and the children’s magazines Ts'vitka (1914–17) and the monthly Veselka (since 1954); and published in 1897, 1901–36, 1940, 1944, 1949, and since 1951 annual calendars containing literary works, articles on historical and cultural topics, and information about the history of the newspaper and the Ukrainian National Association (especially in the anniversary issues of 1936, 1944, 1953, 1963, 1973, 1978, and 1983). An index of Ukrainian-Canadian content in Svoboda to 1904 was prepared by Frances Swyripa and Andrij Makuch and published in 1985. Since 1983 a selective index to Svoboda has been compiled by the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota; vol 1 (1893–99) was published in 1990.

Boris Balan, Bohdan Kravtsiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]




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