Historical aspect of Ukrainian diaspora in the USA literary life in (1917-1920)
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013
Author: Telyachy Yrij, Khmelnitsky Humanitarian-Pedagogical Academy, Ukraine
The concept of “diaspora”, which has already entered Ukrainian
social thinking, now is being completed with new meanings and aiding the
process of accepting Ukrainians living abroad as an inseparable part of a
holistic national cultural system. Ukrainian diaspora discovery became an
important step to its own unity for Ukrainian culture.
Cultural lives of both Ukraine and Ukrainian diaspora have always
been very closely connected, but the latter has also taken in the mentality and
cultural identity of the host countries. Not only has diaspora enriched the
mainland culture, extended its volume, but proved the unity and integrity of
Ukrainian national culture as a result of a long-term struggle of the country
for political independence.
Having proved its capability of efficient coexistence with European
and even World cultures Ukrainian diaspora also prepared Ukrainian mainland
culture to such coexistence.
From the very beginning of its development Ukrainian diaspora was focused
on best world cultural levels and standards. This is also true concerning literary
work of Ukrainian diaspora representatives during of the stormiest period of
Ukrainian history – period of revolution in 1917-20.
The revolutionary events of 1917-1920 in Ukraine found an echo in every place Ukrainian people lived in, particularly in the USA where many thousands of our compatriots lived. To protect their national, professional
interests and to help each other they were united in the Ukrainian National
Association (Ukrayinsky narodny soyuz) (hereinafter – UNA), called as Rusky
narodny soyuz to 1914, which was the oldest, largest and most influential
public assistance organization extending its activity on Canada (1). The UNA
history is traced in fundamental publications of Myshuga L. (2), Kuropas M. B.
(3), articles of Trygub P., Murphy N. (4) etc.
The UNA activity in 1917-1920 is one of the most interesting and
underexplored pages of its past, when the diaspora supported actively the
struggle of Ukrainian people in the mainland homeland for creation of an
independent state. Kyrchiv K. (5) was the head of the UNA Executive Committee
in 1917-1920. The newspaper "Svoboda" had been the main press organ
of UNA since 1893. "In the history of Ukrainian journalism the newspaper
"Svoboda" is a unique phenomenon and it takes one of the leading
Except "Svoboda", neither of our newspapers in Ukraine or
in the diaspora appeared among more disadvantaged circumstances, neither had
more difficult task to be an incentive, enlightener and real guide of its
readers, neither involved by a number and variety of its employees and its
themes literally every corner of the earth Ukrainians lived in, and finally, neither
stayed alive for hundred years", – Dr. Kravchenyuk O. (6) wrote in one of
the articles about "Svoboda". In 1917-1920 Stetkevych O. and Lototsky
V. (7) took the lead in the editorial staffs. The newspaper became the main
information organ of the course and developments of the revolution in Ukraine.
Together with a political chronicle the materials of different
genres, including poetical and prose works of both well-known authors and
beginners were published here. American Ukrainians supported actively the idea
of Ukrainian sovereignty, promoted comprehensively the strengthening of the
nationhood. Together with the "Svoboda" team they made significant
intellectual and financial efforts to make the newspaper informative and interesting
one for its readers and subscribers.
Despite the popularization of the research of culture processes of
Ukrainian emigration in the Revolutionary USA, there no generalizing results of
writings of the American Ukrainians in the historiography and source studies of
1917-1920. It was also a failure to reveal the information about a
systematization of literary works being published in "Svoboda" during
the said chronological period. It is possible to restore the overall picture of
cultural and literary life in 1917-1920 only recalling comprehensively the
overall content of the literary process in Ukraine and abroad (including in the
The analysis of the content of more than 600 revealed issues of
"Svoboda" for 1917 - 1920 testifies about the important educational
function of the newspaper, describes literary tastes of readers, reveals themes
of writings, their genres, an activity of contributors, a public reaction to important
events, moods, and, importantly, a contingent of authors, contributors from
both Ukraine and USA.
Arguably, the aspiration of our emigrants for independence had been
present in content of the newspaper long before March 15, 1917, when the USA was received the official information about the revolutionary events in Russia. The characteristics of the newspaper content for the period from January 1917 till December
1920 exposes fully the statist position of the editorial board, the support of
development of national and cultural processes in Ukraine.
"The appeal to the Ukrainian community in America" with
information about creation of the Ukrainian Council in the USA (early in 1917)
as well as "The New Year's call of "Educational Commission of the
Ukrainian National Association" signed early in 1917 by Stolitkevych B.,
the head of the latter, contributed to an activation of the literary life
(8-9). However, even more significant thing became the resolution of the
Congress of the United States of February 22, on adoption of the resolution on
determination of "Ukrainian day" in the country on April 21, 1917.
The relevant resolution of W. Wilson, the U.S. President issued on March 16,
1917 indicating that "... the United States population may make such
sacrifices which it deems to be appropriate ones to aid punished Ruthenians
(Ukrainians. – Y.T.) in the warring states" (11).
For the sake of objectivity, it is necessary to point out the
existence of serious problems in the environment of Ukrainian emigration
itself. They are related to socio-political, socio-economic, cultural and
educational factors. Blashchuk A. wrote in his article "About needs of
Ukrainian immigration": "It is likely to say that the fate of
Ukrainian immigration to America is not worth the trouble to envy. Just think,
over half a million Ukrainian immigrants hardly represented themselves as
intellectuals and were not respected properly on the part of other, more educated
nations here ... [How] American could be considered as an equal to our
immigrant when he/the latter couldn’t even sign and explain who he was?"
(12). To raise a national consciousness of the compatriots the newspaper
printed materials about the significance of Ukrainian culture in European
dimension, pointing to its significant achievements in art, literature, music
Assessing the first year of the revolution, Nichka I. noted that
"the year 1917 in the history of Ukrainian nation renewal has to take, and
probably will do take the most important place... A revolutionary wave,
embracing broad masses is caused to deepen a national consciousness..., and
consciousness, in turn, creates a cultural movement that will eventually form a
solid foundation for independent life of our people" (14). However, the
revolutionary euphoria changed quickly with the problems putting at risk the
very existence of the independent state.
Particularly critical situation became in 1920. On January 1, 1920
Andriyivsky V. from Kamyanets-Podilskycity said in the article "The Great
Ruin (the letter from Ukraine)": "Neither who lives only in Europe...
neither who is stirred in that mess here – can’t imagine the whole picture of
the cultural and economic decline of Ukraine after the war and the revolution...
the intelligence isn’t being produced any more. Who wants to study when intelligent
workers are sentenced to starvation... A hungry Moscow or Jewish city and
village are fighting now… Literature got lost without a trace disregarding
already the translation of Marseillaise made by Vorony into Ukrainian for which
the Bolsheviks had paid him 15,000 rubles, as well as the translation of many
pornographic verses of "Mycaretу" poets made
by Semenko and K0. Bookstores are destroyed. Libraries are looted.
Journalism came to nothing... Architecture? Painting? Architects earn living by
destructing wooden houses for fuel. It is far more profitable to sell at once
such a house for demolition than to continue its maintaining. Artists paint
fence posters... for the Bolsheviks. There is no paint on signs!" (15).
In one of May issues of 1920 "Svoboda" published two poems
of Babiy B. "Call to the people" and "Let’s fight, my
fellows!" The author – the student from Buchach city– sent to his father
Babiy M., who worked at New York, these texts with the letter in which the
young poet wrote: "At various times such sorrow and grief whelm my soul,
that I’m nigh out of my wits. Where is our truth? Where are our people? Where
are devoted sons of Ukraine? The truth got lost, people are asleep, and devoted
sons of Ukraine are killed and lying in the field with bloody swords in their
hardened hands. At such moments I take a pen and write what my soul dictates
A Ukrainian village remained a mainstay of the national idea, a
talisman of the culture. One Polish officer stated in the pages of Warsaw press (1920): "And I would like so that the consciousness and culture of
Polish peasant ... were as high as those of many Ukrainian ones... Who still
says today that Ukraine doesn’t exist, he deludes himself and handles a
figment. Ukraine woke up in bloody battles of the great war and now it
Much attention in the newspaper was paid to the popularization of
writings of T. Shevchenko, I. Franko (18-19). (Demydchuk S. defended the
copyrights of the latter’s family during the edition of his works, as it is
neglected by publishers both in Ukraine and abroad (20). Editors and
contributors responded to significant events in the literary life of Ukraine,
issuing various articles, for example, about the arrest of journalist
Stepanivsky V., the content and comment of S. Yefremov’s letter to Kotsyubynsky
Y., the congratulatory address to the anniversary of Lepky B., about the return
of poetess Malytska K. to Lvivcity, the tribute to the memory of Shashkevych
M., obituaries of poets Kovaliv S., AlchevskaH., the familiarization with
writings of famous European, world writers (eg A. Chekhov) (21-28). (The above mentioned
themes of the materials are selective).
It was about characteristics of the state of Ukrainian press both in
Ukraine and the United States in the newspaper strips. "Svoboda"
published the quite informative essay of V. Doroshenko, which was delivered at
the convention of Ukrainian journalists in the summer of 1917 in Philadelphia (29). February 15, 1920 the newspaper «Times» (New York) filed the information
about the state of "alien" press in the U.S. (including Ukrainian
Thus, according to American correspondents for half a million
Ukrainians, living in industrial regions, 19 newspapers were published in the
native language (particularly, 6 – religious, 2 – humorous, 5 –of socialist
orientation, 6 – extremely radical) (30). Every year the newspaper acquainted
its readers with contents of the UNA almanac for the following calendar year (31).
Readers could also learn about the Ukrainian literary life in
European countries. For example, it was discussed in one of the materials the
meeting of the Union of Ukrainian Writers and Journalists "about
presentations and literary evenings" held in October 7, 1920 in Vienna. It was attended by committee chairmen: of academic presentations – prof. Kolessa O.,
popular presentations – Trylyovsky K., literary evenings – Starosolsky V. and
others, who informed about the invitation to the reading ofCherkasenko S. and
prof. Hannytsky I. lectures, the carrying of weekly literary evenings, the
tribute to the memory of L. Ukrayinka, M. Drahomanov (32). Readers could learn
about the publishing of the poem "Ukraine" by young Danish poet
Håkon Krogh in one of the most prestigious Danish newspapers (33).
Native scientists begun to publish actively in foreign languages the
articles of Ukrainian studies theme in European newspapers and magazines (34). A
newspaper in one of its issues republished from Canadian weekly "Ukrainian
Voice" the "14 principles for Ukrainian civil activist and every
Ukrainian", - a kind of the patriotic honor code of Ukrainians (35). A
particular attention should be paid to the content of the note "Literary
works of American Ukrainians" which was coordinated by prof. S.
Smal-Stotsky for the period from August till September of 1919 (36-45).
The said gives reasons to speak about an important educational
function of the newspaper "Svoboda" in the USA during the years of
Ukrainian statehood (1917-1920). Analysis of the newspaper content states that
"Svoboda" is the essential source for the study of activity of intellectualism
literature, a component of the national and cultural renewal of the Ukrainian
However, in this context, it is necessary to have more precise
characteristics of poetry and prose according to their authorship, themes,
number of regional representation and others.
During 1917 important events in the World, European, Ukrainian
history took place and the key one was Russian revolution, Central Council and
Ukrainian People’s Republic formation and functioning which became the focus
for many poets and writers.
All "Svoboda" issues (1917) content analysis revealed that
137 poems by 64 authors were published within that period. Among them there are
50 Ukrainian authors and 122 poems in Ukrainian, 1 author and 1 poem in
English, 8 unknown authors and 8 poems etc. Apart from poems the editorial
stuff published 22 prose works by 13 authors – altogether 159 literary works by
It has also been found that in the next 1918 year the newspaper
published 192 poems by 112 authors: 158 poems in the Ukrainian language by 84
poets, 2 works in English by 2 authors, 14 poems by 10 unknown writers etc. Apart
from poems the editorial stuff published 5 prose works by 5 different authors –
altogether 179 literary works by 117 authors. The topicality of the published
works represented contemporary socio-political realities: the first wave of Ukraine’s occupation by Bolsheviks, Ukrainian People’s Republic defeat, Ukrainian State of
Skropadsky, the end of World War I.
All "Svoboda" issues (1919) content analysis revealed that
163 poems by 95 authors were published within that period. Among them there are
70 Ukrainian authors of 126 poems in Ukrainian, 12 authors and 12 poems in
English, 3 unknown authors and 3 poems etc. Apart from poems the editorial
stuff published 14 prose works by 14 authors – altogether 177 literary works by
The literary works dealt with difficult events of political and
military conflicts: bolsheviks’, Poland’s and denikins’ aggressions,
West-Ukrainian People’s Republic problems, hardships of Ukrainian rural
population, problems of Ukrainian immigrants, Ukrainian Sich Riflemen war life
It has also been found that in the next 1920 year the newspaper
published 193 poems by 89 authors: 162 poems in the Ukrainian language by 67
poets, 2 works in English by 2 authors, 4 poems by 4 unknown writers etc. Apart
from poems the editorial stuff published 8 prose works by 8 different authors –
altogether 179 literary works by 117 authors.
The topicality of contemporary works included the most important
socio-political events of 1920: war struggle of Galicia Army, bolsheviks’ and Poland’s aggressions.
Overall within 1917 - 1920 734 literary works (poems, short stories,
fables and essays) had been published in Ukrainian and other languages by
nearly 400 authors in “Svoboda”. Alchevska Kh., Vikonsky M., Vilshenko Y.,
Ivakh O., Voloshka L., Kabarivska S., Kavatsiv P., Karmansky P., Kruhovy H.,
Lepky B., Neprytsky-Hranovsky O., Novosad Y., Pidhirianka M., Syrotenko V.,
Skryty M., Storoshenko O., Chernetsky S., Yakymchyk T. and other diaspora
representatives were active authors of the period under the study.
Thus “Svoboda”, on whose pages the essential right of mainland Ukraine for independence was actively discussed, was the leading chronicle of the Ukrainian
immigration community in the USA and partly in Canada. The editorial staff of
the newspaper made it to be the most influential source of reliable information
on the process of Ukrainian Revolution in 1917-20.
Along with social, political and economic news the readers of the
newspaper were provided with the best literary works of verse and prose written
both by Ukrainian diaspora and mainland and foreign authors.
Ukrainian People’s Union annual calendar-almanac also served as an
active means of national Ukrainian history and culture promotion. The
historical, cultural and literary content of the latter remains a valuable
subject for multi-aspect scientific analysis and investigation.
1. Ukrainian National Association
(data from Wikipedia) // http: uk. wikipedia. org/
2. Myshuga L. Commemorative book of
UNA. - Jersey City, 1937. - 752 p.
3. Kuropas M.B. Ukrainian-American
stronghold. The first hundred years of Ukrainian National Association. - Jersey City, 2004. - 673 p.
4. Trygub P.M., Murphy N. Ukrainian
diaspora in the USA: to preserve the traditions of national culture (the
problem historiography) // http: bibl. kma. mk. ua /
5. Ukrainian National Association
(data from Wikipedia) // http: uk. wikipedia. org/
6. Kravchenyuk A. Chief editors of
"Svoboda" in 1893-1993 // http: www. svoboda-news.com
7. "Svoboda" – the
newspaper of the Uk-rainian community in America // http: www. svoboda-news. com
8. Appeal to the Ukrainian
community in America // Svoboda (USA). - 1917. – January, 13. - N 5. - p. 2.
9. Stolitkevych V. "The New
Year's call of "Educational Commission of the Ukrainian National
Association"// Svoboda. - 1917. – January, 13. - N 5. - p.2.
10. The Congress concluded the
Ukrainian Day // Svoboda. - 1917. – February, 24. – N23. - p.1.
11. The proclamation of President
Wilson as for "Ukrainian Day" // Svoboda. - 1917. – March, 22. –N34
12. Blashchuk A. About the
Ukrainian im-migration needs // Svoboda. - 1917. – December, 1. –N142 .- p.2.
13. I.K. About the Ukrainian
culture // Svoboda. - 1917. – March, 29. – N 37. - p. 2.
14. NichkaI. Ukrainian movement in
1917 // Svoboda. - 1917. – September, 10. - N 108. - p.2 .
15. Andriyivsky V. The Great Ruin
(the letter from Ukraine) // Svoboda. - 1920. – March, 6. - N 29. - p. 4.
16. Babiy B. Call to the people.
Let’s fight, my fellows!// Svoboda. - 1920. – May, 20. - N61. - p.6 .
17. The Pole about the national
consciousness of Ukrainian farmer // Svoboda. - 1920. – September, 14. –N111 .-
18. Smal-Stotsky [S.] Taras
Shevchenko –consciousness of people // Svoboda. - 1920. – April, 13. –N 45. -
19. Modestenko M. The publicity of
Ivan Franko in a village// Svoboda. - 1920. – April, 13. –N45 .- p.3.
20. Demydchuk S. To the publishers
of works of Ivan Franko // Svoboda. - 1920. – June, 17. –N73 . - p.2 .
21. The Arres t of Ukrainian
journalist Volodymyr Stepankivsky // Svoboda. - 1918. – January, 17. –N7. - p. 2
22. Yefremov S. The open letter of
Sergiy Yefremov to Yurko Kotsyubynsky // Svoboda. - 1918. – October, 8. – N120. - p. 2 .
23. Lozynsky M. Remembrance (To the
anniversary of Bogdan Lepky) // Svo-boda. - 1920. – September, 14 N111. - p. 2.
24. Konstantyna Malytska came to
Lviv // Svoboda. - 1920. – November, 2. –N 132. - p. 3.
25. Blashchuk A. Remember M. Shashkevych
// Svoboda. - 1917. – December, 4 –N 149 - p. 3.
Ukrainian writer Stepan Kovaliv died // Svoboda. - 1920. – July, 24. –N 89. -
27. DoroshenkoV. Ukrainian poetess Khrystya
Alchevskadied // Svoboda. - 1920. – November, 2. –N 132 .- p.3.
28. Ukrainian V. [alias] Antin Chekhov
// Svoboda. - 1918. – December, 28. – N 155. - p. 5.
29. Doroshenko V. Our press and its
problems // Svoboda. - 1917. – September, 1. - N 103. - p. 5
30. Ukrainian Press // Svoboda. -
1920. – March, 4. - N 28. - p. 8.
31. About the calendar of UNA in 1918
// Svoboda. - 1917. –November, 17. - N.136. - p. 2.
32. Ukrainian Cultural Movement in Vienna // Svoboda. - 1920. – November, 20. N. 140. - p. 4.
33. Verse of Danish poet about Ukraine. Håkon Krogh. Ukraine // Svoboda. - 1920. – June, 3. - N. 67. - p. 8 .
34. Stephan Rudnitsky. Ukrainian
Culture // Svoboda. - 1918. – December, 21. - N. 152 .- p.3.
35. 14 principles for Ukrainian
civil activist and every Ukrainian // Svoboda. - 1920. – June, 15. - N. 72. -
36. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – August, 5. - N. 92. - p. 5.
37. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – August, 12. - N. 95 . - p.5.
38. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – August, 19. - N.98. - p. 5.
39. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – September, 2. - N. 104. - p. 5.
40. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – September, 9. - N.107. - p. 7.
41. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – September, 16. - N. 110. - p. 5.
42. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. – 1919. – September, 23. - N. 113. - p. 5.
43. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – September, 30. - N. 116. - p.5.
44. Literary Creativity of American
Ukrainians // Svoboda. - 1919. – October, 7. - N.119 . - p. 5.
45. Literary Creativity of American Ukrainians
// Svoboda. - 1919. – October, 14. - N. 122 . - p. 5.
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013