Meilutė Lukšienė collection
The collection is about the life, work and activities of the famous Lithuanian humanist Meilutė Lukšienė. Although she is well known in Lithuania as the initiator and creator of the concept of the Lithuanian National School, and as an active member of Sąjūdis (the national movement) in the late 1980s, Lukšienė was also involved in cultural opposition during Soviet times. She was a key figure who promoted lithuanianisation at Vilnius University as early as the 1950s. Accused of 'bourgeois nationalism', she was dismissed from the post of head of the Department of Lithuanian Literature in 1958.
Vilnius Žygimantų gatvė 1, Lithuania 01143
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Name of collection
- Meilės Lukšienės fondas, fondas 391
Provenance and cultural activities
Julija Meilutė Matjošaitytė-Lukšienė (1913-2009) was a researcher into Lithuanian literature and the history of education. She was a doctor of social sciences, the initiator and main author of the concept of the National School that was implemented during the Sąjūdis (national movement) period and in the 1990s. The documents in the collection were received in 2009 from her daughter Ingė Lukšaitė, who is the founder of the collection. The collection was started from files related to the concept of the National School. These files were given by Meilė Lukšienė, in order to make the collection available to researchers and members of society who are interested in carrying out research on these issues. All the material is from late Soviet times and the early period of the Lithuanian state, and it is not directly related to cultural opposition. After the death of Meilė Lukšienė, her daughter Ingė transferred a huge number of her files, also including material from the Stalinist and later Soviet periods.
Together with the collections on the Department of Lithuanian Literature and the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party, the material in the Meilutė Lukšienė collection reveals the contradictory situation of the Lithuanian intelligentsia during the Khrushchev thaw. The events of 1956 in Hungary, protests in Vilnius and Kaunas in the autumn of 1956, the crushing of the department in 1958-1959, the KGB’s attacks against the intelligentsia, the dismissal of the rector of Vilnius University Juozas Bulavas, and the resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of 1959 about mistakes made by the Lithuanian Communist Party were all interrelated. The files in the collection include material about Lukšienė's activities from the 1950s, when she worked as head of the Department of Lithuanian Literature at Vilnius University. After Stalin's death, the political climate became easier, and that impacted on the situation in academia and among the intelligentsia. The writer and literature professor Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas became the moral leader of this activity, but lithuanianisation in everyday activity was promoted by Lukšienė, the head of the department, who some years previously was Putinas' student. According to Vanda Zaborskaitė, a member of the department, Lukšienė’s leadership was crucial in forming a new creative atmosphere in the department. In the collection, we can find files from her work in the department in that period: notes of departmental meetings, and material and texts for lectures on Lithuanian literature. The material shows the discussions about sensitive issues in cultural and intellectual life in Soviet Lithuania. While Khrushchev’s policy of de-stalinisation introduced more possibilities for the representation of the national culture and literature, there were no clear boundaries to the legalisation of some authors from the period of bourgeois Lithuania. The files in the collection reveal the discussions about these boundaries: which of these authors could be legalised, which parts of their work should be recognised and used in the educational process, and what limits should be applied regarding these authors.
It was the initiative of Dr Ingė Lukšaitė to make a collection by transferring files from private papers to the Manuscript Department of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. According to Lukšaitė, there is very little material left about the activities of non-Soviet networks. Being well-known culture figures, and even recognised as creators by the Soviet regime, members of these networks acted semi-legally, and used verbal communication, such as discussions and social occasions. According to Dr Lukšaitė, the collection is a testimony to the non-Soviet activity of the Lithuanian intelligentsia during Soviet times. She argues that it is not easy today to reconstruct the informal activity of the cultural opposition, because it was based on trust and discussion, rather than on written documents. Because of this, the collection lacks documentation, such as minutes of meetings, drafts of talks, and letters with content that reveals non-Soviet attitudes and notions. The collection was not intended to reveal the cultural opposition (it would be hard to find such documents). It was meant to be a testimony to the life and work of Professor Meilė Lukšienė, and to make an archive about educational reform in Lithuania during the post-Soviet transformation. A careful reader can get from the documents in the collection a sense of the problems among the Lithuanian intelligentsia of that time, especially about the above-mentioned affair in the Department of the Lithuanian Language at Vilnius University in the 1950s.
Description of content
The Meilė Lukšienė (F. 391) collection. The collection is not fully described, and it does not have a complete inventory. At the moment, there is only a temporary list of files. The collection is supplemented from time to time with new documents received from Ingė Lukšaitė. There are 1,026 files in the collection at the moment. Researchers and readers who are interested in reading these files have to get permission from members of Lukšienė's family. As for the diaries, Lukšienė imposed a 20-year ban on reading them (until 2032). Later files are related to the late Soviet period (the end of the 1980s).
The collection holds many interesting pictures that show the Janulaitis, Matjošaitis, Alseika and Lukša families in the 20th century. These families, which are interrelated by kinship ties, belonged to the elite of Lithuanian cultural and social life during the first half of the 20th century. Even during Soviet times, these family ties were important in building non-Soviet networks that operated actively in a kind of negotiated space between the intelligentsia of that time and the Soviet regime. In the sense of cultural opposition, the most interesting documents are from the 1950s, like the conspectus of meetings of the Department of Lithuanian Literature, the conspectus made by Lukšienė for literature lectures, and various pieces of correspondence. Some letters were included in the recent publication Laiko prasmės by Julija Biliūnienė-Matjošaitienė and Meilė Lukšienė (2004). The collection holds several drafts of these books, with some important and interesting letters that were not included in the book (see F. 391-130).
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
- Lukšaitė, Ingė
Date of founding
Place of founding
Lithuania, LT-01102, Vilnius, Žygimantų g. 1
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Creator(s) of content
- Lukšaitė, Ingė
Important events in the history of the collection
- parts are closed to the public
Biliūnienė-Matjošaitienė, J., Lukšienė, M., & Lietuvos Mokslų Akademija. (2004). Laiko prasmės. Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas.
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
Sperskienė, Rasa , interview by Sirutavičius, Vladas , Grybkauskas, Saulius, March 17, 2017, March 24, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Lukšaitė, Ingė , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, March 25, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection