Cultural clubs’ history
Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
During the second half of the 19th century, several institutions were established in Galaţi with the aim of strengthening and spreading cultural values. The activity of imparting knowledge through public conferences and lectures began after the foundation of “The Romanian Athenaeum Society” in Bucharest (1865), followed by a similar initiative of local teacher C. Troteanu, who gave Sunday lectures open to people at Primary School No. 1. Similar preoccupations intensified after the foundation of the Galaţi branch of “The Society for the Education of the Romanian People”. Established in 1866, this section organised a school for adults.
“The Society of the Didactic Staff” from Covurlui County, founded in April 1883, gathered the local cultural elite (Ion Cetăţianu, Alexandru Nicolescu, Romulus Scriban, etc), and aimed to organise public lectures and to present scientific and literary conferences. A similar institution was “The Didactic Circle of All Educators from Galaţi”, established in 1903 at the initiative of teachers August Frăţilă and Al. Nicolescu.
An important contribution to the enlightenment of the local community belonged to “The Athenaeum of Galaţi”, founded in November 1891, at the initiative of teachers Al. Nicolescu and Gh. Adamescu. The Athenaeum organised conferences on various topics. With the rapid spread of socialist ideas among local workers, a “Workers’ Club” was founded, where leftist intellectuals gave lectures during the public meetings held every Sunday. These activities continued in the framework of the cultural circle “România muncitoare” (Hard–Working Romania).
“The Cultural Circle of Galaţi” was founded in January 1907, aiming to support “any worthy manifestation of Romanian literature and art” and to educate “the taste for arts and science”. It was divided into three sections: the athenaeum section, chaired by August Frăţilă and Corneliu Botez, the popular academy section, guided by M. Pastia and Florian Ştefănescu-Goangă, and the section for literary soirees. The circle had 123 founding members, and the first chairman was M. Beştelei. The society organised public conferences at Papadopol Theatre and was actively involved in placing at Galaţi a statue of the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu. In the years to come, the Cultural Circle limited its activity and remained a simple “literary saloon”.
“Cuza Vodă Cultural Society” was founded at the beginning of 1909 by a group of young men interested to disseminate Romanian culture within the lower social categories. It founded a library and established a choir, and the weekly public conferences proved a great success. The “Sentinela Dunării de Jos” [The Sentinel of the Lower Danube] (1906) contributed to the dissemination of music and sports, whilst “Dorul” [Yearning] Literary Circle was founded in 1912.
An important cultural institution was “The Association for the Galaţi Open University” (Asociaţiunea Universităţii Populare din Galaţi), founded in November 1913, in accordance with the charter drafted by C. Z. Buzdugan. Its aim was “to popularise sciences, letters and arts” through public courses, lectures and conferences. The managing board also assumed the obligation to support the activity of the schools for adults.
The Sunday conferences held at “Sf. Împăraţi Cultural House” were inaugurated in 1908 by priest Ludovic Cosma. Conferences on theological, moral, and historical topics were also held at the “Solidarity Society”, founded in October 1902 with the support of Bishop Pimen Georgescu.
There also existed at Galaţi private clubs for the local elite, such as “Intim Club”, “The Central Club”, “The Conservative Club” or “The Military Club”, whose purposes were both social and cultural. Other cultural institutions were the “Orphaeus Musical Society” created in 1864, which had 60 members a quarter century later. In 1888 the “Harpa Musical Society” was established with 25–30 members.
The “Transylvania” Society, founded in 1867, for supporting the Romanian national cause was also subsidised from Galaţi both by the municipal authorities and by private benefactors. The same support was given to the “Carpathians” Society, with a similar purpose (1882). The “Prutul” Society, founded in 1885, was to defend the Romanian culture in Russian Bessarabia, whereas “The Cultural League for the Unity of All Romanians” was extremely active at Galaţi since its establishment.
 Paul Păltănea, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Partener Publishing House, 2008), vol. II, 331.
 Ibid., 332; also see Statutele Societăţii Corpului Didactic din judeţul Covurlui (Galaţi: Tipo–Litografia Modernă, 1883).
 Alexandru Nicolescu, “Mişcarea culturală la Galaţi”, Moldova de Jos, 2 (1929–1930); Maria Itu, Elena Potorac, “Pagini din istoria ateneelor populare gălăţene”, Danubius, 5 (1971), 317–330; Păltănea, Istoria, 332.
 Ibid., 333.
 Cercul Cultural din Galaţi. Statute (Galaţi: s.e., 1907). Păltănea, Istoria, 333–334.
 Ibid., 335–336.
 Ibid., 336; Details in Ludovic Cosma, Istoricul Bisericii şi Parohiei „Sf. Împăraţi” din Galaţi (1857–1927) (Galaţi: Tipografia Cultura Poporului, 1927).
 Statutele Clubului Central din Galaţi (Galaţi: Tipografia Ion Nebuneli, 1894).
 Elena Mihai, “Viaţa muzicală şi teatrală a Galaţiului în ziarele ‘Vocea Covurluiului’ şi ‘Poşta’ între anii 1875–1888”, 100 de ani de la înfiinţarea primei biblioteci publice din judeţul Galaţi. Volum jubiliar (Galaţi: s.e., 1974), 238.
 C. Gh. Marinescu, “Aportul societăţilor ‘Carpaţi’ şi ‘Liga Culturală’ din Galaţi la lupta pentru unirea Transilvaniei cu România”, Danubius, 6–7 (1972–1973), 227–241; Păltănea, Istoria, II, 248–255.
Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.
Cercul Cultural din Galaţi. Statute [The Cultural Circle of Galaţi. Statutes] (Galaţi: s.e., 1907).
Cosma, Ludovic, Istoricul Bisericii şi Parohiei „Sf. Împăraţi” din Galaţi (1857–1927) [The History of the “Sf. Împăraţi” Church and Parish (1857–1927)] (Galaţi: Tipografia Cultura Poporului, 1927).
Itu, Maria, Potorac, Elena, “Pagini din istoria ateneelor populare gălăţene” [Pages from the History of the Popular Athenaeums of Galaţi], Danubius, 5 (1971), 317–330.
Marinescu, C. Gh., “Aportul societăţilor ‘Carpaţi’ şi ‘Liga Culturală’ din Galaţi la lupta pentru unirea Transilvaniei cu România” [The Contribution of the Galaţi branches of “Carpaţi” and “Liga Culturală” Societies to the Struggle for the Unification of Transylvania to Romania], Danubius, 6–7 (1972–1973), 227–241.
Mihai, Elena, “Viaţa muzicală şi teatrală a Galaţiului în ziarele ‘Vocea Covurluiului’ şi ‘Poşta’ între anii 1875–1888” [The Musical and Theatrical Life of Galaţi in the Newspapers ‘Vocea Covurluiului’ and ‘Poşta’ between the years 1875 and 1888], 100 de ani de la înfiinţarea primei biblioteci publice din judeţul Galaţi. Volum jubiliar [100 Years Since the Founding of the First Public Library from Galaţi County] (Galaţi: s.e., 1974).
Nicolescu, Alexandru, “Mişcarea culturală la Galaţi” [The Cultural Movement at Galaţi], Moldova de Jos, 2 (1929–1930)
Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).
Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).
Statutele Clubului Central din Galaţi [The Statutes of the Central Club of Galaţi] (Galaţi: Tipografia Ion Nebuneli, 1894).
Statutele Societăţii Corpului Didactic din judeţul Covurlui [The Statutes of the Society of the Didactic Staff in Covurlui County] (Galaţi: Tipo–Litografia Modernă, 1883).