Oleksandr Barvinsky

XX pagePoland, AustriaPolitical figure

Representative of a famous Galician family of intellectuals and proponents of the social and cultural movement, Oleksandr Barvinsky was a gymnasium student when he swore to work for the nation during his entire life. Following M Shashkevych, he and his brother Volodymyr (1850–1883), V. Navrotsky, Yu. Romanchuk, O. Ohonovsky, A. Vakhnianyn were the pioneers of the movement of “Narodovtsi” who put Galicia on the path of spiritual unity with the entire Ukraine. Already when a student, he headed the Lviv Hromada, in 1867 became a full-time staff member, and later the editor-in-chief of the scientific and literary magazine Pravda – the first all-Ukrainian publication. In 1868, he was among the founders of the Prosvita association, and the initiator of annual celebrations in honour of T. Shevchenko.

Barvinsky promoted the organisation of a network of Prosvita reading rooms in the countryside, launched the publication of Historical Library in 20 volumes, and series of secondary school textbooks. He isthe author of many works on history and culture of Ukraine, among which is the two-volume History of Ukrainian Literature. His particular merit is the introduction of Ukrainian phonetic spelling. Shortly afterwards, it was adopted by the Ukrainian press and publishing houses. As a member of the regional school council and head of the Ukrainian Pedagogical Community Barvinsky took a strong stand for the interests of Ukrainian school. Striving for comprehensive enhancement of modern science and culture, he spared no efforts to transform the Lviv Literary Society named after T. S. Shevchenko into the Shevchenko Scientific Society in 1892 and headed it up to 1898, developing it after the fashion of European academies of sciences.

Being an active public figure and politician, Barvinsky for several decades advocated the national idea on the pages of the Dilo newspaper, founded by his brother Volodymyr in 1880. In 1898, he set up another Ukrainian daily newspaper Ruslan, an organ of the Christian Social Party that he had established and headed. From 1891 to 1907 Barvinsky, being a deputy, defended interests of the Ukrainian public in the Austrian Parliament, from 1894 to 1904 – in the Sejm of Galicia. He stood at the cradle of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR), was a member its Government as People’s Secretary of Education and Religion.