Archival Fonds No. 151

Photography Collection
Biography / History: Donations from various Polish-American organizations constitute the main source of this collection, among them from: the Committee for National Defense, National Committee of Americans of Polish ancestry, and the Committee of Aid to “Solidarity” in New York. Some of the pre-war photographs come from the Military Institute for Research and Publishing, and from the Graphics Department of the Polish Telegraph Agency’s Press Bureau. The period of WWII and the history of the years of political exile had been documented through materials received from the World Organization of Poles in Exile (Światpol) and from the Polish Information Center in New York. The aim of this last entity was to provide materials concerning the Polish war effort and the Polish military to Polish publicity agencies in the United States as well as to the American press. After the Polish Government-in-Exile in London ceased to be recognized by the Western powers in 1954, all the materials from the Polish Information Center, including a valuable photograph collection, were turned over to the Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York and the Hoover Institute in Stanford. Part of the photograph collection was donated by the Polish-American Council which had been providing aid to the civilian population during WWII. The collection had also been enriched by individual gifts. Artur Waldo, a well-known historian of American Polonia, offered an interesting collection of photographs related to the Polish “Sokół” association, to the life of other Polish organizations in the United States, to choirs, and committees, as well as to sites connected with Kościuszko and Puławski. Captain Marek Mażyński from California, donated photographs related to the Polish air force from the interwar period (1918-1939), and to the period of the “Solidarity” movement. From colonel Edward Kleszczyński’s collection came the photographs on the history of Polish cavalry and biographical history of general Kazimierz Sosnkowski, while from that of colonel Jerzy Zaremba pictures from the military campaigns of the Independent Brigade of Carpathian Riflemen (Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Karpackich) and of the Second Polish Corps (II Korpus).
Abstract: this collection contains in excess of 20,000 items and its historical value is significant. In the individual section of 970 items there are several photographs, many of them autographed, of outstanding individuals who played an important role in Polish political and economic life, both in their native country and abroad in exile. Among them: Ignacy Jan Paderewski, generals Władysław Sikorski, Władysław Anders, Józef Haller, and Tóadeusz Bór-Komorowski, and marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły. Of more recent history there is an interesting collection related to Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, murdered by the Communist regime. A separate section of this collection, consisting of some 653 items, concerns Józef Piłsudski, the Institute’s patron; it is subdivided into the following groups: the Marshal’s portraits, his family, visits and sojourns in various places, his funeral and related commemorations, and the Legions. The collection of photographs dealing with the Legions and other military formations up to 1918 is quite modest, consisting of mere 320 items. However, the interwar period of the Second Republic is richly represented by 2149 items, split into subgroups: domestic political affairs, foreign affairs, war of 1920, the Uprising in Wielkopolska, the economy, New York World Fair, the Polish armed forces, and specific aspects of cultural and economic activities. The most extensive collection pertains to WWII, illustrating the war history of Poles, within the country and on foreign fronts: the September (1939) campaign, Polish troops in France, the battle of Narvik, Polish forces in England, the Polish navy, air force, and general Anders’s army (USSR, Iran), the Independent Brigade of Carpathian Riflemen (the battle of Tobruk), Third Polish Division of Carpathian Riflemen, the Polish Army in the Middle East, Second Polish Corps in Italy, First Armored Division, Women’s Auxiliary Forces, Polish children in the USSR, in the Near East, in Africa, and in India. This part of the collection amply illustrates the fate of Poles in German concentration camps and prisoner-of-war camps, life in Poland under German occupation, the Warsaw Uprising, the Home Army (AK) the war-time destruction of the country, and the Katyń massacre by the Russians. An important group of photographs illustrates the activities of the Polish government-in exile (government under W. Sikorski, S. Mikołajczyk, T. Arciszewski, W. Raczkiewicz).The lion’s share of these photographs relate to General Sikorski, including his funeral. The post-war period is amply documented, including the inauguration of the military cemetery of Monte Cassino. A large segment of the collection is dedicated to Poland and the world after 1945, including UN, UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration), daily life in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). A great deal of items has to do with the life and activities of the Polish Pope, John Paul II. In the segment dedicated to “Solidarity’ and the activities of the democratic opposition in Poland, valuable photographs come from the exhibition “Events from 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1980” organized in 1981 in the Old Gallery (ZPAF) in Castle Square in Warsaw. Also the same segment includes photographs from the 1956 events in Poznań, and later ones of 1968 and 1970, as well as from the period of “Solidarity”, martial law, and underground “Solidarity”, up to 1990. A rich collection dedicated to cities and architecture includes photographs of Poland’s historical capitals: Kraków and Warsaw, as well as Poland’s historical eastern territories: Lwów and Wilno. While this part of the collection is still not finalized, the photographs are sorted by sites and arranged in alphabetical order. Photographs related to the Polish community in the USA (Polonia) contains pictures of the Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York, the Committee for National Defense, National Committee of Americans of Polish Ancestry, and Polish National Alliance. This collection has been as yet only partly classified. Specific write-ups into the computer data base had been done on the following sections: 1) personal archives, 2) Józef Piłsudski, 3) the Legions and other military formations, 4) the Second Polish Republic, 5) Solidarity and the democratic opposition. Partial classification has been completed for WWII. Remaining sections have been arranged thematically and supplied with a general description of their contents.
Series (in Polish):

No

Title

Dates

Lang.

1 Archiwum osobowe -  
2 Józef Piłsudski -  
3 Legiony, inne formacje wojskowe, wydarzenia do 1918 roku -  
4 II Rzeczpospolita -  
5 II wojna światowa -  
6 Powojenne, demobilizacja -  
7 Polska i świat po 1945 roku -  
8 „Solidarność” i opozycja antykomunistyczna -  
9 Miasta, architektura -  
10 Polonia -  
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