The department was set up officially on April 3 1989.
Heads of Department:
Professor Antanas Tyla (03.04.1989–16.04.1992)
Dr Algirdas Antanas Baliulis 01.12.1994–31.12.1999 (acting head as of 24.05.1993)
Acting heads of department:
Dr Egidijus Banionis, 21.04.1992–1993 (died August 6 1993)
Dr Artūras Dubonis, 01.01.2001–
Aims and tasks: research into and the publication of volumes of the Lithuanian Metrica and other historical sources.
The Lithuanian Metrica is the name given to volumes of records from the chancery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the oldest Lithuanian state archive, which was started in the late fourteenth century. After the Russian Empire in collaboration with Prussia and Austria partitioned the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth at the end of the eighteenth century, Russian officials removed the Lithuanian Metrica from Warsaw and stored it in St Petersburg and Moscow. More than 600 volumes are held now in Moscow; several dozen volumes lie in Polish archives and one is preserved in Lithuania.
At the beginning of the twentieth century Russian scholars published a few volumes of Metrica in Moscow, but nowadays Russians have little interest in continuing this tradition on the grounds that they should first publish Russian historical sources. During the last century Belarusians published several volumes.
The importance of researching and publishing the Metrica in Lithuania arises from several factors. The oldest volumes (up to the second half of the sixteenth century) contain material relevant to the history of Lithuania in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century, a period with few sources now that the treasury records (from the early sixteenth century) and Vilnius city records (from the second half of the fifteenth century) have been lost along with other material. The early volumes reveal aspects of the life of ethnic Lithuanians, which are covered by almost half the records. The Metrica are important not only for historians but also for Baltic and Slavonic linguists, legal historians, demographers, cultural historians, sociologists, and economists. The cultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is of relevance not only to Lithuanians but also to other states in eastern-central and eastern Europe. This publication programme is a matter of national prestige. The Institute seeks to publish the oldest Metrica volumes first.
Between 1985 and 1988 the Institute worked on a project headed by the Institute of History of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Preparatory work was carried out. Publication rules have been worked out and published (Metodologicheskie rekomendatsii po izdaniiu i opisaniiu Litovskoi Metriki, ed. A.L. Khoroshkevich, S.M. Kashtanov [Vilnius, 1985]). In 1986 there was an editorial board meeting in Vilnius relating to the publication of the Metrica, which included representatives from the USSR and People’s Poland. A conference was held in April 1988 and work began on editing Books 5 and 8. The Lithuanian Institute of History has continued and extended this programme in the Department of Palaeography.