Hienadź Sahanovič. Belarusian Calendars in Teaching History between 1910 and 1939

The article looks at how the Belarusian book-format calendars of the first half of the 20th century used history from the perspective of collective memory construction by the national elites. The author views a calendar of a community’s memorable dates as a kind of its identity backbone. He has collected and analysed over forty calendars, mostly published in Viĺnia (Vilnius) from 1910, when the editorial board of the Naša Niva published the first-ever calendar in Belarusian, to the beginning of World War II.

Of all the publications covered in this study, only one in three used history for the purposes of educating the nation and only one in seven had lists of memorable historic dates. It appears that the Belarusian calendars referred to history less than similar editions of the neighbouring nations. The author argues that the Belarusian calendar of memorable dates was characterised by complete domination of cultural and religious events, whereas military, political and state history received very little attention. Those Viĺnia editions that looked back on the past constructed a continuity of Belarus’ development from the 9th century to the proclamation of the Belarusian Democratic Republic and the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, referring to important events in both parts of partitioned Belarus. By contrast, Soviet Belarusian calendars usually ignored Belarusian history whatsoever or associated its beginning with the Bolshevik revolution.