Balkan academic publications

A selection of Balkan academic publications held at The British Library
A selection of Balkan academic publications held at The British Library

These collections are a core part of the South-East European Collection. Balkan academic publications have been acquired since the mid-nineteenth century by purchase and donation and after the Second World War mainly by international exchange.

About the collection

The Balkan academic collections consist primarily of printed materials – monographs and serials – compiled and published by learned societies, national scholarly institutions (known as Matica), academies with their institutes, universities, and other research institutions in the Balkans. They are comprehensive and highly representative collections of edited primary source materials and research works in many fields.  With reference to content, most of the publications are from the humanities and social sciences, but science, technology and medicine are also represented. Many books were dedicated to important anniversaries or outstanding personalities in science and culture. These collections are of the utmost importance for the understanding of the history, politics and culture of the Balkan region.

Academic publishing in the Balkans commenced in the nineteenth century during the period of national revivals.  Some of the most prominent academic institutions were established: Matica  srpska (Serbian Society) in 1824, Društvo srpske slovesnosti (Society of Serbian Letters) in 1841, Matica ilirska (Croatian Society) in 1842, Slovenska matica (Slovene Society) in 1864, Jugoslavenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti (Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts) in 1866, Bulgarsko Knizhovno Druzhestvo (Bulgarian Literary Society) in 1869, Zemaljski muzej Bosne i Hercegovine (National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1888, etc.

The main goal of these institutions and their publications was to promote and celebrate national and cultural identities in the Balkans. Publications were dedicated to the fostering of national languages and literature, developing of scientific terminology, researching national history and publishing historical sources. Academies started compiling dictionaries. Works of folk art were systematically collected, national life and customs were studied, and historical and archaeological monuments were revealed.

Publications reflect these efforts of studying the Balkans from historical, archaeological, literary-linguistic, ethnographical, geographical, sociological and other perspectives. The production of academic publications rapidly increased after the Second World War.

The Balkan academic collections in the British Library consist of publications in South Slav languages and other Balkan languages, such as Romanian and Albanian, in Roman and Cyrillic scripts. Several significant academic series in these collections were published in French, German, and English. The highlights of these collections include Rad Jugoslavenske akademije znanosti in umjetnosti (1867), Starine (1869), Rječnik Hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika (1880), Razprave (1923), Letopis Slovenske akademije znanosti in umetnosti (1938), Letopis Matice Slovenske (1870), Letopis Matice srpske (1824), Glasnik Društva srpske slovesnosti (1847), Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja u Bosni i Hercegovini, Studia Albanica (1964), Letopis na Bulgarskoto Knizhovno Druzhestvo (1901), etc.

The Balkan academic publications in the Library are held at a variety of shelfmarks. However, the core of the Balkan academic collections are held under pressmarks starting with Ac. This pressmark was introduced in the late 1860s and discontinued in 1965. These collections include series initiated before 1965. Publications acquired after 1965 can be found using our online catalogue, Explore the British Library.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

By searching our online catalogue Explore the British Library, print volumes of academic publications can be requested and consulted in our Reading Rooms. Pre-1965 material is available from:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • North Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia

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