The Beginning of the Institute
The institutes of the History of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Language, and Lithuanian Literature and Folklore evolved from the Antanas Smetona Institute of Lithuanian Studies, which operated from 1 March 1939 to 16 January 1941. The public opening of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies took place on 9 March 1939 in Kaunas, in the State Council Hall. The Antanas Smetona Institute of Lithuanian Studies was established with the following guidelines in view:
to study the Lithuanian language, Lithuanian folklore, and Lithuania’s past;
to collect, organise, and publish materials and sources of the Lithuanian language, Lithuanian folklore, and Lithuanian history;
To represent Lithuanian studies in Lithuania and abroad.
At the beginning of its activities, the institute had three departments: of the Lithuanian language (headed by Prof. Antanas Salys), of the history of Lithuania (Prof. Ignas Jonynas), and of Lithuanian folklore (Dr Jonas Balys). The Department of the History of Lithuania had pre-history, archaeography, and history sections. There was a collection of periodicals, catalogues, and some manuscripts. The department was staffed by the historians Ignas Jonynas, Zenonas Ivinskis, and Adolfas Šapoka from Vilnius University and Juozas Stakauskas, Vincas Trumpa, Konstantinas Avižonis, and Simas Sužiedėlis, who were not connected to this institution of higher learning. The results of the activities of 1939–1940 were published in the first issue of the newly launched historical research journal Lietuvos praeitis (The Past of Lithuania).
The Soviet Years and the Period of the Re-establishment of Independence
The Soviet authorities closed the Antanas Smetona Institute and replaced it with the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The Institute of History and Archaeology was established in 1941 in the Department of the Humanities of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. On 25 April 1941, Konstantinas Jablonskis was approved as its first director. During the German occupation the institute was inactive. In 1945, the institute was re-established by a resolution of the Presidium of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
In 1988, the Institute of the History of Lithuania established the Department of the History of Castles, which in 1993 was transformed into the independent Centre for the Study of Castles ‘Lietuvos pilys’ (Castles of Lithuania). Since 9 April 1990, the Institute of History of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences has been known as the Lithuanian Institute of History. On 21 June 1991, the Lithuanian Institute of History was registered as an independent state research institution. On 17 December 1993, the Lithuanian Institute of History, together with other state research institutes, formed the Association for Research and Studies with Vytautas Magnus University. On 14 April 1998, the Lithuanian Institute of History and Vytautas Magnus University were renewed the right to confer doctoral degrees in history and ethnology, in the branch of the humanities. On 20 July 1998, the institute was granted the right to confer the degree of doctor habilis in history. By the order of the Minister of Education and Science No. V-1019 of 8 June 2011, the Institute, together with partner institutions, was granted the right to bestow doctoral studies in the fields of history and ethnology.
The Institute Today
Currently, the Lithuanian Institute of History has seven research departments: Archaeography (headed by Dr Robertas Jurgaitis), Archaeology (Dr Laurynas V. Kurila), Ethnology and Anthropology (Dr Vida Savoniakaitė), History of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Dr Gintautas Sliesoriūnas), Nineteenth-Century History (Dr Virgilijus Pugačiauskas), Twentieth-Century History (Dr Vitalija Stravinskienė), and Urban Research (Saulius Sarcevičius).
As of 31 December 2021, the institute employed a staff of 101, of whom 76 were researchers: 69 scholars, seven other researchers, and 22 members of staff in research and experimental development. Of the 69 currently working scholars, 28 are women and 41 are men. The institute has 36 doctoral students in history and archaeology (H 005) and ethnology (H 006). Early in 2021, the community of the Lithuanian Institute of History celebrated its 80th anniversary.
Directors of the Lithuanian Institute of History:
April-June 1941 – Konstantinas Jablonskis, a lawyer and law historian, a member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences;
1946–1948 m. – Dr Povilas Pakarklis, a historian and lawyer;
1948–1970 m. – Juozas Žiugžda, a historian, a scholar in Lithuanian studies, a member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences;
1970–1987 m. – Dr Bronius Vaitkevičius, a historian;
1987–1992 m. – Dr Habil. Vytautas Merkys, a historian;
1992–1999 m. – Dr Habil. Antanas Tyla, a historian;
1999–2000 – Assoc. Prof. Dr Edmundas Antanas Rimša, a historian;
2000–2008 m. – Prof. Alvydas Nikžentaitis, a historian;
2008–2019 – Dr Rimantas Miknys, a historian;
Since 2019 – Prof. Alvydas Nikžentaitis, a historian.