Apanovych, Olena

Apanovych, Olena [Апанович, Олена], b 9 November 1919 in Melekes, Simbirsk province (today Dimitrovgrad, Ulianovsk oblast, Russian Federation), d 21 February 2000 in Kyiv. Ukrainian historian, archivist, writer. Her father was of Belarusian descent, her mother descended from a Polish noble family. Apanovych graduated from a secondary school in Kharkiv and went on to study at the All-Union Communist Institute of Journalism in Moscow, but due to its liquidation she transferred to the Department of Russian Language and Literature at the Kharkiv Pedagogical Institute. At the beginning of the German-Soviet war she was evacuated to southern Kazakhstan, then to Ufa where in 1942–44 she worked as a reporter for Bashkiria’s radio committee. In 1944 she returned to Ukraine where between 1944 and 1950 she worked as a research associate, a senior research associate, and a head of the department of old documents in the Central State Historical Archive in Kyiv. In the meantime, she took part in the publication of little-known sources on the history of the Cossack period entitled Ukraïna pered vyzvol'noiu viinoiu 1648–1654 rokiv (1639–1648) (Ukraine on the Eve of the Liberation War of 1648–1654: 1639–1648; 1946). She was also among the compilers of a groundbreaking guidebook into the collections of the Central State Historical Archive in Kyiv (1958).

In 1950 Apanovych defended her candidate dissertation on the Zaporozhian Host during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74. In 1951 she conducted archeological excavations on the former sites of the Zaporozhian Sich before those areas were flooded for the construction of Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station.

In 1950–72 Apanovych worked as a research associate at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. On the eve of the 300-anniversary of the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 she published several popular brochures devoted to regional history, among them Istoricheskie mesta sobytii osvoboditel'noi voiny ukrainskogo naroda 16481654 gg. (The Historical Sites of the Events of the Liberation War of the Ukrainian People 1648–1654, 1954) and Pereiaslav-Khmel'nitskii i ego istoricheskie pamiatniky (Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Its Historical Monuments, 1954). She was one of the compilers of the monumental collection of documents in the history of the Cossack-Polish War of 1648–57, entitled Vossoedinenie Ukrainy s Rossiei: Dokumenty i materialy v triokh tomakh (The Unification of Ukraine with Russia: Documents and Materials in 3 Volumes, 1953–54). An unrivaled expert in Zaporozhian antiquities, Apanovych compiled a comprehensive register of the memorial sites related to the Zaporozhian Cossacks (published in Ukraїns’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal and the popular weekly Ukraїna in 1967–68).   Her two major monographs published in the 1960s were devoted to the Zaporozhian Cossacks during the 18th century: Zaporoz'ka sich u borot'bi proty turets'ko-tatars'koї ahresiї: 50–70-i roky XVIII st. (The Zaporozhian Sich in the Struggle against the Turkish-Tatar Aggression, 1961) and Zbroini syly Ukraїny pershoї polovyny XVIII st. (The Armed Forces of Ukraine During the First Half of the 18th Century, 1969). The second book became an instant bestseller in the field of Ukrainian historiography and the greatest achievement in the studies of the Zaporozhian Cossacks since the 1920s.

In the 1960s through the early 1970s Apanovych belonged to a group of prominent historians of medieval and early modern Ukraine (among them Mykhailo Braichevsky, Fedir Shevchenko, Yaroslav Dashkevych, Yaroslav Isaievych, and Olena Kompan) whose academic careers were disrupted by the persecutions of the early 1970s. As a consequence, in 1972 Apanovych lost her job in the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, officially due the ‘staff reduction.’ Unofficially, however, she fell victim to the wave of purges of independent-minded intellectuals in Soviet Ukraine conducted by the newly appointed head of the Communist Party of Ukraine Volodymyr Shcherbytsky and his main ideologue Valentyn Malanchuk. Apanovych’s several published works, including her monograph Zbroini syly Ukraїny pershoї polovyny XVIII st. were removed from circulation, and her new works were not allowed to be published in Ukraine.

After a few months of unemployment, in 1973 she was hired as a senior research associate in the manuscript department of the Central Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR where she worked until 1986. During her employment at this institution, Apanovych studied the history of the Ukrainian hand-written books from the 15th to the 18th centuries, and her crown achievement in this field became a study of the 18th-century Ukrainian secular manuscripts, including Cossack chronicles: Rukopisnaia svetskaia kniga XVIII veka na Ukraine. Istoricheskie sborniki (Secular Hand-Written Books in the 18th-Century Ukraine. Historical Collections, 1983). In the 1980s she took up a new topic: the life and legacy of Volodymyr Vernadsky. This resulted in a monograph (co-authored) V.I. Vernadskii: zhizn' i deiatel'nost' na Ukraine (V. I. Vernadsky: Life and Work in Ukraine, 1984 and 1988). Because her works could not be published in Kyiv, she published a number of works in other cities of the USSR, among them Moscow, Leningrad, and Vilnius.

In the early 1990s Apanovych returned to the studies of Ukrainian Cossacks and published three books with a popular appeal: Rozpovidi pro zaporoz'kykh kozakiv (Tales About the Zaporozhian Cossacks, 1991); Het'many Ukraїny i koshovi otamany Zaporoz'koї Sichi (Hetmans of Ukraine and Kish Otamans of the Zaporozhian Sich, 1993); and Ukraїns'ko-rosiis'kyi dohovir 1654 r. Mify ta real'nist' (The Ukrainian-Russian Treaty of 1654: Myths and Reality, 1994). In 1991 she became a member of the Writers' Union of Ukraine; in 1994 she was awarded the Shevchenko Prize; and in 1995 she became the laureate of the Antonovych Foundation award. In 1994 she was restored to her post at the Institute of the History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. During the last ten years of her life Apanovych published many popular articles on the history of Zaporozhian Cossacks in non-specialized periodicals. On numerous occasions she served as a scholarly consultant and/or coauthor of the screenplays to a number of documentaries on the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Her last work, the popular Kozats'ka entsyklopediia dlia iunatstva (The Youth Encyclopedia about the Cossacks, 2009), was published posthumously. The most comprehensive bibliography of her works appeared in 1999.

Olena Mykhailivna Apanovych: Bibliohrafichnyi pokazhchyk (Kyiv 1994)
Pid znakom Klio: Na poshanu Oleny Apanovych. Zbirnyk statei (Dnipro 1995)
Komarenko, T., ‘Apanovych Olena Mykhailivna,’ in Vcheni Instytutu istoriї Ukraїny: Biobibliohrafichnyi dovidnyk, Vol 1 (Kyiv 1998)
Olena Mykhailivna Apanovych (Do 80-richchia vid dnia narodzhennia i 55-richchia naukovoї diial'nosti): Biobibliohrafichnyi pokazhchyk (Kyiv 1999)

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was written in 2019.]

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