Uppsala University Library

Rusyn collection

The Rusyn language is a Slavonic minority language, which is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and is closer related to the Ukrainian language.

The collection is arranged and placed in the Karin Boye Library, but it is not catalogued yet in Libris or Disa.

The Rusyn collection belonged to Sven Gustavsson, professor of Slavic languages at Uppsala University 1977-2003. After his death in 2013, the collection was donated by the department to Uppsala University Library. Sven Gustavsson, who was very interested in minority languages, was one of the first to study and describe the Rusyn language, especially the language in the north of Serbia and in the east of Croatia, from where the largest part of the collection comes. The collection contains about 500 numbers of periodicals and calendars, and also 200 books, mostly from the second half of the 20th century.

The Rusyn language is a Slavonic minority language, which is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and is closer related to the Ukrainian language. The Rusyn language is above all spoken by Rusyns in the eastern part of Slovakia, in Vojvodina in Serbia, and in the eastern part of Slavonia in Croatia, but there are some differences between Rusyn in Slovakia and that in Serbia and Croatia. Between 60,000 and 70,000 persons have Rusyn as their mother tongue, the majority of whom are bilingual. About 35,000 Rusyns live in eastern Slovakia, and between 15,000 and 20,000 live in northern Serbia and eastern Croatia. There are smaller groups in Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary. Some Rusyns have emigrated to the United States, among others Andy Warhol’s parents. They came from a village in the Carpathians in the east of Slovakia and Andy Warhol, or Andrej Varhola in Rusyn, is an important person among the Rusyns, although he never visited his parents’ home regions.

During the 17th century, some of the Rusyns emigrated to today’s Serbia, where they settled in fine farming districs in Vojvodina, and as time went on also in Slavonia. The Rusyn language became here a literary language at the turn of the last century, but most of all, the publication of newspapers, periodicals, and books has increased since the 1960s. There are Rusyn schools, radio and TV broadcast programs in Rusyn, and there is also a Rusyn department at the University of Novi Sad. Besides, the Rusyn language is one of six official languages in Vojvodina. The village Ruski Kerestur (Serbian Ruski Krstur) is the cultural centre. The Rusyns are very interested in folk music, folk-dance, choir singing, and theatre. Teams of folk-dancers have toured abroad. The Rusyns are Greek Catholics and In addition to the common language, origin, and culture the church has been a unitary force.

Thus the Rusyn collection consists mostly of material from the Rusyns in Vojvodina and Slavonia. Among periodicals Švetlosc, Tvorčosc, Rusin, and Nova Dumka may be mentioned and among calendars Narodni Kalendar. Here you will also find small dictionaries, grammars by Julian Ramač and Mikola Kočiš, other linguistic books, history, folklore, and fiction. Noticeable among the authors of fiction is Havrijil Kostel'nik Homzov, who wrote the first work of fiction in Rusyn, the collection of poems “Z mojoho valala”. Other authors represented in this collection are Irina Hardi Kovačević, Đura Papharhaji, and Julijan Tamaš from Vojvodina, and Silvo Erdelji from Croatia.

The Rusyn collection belonged to Sven Gustavsson, professor of Slavic languages at Uppsala University 1977-2003. After his death in 2013, the collection was donated by the department to Uppsala University Library.

Text: Eva Rönnerdal