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There were more than 4000 Lithuanian books released during the press ban!


After the failed January Uprising of 1863, the Latin alphabet was banned, and Lithuanian press faced one of the biggest obstacles in history of Lithuania. Nevertheless, the press ban did not stop the growth of Lithuanian press completely. There were more than 4000 books in Latin alphabet released during the press ban! These books were published in foreign countries. And only 66 books that used Cyrillic were published. Although Lithuanian press had been banned for 40 years by tsar and it was a very difficult period for Lithuanian culture and education, its seems that even that could not stop the growth of Lithuanian press.

The press ban made Lithuanians look for new ways and places to keep Lithuanian press alive. Lithuania Minor and USA became main centers for publishing. Lithuanian books in Latin alphabet were mainly published in Tilžė, Priekulė, Bitėnai, Klaipėda, Karaliaučius, Šilutė, and Ragainė. Books were also published in USA – Playmouth, Mahanoy City, Shenandoah, New York, Brooklyn, and Chicago.

Lithuanian press was banned in 1864. Active printing houses in Lithuania deliberately began to write false publication dates in books, so it looked like they were printed before the press ban. These books were called contrafactions, and censure could not ban these books because of their publishing date. There were 833 of these books published during the press ban.

Did you know that most of Lithuanian books during the press ban were published by German printers? They lived in Lithuania Minor and had commercial purposes, of course. The most popular books among readers were literature on religion – prayer-books, catechisms, hymnals, and writings about life of the saints. These publications were used as textbooks by secret teachers and daractors.

The most popular form of informative literature were calendars. They included information about popular science, had advice section, and even fiction. Publications that had practical use were also popular: it was literature concerning agriculture, apiculture, various handicrafts, and household. Fiction literature – Lithuanian literature and various translations – formed only 15 percent of Lithuanian press published during the press ban.