Anuarul Muzeului Etnografic al Moldovei – X / 2010


Eugen D. Neculau was born in 1900, at Ungureni-Botoşani. When he was 17 he applied for being sent to the front, but his request was denied, as he was underaged; he was though accepted as a scout, and then as a corpsman. Here, in the middle of the young peasant soldiers, he has the revelation of a deep drama the Romanian village was living. The solemn oath, made to himself, of sacrificing himself on the front for the country, was replaced by another one, that he was to follow all along his life: the peasant’s illumination and welfare. In 1925, Neculau became a graduate of the Faculty of Letters of the University in Iaşi, with a diploma of license in Philosophy. Between 1929-1948 he was a professor at the „Veniamin Costache” Seminar in Iaşi. In 1944 he obtains the PhD in Letters and Philosophy, within the University in Iaşi, the PhD thesis having a suggestive title, Conditions and Perspectives of the Romanian Village.

In 1927, Neculau founded the Cultural Hostel of Ungureni, which was turned into a People’s University in 1936; the scale of its influence is now extended to 12 localities. His initiative started from the premise that the peasant is „sensitive to two calls: one from heaven, wherefrom results all his spirituality, and another one, from the earth, to which his material essence is linked”. Neculau thought his whole approach on two plans. First of all, an educational one, aiming at eliminating illiteracy and raising the condition of the grown-up of the rural environment by culture. This plan was correlated with a wide campaign of sociological knowledge of the village, on the basis of which he would be able to write the monograph of the locality. The second plan, tightly linked to the first, aimed at raising the economic condition of the villages.

In order to assure the feasibility of his whole action, he placed it under the sign of the science of pedagogy. Thus, the People’s University of Ungureni opened and proposed the Romanian villages a path to follow, path that involved the salvation of the village by its own powers. World War II, drought, starvation and above all the communist regime determined in 1948, the so-called „self-dissolution” of the People’s University. In the years that followed his retirement of 1959, he dedicated himself more and more to the assiduous work of elaboration and completion of his   fundamental works, Sate pe Jijia de Sus (Villages of Upper Jijia) and Istoricul Căminului şi Universităţii Populare de la Ungureni pe anii 1927-1948 (History of the Hostel and People’s University of Ungureni during 1927-1948), both preserved nowadays at the County Direction of National Archives in Iaşi. Following a whole life of service, in modesty, to the highest chair, the natal village, Eugen D. Neculau left this world on 20 October 1974, entering the world of peace and eternity. He was buried in Eternitatea cemetery of Iaşi.