Battle to Establish the Program

Student Petition for a Czech Language Program Otto Kotouc declaration Emil E. Brodecky declaration

Click on image to access the entire letter and the Population figures from the twelfth census presented by the students to to justify Czech language courses. The students single out the traditional modern languages of Spanish, Italian, and French for comparison. Also consider the letters written by individual students.  

Letter from Shimek to Chancellor Andrews and Board of Regents

In this June 12, 1905 letter to Chancellor Andrews and the Board of Regents, Professor, Bohumil Šimek of the State University of Iowa writes, "At present there is in this country an almost universal lack of knowledge of the great group of Slavonic languages. Of these languages Bohemian is the most highly organized and the best developed, and has the richest literature. It is certainly desirable that our educated citizens whatsoever origin have an opportunity to broaden their horizon by getting at least a glimpse of what is now practically an unknown field.” However the committee appointed by the Board of Regents to study the feasibility of a Bohemian Language Program comes to a far different if not racially biased conclusion. Professor,Bohumil Šimek, also states in this letter that he was a faculty member at the University of Nebraska from 1888-1890. He also communicates he is the president of the (Bohemian) Council of Higher Education at the time of this letter.


Report to Regents by Committee on Czech Language Program


From 1905-1907, Bohemian students, educators, business leaders and politicians battled to establish a Czech language program at the University of Nebraska. They fought against an administration that felt Czech had no place in the University as part of the modern language curriculum. A 1905 Board of Regents committee appointed to look into the matter found the University did not want to promote, " such racial and linguistic distinctions solely for their own sake."(Davis). They further asserted, “As a representative of Slavonic languages its study is of loss ad-vantage, philologically considered, than that of Russian; while from the point of view of literature its body of general and scientific thought is as yet comparatively negligible.” (Davis). The administration underestimated the passion the Bohemian-Americans felt for their mother tongue or the lengths they were will to go to in order to have Czech taught along side such academic staples as German, and French. By the Fall semester of 1907 the Bohemian-Americans realized their goal with the first Czech classes at the University of Nebraska.

Battle to Establish the Program