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Thomas G. Masaryk Papers

What's online?

Selected portions of the papers are scanned and online. The digitized material is mostly written in Czech.

What's in the entire collection?

The papers in this collection detail Masaryk’s work from 1918 to 1919 at the end of the First World War. This work includes the formation of a sovereign, internationally recognized Czechoslovak state, the situation of Czechoslovak troops in the final phases of the war, the state of the Czechoslovak people after the war, and the relations of Czechoslovakia with neighboring former Central Powers (especially Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in the immediate aftermath of the war. The papers are comprised of notes, interviews, memoranda, letters, drafts, articles, telegrams, and messages.

A later addition to the collection (Series 11) contains nine issues of Czech periodicals featuring articles and images of Masaryk's life and death.

About Thomas G. Masaryk

Thomas Masaryk was born on March 7, 1850, in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, into a working-class family of Slovak, Moravian, and Slavic decent. This ethnic decent later informed and motivated much of his life’s work. After studying philosophy in Brno, Leipzig, and Vienna, Masaryk was named Professor of Philosophy at the University of Prague in 1882. As part of his dedication to Czech civilization, Masaryk began a magazine concentrated on Czech culture and science. Masaryk was also elected to the Austrian parliament, first, as a member of the Young Czech Party, and then again as a member of the Realist Party.

With the eruption of World War I in 1914, Masaryk found that the best way to attain his ultimate ideal of Czechoslovak independence from Austria-Hungary was through self-imposed exile. Between late 1914 and early 1918, Masaryk made his way across Europe and Asia to the United States -– promoting, organizing, and establishing the Czechoslovak cause along the way. His travels did much in the way of establishing the Czechoslovak Legions, which were military units designed to aid the Allied cause in Russia. The connections established by Masaryk during this period also provided the Allies with valuable intelligence and counter-intelligence information.

Named president of the provisional Czechoslovak government by the Allies, after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the close of World War I, Masaryk was elected the president of a sovereign Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. He was reelected in 1920, 1927, and 1934. Due to ailing health, he resigned as president in 1935, with Dr. Edvard Benes taking the office. Two years later, on September 14, 1937, Thomas Masaryk died of natural causes.

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