Rudnytsky, Stepan

Rudnytsky, Stepan [Рудницький, Степан; Rudnyc’kyj], b 3 December 1877 in Peremyshl, Galicia, d 3 November 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia region, RSFSR. Geographer; full member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society from 1901 and the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN, 1929–34). After studying at Lviv University (1895–9) and Vienna University (1899–1901) he taught secondary school in Ternopil (1902–8) and lectured at Lviv University. During the First World War he lived in Vienna, where he was active in the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine and served as a consultant to the government-in-exile of the Western Province of the Ukrainian National Republic. After the war he was one of the organizers of and a professor at the Ukrainian Free University in Vienna and then Prague. In 1926 he was invited to Kharkiv by the government of Ukraine to organize geographic research. He served as a professor of geography at the Kharkiv Institute of People's Education and as director of the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Geography and Cartography, which he had set up. Then he was the first holder of the chair of geography at the VUAN. In 1933 he was arrested, sentenced by a GPU tribunal to a five-year term, and expelled from the VUAN as an ‘outspoken propagator of fascism in geography.’ A number of his students were also arrested and sentenced. In 1935 Rudnytsky was transferred to the Solovets Islands, where he was eventually executed. He was ‘rehabilitated’ in 1965 through the efforts of geographers at Lviv University.

Rudnytsky is a founder of the geography of Ukraine. He wrote comprehensive geographic surveys of Ukraine, such as Ukraina, Land und Volk (1916; English trans: Ukraine: The Land and Its People, 1918) and Osnovy zemleznannia Ukraïny (Foundations of the Earth Science of Ukraine, 2 vols, 1924, 1926), as well as studies of Ukrainian national territories (1923) and Ukrainian political geography (1923). He developed Ukrainian geographical terminology and published the first specialized dictionary (1908) in that field. The first wall maps of the physical geography of Ukraine (1918) were prepared by Rudnytsky. His specialized monographs, such as Osnovy morfolohiï i heolohiï Pidkarpats’koï Rusy (Foundations of the Morphology and Geology of Subcarpathian Rus’, 2 vols, 1925, 1927), dealt mainly with the morphology of Ukraine, particularly the Carpathian Mountains region. He wrote approximately 70 scholarly works, including several articles on the methodology and history of geography and on 17th-century Cossack history.

A collection of Rudnytsky’s letters from his Kharkiv period to his sister Sofiia and brother-in-law Stanyslav Dnistriansky, edited and annotated by Mykola Mushynka, was published in Edmonton in 1991.

Shablii, O. Akademik Stepan Rudnyts’kyi: Fundator ukraïns’koï heohrafiï (Lviv–Munich 1993)
Shtoiko, P. Stepan Rudnyts’kyi, 1877–1937: Zhyttiepysno-bibliohrafichnyi narys (Lviv 1997)
Stebelsky, Ihor. Placing Ukraine of the Map: Stepan Rudnytsky’s Nation-Building Geography (Kingston, Ont. 2014)

Volodymyr Kubijovyč

[This article was updated in 2014.]

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