Overviews of the Collections
The Polish Collections at the Library of Congress
Former Polish Area Specialist
The 6,500-volume Thomas Jefferson library, acquired by the United
States Congress in 1815, included only three examples of Polonica
- - an English version of the May Third Constitution of 1791, published
in London; A. L. Caraccioli's La Pologne, telle qu'elle a ete,
telle qu'elle est, telle qu'elle sera (Paris, 1775); and G. B.
Mably's De gouvernment et des loix de la Pologne (Paris, 1781).
Preoccupied with the survival of the Union and the cares of nation
building, Congress and its Library generally ignored the distant
regions of Eastern Europe throughout the nineteenth century. As a
result, in 1901 the Polish holdings totalled only 97 volumes. In
1907, with the acquisition of the 80,000-volume library of Siberian
bibliophile G. V. Yudin, the Library's Polonica holdings increased
threefold. Nevertheless, it was not until the end of World War II
that development of a world- class collection of Soviet and East
European (and hence, Polish) research materials became a priority
of the Library of Congress.
The appointment in 1951 of Dr. Janina Hoskins as the Library's
first Polish Area Specialist (a position she would hold for nearly
four decades) marked the beginning of a systematic effort to acquire
current and retrospective publications for the Polish collection.
In the context of the present guide, the term "Polish collection" embraces
all print and nonprint research materials that either originated
in Poland, concern Poland, or are in the Polish language. The Library's
Polish holdings do not constitute a collection in the sense of
volumes physically collocated in a designated room or wing. Integrated
by subject classes into the general collections, Polish materials
are to be found in each building of the Library complex and practically
on every stack deck. Through a variety of acquisition channels
-- purchases, institutional exchanges, transfers from other U.S.
Government agencies, copyright deposits, and gifts -- the Library
has amassed one of the world's major Polish collections, including
nearly 150,000 books in the Polish language alone. The collection
continues to grow at the rate of approximately 3,000 new titles
A quantitative ranking indicates the strengths of the Polish collection
lie in history, belles lettres, biography, bibliography, art and
architecture, and the physical sciences. The Library does not acquire
in the fields of clinical medicine and agriculture. Scholarly works
of a generic nature that do not contribute substantively to the
body of human knowledge as a rule also are not collected. Thus,
most textbooks and works on scientific phenomena that do not pertain
uniquely to Poland do not fall within the acquisition profile of
Accounting for perhaps one-fourth of total Polonica holdings,
history is the heart of the collection. All time periods and schools
of historical thought are represented, including works by such
icons as Jan Dlugosz, Adam Naruszewicz, and Joachim Lelewel. Although
the oldest and rarest imprints are housed in the Rare Book Division
(see below), the general collection also offers many unique first-edition
nineteenth and twentieth-century works, e.g., the Latin-language
serial Scriptores Rerum Polonicarum (Krakow, 1872-1917);
Oswald Balzer's Genealogia Piastow (Krakow, 1895) or his
three-volume Krolestwo Polskie, 1295-1370 (Lwow, 1919);
or the serial Gesamtuberblick uber die polnische Tagesliteratur
[Presse], 1894-1939. Historians will also find a convenient
chronicle of events during the communist period in the daily Polish
Press Summary (1951-1959), prepared by the American and British
embassies in Warsaw and, from the Polish government's perspective,
in the Krajowa Agencja Informacyjna Biuletyn, 1956-1989.
The Library also offers long (often complete) runs of the major
Polish historical journals published in Poland and abroad, e.g.,
the Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej (Polish Academy
of Sciences, Institute of the History of Material Culture, 1953-present); Acta
Poloniae Historica (Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of
History, 1961-present); Ochrona Zabytkow (Ministry of Culture
and Art, Historic Monuments Documentation Center, 1948-present);
and Zeszyty Historyczne, an influential journal published
by the Paris-based Instytut Literacki (1962-present).
Two recent acquisitions of particular interest to Polish historians
(available in the Microform Reading Room in the Jefferson Building)
are Polskie Archiwum Biograficzne (Polish Biographial Archive),
a set of more than 500 microfiches compiled from 180 biographical
reference works from the 17th to the 20th centuries; and Polish
Military Archives, a collection of 92 reels of microfilm from the Central Military Archives in Warsaw. The
latter includes letters, memoranda, policy papers of the Polish
Cabinet of Ministers, the Minister of Defense, the General Staff,
and other high military bodies; most of the documents deal with
the early Cold War period (1945-55), but some records extend into
the 1960s, and there are plans to film material from World War
II and from the interwar period.
The Library of Congress possesses a large, balanced collection
of perhaps 15,000 volumes of Polish belles lettres and works of
literary criticism. Because of the copyright deposit law, English
translations published in the United States automatically are added
to the collection. A major recent acquisition in this category
is W. S. Kuniczak's superb translation of the Sienkiewicz trilogy.
Scholars will find volumes of poetry, novels, essays, short stories,
and the personal correspondence of writers from every period in
the evolution of Polish literature--from its Latin roots in the
Middle Ages to the earliest works in the Polish vernacular to the
Golden Age of the Renaissance and on to the Baroque, the Enlightenment,
the Romantic Period, Positivism, Young Poland, and the succeeding
movements that constitute modern Polish literature. Holdings from
the Romantic and Positivist writers are particularly strong and
include the complete works of such literary giants as Adam Mickiewicz,
Juliusz Slowacki, Zygmunt Krasinski, and Boleslaw Prus (Aleksander
At the heart of the Library's outstanding collection of literary
criticism are numerous complete runs of scholarly journals, including
several issued by the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish
Academy of Sciences, e.g., Pamietnik Literacki (founded
in 1902 by the Adam Mickiewicz Literary Society of Lwow); Biuletyn
Polonistyczny (1958-present); Z Dziejow form Artystycznych w Literaturze
Polskiej (1963- present). The collection also offers a complete
set of Tworczosc (1945-present), whose first issue contained
new works by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz and Jerzy Andrzejewski. Important
emigre literary journals include the Paris-based Zeszyty Literackie and
the quarterly Oficyna Poetow, published in London.
European Reading Room
For the convenience of researchers and for the security of frequently
consulted reference works, some 500 titles relating to Poland are
assigned permanently to the European Reading Room (ERR). Shelved
according to LC subject classes, this miniature Polish Library
provides easy access to selected encyclopedias, dictionaries, statistical
handbooks, country studies, gazeteers, bibliographies, histories,
and other research tools.
Among general encyclopedias in the ERR, three deserve mention:
a handsome 1984 reprint of the 28-volume Encyklopedyja powszechna published
by S. Orgelbrand in 1859-1868; the 22- volume Wielka ilustrowana
encyklopedja powszechna (Krakow: Wydawnictwo "Gutenberga," 1929-38);
and the 13-volume Wielka encyklopedia powszechna PWN (Warsaw:
Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1962-70).
Frequently visited by genealogy researchers, the ERR offers several
classic works on Polish noble lineage and heraldry, including Adam
Boniecki's 16-volume Herbarz polski: wiadomosci historyczno-
genealogiczne o rodach szlacheckich (Warsaw: Gebethner i Wolf,
1899-1913) and a 1979 reprint of Kasper Niesiecki's Herbarz
polski (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Haertel, 1839- 1846). The
reprint contains supplementary materials and splendid color illustrations
of numerous coats of arms. Genealogists also will find in the ERR
Jan Stanislaw Bystron's classic works on Polish given and family
names. Another resource of interest to genealogists, as well as
biographers and historians, is the multivolume encyclopedic dictionary
of Polish biography, Polski slownik biograficzny. Begun
in 1935, this monumental work now is roughly two-thirds complete.
Researchers make heavy use of the ERR's 1975-1977 reprint of Filip
Sulimierski's Slownik geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego i innych
krajow (Warsaw: 1880). The definitive work on the complex problem
of Polish placenames, this 15-volume classic provides detailed
descriptions of the history, economic assets, and administrative
subordination of cities, towns, and villages throughout the territory
of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Complementing Sulimierski's
work is Stanislaw Rospond's Slownik nazw geograficznych Polski
zachodniej i polnocnej, also available in the ERR.
Reflecting the strengths of the Library's overall Polonica collection,
the ERR Polish shelves contain more titles on history than any
other subject. A number of these works are in English, including
Norman Davies's God's Playground: A History of Poland (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1983); The Cambridge History
of Poland, edited by William Fiddian Reddaway (Cambridge: The
University Press, 1941); Adam Zamoyski's The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year
History of the Poles and Their Culture (New York: F. Watts,
1988); Piotr Wandycz's The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918 (Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1974); Oskar Halecki's Poland (New
York: F. A. Praeger, 1957); Stanislaw Mikolajczyk's The Rape
of Poland: Pattern of Soviet Aggression (New York: Whittlesey
House, 1948); Jan B. De Weydenthal's The Polish Drama, 1980-1982 (Lexington,
Mass: Lexington Books, 1983); and Roman Laba's The Roots of
Solidarity (Princeton: 1991).
Many of the Polish-language histories in the ERR relate to the
Polish experience during World War II, e.g., the ten-volume Wojsko
Polskie: krotki informator historyczny o Wojsku Polskim w latach
II wojny swiatowej, edited by Stanislaw Komornicki (Warsaw:
Wydawnictwa Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1965-87); Henryk Batowski's Polska dyplomacja na obczyznie 1939-1941 (Krakow: Wydawnictwa Literackie,
1991); and Andrzej Leszek Szczesniak's Katyn: lista ofiar i
zaginionych jencow obozow Kozielsk, Ostaszkow, Starobielsk (Warsaw:
Wydawnictwa Alfa, 1989).
Among the ERR's key reference works on Polish cultural history,
including its popular roots, are Jan Stanislaw Bystron's two-volume Dzieje
obyczajow w dawnej Polsce (Warsaw: Nakl. Trzaski, Everta i
Michalskiego, 1933); Aleksander Bruckner's two- volume Encyklopedia
staropolska (Warsaw: Nakl. Ksiegarni Trzaski, Everta i Michalskiego,
1939); Julian Krzyzanowski's Slownik folkloru polskiego (Warsaw:
Wiedza Powszechna, 1965); the multi-volume Atlas polskich strojow
ludowych edited by Jozef Gajek (Lublin: Nakl. Polskiego Tow.
Ludoznawczego, 1949-1988); Boleslaw Klimaszewski's An Outline
History of Polish Culture, translated by K. Mroczek (Warsaw:
Interpress, 1984); and Bogdan Suchodolski's A History of Polish
Culture, translated by E. J. Czerwinski (Warsaw: Interpress,
The ERR also provides a good starting point for a study of the
history and contributions of the once thriving Jewish community
of Poland. Key works include Gershon David Hundert's The Jews
in Poland and Russia: Bibliographical Essays (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1984); Aleksander Hertz's Zydzi w
kulturze polskiej [also available in English] (Paris: Instytut
Literacki, 1961); Maurycy Horn's two-volume Regesty dokumentow
i ekscerpty z Metryki Koronnej do historii Zydow w Polsce, 1697-1795 (Wroclaw:
Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1984); and Bernard Dov Weinryb's
The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish
Community in Poland from 1100 to 1800. All of these works contain
As a small sampling of the Library's extensive holdings on the
history of the Polish American community, the following key works
are available in the ERR: Miecislaus Haiman's classic Polish
Past in America, 1608-1865 (Chicago: The Polish Roman Catholic
Union Archives and Museum, 1939) and Kosciuszko in the American
Revolution (New York: Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences,
1943); George Simor's Guide to the Archives of the Polish Institute
of Arts and Sciences of America (New York: The Institute, 1988);
Joseph W. Zurawski's Polish American History and Culture: A
Classified Bibliography (Chicago: Polish Museum of America,
1975); Frank Renkiewicz's The Poles in America 1608-1972 (Dobbs
Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1973); and Joseph Anthony Wytrwal's
America's Polish Heritage: A Social History of the Poles in America (Detroit: Endurance Press, 1961).
The ERR offers researchers a good introduction to the Polish plastic
arts with such references as the multi-volume Polska bibliografia
sztuki 1801-1944, edited by J. Wiercinska and M. Liczbinska
(Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1975- 1986); Stanislaw
Lorentz's Przewodnik po muzeach i zbiorach w Polsce (Warsaw:
Interpress, 1982); Adam Milobedzki's Zarys dziejow architektury
w Polsce (Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna, 1978); and Edward Rastawiecki's
three-volume Slownik malarzow polskich, tudziez obcych w Polsce
osiadlych lub czasowo w niej przebywajacych (Warsaw: nakl.
Among the rich collection of works on literary studies, linguistics
and lexicography, a few titles merit attention: Alexander Bruckner's Slownik
etymologiczny jezyka polskiego (Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna,
1970); the 11-volume Academy of Sciences' Slownik jezyka polskiego,
edited by Witold Doroszewski (Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna, 1958-1969);
Stanislaw Skorupka's Slownik frazeologiczny jezyka polskiego (Warsaw:
PWN, 1974); Julian Krzyzanowski's A History of Polish Literature,
translated by D. Ronowicz (Warsaw: PWN, 1978); Czeslaw Milosz's The
History of Polish Literature (New York: Macmillan, 1969); and
Lewlaw Bartelski's Polscy pisarze wspolczesni: informator 1944-1974 (Warsaw:
Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe, 1977). A useful source of literary
quotations is Ksiega cytatow z polskiej literatury pieknej od XIV do XX wieku, compiled by P. Hertz and W. Kopalinski (Warsaw:
Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1975).
Poland's distinguished bibliographic tradition is reflected in
the ERR collection by the Estreicher family's classic 40-volume Bibliografia
Polska, covering the period 1455-1900; Wiktor Hahn's Bibliografia bibliografij polskich do 1950 roku- (Wroclaw: Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1966); Janina Hoskins's Early and Rare Polonica
of the 15th-17th Centuries in American Libraries: A Bibliographical
Survey (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1973); Jan Wepsiec's Polish Serial
Publications, 1853- 1962 (Chicago: 1964); Witold Taszycki's
three-volume Bibliografia onomasytki polskiej (Krakow: Naklad
Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego, 1960-1983); and Jan Kowalik's
five-volume Bibliografia czasopism polskich wydanych poza granicami
Kraju od wrzesnia 1939 (Lublin: Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski,
ERR visitors will find a representative selection of publications
from the Polish Main Statistical Bureau, including the most current
yearbooks not yet available in the general collections. The works
provide statistical data on a range of topics, including economic
performance, demography, education, environmental issues, and publishing
The ERR has custodial responsibility for current, unbound Polish-
language serials and newspapers. The Library currently receives
more than 25 Polish-language daily and weekly newspapers. Older
newspapers are microfilmed and accessible in the Newspaper and
Current Periodicals Reading Room in the Madison Building. Roughly
200 Polish titles are listed in the guide to the Library's microfilmed
East European newspapers. Bound periodicals are shelved in the
general collection according to subject class.
The ERR also offers a representative cross-section of independent
publications dating from the mid-1970s through the demise of the
communist regime. Access to this material is facilitated by Z.
Kantorosinski's The Independent Press in Poland 1976- 1990. An enlarged and updated version
of the bibliography was placed online in 1996. In the Microform Reading Room (Jefferson Building), researchers will also be able to access a commercial microfiche collection of Polish
Independent Publications based on the holdings of Radio Free Europe
and the Polish Library in London.
The Rare Book Division's holdings of materials of interest to Polish
specialists are extensive and diverse. Janina Hoskins' 1973 work Early
and Rare Polonica in American Libraries indicates 270 titles
among the Library of Congress holdings dating from the 15th-17th
centuries; 121 of these works were found in no other American repository.
The Rare Book Division also possesses a rich collection of 18th-20th-
century Polonica. Many of these works are to be found in the numerous
special collections in the custody of the Rare Book Division, including
the well-known Jefferson, Yudin, Russian Imperial, and Rosenwald
The Rare Book Division has a special collection of miniature editions
of literary works, including several dozen by Polish writers. Reflecting
the composition of the Library's general Polish collection, the
largest share of the Rare Book Division's Polonica falls under
the heading of history, followed by belles lettres, the physical
sciences, and religion. Subject classification of these older works,
however, obscures their intrinsic interest to researchers across
disciplines. Notable examples of the Library's rare Polonica include:
Barska konfederacja. Manifeste de la Republique confederee
de Pologne, du quinze novembre mil sept cent soixante-neuf/
traduit du polonais. 1770. 293 p. (DK4331.B37)
Caraccioli, Louis Antoine de, 1721-1803. La Pologne, telle
qu'elle a ete, telle qu'elle est, telle qu'elle sera... Varsovie
et se trouve a Poitiers, Chez M. V. Chevrier, 1775. (DK414.A2C2.
Chelminski, Jan V. 1851-. L'armee du duche de Varsovie.
Paris: J. Leroy et cie, 1913. A folio including 52 plates (50
color). Biographic notes and portraits of Polish generals and
officers. (DK417.C5 Office Folio)
Dlugosz, Jan, 1415-1480. Historia Polonica. Lipsiae,
Sumptibus: I. L. Gleditschii, 1711-1712. (DK419.D58)
Dzikowska konfederacja, 1734-1736. Solennissima manifestatio. [n.p.]
1735? 20p. The manifesto of the Dzikow Confederation was issued
by the supporters of Stanislaw Leszczynski against Augustus III
during the War of Polish Succession. (DK432.D9)
Heidenstein, Reinhold, 1556-1620. De bello muscovitico quod
Stephanus, rex Poloni, gessit, commentariorum libri VI. Balise,
per Conrad Valdkirchium, 1588. 184 p. Concerns Stefan Batory's
war against Ivan IV of Russia. (DK429.5.H4)
Komski, Jan. Za drutami [15 szkicow z kz] (Behind Barbed
Wires [15 sketches from a concentration camp]). Munich: "P.B.I" Information
Agency, 1946. 15 leaves of plates. Preface and legends in English,
German, and Polish. (D805.A2K64)
Kromer, Marcin. De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum . . . Basel: I. Oporinum, 1558. 719 pages. (DK419.K75)
Lasicki, Jan, 1534-1605. Clades Dantiscanorum anno Domini
MDLXXVII, XVII Aprilis, a Ioanne Lasicio descripta & emendatius
secundo edita . . . Francofurti, Apud A. Wechelum, 1578.
Concerns Poland under Stefan Batory. (DK429.5.L38
Lelewel, Joachim, 1786-1861. Trzy konstytucje polskie; 1791,
1807, 1815. Poznan: J. K. Zupanski Press, 1861. 108 p.
Linde, van der. Leven en daaden van Johannes Sobietzki de
III, tegenwoordig--regeerende Koning van Polen. . . Amsterdam:
J. en T. ten Hoorn, J. Bouman en A. Dirkse Oossaan, 1685. A
handsome engraved frontispiece depicts the great Polish and
European hero, Jan Sobieski. (DK4310.L5)
Naramowski, Adam, 1681-1736. Facies rerum Sarmaticarum in
facie Regni Poloniae Magnique Ducatus Lituaniae gestarum .
. . Vilnae: Typus Universitatis Societatis Jesu, 1724-1726.
Provides biographic information on Polish statesmen and nobility.
Okolski, Szymon, 1580-1653. Orbis Polonus...in quo antiqua
Sarmatarum gentilitia, Cracow: F. Caesarij, 1641-45. 3
vol. Contains coats of arms and other information on Polish
Orzechowski, Stanislaw Okszyc, 1513-1566. Fidelis subditus,
sive, De institutione regia ad Sigismundum Augustum. . . Varsaviae:
Typis S.R.M. in Collegio Schol. Piarum, 1697. First published
in 1584, the work concerns the duties of Polish kings and rulers
up to Sigismund August. (JC381.074 1697)
Pastorius, Joachim, 1611-1681. Bellum scythico-cosacicu;
seu, De conjuratione Tartarorum, Cosacorum, et plebis russicae
contra regnum Polonicae . . . Dantisci, sumptibus Georgii
Forsteri, 1652. 269 p. (DK508.P27 Pre-1801 Collection)
Poland. Committee of Enquiry into the Question of the Polish
Prisoners of War from the 1939 Campaign, Missing in the U.S.S.R.
- Facts and Documents Concerning Polish Prisoners of War Captured
by the U.S.S.R in the 1939 Campaign. 1946. 454 pages, including
plates, maps. (D805.R9P7 1939)
Poland's case for independence, being a series of essays
illustrating the continuance of her national life. London:
Published for the Polish Information Committee by G. Allen
and Unwin ltd., 1916. 352 p. Contains essays on Polish history,
demography, economics, literature, and music by such prominent
scholars as A. Zaleski, R. W. Seton Watson, R. Kucharski, L.
Janowski, and L. Litwinski. (DK 414.P75)
Solignac, Pierre Joseph de la Pimpie, 1687-1773. Histoire
generale de Pologne. Amsterdam: H. du Sauzet, 1751-1780.
6 volumes. (DK4187.S64 1751)
Starowolski, Szymon, 1588-1656. Polonia, nunc denuo recognita
et aucta. Wolferbyti, Sumptibus C. Bunonis, 1656. 102 p.
Describes Polish administrative and political divisions. (JN6759
Udzial Polakow w zwyciestwie nad faszyzmem: dokumenty, 1939-1945.
(The Participation of Poles in the Victory over Fascism: Documents,
1939-1945). Warsaw: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1975. Polish
sources documenting the history of the German occupation, 1939-1945.
49-piece portfolio includes color illustrations. (DK4410.U38.
Velychko, Samiilo, 1670-ca. 1728. Lietopis' sobytii v IUgozapadnoi
Rossii. (Chronice of Events in Southwestern Russia.) 1848.
Discusses the war between the Cossacks and Poland. (DK508.7.V4)
Warszewicki, Krzysztof, 1543-1603. Christophori Varsevicii
Turcice quatuordecim . . . Cracoviae, In officina Lazari,
1595. 313 p. Discusses Turkish-Polish relations. (DR439.W35)
Mickiewicz, Adam, 1798-1855. Konrad Wallenrod. Petersburg:
Drukiem K. Kraya, 1828. 88 p. Published and signed by the author.
Mickiewicz, Adam, 1798-1855. Pan Tadeusz; czyli, Ostatni
zajazd na Litwie. Historia szlachecka z 1811 i 1812, we 12
ksiegach, wierszem (Pan Tadeusz: or, the Last Foray in
Lithuania. History of the Polish Nobility in 1811 and 1812,
in 12 Books of Verse). Paris: A. Jelowicki, 1834. 2 vol. (PG7158.M5P3
Milosz, Czeslaw. Swiat (The World). San Francisco: Arion
Press, 1989. 57 p. A sequence of twenty poems in Polish, translated
into English by the poet. Includes a portrait of the poet in
dry-point engraving. Limited to 275 copies. Signed by the author
and illustrator. (PG7158.M553A25 1989)
Copernicus, Nicolaus, 1473-1543. De revolutionibus orbium
caelestium, libri VI. Norimbergae, apud Ioh. Petreium,
1543. 196 p, including tables, diagrams. (QB41.C76 1543)
Jan ze Stobnicy, 1470 (ca)-1530. Introductio in Ptholomei
Cosmographia . . . The first work published in Poland to
mention America, it describes the discovery and exploration
of America. (G113.P9J3)
Sacro Bosco, Joannes de, fl. 1230. Introductorium copendiosum
in Tractatum spere material mgri Ioanis de Sacrobusto.
Cracouie: J. Haller (?), 1506. 143 p, including diagrams. One
of the early works on astronomy. Includes work by Jan Glogowczyk,
1445-1507. (QB41.S2 1506 Rosenwald Collection)
Poles In America
Kraitsir, Charles V. The Poles in the United States of America,
preceded by the earliest history of the Slavonians, and by
the history of Poland. Philadelphia: Kiderleen and Stollmeyer,
1837. 196 p. Preface signed: Charles V. Kraitsir, m.d.
The Poles in the United States (Memorial to the representatives
of the people of the United States of America in Congress assembled.
New York, April 9, 1834. An act granting land to certain exiles
from Poland, June 30, 1834, signed by Andrew Jackson, p.
Housing more than 40 million individual manuscripts in some 10,000
collections, the Manuscripts Division has the primary mission of
collecting materials of research value for the study of the history,
law, and civilization of the United States. Among these vast holdings,
manuscripts of interest to Polish scholars also are to be found.
In particular, the papers of the U.S. presidents, secretaries of
state, diplomats, and sundry individuals personally or professionally
associated with Poland merit investigation. Additionally, many of
the hundreds of thousands of German documents in the Division's microfilm
collections pertain to Poland, especially during the partition period
and the twentieth century to the end of the Second World War. Below
are listed in general thematic categories some of the Division's
holdings of potential interest to Polish researchers.
Poles in American History, 17-20th Centuries
The George Washington Papers, 1592-1937. The first U.S.
president's papers date mostly to the 1748-99 period and concern
his relations with the Continental Congress, the command of the
Continental Army, and his presidency. Among the documents are
22 letters from Washington to Kazimierz Pulaski, whom he promoted
to the rank of brigadier general of cavalry, and six to Tadeusz
Kosciuszko, perhaps Poland's most revered patriot and a key figure
in the American Revolution.
The Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606-1889. The collection
includes Jefferson's copies of early Virginia laws and historical
records, among them the Records of the Virginia Company of
London. The latter contain several references to Polish craftsmen
recruited for their expertise in hemp, flax, potash, saltpeter/gunpowder,
pitch, and tar--commodities critical to the survival of the Jamestown
colony. Furthermore, the collection contains Jefferson's 12 letters
to (and 40 letters about) Kosciuszko, as well as correspondence
(16 letters) with Julian Niemcewicz, Kosciuszko's aide-de-camp
in the 1794 Insurrection and a friend of the first three American
Papers of the Continental Congress; American Manuscripts,
Revolution, 1779 Collection; the Nathanael Greene Papers,
1775-1785. Each of these collections include includes correspondence
with Pulaski and Kosciuszko.
The Jonathan Bayard and Samuel Harrison Smith Collection.
This collection contains letters written by Joel Barrow to his
wife during his journey to Poland to interview Napoleon on American
The Papers of Count Adam De Gurowski, 1848-1898. This
is a collection of 4,000 items of the Polish-born social historian,
Pan-Slavist, and author of important works on slavery, the American
Civil War, and U.S. relations with Europe. Correspondence with
De Gurowski also can be found in The Papers of B.F. Wade,
1832-1881, an Ohio senator and Republican Party leader; The
Papers of Henry Wilson, 1851- 1875, a Massachusetts senator
and U.S. vice-president; and the Abraham Lincoln Papers.
The Caleb Cushing Papers, 1785-1906. The papers of this
prominent lawyer/U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts/land speculator
contain many documents concerning the Polish Emigration Land
Company established in Virginia in 1869 for the benefit of Polish
Poland before World War I
The German Captured Documents Collections. Although
the 350,000-piece collection dates mostly to the inter-war and
World War II period, it also contains valuable material relating
to partitioned Poland. For example, the Rehse Collection contains
a document transferring the allegiance of Lwow from the King
of Poland to Maria Theresa of Austria in the First Partition. The Zimmermann
Family Papers contain 14th-17th century materials from regional
repositories, including Wroclaw. And the Deutsches Auslands
Institut Collection contains some Copernican prints.
The Thacher Collection. A collection of about 1,300
pieces arranged in 15 portfolios, including one labelled "Russian,
Polish, Oriental." The collection consists mainly of autograph
documents and portraits of crowned heads of Europe and other
dignitaries dating from the 14th century.
Indenture of Jan II Kazimierz, 1659. A papal document
in Latin absolving the former cardinal upon his ascension of
the Polish throne.
Acts of the Confederacy of Bar 1768-1772. The 60-item
collection documents a movement formed in 1768 by the Polish
landed gentry to mount armed resistance to the Russian occupation.
Kazimierz Pulaski and his father were leaders of the movement.
World War I and the Reestablishment of the Polish State
The Stanley Washburn Papers, 1912-1945. The papers of
a prominent newspaper correspondent containing numerous dispatches
from Poland, Russia, and France during World War I.
The Wilson Papers. The 278,000-item collection includes
minutes and other documents concerning the Paris Peace Conference
and the reestablishment of an independent Polish state. In addition
to case file no. 2950: "Poland 1915-21," other files contain
abundant material pertaining to Poland, e.g., Wilson's letters
to and from Ignacy Paderewski; Paderewski's correspondence with
Georges Clemenceau, Herbert Hoover, Edith Wilson, Joseph P. Tumulty,
R. Lansing, L. Marshall, E. M. House, and R. Dmowski (co-leader
of the Polish delegation to the Paris Peace Conference); and
several letters to and from Jozef Pilsudski (the first Polish
The Robert Lansing Papers, 1890-1933; The Henry White Papers, 1812-1931. These collections contain thousands
of documents relating to these individuals' experiences as
members of the Paris Peace Conference. Lansing was Wilson's
Secretary of State, and White held diplomatic assignments in
Austria, Great Britain, Italy, France, and the Argentine Republic.
Poland between the World Wars
The Henry Morgenthau Papers, 1795-1941. The 30,000-piece
collection of diaries, correspondence, writings, and other papers
of the prominent businessman and diplomat contains correspondence
with Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Morgenthau's diary account of his
visit to Poland after World War I, and papers relating to the
treatment of Jews in Poland.
Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United
States, 1926. This is a 111-volume series containing illustrations
of representative Polish scenes and the signatures of the Polish
president, other dignitaries, and five million Polish school
children. The set was presented to President Coolidge as a
testimonial of the gratitude and friendship of the Polish people
for the United States on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration
The William Orr Papers, 1890-1939. About two-thirds
of the collection is from the period 1920-27, when Orr served
as a Y.M.C.A. adviser on education in Eastern Europe.
The Raymond Leslie Buell Papers, 1915-1984. Among the
nearly 18,000 items in the collection of this prominent educator
and prolific writer on international affairs are materials used
in his book Poland: Key to Europe.
The Charles Schuveldt Dewey Papers, 1927-1931. This
is a collection of 1,500 reports, memoranda, statistical studies,
and correspondence concerning Poland assembled by this one-time
Illinois Congressman who served as financial adviser to the Polish
Poland during and after World War II
The German Captured Documents Collections (particularly the archives from the Deutsches Auslands Institut). These
collections contain much information on the administration of
The Frank Kowalski Papers, 1907-1974. Among the 7,500
documents of this former Congressman from Connecticut are manuscripts
describing the economic, political, and social conditions in
Poland from 1945 to 1980 and a report based on interviews of
Polish-born soldiers who served in the German army before 1944.
Protest of American Women of Polish Extraction to the Women
of Germany, 1942. A petition sent to President Franklin
The W. Averell Harriman Papers, 1869-1986. This 300,000-item
collection of papers covers most aspects of the long and eventful
career of one of the century's great statesmen and includes a
number of documents pertaining to Poland, e.g., the Katyn Forest
massacre and the Yalta Conference.
Poles in the Arts
Grosvenor Family Papers, 1827-1981. The 65,000-piece
collection of papers of the prominent Massachusetts/ Washington
D.C. family contains correspondence with the Polish- born American
writer Joseph Korzeniowski Conrad.
The Elijah Walker Halford Papers, 1867-1928. Among the
correspondents of this soldier/newspaperman/private secretary
to Benjamin Harrison was the beautiful Polish actress, Helena
Modjeska, who enjoyed enormous popularity in the U.S. Other letters
to and from Modjeska are found in The Louise Chandler Moulton
Papers, 1852-1908, and The Minnie Maddern Fiske Papers,
The Library of Congress houses one of the world's largest and most
diverse collections of Polish cartographic materials. The Geography
and Map Division has custody of 2,750-3,000 single maps filed as
Polish. A precise shelf count of all single and serial maps relating
to Poland would be an impractical undertaking and would yield ambiguous
results. Partitioned by its powerful neighbors, Prussia, Austria,
and Russia, Poland literally disappeared from the map as an independent
state in 1795, not to reemerge until the end of World War I. And
within three decades, its borders were redrawn and shifted some 100
miles to the west. Consequently, many of the maps covering the territory
of present- day Poland are filed with materials from Germany/Prussia,
the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Russian Empire. The Division's
extensive collection of topographic series maps embraces the entire
territory of interwar Poland on a scale of 1:100,000. Much of the
cartographic work completed by the Germans was reissued (with place
name changes) by the Polish Military Geographic Institute. The Division
also offers 1:25,000 topographic maps covering about one-third of
present-day Poland. A rich collection of more than 200 Polish atlases
also is available.
The Polish single and series maps collections contain regional,
national, provincial, county, and city maps--some so detailed as
to indicate individual buildings and houses. The collections offer
splendid examples of every cartographic genre--annotated road maps,
maps of inland waterways, mineral deposits, historic sites, battlefields,
ethnic and linguistic groups, forests, precipitation. Among noteworthy
specimens of the cartographic art are:
Beauplan, Guillaume Le Vasseur, sieur de, d. 1670. Delineatio
generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina : cum adjacentibus
provinciis . . . Gedanum: Beauplan, 1648. A superb example
of the engraving art of Willem Hondius of Gdansk, the plate
was sold to the Polish crown in 1652. The piece is the first
separately published map to use the name "Ukraina" in the title.
(G7100 1648. B4 Vault)
Germany. Heer. Generalstab. Polnische Korridor PL25(Messtischblattformat)
Nr. 1175-6177. Berlin: 1936? A set of 355 detailed maps
of the portion of Polish Pomerania known as the "Polish Corridor." (G6522.P6
Lelewel, Joachim, 1786-1861. Atlas do dziejow polskich z
dwunastu krajobrazow zlozony. Warsaw, 1830. (G1951.S1L45
Rizzi-Zannoni, Giovanni Antonio, 1736-1814. Carte de la
Pologne divisee par provinces et palatinats et subdivisee par
districts. London: 1772. (G1950.R5 1772 Vault)
Romer, Eugeniusz, 1871-1954. Geograficzno-statystyczny atlas
polski redagowany i opracowany przez dra Eugeniusza Romera
... Cracow: Gebethner i Wolff, 1916. (G1951.G1R6 1916)
Woodrow Wilson Papers. The Proposed Frontiers of Poland. 1918.
A pen-and-ink and watercolor map, annotated in the lower margin:
Washington, October 8, 1918. The map also indicates the distribution
of ethnic groups. (G6521.F2 1918.P7 Vault)
Zaremba, Jozef. Atlas ziem odzyskanych (Atlas of the new
territories of Poland) . Warsaw: Glowny Urzad Planowania
Przestrzennego, 1947. (G1951.G1Z3 1947)
Two particularly handsome examples of uncataloged single maps,
executed by the prominent 17th century cartographers of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth Johann Baptist Homann and Frederick de Wit are filed
simply as: Homanno, I. B. "Poland 17-- ?" and de Wit, F. "Poland
and Silesia, 1649?"
Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound
For the Polish specialist, the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and
Recorded Sound Division's most important research asset is its extensive
collection of German archival films, including several thousand feature
films, newsreels, and shorts captured by the allied forces in World
War II. A large share of these films pertain to Poland, and although
frequently propagandistic in tone, they provide an important visual
record of German-Polish relations before and during the Third Reich.
Listed below in chronological order are some of the German Collection's
more interesting titles as presented in the card catalog.
Polen feiert seine Unabhangigkeit. (Poland celebrates
its independence). Footage of November 16, 1916 Independence
Day parade before General Pilsudski and later before General
Feinde (Enemies). Produced in Munich in 1940, the film
is a drama about the German minority in Poland before World War
Feldzug in Polen (Campaign in Poland), 1939. Two reels.
Einnahme von Warschau (The Capture of Warsaw), 1939.
Scenes from Occupied Poland, 1939.
Besides the German Collection, the Division offers an interesting
array of Western documentary/educational films about Poland, including:
Poland Invaded. (The Evening News, London). Rony Collection,
Poland and the Soviet Power: background to recent history.
Encyclopedia Britannica Films, 1961. A documentary record of
the changes that have taken place in Poland since 1939.
CBS News Special Report. Poland--Days of Darkness. U.S.:
CBS Television Network, December 17, 1981.
The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest. United Kingdom:
1986. A documentary about the murder of Father Popieluszko.
CBS News Special Report. Lech Walesa at Congress. United
States: CBS, November 15, 1989.
The Library's modest collection of Polish cinema includes two films
by the renowned Polish director, Andrzej Wajda (Kanal, 1957,
and Popiol i Diament, 1958; Krzysztof Kieslowski's award-winning La
Double Vie de Veronique, 1991; two films by internationally acclaimed
director Agnieszka Holland--Europa, Europa, 1990, and To
Kill a Priest, 1988; Menahem Golan's The Magician of Lublin,
based on a novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978; several films by
Roman Polanski, including the Polish-language Dwaj ludzie z szafa,
1958; and Ryszard Czekala's Syn, 1970. In addition, the American
Film Institute Collection includes a number of Yiddish-language films
produced in Poland in the 1930s and 1940s.
Prints and Photographs
With some 15 million pieces, the Prints and Photographs Division
(P&P) is the repository of an interesting array of Polish graphic
material, including photographs of prominent persons, rural and urban
landscapes, the German campaign in World War II, families in traditional
folk costume, and aspects of Jewish life. The Nazi Collection from
the F. M. J. Archiv in Munich contains many powerful images of life
in occupied Poland, including a photograph titled Blick in ein
polnisches Gefangenlager (A Look Inside a Polish Prison Camp).
P&P also houses an excellent collection of about 3,000 Polish
posters, including some extremely rare pieces, such as one by Poland's
first professional poster artist, Tadeusz Gronowski, hailing Pilsudski's
victory over Soviet forces. Among printed illustrations, the work
of seventeenth-century engraver Stephano Della Bella showing Aristotle,
Ptolemy, and Copernicus discussing astronomy is particularly handsome
Scholars exploring Poland's disproportionately large contribution
to the body of Western classical music will find a superb collection
of research materials in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.
The works of all major and many minor Polish composers have been
acquired, including numerous holograph scores. While bibliographic
control of the Music Division's holdings (now estimated at more than
eight million pieces) is being automated, the card catalogs in the
Music Reading Room provide the most comprehensive access, particularly
to material in special collections.
Considering the composer's stature, it is not surprising that
the works of Frederic Chopin are among the Division's most valued
possessions, comprising his collected works, numerous first editions
of individual pieces, and the autographed scores of his Mazurka
in B minor, Opus 33, no. 4, and his Prelude in A-flat major, op.
posth. Another treasure, the Paderewski collection, includes the
second draft of his Minuet in G, Opus 14. Autograph scores by Karol
Szymanowski, Tadeusz Kassern, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Wieniawski,
Tadeusz Jarecki, and numerous less known composers also are available.
American Folklife Center
The largest archive of ethnographic materials in the United States,
the American Folklife Center (AFC) houses a collection of more than
one million pieces, including manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs,
video tapes, and a wide range of ephemera. The Polish American community
is amply represented among AFC holdings. Much of this material is
the result of fieldwork conducted in Polish communities across the
United States and Canada. A noteable example of such fieldwork was
the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project, conducted in 1977. The project collected
extensive data on more than 20 ethnic groups in the Chicago area
and focused on folk music, dancing, crafts, and performers. Polish
subjects account for a large share of the field notes, the 335 sound
recordings, the 3,700 color transparencies, and the 300 rolls of
black-and-white film that came out of the project. Over the years,
the AFC has brought many ethnic music and dance groups to perform
at the Library, and photographs of their live performances can be
viewed, e.g., Chicago's Highlanders performing at the Coolidge Auditorium
of the Library of Congress in January 1977.
Related material on the Library of Congress website:
European Division Online Publications by Country/Region
Poland Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture