When did the first invention take place in Lithuania? Did Lithuanians have their own Thomas Edison? Why one magazine called the transatlantic flight performed by Darius and Girėnas a technical invention? Has anything changed in the world of inventions after Lithuania’s Independence in 1990s? What inventions do Lithuanians are famous for today? To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the restored Lithuania and the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Lithuania Patent Law (passed on 14 May 1928), the monograph about inventions invented by Lithuanians was published in 2018. The book written by six historians tells a story about Lithuanian inventors and inventions—from pagan times and tribal Baltic society to the present day. The book also contains a chapter written by Dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė on inventions of Lithuanian scientists who lived and worked in exile.
On July 4, Dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė, the head of the Lithuanian Studies Unit of the Documentary Heritage Research Department at the National Library of Lithuania, presented her monograph “Imagining Lithuanian-Polish Relations in Emigration from 1945 to 1990.” The monograph examines the fifty-year Lithuanian-Polish relations in emigration – real contacts as well as ideas, cultivated in private intellectual gatherings, which marked mutual cooperation or provoked hatred. It also highlights a wide debate in the press about the future of Lithuania and Poland, and the attempts to answer the question: What ideas and who in particular resulted in today’s harmonious relationship of the two neighboring countries?
The book will be soon published in Poland. The monograph was financially supported by the Research Council of Lithuania and published by the National Library of Lithuania.
On January 17, Arvydas Reneckis, the director and producer of the American Lithuanian TV that ran in Chicago for 13 years, visited the National Library of Lithuania. Currently he works on a multi-part full-length documentary about Lithuanians and their history in the US. The guest was interested in the publications and manuscripts of American Lithuanians housed in the Library. During his visit, Reneckis filmed a few interviews for his new documentary. He interviewed Jolanta Budriūnienė, the head of the Documentary Heritage Research Department of the National Library of Lithuania, Prof. Alfonsas Eidintas, the ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania, Dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė, the head of the Lithuanian Studies Department, and Dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė, senior researcher at the Lithuanian Department.
This fall, two National Library of Lithuania researchers visited Lithuanian archives abroad. In September, Dr. Giedrė Milerytė- Japertienė, senior researcher at Lithuanian Studies Research Department, travelled to New York, US. She, along with colleagues from the Lithuanian Central State Archive spent three weeks working in the archives of the organization, Lithuanian Alliance of America. The Lithuanian Alliance of America was founded in 1886 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. By establishing the organization, its members raised three objectives: to purchase land and property, establish schools, houses for orphans and older people, and build Lithuanian churches; to establish labour exchange for manual workers, where fellow Lithuanians could get support in finding a job; and to provide financial support for relatives of a deceased member. Continue reading “Researching Archives in the US and Italy”
One hundred years ago, the US government declared November 1st “Lithuanian Day.” Due to the lobbying efforts of American Lithuanians, in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson officially designated a special day on which public collections will be made all over the United States for the relief of the war-stricken people of Lithuania. It was the first official act of the President of the United States recognizing the existence of the Lithuanian nation. On November 1, 1916, hundreds of American Lithuanians took to the cities, towns, and streets urging to donate to their compatriots in Lithuania. As the result of this
action, $176,863.28 were collected.
To mark this event the National Library of Lithuania hosted a presentation of the book, Lietuvos valdžios ryšiai su JAV lietuviais 1926–1940 metais: suartėjimo kelių paieškos (2016) [Connections between the Lithuanian Government and Lithuanian Americans in 1926-1940: Searching for Ways of Consolidation] by Juozas Skirius. The event was attended by the author of the book, historian Prof. Dr. Juozas Skirius, Prof. Dr. Aivas Ragauskas, Dr. Vitalija Stravinskienė, Prof. Dr. Vida Pukienė, Parliament member, diplomat Dr. Žygimantas Pavilionis and senior researcher of the National Library of Lithuania Dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė.
What Institutions Participated in the Project?
- Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania
- Antanas Smetona Gymnasium in Ukmergė
- Vladas Šlaitas Public Library of Ukmergė District Municipality
- Global Lithuanian Leaders | GLL
- Vytautas Magnus University Lithuanian Emigration Institute
- Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania
The project was partly funded by Lithuanian Council for Culture
Why This Topic? Why High School Students?
During the last 25 years since Lithuania’s independence, one-third of its population has emigrated. Every second Lithuanian emigrant is 20-29 years old. Also, Lithuania has a long and complicated history of (e)migration, which includes several waves: economic emigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, political emigration at the end of WWII and contemporary wave of emigration, which coincided with Lithuania’s regained independence.
A great number of Lithuanian (e)migrants were very important in country’s history, for example, Valdas Adamkus returned to his homeland from Chicago to become the President of Lithuania. However, the analysis conducted by the National Library of Lithuania researchers has shown that high school curriculum pays little or no attention to historical and current social processes of (e)migration and portrays it negatively.
What Role Did Libraries Play in the Project?
One of Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania functions is to serve as a state repository of documents related to Lithuania or Lithuanians but published abroad. This means that the National Library of Lithuania collects and preserves books, journals, newspapers and other kinds of publications, published by or related to Lithuanian diaspora around the world.
The Project was carried out by two National Library of Lithuania’s experts in history and (e)migration. A historian dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė is the author of a monograph “Lithuanian and Polish Relations in Exile, 1945-1990” (2014). Dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė is a representative of the Lithuanian American Community, Inc. in Lithuania. While in the US, for six years she worked as the editor-in-chief of Lithuanian-American newspaper “Draugas.” She also co-authored a book “We Thought We’ll Return Soon”, which tells 18 unique stories of Lithuanians being forced to flee their homeland during WWII.
Vladas Šlaitas Public Library of Ukmergė District Municipality also took place in the Project. It collects and preserves local heritage, including oral history. Audio files and transcribed texts from the Project “Conversations about Emigration” will be deposited in its collections soon. One of the Project’s events, a discussion led by “Global Lithuanian Leaders”, took place on the premises of Vladas Šlaitas Public Library. Moreover, the library bears the name of a Lithuanian poet Vladas Šlaitas, an emigrant from Ukmergė region, who spent most of his life living outside Lithuania.
What Were Project’s Activities?
The Project was launched in early autumn of 2015, with two lectures on the history of Lithuanian (e)migration and the oral history workshop, meant to prepare students to interview people who emigrated from Ukmergė. Both lectures and the workshop were given by the National Library of Lithuania researchers, dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė and dr. Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė. Later in the Project, the researchers consulted students in their search of interviewees and conducting interviews. Vytautas Magnus University Lithuanian Emigration Institute agreed to analyze data collected by students and publish results in a Lithuanian diaspora and migration studies journal, “Oikos.”
To get better acquainted with the history of Lithuanian (e)migration, students travelled to Vilnius, where they visited the National Library of Lithuania and Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum, which exhibits works by the acclaimed Lithuanian émigré artist of the same name.
In their hometown, students attended a discussion led by “Global Lithuanian Leaders” about current migration process. Here they heard the success stories of young and socially active Lithuanian (e)migrants, who after gaining useful experience abroad decided to return to Lithuania.
The project ended in December with a debate in Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. Students were asked to take sides on (e)migration and defend their opinion about its positive and negative aspects. The Speaker of the Parliament, Loreta Graužinienė, who is from Ukmergė herself, found time in her busy schedule to participate at the event and show students around.
What Did Students Have to Say about the Project?
After the project, students who participated in the Project were asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire. The general evaluation was very positive; on the scale of 1-10, it ranged from 8 to 10. High school students were also asked to answer a question whether they would recommend this Project to their friends. Here are some answers:
I would recommend this project because it helped me to understand the stories of emigrants, to know better their lives and improve my skills in journalism.
I recommend it because we can gain more knowledge about emigration, learned about its pros and cons. I had learned about real-life experiences and what it means to live in another country.
I truly liked this project. I had learned more about emigration itself, about its waves and stages. During the visit [to the National Library] we were able to see the books being restored, how many of them are being published by Lithuanians, who currently live or lived abroad.
I liked participating in the project because I learned a lot. I learned a lot and even visited the Parliament!
Way to go!!! It’s so fun to learn something new and to be part of the project. Besides, people talk about emigration a lot these days, thus it was interesting to learn true facts about it. I’m a curious type; therefore I’d participate in similar projects in the future. … As for me personally, everything was organized great and it was very interesting.
After the success of the pilot project, the second project “Conversations about Emigration 2” is moving to Utena County, located in the northeastern part of Lithuania. The project will be carried out in 5 local high schools at the same time in collaboration with local public libraries, Antanas Smetona Gymnasium in Ukmergė (the school, where the pilot project took place), “Global Lithuanian Leaders”, Vytautas Magnus University Lithuanian Emigration Institute, and LRT Lituanica, a Lithuanian public TV channel, which programs are tailored for Lithuanian audience abroad.
The first project showed that students were more efficient at learning when completing interactive and creative tasks and working on their own. Therefore the second project “Conversations about Emigration 2” will be oriented towards individual and group activities, which require the most creativity. New Project team has big plans and is looking forward to their realization!
For further information please contact the coordinator of the Project, Jolanta Budriūnienė.