By the declaration of its founders, the movement was created as a counterbalance to anti-Ukrainian colonial and Russophile trends in Ukrainian society of the period.
Prosvita was founded in 1868 in
Lvivby 65 delegates from different regions and groups of intellectuals, mostly from the same city. Anatole Vakhnianynwas elected the first head of the Prosvita Society.
By the end of 1913, Prosvita had 77 affiliate societies and 2,648 reading rooms.
In 1936, when Lviv was under the rule of
Poland, the Prosvita Society had 83 affiliates, 3,210 reading rooms, 1,207 premises, 3,209 libraries (with 688,186 books), 2,185 theater clubs, 1,115 choirs, 138 orchestras, and 550 study groups.
In 1939 the society was shut down and banned by the newly-arrived Soviet rulers. Prosvita operated only in Western Europe and America up to 1988. [cite web | title = Celebration of 90th Anniversary of "Prosvita" | work = Quebec - Ukraine Portal | url = http://www.quebec-ukraine.com/news/ev/2005_prosvita.html | access date = 2007-05-22] The first Prosvita society established in the United States was in Shenandoah,
Pennsylvaniain 1887. [ [http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?AddButton=pagesPRProsvita.htm Prosvita] at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine]
The Prosvita Society was renewed in Ukraine during the Soviet period of
Glasnostof 1988–89, and since than takes an active part in social life of independent Ukraine. In modern times it was headed by Dmytro Pavlychkoand Pavlo Movchan(at present).
Currently, almost all higher education institutions in Ukraine have Prosvita affiliations with teachers and students as members. Also active are the Young Prosvita youth organizations. [cite web | title = Rol vuzivskih oseredkiv prosvity u vprovadzhenni ukrainskoi movy yak derzhavnoy u VNZ | work = Savoyska Svitlana, Institute of Ukrainian Studies | url = http://www.ualogos.kiev.ua/text.html?id=707&number=61&category=10 | access date = 2007-05-22]
Official goals of the Prosvita Society:
* Promoting Ukrainian language as the only state language in Ukraine
* Maintaining principles of humanity, mutual understanding, religious and civil consent in society
* Contrubuting to building and strengthening of Ukrainian state and its economic development
* Propagating economic, legal and other kind of knowledge
* Contributing to raising of Ukrainian language and culture authority abroad
* Preserving and revitalizing natural environment and biodiversity
* [http://prosvitjanyn.org.ua/ Official web-site of Prosvita society] , uk icon
* [http://www.prosvita.poltava.ua/ Poltava Organisation of "Prosvita"] , uk icon
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