Okinshevych, Lev

Image - The VUAN Commission for the Study of the History of Western-Ruthenian and Ukrainian Law (Okinshevych, Vasylenko, Ivanytsky-Vasylenko, Cherkasky, Boryseniuk, Balinsky).

Okinshevych, Lev [Окіншевич, Лев; Okinševyč; Okinshevich, Leo; pseud: Leo Yaresh], b 6 February 1898 in Saint Petersburg, d 7 November 1980 in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, USA. Legal historian and bibliographer, of Belarusian and Czech descent. He graduated from Galagan College in Kyiv (1916), studied law at Kyiv University, and graduated from the Kyiv Institute of the National Economy (1921). From 1921 to 1933 he was a research associate of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) and the Kyiv Scientific Research Department of the History of Ukraine and served as secretary of the Commission for the Study of the History of Western-Ruthenian and Ukrainian Law at the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. In 1933 he was briefly a professor at the Nizhyn Pedagogical Institute before being expelled as a ‘class enemy’ and forced to move to Kazakhstan. There and in Smolensk oblast (1937–41) he worked as a legal consultant. A postwar émigré, from 1945 to 1949 he was a professor and dean at the Ukrainian Free University (UVU) in Munich. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 and joined the staff of the Library of Congress in 1954.

Okinshevych published works in Ukrainian, Belarusian, and English. They include books in Ukrainian on the Hetman state’s General Officer Staff in Left-Bank Ukraine (1926), General Military Council (1929), central institutions (2 vols, 1929–30; English trans: Ukrainian Society and Government, 1648–1781 [1978]), and notable military fellows (1948), and UVU textbooks on the legal structure of the Hetman state (1947; 2nd edn 1954), the history of legal philosophy (1948), and scholarship about law and the state (1987). Okinshevych also compiled The Law of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: Background and Bibliography (1953), Latin America in Soviet Writings, 1945–1958 (with C. Gorokhoff, 1958), and U.S. History and Historiography in Post-War Soviet Writings, 1945–1970: A Bibliography (1976). He also contributed articles on legal history to Encyclopedia of Ukraine.

Arkadii Zhukovsky

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

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