Teaduse ja kõrgkooli ajaloo labori tegevus ülikooli ajaloo uurimisel aastatel 1984–1996
Activities of the Laboratory of History of Science and Higher Education in the field of researching the university’s history from 1984-1996
Milvi Hirvlaane, cand. hist., Head of Laboratory
Systematic research into the history of the University of Tartu commenced when Arnold Koop (1922-88) was rector, i.e. from 1970-1988. For this purpose, the University History Commission was established in 1972, supervised by Professor Karl Siilivask (Milvi Hirvlaane was secretary of the commission from 1976-1980) and entrusted with the tasks of organising the process of research into the university’s history, compiling an overview of the scientific history of the university, conducting scientific sessions and publishing the research results in a series of publications entitled “Issues of the history of the University of Tartu”. The University History Commission also worked to facilitate the founding of the History Museum of the University of Tartu in 1976. As a result of the commission’s activities the 350th anniversary of the University of Tartu was marked by a three-volume publication entitled “History of the University of Tartu (1632-1982)” (in Estonian), deemed worthy of an Estonian SSR State Prize. There were also single-volume editions in Estonian, English and Russian, the latter receiving a USSR State Prize, 3rd category. The commission was liquidated in 1984, its tasks adopted by the Scientific Council of the History Museum. The council continued to organise university-based history conferences and publication of the “Issues of the history of the University of Tartu” under the auspices of the museum. Hirvlaane participated in the planning, preparation and conducting of the activities dedicated to the 175th anniversary of the re-opening of the university, the 350th anniversary of its foundation and the 70th anniversary of the Estonian University.
In 1984 a rector’s decree established a Sector of History of Science and Higher Education (4 employees) as part of the Laboratory of Higher Educational Science in the Department of Sociology. The sector was later reorganised by the Science Department into an independent state-budget laboratory tasked with conducting research in the field defined as “The role of higher educational establishments in the development of science and culture in the XIX and XX centuries”. The sector was included in the Science Department but was directly subordinate to the rector. The sector was engaged in close cooperation with the Republican Association of Science History Researchers. The sector’s scientific supervisor, Professor Siilivask, was head of the republican association. Two of the sector’s employees, Hirvlaane and Hain Tankler, delivered speeches at conferences organised by the History Museum and Baltic science history researchers. As instructed by the rector, compilation began of yearbooks chronicling the university’s current activities. Only one, titled “The University of Tartu in 1985”, was eventually published (1989), with draft copies covering 1986 and 1987 only surviving on computer diskettes. One important task was to compile the biographical lexicon of the university’s lecturers and research staff. This was published in 1987 under the title “Tartu State University: Biographical and bibliographical list of lecturers and research staff from 1944-1980”. The manuscript covering the next period (1980-1995, with 2270 biographies) was never published but its entries about the university lecturers served as the basis for the “Lexicon of the history of Estonian science”, just as Tankler’s unfinished biographical lexicon (1902-1918) manuscript did. The laboratory prepared the manuscript of the compilation dedicated to the 350th anniversary of the University of Tartu (the printing house made the proof in 1989) but it was never published either. Nor did the manuscript of the compilation dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Estonian University (1990) reach publication stage. The reforms that followed the restoration of the independent Republic of Estonia included liquidation of the Laboratory of Higher Educational Science, with the Sector of History of Science and Higher Education continuing its work as an independent lab for a while longer, only to be closed down in 1992. The head of the laboratory performed its unfinished work until 1996, employed on the basis of annual contracts. In summing up it should be noted that quite a lot was achieved with limited resources. During the existence of the sector/laboratory or at a later date all of the members of its research staff successfully defended their theses. The head of the laboratory handed over to the History Museum of the University of Tartu a detailed chronicle of the Laboratory of History of Science and Higher Education. The university today might yet again need a special unit to research its history.