T. G. Masaryk’s International Correspondence Networks and the Establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918

Project support: Applied Research and Development of National and Cultural Identity Programme for 2016–2022 (NAKI II), Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, project NAKI II DG18P02OVV026

Applicant: Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Masarykův ústav a Archiv AV ČR, v. v. i.)
Co-applicant: Centre of Administration and Operations of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Středisko společných činností AV ČR, v. v. i.)
Project leader: Martin Jemelka
Project team: Vratislav Doubek, Tomáš Gecko, Johannes Gleixner, Eva Hajdinová, Dagmar Hájková, Milan Hanyš, Pavel Horák, Jitka Jindřišková, Jan Kahuda, Miroslava Květová, Jana Malínská, Soňa Martinovská, Richard Vašek

Project Characteristics and Objectives

Did the first Czechoslovak president T. G. Masaryk have a lot of contacts abroad? With whom did he keep in written contact prior to World War I? And how did these contacts benefit the establishment of the Czechoslovak state?

These questions should be answered by the research project carried out in the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences since 2018, which marks a new stage in traditional Masaryk studies. The objective of this project is to provide access to Masaryk’s correspondence, using the tools of the current digital era, to Czech and foreign researchers as well as to the general public, with an emphasis on foreign correspondents from the intellectual and political sphere. A digital database is being created, in which every document is provided with a standardised set of metadata, such as the date of despatch, the name of the sender and recipient, the place of despatch and receipt, and keywords, on the grounds of which specialised maps can be created, giving illustrative examples of Masaryk’s pre-World War I correspondence networks, using different perspectives (geographical, social, chronologic, etc.). Thanks to these contacts, Masaryk was able to present, to a high degree globally, what had until then been a more or less unknown Central European nation, helping to strengthen its state identity and the inclusion of the Czech and Slovak societies among the world’s cultural and state-forming nations. On the other hand, numerous figures with whom he corresponded undoubtedly influenced his own views and standpoints, for instance as regards the Serbian or Irish question.

The online database of documents, on the grounds of which visualisations of Masaryk’s correspondence networks will be made, can be found here: https://historicka-korespondence.cz/

Besides the digital map, the project also has other goals: From June to July 2020, a thematic exhibition “TGM Online” was held in the Science and Art gallery in the building of the Czech Academy of Sciences, open to the general public, and in 2020–2021, three printed volumes of Masaryk’s correspondence should be published, two with British and one with German-speaking correspondents. These volumes will be part of a prestigious edition published by the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences and entitled TGM’s Correspondence; however, they will also serve as the starting point for a rethinking of Masaryk’s correspondence contacts under the theories of social networks, which develop across the social sciences. The project team involves renowned Masaryk researchers, namely Vratislav Doubek, Dagmar Hájková, Jana Malínská and Richard Vašek, as well as other staff: Tomáš Gecko, Eva Hajdinová, Pavel Horák, Jitka Jindřišková, Jan Kahuda and Soňa Martinovská, with Martin Jemelka being the coordinator. In order to discover and gather Masaryk’s correspondence lodged with foreign archives, the team members undertake research journeys. They have already visited archives and memory institutions in Ireland, Germany, Austria, the U.S. and Great Britain.

The digital outputs of this project are developed by the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the Library of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Oxford-based institution of Professor Howard Hotson, who administers the EMLO – the database of Modern-era scholarly correspondence, from which our Historical Correspondence draws inspiration and with which it should be linked in the future. Thanks to collaboration with Johannes Gleixner, the research has also been linked to the Prague branch of Collegium Carolinum, an institution from Munich. The project co-applicant is the Centre of Administration and Operations of the Czech Academy of Sciences, which is involved in the preparation of the exhibition. The intentions and partial results of the project have been presented at several Czech specialist seminars and workshops and foreign conferences.

Publication for the exhibition entitled TGM Online. Scientist, Journalist, Politician and the First Czechoslovak President through Networking (available only in Czech).