«I Don’t Renounce Anything in My Life» (Olha Didenko’s Life Path and Intellectual Biography)

Keywords: Olha Didenko, Uman region, local lore, monuments protection activity, ethnographic materials


The paper deals with the life path and intellectual heritage of well-known Uman local lore specialist, an activist of the monuments protection movement of the second half of the 20th century, the poetess and public activist Olha Petrivna Didenko. The main milestones of her biography are reproduced on the basis of the memories of people who knew O. Didenko personally and collaborated with her. It is noted that deep self-education and communication with like-minded people had a significant influence on the formation of her patriotic views. The circle of the closest intellectual environment of O. Didenko included well-known figures of Ukrainian movement: Nadiia Surovtsova, Vasyl Stefanovych, Mykhailo Braichevskyi, Leonid Pervomaiskyi, Mykola Bazhan.
The effective cooperation of O. Didenko with N. Surovtsova and V. Stefanovych had significant results: the funds of the Uman Regional Museum were broadened with thousands of new items, a large number of ethnographic materials were recorded and certain archaeological researches were conducted. Many years of study resulted in the «Collection of Archaeological Monuments of Uman Region» prepared for publishing. This collection contains information about the archaeological findings found on the territory of the villages of the historical Uman region, their characteristics and the state of their preservation.
A separate area of Olha Didenko’s work was monuments protection. She studied mounds and archeological sites on the territory of the historical Uman region, addressed letters to the city and regional authorities demanding to prevent the destruction of the monuments. Very important for the local lore history of the Uman region is the study of geographical names on the maps of Beauplan performed by Olha Didenko. She managed to transcribe the names from the map and correlate them with the modern names of the settlements. For a long period of time, O. Didenko studied window carvings in Uman region, took pictures and copied them.
O. Didenko was also engaged in the social life of the region. During the «perestroika» policy, she became one of the initiators of «Beregynia» cultural society establishing in Uman. The members of this society were engaged in the study of the historical past, monuments protection activity and the revival of Ukrainian national traditions. Under the leadership of O. Didenko, the events were held in the city to celebrate Christmas, Ivan Kupala and other holidays of the calendar-ritual cycle.


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History of Ukraine