Galagan College

Image - National Museum of Literature of Ukraine (formerly the Galagan College) (interior).

Galagan College (Колегія Павла Ґалаґана; Kolehiia Pavla Galagana). A private preparatory boarding school for boys in Kyiv founded on 1 October 1871 by Hryhorii Galagan in memory of his deceased son Pavlo. Initially patterned on English colleges, it was funded from Hryhorii Galagan’s private capitals (1,120,000 roubles in total were spent during his lifetime). Thanks to Galagan’s friendship with Kyiv governor-general Alexander Dondukov-Korsarkov (1869–78 in office), and his wide experience as a patron of education, the newly-founded college received its own statute safeguarding the school’s wide-ranging autonomy in designing its curriculum, choosing the teaching methods, and recruiting its staff. Its material resources and financial situation were superior to those found in most state-run schools, although its autonomy was somewhat undermined after the death of its founder in 1888 and his widow, Kateryna Galagan (née Kochubei), in 1896. Formally, the college was placed under the supervision of Kyiv University and had four grades, which corresponded to four upper grades of government-funded secondary schools (gymnasiums). In contrast to the classical gymnasiums it treated modern languages, drawing, history of arts, music, and choir singing, but not Greek, as compulsory subjects (although Greek was added later under the pressure from Russia’s imperial ministry of education). It also offered enriched courses in mathematics (algebra and geometry), physics, geography, Russian, and two foreign languages (usually German and French). In 1904 a pioneering course in natural history was introduced that combined the courses of botany, zoology, hygiene, and chemistry. In 1918 the courses in Ukrainian studies (the Ukrainian language, literature, and the history of Ukraine) were added. Students also had more freedom to choose courses depending on their abilities and wishes. For instance, those students who did not have a knack for painting studied drafting; and only those who had a good ear for music sang or played music (the college often hired additional teachers to teach these students), while the rest took up music theory only. At the same time, gymnastics was mandatory, followed by dance lessons after 1891. Teaching consisted of 5 to 6 classes per day six days per week. In addition to main classes, practical tutorials in mathematics, Russian grammar, and translations from classical languages were offered in the evenings. In contrast to the rigorous school discipline and impersonal relations between instructors and students that characterized state gymnasiums, the college promoted the familial atmosphere and individual approach to students.

Owing to the Ukrainophile sympathies of its founder—an amateur ethnographer and enthusiastic supporter of local artists, teachers, and scholars—the college became one of the most significant centers of Ukrainian culture and education in Russian-ruled Ukraine. In the words of one of the college’s directors: ‘Hryhorii Galagan sought to implant [in his school] the local elements and love for the native land and people, [and] to foster and cultivate the taste for regional studies.’ Similarly, Ahatanhel Krymsky, the college’s famous graduate, later recalled that the school ‘was considered to be a hotbed of Ukrainianism,’ whose objective was ‘to educate the Ukrainian intelligentsia regardless of class divides, whereby all aristocrats and plebeians could be united in the single nation.’ The college’s extensive library was based on Mykola Markevych’s collection (consisting of more than 6,000 volumes, including a number of rare old books) and Hryhorii Galagan’s own library and numismatic collection. In addition to the library, the college managed the cabinet of natural history, a physics laboratory, a music room equipped with piano, organ, and violins, a hospital, a dining room, a telescope, a gym, and a film camera (since 1914). There was also an in-house Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church (where, incidentally, Ivan Franko was married to Olha Khoruzhynska in 1886). The college published the yearbook Ezhegodnik kollegii Pavla Galagana (18 vols, 1896–1916) and scholarly collection Pedagogicheskaia mysl' (4 vols, 1904–5).

Fifty to seventy students per year studied at the college in a family atmosphere, about half of them supported by the Galagan Foundation, while the rest were self-funding students. According to the statute, admission was restricted to boys of the Orthodox faith (but open to Greek-Catholic youth from Austria-Hungary) and preference was given to applicants from Pryluky county. The students’ age was between 16 and 20. A majority of students came from central Ukraine (the largest single group consisted of the former students of Kyiv gymnasiums). Regarding the social origins of the school’s students during the first 25 years of the college’s existence, 60 percent were sons of nobles, 20 percent of clergy, 16 percent of townspeople, and 8 percent of peasants. By 1918, the college trained over 600 graduates, many of whom went on to study at Russian imperial and foreign universities. Among the most popular professions chosen by college graduates were law and pedagogy (84 and 53 respectively out of 300 graduates by 1895). Many others went on to work in medicine and the sciences. A group of the college’s graduates proved crucial in the early development of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (established in 1918).

The college’s faculty included a number of prominent scholars, teachers, and artists, including philologists Pavlo Zhytetsky, Volodymyr Naumenko, Yelysei Trehubov (all noted members of the Hromada of Kyiv), and Mykhailo Markovsky (himself a college’s graduate), historians Vasyl Sypovsky and Andronyk Stepovych (another graduate of the college and its director in 1893–1904), poet and dramatist Innokentii Annensky (college’s director in 1891–3), and painters Mykola I. Murashko and Mykola Pymonenko. Many of the school’s graduates, including Ahatanhel Krymsky, Mykhailo Drai-Khmara, Pavlo Fylypovych, Volodymyr Lypsky, Vsevolod Hantsov, Mykola Maksymeiko, Lev Okinshevych, Mykhailo Kalynovych, Andrii Livytsky, and Mykola Galagan went on to play important roles in Ukrainian scholarship, culture, and politics.

During the First World War, in 1915 the college was evacuated to the city of Kislovodsk. After the Revolution of 1917 its main building was used as home of the General Secretariat of the Military Affairs of the Ukrainian National Republic (in 1917–8) and later as a storage of the National Library of Ukraine (in 1919–20), which incorporated the college’s extensive library. (Today this library collection comprises the so-called Galagan Collection in the National Library of Ukraine). At that time, the classrooms and a boarding school were located in two private apartments, not suited for college’s purposes. In 1918 the college lost the main sources of its income that came from rural estates it used to own. Financially depleted, in 1920 it was forced to close down. Under the Soviet regime the college was turned in 1923 into a vocational school named after Ivan Franko. Since 1986 the former college’s main building has housed the Museum of Literature of Ukraine (now National Museum of Literature of Ukraine).

25-letiie Kollegii Pavla Galagana v Kieve (Kyiv 1896)
Smol'nits'ka M. Kolehiia Pavla Galagana v natsional'no-kul'turnomu zhytti Ukraїny (1871–1920 rr.) (Kyiv 2007)

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was updated in 2021.]

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