Theodore Pavlovic - Life, Work, and Legacy: The Complete Story of the Serbian Intellectual

In the depths of Serbian history, Theodore Pavlovic stands as a pillar of intellectual richness and national dedication. His life, intertwined with the strength of character and deep love for his people, tells a story of relentless effort and commitment that guided him through all challenges and obstacles. Born at a time when the Serbian people were seeking their identity, Pavlovic emerged as a prominent member of society, recognized for his exceptional talent and leadership abilities.

The Establishment of the Library and Museum of Matica Srpska

The activity of Matica Srpska was not only reflected in supporting students and scholars, fostering the development of Serbian literature through its publishing activities, or rewarding prominent creators. It became a universal cultural institution and the focal point of Serbian culture in Vojvodina in general.

The Serbian community in Pest referred to Matica Srpska's residence, where Serbian students and scholarship recipients of the Tekelijan Foundation lived, as the Serbian Pantheon. It housed a library, which was just beginning to form, and a museum with various exhibits. Tekelijanum was essentially the center of Serbian spirituality, cultural, and national life.

Immediately after the reopening of Matica, Pavle Pavlović initiated the creation of a library primarily for the use of Tekelijanum's residents but also for a much broader audience of Serbs in Pest and Buda. The books would be made available not only for reading but also for academic research.

The library became a pressing need right after the opening of Tekelijanum, although Matica already had a modest collection of books transferred there in 1838, considered the founding year of the library. Efforts were made to collect books, with Tekelijan and Teodor Pavlović being the first significant donors. Bishop Platon Atanacković donated his entire library of 787 books in 1841. This book-collecting initiative was further supported by the new Letopis editor Jovan Subotić, who urged authors to send one copy of their books to Matica, enriching both the library and enabling the creation of a Serbian book bibliography.

Bishop Platon, after the death of Sava Tekelija, became the president of Matica. He was particularly committed to establishing and enriching Matica's library. Efforts were made to organize the library, enabling easy access to books. Gergi Margu, Mihajlo Kostić, and Jovan Subotić were tasked with this, alongside the transfer of Sava Tekelija's library from Arad, which was significantly larger than Matica's at the time. Upon Platon's recommendation, Toma Todorović was appointed as the paid library manager.

Tekelija was a passionate bibliophile and had a large library containing rare and valuable books in foreign languages, as well as Serbian books. His library, now owned by Matica Srpska, remains a valuable cultural asset.

With the transfer of Tekelija's library, Matica's collection became rich, unlike anything Serbs had before. In 1847, Njegoš sent a copy of his "The Ray of the Microcosm" and five copies of "The Mountain Wreath" to Matica's library.

In addition to the richness of the library's books and museum exhibits, it is noteworthy how existing financial resources were utilized for the expansion and intensification of cultural and educational activities. Vasа Stаjić in his book "Matica Srpska 1826-1926" highlights this aspect:

"In Novi Sad, Matica arrived (referring to the relocation from Budapest to Novi Sad in 1864) as a wealthy society. Budapest merchants and officials, even if they couldn’t write books, undoubtedly knew how to invest capital profitably and save money. While waiting for permission to transfer Matica to Novi Sad, they bequeathed their money to ensure that, during the handover, they would not be ashamed. And they succeeded in what they wanted: in 1864, Budapest sent Matica to Novi Sad with a fund of 43,948.33 forints and a large library and a rich stock of books: with Jovan Naki's fund, from whose interest 13,716.43 forints had already accumulated; with scholarship funds, of which Tekelija's amounted to 173,139.86, and Pavle Jovanović's to 33,839.34 forints."

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