Szabolcs Vajay Library
Szabolcs Vajay’s collection is the bequest of a Hungarian scholar who represented classic European erudition. It also documents the efforts to save a marginalized culture. The collection offers insights into a way of life in exile which is centered around efforts to preserve heritage abroad, a lifestyle which arose in part as a response to political assault on culture.
Fehérvárcsurgó Petőfi Sándor utca 2, Hungary 8052
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- Szabolcs Vajay Library
Pochodzenie i działalność kulturalna
After the Communist takeover in 1947–1949, genealogy (the history of families) and heraldry were basically prohibited in Hungary. Politicians of the Rákosi era and the Kádár era thought of genealogy as a retrograde science which served the interests of former ruling classes (aristocrats, the bourgeoisie etc.). Communists criticized genealogy because they thought it dealt only with the “oppressive classes” and neglected the study of the “working classes,” which constituted the majority. (Although sometimes writings about the origins of peasant families were published before 1945.) In 1950, the Hungarian Genealogical and Heraldic Society and their periodical Turul were abolished. The teaching of genealogy was prohibited at the universities.
Szabolcs Vajay played an important role in ensuring continuity in Hungarian genealogical and heraldic research. Vajay chose to flee Hungary in 1944, after the putsch of the Arrow Cross Party. Vajay despised the dictatorship, but he didn’t move home after the rise to power of the communist government. As an émigré, he tried to preserve or reconstruct Hungary’s ties to the rest of the world. He moved to Argentina in 1948, and he founded the Pázmány Péter Free University. He was the main cultural editor of the periodical South American Hungarianness, but he wrote for other immigrant newspapers too (Literal News, Horizon, etc.). In 1955, he became a cultural coworker at Radio Free Europe. In the 1970s, the strict taboo against of genealogy was lifted in Hungary, and writings about the histories of families could be published again. Szabolcs Vajay played a role in this process. He first returned to his homeland in 1971, and he regularly donated books to the National Széchényi Library. In 1978, when the U.S. government gave back the Hungarian Holy Crown at the request of the Hungarian government, Vajay became the primary expert on the committee for the study of the Crown.Szabolcs Vajay’s collection basically evolved in the course of his work and his genealogical, heraldic, and historical research. He used his books and notes to write his own books. However, his collection belongs among the collections which constituted a form of cultural resistance to the socialist regimes becausethrough his work, Vajay contributed to the later revitalization of a science which was prohibited for ideological reasons in Hungary. Vajay’s bequest of personal documents reflects pursuits which remained part of scholarly endeavor in the West but which the regimes in the Eastern Bloc attempted to elimate. His correspondence with Hungarians who had to leave their homes contributes to research on and among members of the Hungarian émigré community. Vajay’s bequest was purchased from the heirs by Albrecht von Stetten for the Hungarian Association of the Order of Malta in 2010. In February 2011, thanks to an agreement with the Joseph Károlyi Foundation (Vajay was a member of the foundation’s curatorship), the collection was moved to the Károlyi castle at Fehérvárcsurgó. The foundation pledged to maintain the collection and make it accessible to the public.
The collection consists of two parts: books and the complete personal bequest of Szabolcs Vajay (correspondence, notes etc.). The library, which has some 6,000 books, basically contains historical, genealogical, and heraldic works in Hungarian, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and other languages. The historical writings mainly deal with Hungarian history (especially from the beginnings to 1686 and the history of The Revolution and War of Independence of 1848–1849), local history, and the history of Hungarian and European coronations. It also contains biographies, memoirs, and diaries by Hungarian historical figures. The unique genealogical and heraldic collection mainly deals with Hungarian aristocratic families (organized by family and county) and European noble families (especially the French nobility). The collection also has works by the most prominent Hungarian genealogists (for example Iván Nagy). The library includes 100 historical, genealogical, and heraldic periodicals (for instance Acta Historica, Adler, Magyar Családtörténeti Szemle, Le Parchemin, Századok, and Turul). Vajay’s card catalog, which is stored in 40 cases, completes the collection. Researches can use it to find sources on Hungarian noble families, events of ennoblement and donating coat-of-arms . There is at least one book about each of the important Hungarian aristocratic families (history of possessions, diploma materials, or other works).The personal collection of the bequest includes Szabolcs Vajay’s correspondence (mainly about his genealogical research) and materials which were created or discovered in the course of his scholarly work (manuscripts, copied articles, notes from conferences, drafts of lectures, necrologies, invitation cards for weddings, birth certificates, etc.). Vajay’s research materials are under the series Opera Impressa. The bequest includes materials about UNESCO because Vajay was an official of the organization, and letters from the Order of Malta, the Hospitalers, several associations, and companies. Drafts of writings of Vajay, and educational documents (for example dissertations) also endured in the bequest. The systematization study of the collection are underway. The Foundation has a plan to digitalize some of the materials in the future.
- publikacje: 1000-
- rękopisy (dokumenty osobiste, pamiętniki, notatki, listy, szkice, itp.): 1000-
Zasięg geograficzny ostatniej działalności
Fehérvárcsurgó Petőfi Sándor utca 2, Hungary
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Istotne wydarzenia w historii kolekcji
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Autorzy tej strony
- Pál, Zoltán
Károlyi, Angelica, interview by Pál, Zoltán, February 27, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection