Vanda Zaborskaitė collection
Vanda Zaborskaitė (1922-2010) was a professor of Lithuanian literature. In 1961, she was dismissed from her position as a lecturer at Vilnius University because of her 'nationalism'. After that, she found a position at the Lithuanian Institute of History. While she had other research topics at the institute, she also worked on Lithuanian literature, researching a very disapproved of topic at the time, the work and activities of the Lithuanian poet Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis (1862-1932). Maironis was a Catholic priest, who used strong patriotic and nationalist expression in his works, and the Soviet regime had to consider how to interpret his legacy, what parts of his work should be available to society, and what should be seen as religious.
10308 Vilnius Antakalnio gatvė 6 , Lithuania
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Name of collection
- Vanda Zaborskaitė collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Vanda Zaborskaitė (1922-2010) was a literary critic and historian. After she was dismissed from the Department of Lithuanian Literature at Vilnius University in 1961, she worked at the Institute of History. She was an active member of the Sąjūdis movement from 1988. Sąjūdis (the Lithuanian national movement) was established in June 1988, at first formally as support for Gorbachev’s policy of perestoika, but later the movement went in a more radical direction that went far beyond Gorbachev’s limited reforms. The main result of Sąjūdis’ activity was the declaration of Lithuania’s independence on 11 March 1990, soon after Sąjūdis won the parliamentary elections. Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare the restoration of its statehood. Although Vanda Zaborskaitė was not one of the 35 people who initiated Sąjūdis, she collaborated with it, especially on educational reform: she was a member of the group of scholars who worked out educational reform for the Republic of Lithuania. In October 1988, Zaborskaitė was elected to the Sąjūdis Seimas (the parliament or council of the Sąjūdis movement).
Zaborskaitė is the author of a biography of the famous Lithuanian poet Maironis (1862-1932).
The life, work and activities of Professor Vanda Zaborskaitė are relevant to the theme of cultural opposition for at least three reasons. First of all, in the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, she was a member of the Department of Lithuanian Literature at Vilnius University. At that time, the department came under strong ideological criticism from the government. Zaborskaitė belonged to the so-called group of 'witches' that were forced to leave their positions as lecturers. Secondly, Zaborskaitė's research interests included the life and poetry of the Lithuanian poet Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis. While Maironis was not banned as an author in Soviet Lithuania, the estimation of his personality was complicated. Maironis was a great and very influential poet, who played a major role in the formation of Lithuanian culture. Because of this, the Soviet regime could not ignore his poetry, but it searched for ways to restrict his influence and the existence of his legacy. Zaborskaitė was the main researcher to promote the subject of Maironis, seeking to make the poet and his work as well known as possible in society. Although she was ready to defend her PhD thesis about Maironis in the middle of the 1950s, she was not allowed to submit to the PhD defence process. At the time, she received the answer and 'suggestion' that nobody would agree to participate in the event as an opponent because of the great ideological risk. She was persuaded to choose another topic for her PhD. Only at the beginning of the 1960s, when the Khrushchev ‘thaw’ set in in cultural life, did she defend her doctorate on Maironis. According to Virgilija Stonytė, her adoptive daughter who has written and edited books about Zaborskaitė, there was only a short time to publish the book on Maironis. After that, because of the events in Prague in 1968, the situation started to worsen. Thirdly, Zaborskaitė was religious since her early childhood. She was in touch with a number of Catholic priests, keeping up a correspondence with them.
Being very active as a cultural figure, Zaborskaitė collected many letters, drafts and manuscripts in her private papers. This material is useful, as important evidence about the cultural life of that time in Soviet Lithuania. According to Virgilija Stonytė, Zaborskaitė revised her private papers towards the end of her life, suggesting to Stonytė which letters should be published or left out. After her death in 2010, Stonytė transferred a part of Zaborskaitė's collection to the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, acknowledging that the papers were important for research on Lithuanian literature. The most interesting documents in Zaborskaitė's personal collection are still in the private papers of Stonytė. She is working on the publication of Zaborskaitė's diary and letters in collaboration with the institute. She hopes that the book will be published in 2018. After that, Stonytė hopes to transfer all this material to the Manuscript Department of the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore .
Description of content
The collection is not formally complete. It consists of two parts: one part of the material is stored in the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, the other in the private papers of Virgilija Stonytė. Both parts of the collection provide very limited access to researchers and society. Firstly, the material in the institute has no inventory or detailed description of what kind of documents are included in the collection. According to Virginijus Gasiliūnas, the head of the Manuscript Division at the institute, the organisation has only very limited possibilities to work with material received, because of the lack of employees.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 500-999
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vilnius Antakalnio gatvė 6
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
Stonytė, Virgilija , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, April 27, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Gasiliūnas, Virginijus , interview by Sirutavičius, Vladas , Grybkauskas, Saulius, August 17, 2016, March 28, 2017, November 03, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection