Hůlka, Rudolf – a collection of photographs and archival documents

Name Hůlka, Rudolf – a collection of photographs and archival documents Rudolf Hůlka (1887-1961)
Rudolf Hůlka (1887-1961)
Catalog Number T-H
Volume 4,412 individual photographs, 158 photographic film rolls, ca 42 inv. units of archival materials
State of Cataloging The collection is gradually being catalogued and continuously made accessible to researchers
Languages of Documents Czech, Ukrainian

Rudolf Hůlka (1887–1961) was a Czech official, journalist, translator of Ukrainian literature and amateur photographer. For his entire professional life, he was employed in the Central Union of Economic Cooperatives, where he worked mainly as the chief auditor and later also as the editor-in-chief of cooperative periodicals. From the beginning of the 1920s, Hůlka likewise translated Ukrainian literature. He focused particularly on authors living in Subcarpathian Rus’ or in West Ukraine. The authors that he liked to translate included Vasyľ Stefanyk, Mykhailo Kotsiubyns’kyi, Les Martovych, Marko Cheremshyna and Oľha Kobylians’ka. The precise number of the books that he translated cannot be determined; he himself made a list of book translations after 1945, including 33 titles (the period until 1945 has not been mapped).

After the death of Rudolf Hůlka, the Slavonic Library acquired an extensive collection of visual materials and a collection of personal correspondence. Although it is not known when Hůlka became engaged in photography, it can be concluded based on the quality of individual pictures that it was already before 1920 – when the earliest extant photograph is dated. Most of the pictures come from the first half of the 1920s, a smaller number from the early 1930s (140 pieces). The collection comprises black-and-white, hand-coloured and colour slides made on glass plates, individual photographs on black-and-white celluloid films and negatives on film rolls.

The collection is organised by the geographical areas captured in the photographs, with archival documents being placed separately:

  • T-H-1: Subcarpathian Rus’ (1,451 individual photographs and 3 film rolls)
  • T-H-2: Bohemia (530 individual photographs and 128 film rolls)
  • T-H-3: Moravia (658 individual photographs and 12 film rolls)
  • T-H-4: Slovakia (1,361 individual photographs and 6 film rolls)
  • T-H-5: Croatia (162 individual photographs)
  • T-H-6: Italy (62 individual photographs)
  • T-H-7: North Africa (133 individual photographs)
  • T-H-8: others
  • T-H-9: Germany, Austria (8 individual photographs and 9 film rolls)
  • T-H-10: archival materials, correspondence

Rudolf Hůlka captured in the photographs both urban and rural architecture (especially his documentation of wooden sacral architecture is valuable) or natural sceneries, and the everyday life of the population. He focused on folk costumes, embroideries and other handicraft; he photographed people at work and celebrations as well as during their precious rest time. Items of valuable content further include rarely preserved photographs of the Roma and Jewish ethnic groups (mainly in Subcarpathian Rus’ and in Eastern Slovakia).

The best artistic pieces are hand-coloured slides on a glass plate; black-and-white pictures on glass are of a high artistic and technical value as well.

During the cataloguing process, individual photographs were allotted a shelf mark and an identification number. Cataloguing records also include Hůlka’s original description. Where not available, the pictures were geographically determined and their content characterised by the Slavonic library staff, who also prepared a technical description of the pictures (the material, size, and approximate dating). Film rolls were numbered within thematic chapters and the description draws attention to interesting pictures whose content could be identified during the cataloguing process.

In addition, the collection comprises numerous written documents, including 380 letters, telegrams and postcards, which Hůlka received between 1922 and 1961. From the interwar period, mainly the letters from the ethnographer Volodymyr Hnatiuk, who helped Hůlka to orient himself in the culture and folklore of Subcarpathian Rus’ at the time, are interesting. Hůlka also discussed specialised issues of Rusyn folklore with the painter, graphic artist and specialist in applied arts Olena Kuľchyts’ka and the art historian, writer and journalist Mykola Holubets’. The problems of literary translations and book exchange are discussed in the letters with the writers Vasyľ Stefanyk, Katria Hrynevycheva and the philologist Vasyľ Simovych.

After the Second World War, Hůlka maintained extensive correspondence (a total of 142 extant letters) mainly with the graphic artist and painter Vasyľ Kasiian, a long-term friend of his. He occasionally corresponded with many writers and poets of what was then the Soviet Ukraine (e.g. the playwright and prose writer Iurii Ianovs’kyi, the prose writer Iurii Smolych, the playwright Semen Stefanyk, the poet and journalist Teren Hermanovych Masenko, the prose writer and poet Oles’ Honchar and others).

This part of the collection includes also other preserved objects reflecting Hůlka’s activity (original boxes for photographs, examples of the original covers for photographs etc.).

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