- About collections
Vilnius University, established by the Society of Jesus in 1579 and now known as one of the oldest and most distinguished higher schools in Central and Eastern Europe, paved the way not only for the development of Lithuanian higher education, but also nurtured many a generation of scientists, poets, and culture personalities.
Manuscripts Department stores a large collection of manuscripts, the majority of which consists of Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s (now territories belonging to Lithuania, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine) 14th-century transcripts and 15th-century–mid-20th-century manuscript and printed documents written in Chancery Slavonic, Polish, Latin, German, Turkish and other languages.
This collection contains original manuscripts – Laureae Academicae (1650-1781), Diarium Collegii Societatis Iesu – Vilnius Jesuit College diary of 1710-1723 – and Liber Extraordinarius Provincialis – the Extraordinary Book of Provincial Superior.
The personal library of Vilnius University professor Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861) was bequeathed to the university library; to be precise, in 1857 all the books, manuscripts, atlases, and maps were given to a Polish immigrant school in Batignolles, France (Biblioteka Scholy Narodowej Polskiej w Batignolles) with a condition to present the collection to Vilnius University after Lelewel’s
Monuments of early printed press of Lithuanian language are especially important to Lithuanian culture, history of writing and self-consciousness of Lithuanians. They are mostly religious texts or written works devoted to Lithuanian language: grammar, dictionary, catechism. The list of represented works reflects the very roots of writing and Lithuanian thought. Therefore it is undoubtedly considered as an important part of cultural heritage.
A small collection of parchments of the VU Library Manuscript Department includes less than a hundred items. It embraces remnants of the former parchment collection of the Vilnius Public Library (the main part of it is stored in Vilnius Academy of Sciences Library) and items transferred from Kaunas University or those that reached our library in other ways.
V. Mincevičius (1915–1992) – a priest, journalist, translator and collector, who lived in Italy, donated his collection of maps to the University Library. It consists of 331 storage item. The greater part of his collection contains old cartography. They are items of great value of XVI–XIX c.
VU Library Manuscript collection includes 543 books of court acts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 1540–1845. It is a specific manuscript collection. These documents are most important for research of Lithuanian, Polish and Byelorussian history.
Vilnius University Library Manuscript Department autograph collection consists of over 300 storage items. Collection embraces autographs of outstanding foreigners, famous rulers of Poland and Lithuania: Žygimantas the Old (1519–1526), Žygimantas Augustas (1562–1566), Stephan Bathory (1580–1583), Ona Jogailaitė, Zigmantas Vaza (1596–1621), Augustus II (1698–1732), Augustus III (1764–1797), Jan Sobieski, Stanislav August Poniatovski and other kings, noblemen and their relatives; as well as Polish writers and public figures: I. J. Kraszevski, A. Mickiewicz, J. Slowacki, M. Orzeszkowa, T. Narbutas, A. H. Kirkor and many others; French writers and artists, scientists: A. Decamps, Victor Hugo, P. Beranger, R. Chateaubriand, Voltaire, L. Pasteur and others, Vilnius Uniate bishop Juozapatas Kuncevičius, Vilnius Orthodox metropolitan bishop Josif Semaška, Vilnius University practical surgery professor J. Briotet, Samogitian bishop Motiejus Valančius; Russian writers, historians, statesmen: G. Deržavin, K. Batiuškov, I. Kirejevskij, A. Arakczejev, F. Dostojevskij, A. Gercen, S. Glinka, Kurakin, V. Odojevskij, I. Turgenev, Pavel Kiseliov, Ekaterina II and others.
Representatives of rich and influential noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later Rzeczpospolita (from XVII c. also noblemen of Prussia) – the Radvilos and the Sapiegos – served as the highest political statesmen – voivode, chancellor, hetman, marshal, Church officials.
The VU Library Collection of Graphic Arts includes over 91,000 artworks. At the moment, works of portrait engraver Herszek Leibowicz are digitized and presented on the internet.
Collection of photographs consists of photos by Lithuanian photographers and photographers of other countries. Pictures show views of Lithuanian towns and townships, former manors, churches and small architecture, figures of Lithuanian politics, education and culture, professors, pupils and students of Vilnius University and other schools.
The collection F78 consists of 901 storage items; chronological limits: XVI–XX c. inscriptions in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, German languages. There are M.
A Lithuanian public figure living in Switzerland, honorary doctor of Vilnius University Vaclovas Dargužas bequeathed his collection of maps and old prints to the Library. The collection consists of 41 prints from the 17th–19th century that feature historic Lithuania, present portraits of the nobility and scenes of towns of Western Europe.
Alongside the collection of contemporary prints and drawings, the Lithuanian artist Žibuntas Mikšys (1923–2013), who lived in Paris, donated to Vilnius University Library his collection of old prints. This collection is supplemented by old prints collected by the artist who lived in France, Johnny Friedlaender (1912–1992).
The collection contains prints originating from Western Europe, dating from the 15th–18th century that for a long time were kept pasted into two leather-bound books bearing the titles Collectio Imaginum Sacrarum and Theatrum Principum. The first book consists of 311 prints and the second one of 370. In 1979–1985 the prints were restored and currently are kept as separate, unbound sheets.
The Oginskiai family is one of the most prominent noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which had a great influence on the state‘s political, economic and cultural development for centuries. This digital collection presents the most valuable documents from VUL Manuscripts Department which are connected to the Oginskiai family.
Vilnius University Library holds the professor Joachim Lelewel’s (1786–1861) private library. His cartographic collection and documentary heritage are one of the most significant historical collections at Vilnius University Library.