Slabchenko, Mykhailo

Image - A book by Mykhailo Slabchenko.

Slabchenko, Mykhailo [Слабченко, Михайло; Slabčenko, Myxajlo], b 21 July 1882 in Moldavanka, outside Odesa, d 29 November 1952 in Pervomaisk (Mykolaiv oblast). Historian; full member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1926–30; father of Taras Slabchenko. A graduate of Odesa University and the Saint Petersburg Military-Juridical Academy, he completed his studies in Germany. He took an active part in the Ukrainian national movement as a member of student organizations, the Revolutionary Ukrainian party (1903), and the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (1906–18). In the 1920s he served as a professor at the Odesa Institute of People's Education (in the chair of Ukrainian history), headed the social-historical section of the Odesa Scientific Society, and directed the Odesa branch of the (Kharkiv-based) Scientific Research Chair of Ukrainian History. He also coedited several publications of the Odesa Scientific Society's historical-philological section (three volumes, 1928–9) and social-historical section (five volumes, 1927–30).

The main body of Slabchenko’s work was devoted to the history of the law and economy of the Hetman state and the Zaporizhia in the 17th and 18th centuries. His important early studies include Malorusskii polk v administrativnom otnoshenii (The Little Russian Regiment in Its Administrative Aspect, 1909), Opyty po istorii prava Malorossii XVII–XVIII st. (Studies of the Legal History of Little Russia in the 17th and 18th Centuries, 1911), Protokol otpusknykh pisem za getmana D. Apostola 1728 g. (Record of Release Letters under Hetman Danylo Apostol in 1728, 1913), Tsentral’nye uchrezhdeniia Ukrainy XVII–XVIII st. (Central Institutions of Ukraine in the 17th and 18th Centuries, 1918), and Pro sudivnytstvo na Ukraïni (On the Judicial System in Ukraine, 1920). In the early 1920s Slabchenko began working on a large project dealing with the organization of the Ukrainian economy from Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky's period to the First World War. The first part of the undertaking, a series titled Khoziaistvo Getmanshchiny v XVII–XVIII stoletiiakh (The Economy of the Hetmanate in the 17th–18th Centuries), was completed in four Russian-language books; they dealt with land tenure and forms of agriculture (vol 1, 1922), the development of factories and industry (vol 2, 1922), the growth of commerce and commercial capitalism (vol 3, 1923), and the state economy of the Hetmanate (vol 4, 1925). The first and fourth books in the series also appeared in Ukrainian. Slabchenko produced the ground-breaking studies Sotsiial’no-pravova orhanizatsiia Sichi Zaporoz’koï (The Social and Legal Organization of the Zaporozhian Sich, 1927) and Palankova orhanizatsiia Zaporoz’kykh Vol’nostiv (The Palanka Organization of Zaporozhian Free Settlements, 1929). Those works tied in with his other studies, a monograph on feudalism in Ukraine (1929) and a collection of materials on the economic and social history of Ukraine in the 19th century (2 vols, 1925, 1927).

Slabchenko was instrumental in developing Odesa as a center of Ukrainian historical studies. His work was cut short when he was arrested in 1929 in the first major Soviet assault on the Ukrainian intelligentsia and tried for membership in the so-called Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU). He served his six-year sentence in the Solovets Islands. After the Second World War he worked in Pervomaisk (Mykolaiv oblast) (he was not allowed to return to Odesa) as a school teacher and then foreign language inspector. He was denounced by a colleague, and died in poverty and obscurity. In 1989 the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian SSRrehabilitated’ him along with other defendants in the SVU trial. In 1990 his name was restored to the membership list of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, which had expelled him in 1930.

Radziejowski, J. ‘The Last Years of Mykhailo Slabchenko,’ JUS 15 (Winter 1983)
Santsevych, A. Vydatnyi istoryk M. Ie. Slabchenko (Kyiv 1993)
Zaruba, V. Postati: Studii z istoriï Ukraïny, book 2 (Dnipropetrovsk 1993)
Samoilov, F. et al (eds). Akademik Mykhailo Ielysovych Slabchenko: Naukova spadshchyna i zhyttievyi shliakh: Zbirnyk stattei (Odesa 1995)
Zaruba, V. (comp and ed). Mykhailo Ielysovych Slabchenko: Bibliohrafiia (Dnipropetrovsk 2003)

Ivan Myhul, Oleksander Ohloblyn

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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