Historical Articles in the Lithuanian Periodical Press, 1904–1918: A Quantitative Approach

  • Titas Krutulys
Keywords: Lithuanian periodical press, historical memory, historical articles, 1904–1918, Lithuanian ideologies


The paper is focused on historical articles in the periodical press of 1904 to 1918 from a quantitative point of view. This period was significant because the year 1904 marks the beginning of the legitimate Lithuanian periodical press and also the period of Lithuanian political diversification, while 1918 starts the period of the Republic of Lithuania. History was an important part of the Lithuanian national movement and it helped to create the Lithuanian identity. On the other hand, the historical significance of historical articles in the Lithuanian periodical press is usually overrated or unclear. This study shows that during this period, historical articles make up only about 1.8 per cent of the whole list of topics of articles. Meanwhile, such themes as politics, economics, religion, and literature were much more popular. However, it also shows clear progress of Lithuanian historical articles from only 27 articles in 1904 to 358 articles in 1918. This progress was uneven and we can distinguish four quantitative upswings: in 1905, 1910, 1914, and 1918. Analysis of the most common topics in Lithuanian historical articles showed that the history of the Lithuanian countryside was the most popular. Thus, the history of places close to most of the Lithuanians living in the countryside was more common than the history of the Lithuanian cities. The most popular periods of Lithuanian history was the period from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries and the history of the nineteenth century. Among historical events, the most popular were the Battle of Žalgiris, the abolition of serfdom in 1861, and lifting the ban on the Lithuanian press in 1904. Foreign history was also quite popular in Lithuanian periodicals. The article also deals with the relation of different Lithuanian political ideologies to historical articles. While two right-wing political groups, Lithuanian nationalists and Lithuanian Christian Democrats, wrote widely on historical topics and especially liked the period of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries and the nineteenth century in Lithuanian history, the Lithuanian left-wing or centre-left political parties, Lithuanian Social Democrats and Lithuanian Democrats, wrote about the past and overall history of Lithuania much less: they were mostly interested in the history of the nineteenth century and in foreign history.