Exhibition of old ABC books opened in Dmytro Yavornytsky House-Museum in Dnipropetrovsk. The exhibition features over 100 books, the oldest of which dates from the early 16th century and the most recent electronic alphabet was released this year. Most of the old ABCs were brought from Ostroh, others – from the collection of the Dnipropetrovsk National Historical Museum. The exhibition is called “Book that Opens the World” because it is the ABC books that help us learn to read and strive for knowlendge since our childhood. “This exhibition consists mainly of items provided by the Ostroh Museum of Books and Printing. Unique books are presented here, we don’t have such rarities in Dnipropetrovsk,” said Viktor Yekshov, fellow researcher at Dmytro Yavornytsky House-Museum. “The exhibition presents not only ABC books in the modern sense, but also books that were the prototypes of the primers, the so-called medival Latin grammars.” The exhibition also features textbooks published in Western Europe: France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, the oldest of which were published in 1514 before the Reformation.
Along with European old books the visitors of the exhibition will get a chance to see first Ukrainian grammars compiled by Meletii Smotrytsky, Karion Istomin, and Fedor Polikarpov. There is also a facsimile edition of the primer of Ivan Fedorov, the original of which is kept in Harvard. Typically, the primers were Slavic-Greek-Latin, because they were designed to provide knowledge necessary for worship and reading religious books. Along with the rarities, the visitors will see Ukrainian ABCs published in the USSR, Europe, and Canada. One of these books was compiled in the 1930s for children of the Ukrainian Diaspora in the Americas, another one for Ukrainian children in Central Asia, which contained poems written by Taras Shevchenko in Tajik.
Children today are curiously looking not only at the old books, but also at the instruments for writing that were used by their grandmothers and grandfathers – feather pens and inkwells, blotters and paperweights, as well as student’s notebooks and school uniform. With great surprise they learn about what studying at school was like in the past.
However, the visitors of the exhibition are most excited to see there the ABC book that they used when they started school. Soviet ABCs are well preserved and are well represented in the exhibition. Older women and men are deeply moved to see the simplest textbooks or briefcase, remembering how fun it was to slide down the hill on top of it. “I started school in 1948. Then we had one ABC book for ten students to share. None of us had a notebook that’s why we learned to write on newspapers. Newpapers were brought to the head of the collective farm and he distributed them among students. Newspapers were also used to make covers for ABC books, so that they could be used longer,” said primary school teacher Liudmyla Konyk.
Dean of the History Department of the Dnipropetrovsk University, Professor Serhii Svetlenko believes that the exhibition of Ostroh museum should attract great attention. “Ostroh is a sacred place for Ukrainian people. It was the place where Ukrainian book printing and Ukrainian academic research started developing in the late 16th and early 17th century. Publishing of the Ostroh Bible started the movement that eventually led to the national liberation struggle led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Therefore the exhibition that shows the history of the Ukrainian book printing is not only a story about the ABCs.”