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Polish resources

Site: Postgraduate online research training
Course: a PORT for Modern Languages
Book: Polish
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Date: Wednesday, 8 April 2020, 10:01 AM

Polish resources

When you start looking for a source that is not available in your College or University library, you have several other options. You can look for it

The majority of these institutions have an online catalogue, which means you do not need to phone, email or go there. However, before choosing the institution that you think is the most likely to have your source remember that many countries (including the United Kingdom and Poland) have META-OPACs, that is, online catalogues which collect all the OPACs of a certain area. COPAC, for example, collect major British OPACs; ..... collects major online Polishcatalogues. And there are even META-OPACs which allow to do online bibliographical searches of different nationalOPACs at once. This facility gives you the greatest overview of what is available on a trans-national level. We therefore suggest you should start by having a look at the META-OPACs relevant to Polish Studies, included in our

Although META-OPACs permit you to scan a massive amount of books (authors, titles, and subjects), this information will not include any articles. So, if you are looking for secondary literature, especially articles and chapters in books, the best way of resourcing these materials is to consult the

MLA International Bibliography which will be available on CD-ROM or in print at your University Library. The MLA International Bibliography provides a listing and subject index for books and articles published in modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. It indexes over 50000 books and articles each year.

1. resources in Poland

Since the majority of Polish cities has at least one library, one archive and a cultural centre, we decided to group different institutions in three sections, that is:

1.1 archives

State Archives

The Polish State Archives have sections in all voivodeship capitals, as well as in other towns and cities. This map shows the geographical area covered by each branch of the State Archives.

The two main national archives are the Central Archives of Historical Records (AGAD) and the Central Archives of Modern Records (AAN), both in Warsaw. AGAD holds records to 1918, while AAN covers the period from 1918 to the present day. Information on how to access the archives can be found here.

The State Archives' main database search facility offers details on all of the branches holdings nationwide to series level at a minimum. Some archives have catalogued their holdings to the very detailed file level. Currently, facility makes a detailed search very simple applies only to the State Archives in Poznanand Lublin, the Warsaw Capital City Archives, and also to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, which the largest archives on twentieth-century Polish History outside Poland.

The State Archives also run the National Digital Archive (NAC). The physical archive of photographs, sound recordings and video recordings is housed in the same building as AAN, but has limited space for users. However, the National Digital Archive has made some materials available online.

Ministerial archives

Various Polish government ministries and offices run their own archives, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MSZ) and Ministry of Defence (MON).

The Chancellery of the Prime Minister (KPRM) Archives hold interesting archival documents on recent history and the communist period.

Other historical archives

There are various organisations in Poland that run archives concentrating primarily on recent history.

The Karta Centre in Warsaw runs several archives dealing with different aspects of Polish and Central-Eastern European History. It has an Opposition Archive concentrating on anti-communist activities throughout the postwar period, with documentation including oral history recordings, publications, personal papers, secret police documents and photographs. Karta's Eastern Archive documents: the experience of Soviet occupation in the former Polish eastern borderlands during World War II, the deportation of Poles to the depths of the USSR and Poles' experiences of forced migration. The archive includes oral history recordings, diaries, personal documents, photographs and copies of documents from Soviet, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Polish archives.

Karta also runs a Photography Archive in conjunction with the Sikorski Institute in London and the website. The Photography Archive is divided thematically, and includes sections on: the events of March 1968; Jews in prewar Lviv, postwar Poland and Jews in the war; the Anders Army; Warsaw Cycling Association; everyday life in Silesia and 1950s Warsaw; women in communist Poland; Poznan's Theatre of the Eighth Day; grafitti, and many other subjects.

The Institute of National Memory (IPN) is a government-sponsored institution which holds archives on Polish history from 1939 to 1990, and is also engaged in significant publishing and education activities. It also has the power to prosecute those responsible for crimes against the Polish nation. The central archive is in Warsaw, but there are other branches in several Polish cities, with large collections in Katowice and Wrocław. IPN holdings include documents from the communist-era secret police, various ministries and official institutions.

Polish Academy of Sciences Archive
The archive contains documents and sources on the Academy of Sciences and other academic and scientific institutions in Poland.

The European Solidarity Centre (ECS) in Gdansk holds archives on the Solidarity trade union and general opposition movement against communist in Poland. There is also a digital archive on Solidarity.

The Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH) in Warsaw holds archives on the history of Jews and Jewish life in Poland and beyond, with the earliest documents coming from the eighteenth century. A list of its collections is available here.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum has an oral history archive, with some of the materials transcribed and available online. 

Cultural archives

Filmoteka Narodowa
The National Film Archive in Warsaw holds documents on Polish cinema, including scripts, photos, materials from communist-era assessment commissions, press clippings, as well as a large library of books on cinema.

Instytut Teatralny
The Theatre Institute in Warsaw holds a large collection of theatre-related documentation, including photos, video recordings, posters, ministerial archival documents and personal files on theatre artists, and press clippings on varioustheatre productions. It also runs the portal, which collects reviews and articles on recent Polishtheatre work, with some entries translated into English. It also has information on older theatre productions.

Cricoteka - Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor
This is the official archive for the work of Tadeusz Kantor, artist and leader of the Cricot theatre group.

The Grotowski Institute Archive
The centre documents and promotes the activities of Jerzy Grotowski, and possesses a significant archive of materials. It is making more of these available online through the portal

Polish Television Archives (Ośrodek Dokumentacji i Zbiorów Programowych TVP)
The state television company TVP runs an archive on its activities and programmes.

Muzeum Literatury, Warsaw
The collections of the Museum of Literature in Warsaw include significant holdings of manuscripts, most notably of the works of Adam Mickiewicz. Other authors represented in the collections include Henryk Sienkiewicz, Stefan Żeromski,Jerzy Andrzejewski, Tadeusz Różewicz, Bruno Schulz and Maria Dąbrowska. It also possesses over four thousand voice recordings. The Raczyński Libarary in Poznan also holds significant collections on Sienkiewicz and Kraszewski. Meanwhile, Stanisław Wyspiański is best represented at the Museum dedicated to him in Krakow.

National Library, Warsaw
The manuscripts section of the National Library (BN) contains documents on and by all of the above-mentioned authors, as well as having significant collections of older Polish literature and deposits from more recent writers, including Czesław Miłosz and Zbigniew Herbert.

Polish Radio Archives (Archiwum Polskiego Radio)
Polish Radio keeps thorough archives of its work, with some archival recordings even available to search and listen to online. It also holds significant collections of Polish music.

Polish Music Information Centre (PCIM)
Run by the Polish Union of Composers, this library and archive holds the largest collection of music scores by contemporary composers in Poland. It also has a large collection of music recordings and related publications.

1.2 cultural institutions

These are public centres which offer a variety of different resources, materials, services for the study of Polish literatures and cultures. What we list here is, of course, not an exhaustive summary of all the cultural institutions in Poland, we are merely giving examples.


Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (MKiDN)
The Ministry provides a list of links to potential sources of funding for creative artists and researchers.

Adam Mickiewicz Institute
The Institute coordinates the promotion of Polish culture around the world.

Narodowe Centrum Kultury
The National Centre of Culture promotes culture throughout the country, and also gives support to professionals working in the cultural sector.

Wspólnota Polska
The Polish Community is an NGO sponsored by the Polish Senate which promotes Poland, Polish culture and the Polish language among Poles abroad and the diaspora.

Semper Polonia Foundation
The Foundation aims to support young members of the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad, as well as promote the cause of Poland and Polish culture generally, including protecting Polish cultural heritage and supporting Poles' achievements throughout the world.

Scientific and Academic

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW)
The website provides an overview of higher education and research in Poland, while also listing job vacancies at Universities and funding opportunities.

The Foundation for Polish Science
The Foundation is a self-financing NGO and the largest non-governmental body for academic research funding.

The Polish Rectors Foundation
This NGO works towards the development of Polish education, learning and culture, particularly in the sphere of higher education, together with partners in the private sector.


The Stefan Batory Foundation
The Stefan Batory Foundation was founded by George Soros with the aim of working towards open and democratic society on the local, national and international levels.

The International Culture Centre, Krakow
The  International Cultural Centre focuses on a multidimensional approach to cultural heritage, including the legacy of  European civilisation, Central Europe’s multiculturalism, memory and identity, dialogue between cultures and societies. The Centre also hosts various exhibitions, meetings, promotes research and houses a library.

Krytyka Polityczna
A left-liberal organisation operated by the Stanisław Brzozowski Foundation, which publishes a journal and runs discussion clubs throughout Poland and also abroad. The portal, like the journal, presents articles and discussions concerning issues significant in contemporary Poland.

Manifa - 8 March Women's Coalition
An informal coalition of feminist and gender rights activists.

A feminist information portal and bookshop, supporting women's rights, discussing gender issues and  promoting women's writing.


State Archives
The Polish State Archives have branches throughout Poland. It is also responsible for the National Digital Archive.

The Karta Foundation and Centre in Warsaw is an NGO which documents and publishes the wartime and postwar history of Poland and Central-Eastern Europe. It has significant documentary, oral history and photographic archives on subjects including opposition to communism, forced migration and deportations to the USSR during and after the war, and also everyday life under communism.

Institute of National Memory (IPN)
The state-sponsored Institute publishes on Polish history during and after World War II, exploring in particular Polish suffering at the hands of Nazis and communists. It holds significant archives, including secret police materials, and also engages in educational work, such as presenting exhibitions.

The Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences
The research-centred Institute explores Polish and world history from the Middle Ages to the present day. It has specialist sections including Medieval Society and History, Post-1945 Polish History, the History of Mass Migrations, and the History of Polish-German Relations. It is highly active in publishing and also conducts many collaborative research projects.

The Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
The Institute holds notable archives on the history of Jews in Poland and beyond. It also hosts various exhibitions. Meanwhile, is the Portal of the Jewish community in Poland.

Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw
This Museum is to open in 2013.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
The Memorial and Museum includes an archive and museum collections.

State Museum at Majdanek
The Museum includes an archive and museum collections.

European Solidarity Centre, Gdansk
The Centre houses a library and archive on Solidarity and opposition to communism more generally, while also hosting exhibitions and meetings.

Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe
This independent, non-profit organisation works towards European understanding and cooperation, opposing intolerance and discrimination. It explores questions including memory and ecology, and works keenly with young people from around Europe hosting them at its centre in Lower Silesia.

The Museum of the Polish Peasant Movement (MHPRL)
The Museum's main collections are in Warsaw, with smaller branches in the town of Sandomierz and the village ofPiaseczno, near Tczew. The Museum has an archive in Warsaw and in Piaseczno with significant collections of documents and autobiographies by Polish peasants and activists. The Archive is run in coordination with the Peasant Party (PSL) Archive.

The Museum of Farming, Agriculture and Rural Life in Szreniawa
The Museum has over 20,000 artefacts in its collections which are on display and also available for research.

Museum of the the History of Poland (MHP)
This website highlights the development of the concepts for contents and exhibition in this Museum.

Art, Design and Architecture

National Heritage Board of Poland (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa)
The Board promotes, protects and documents the national heritage of Poland. It also has a library in Warsaw.

The National Institute of Museology and Collections Protection (NIMOZ)
The Institute works towards promoting high standards in museum curation and the protection of collections. It promotes innovation in museums and in the use of collections. It has a thorough database of museums in Poland.

The Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
While holding significant collections of contemporary works, the museum is also highly active in curating and archiving art and the artworld. Other notable art museums in Poland include Łódź Museum of ArtNational Museum in Warsaw and MOCAK in Krakow.

Central Museum of Textiles, Łódź
The Museum promotes Polish fashion and textile design, while also exploring the heritage and history of the textile industry, which was central to the development of Łódź.

The Museum of Architecture, Wrocław
Poland's only architecture museum; as well as organising exhibitions, it also supports research and educational work.

Language and Literature 

The Book Institute (Instytut Książki)
The Institute, a Ministry of Culture initiative, promotes reading and literature in Poland, while also supporting Polish literature abroad.

Polonicum - Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners at the University of Warsaw

The Polish Language and Culture Centre for Polish People from Abroad and Foreigners at UMCS Lublin

Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN)
The Institute's research concentrates on Polish literary history, literary theory, cultural history, literary archives and lexicography.

The Institute of the Polish Language of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IJP PAN)
The only research centre in Poland that examines the Polish language in all its aspects and variations. It explores the history of the Polish language, its structure, dialects, contemporary usage and grammar.

The Museum of Romanticism in Opinogóra near Ciechanów
The Museum has significant collections on Polish Romanticism, with notable library holdings, including manuscripts, on Zygmunt Krasiński, with large collections also concerning Polish exiles.

The Museum of Literature, Warsaw
The Museum has significant manuscript and archival holdings, particularly of Adam Mickiewicz's works.

Nike Literary Prize
This is Poland's most prestigious literary award.

Związek Literatów Polskich
This is the Polish Writer's Association, with a portal presenting the Association's magazine Literaci.

This is the Polish Society of Authors and Composers, which protects authors' and creative artists' copyright and promotes their work.

Music, Film and Performance

The Fryderyk Chopin Institute
The Institute promotes Chopin's music, organising concerts and conferences around the world, while also supporting academic research on Chopin and his work.

The Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT)
Founded in 2010, the Institute promotes Polish music and dance, supports educational and research activities in the fields and coordinates archival work.

The Polish Film Institute (PISF)
Europe's newest film institute aims to promote, develop and support Polish cinema. 

Filmoteka Narodowa
The National Film Archive documents Poland's cinematographic heritage, supporting a library and an archive.

Museum of Cinematography, Łódź
This museum is located in the city that has been at the centre of Poland's film industry.

Instytut Teatralny
The Theatre Institute promotes and supports Polish theatre and theatre studies. It runs an important archive and coordinates the portal which has a huge database of contemporary theatre reviews.

The Grotowski Institute - An archive, library and work centre promoting the work of Jerzy Grotowski.

Cricoteka - The Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor, including his work as theatre director and visual artist.

The National Audiovisual Institute (NInA)
The aim of the Institute is to record and document significant events and moments in Polish culture, while also working towards the digitalisation and digital dissemination of existing cultural heritage. Some of its work can be watched and listened to here

Polish Media Websites

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland's best-selling quality daily; it has a liberal orientation. Its weekend edition features a magazine supplement Wysokie Obcasy which focuses on women's issues and cultural matters.Gazeta Wyborcza also has an up-to-the-minutes news portal.

Rzeczpospolita - a centre-right daily with influential opinion pieces and editorials. The team behind the newspaper have created UważamRze, which quickly became one of Poland's best-selling weekly news magazines.

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - a centrist daily newspaper.

Nasz Dziennik - a right-wing Catholic newspaper from the media group of Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, which also includes Radio Maryja and TV Trwam.

Fakt - a tabloid and Poland's best-selling daily newspaper.

Super Express - Poland's second-best-selling tabloid daily.

Polityka - a leading weekly news magazine with a focus on current affairs, politics, history and culture.

Wprost - another leading weekly news and current affairs magazine.

Newsweek Polska - the very successful Polish edition of the weekly.

Przekrój - a weekly current affairs magazine, with a strong focus on culture and the arts, as well as news.

Przegląd - a left-leading weekly current affairs, news and cultural magazine.

Tygodnik Powszechny - the renowned liberal Catholic weekly with a focus on culture and history, as well as news and religious affairs.

Gość Niedzielny - a high-selling Catholic news and religious affairs weekly.

Lampa - an arts and literature monthly.

Ha!Art - an arts and literature quarterly.

Zeszyty Literackie - a leading literature quarterly.

Teskty Drugie - a literature and literary theory journal published by IBL PAN.

Zadra (Splinter) - a feminist and gender issues quarterly.

Teatr - a leading theatre monthly.

Notatnik Teatralny - a leading theatre journal.

Didaskalia - an important theatre quarterly.

Dialog - an important drama and theatre monthly which showcases new dramatists.

Kino - a film and cinema monthly.

Polskie Radio - Polish Radio's internet portal, which also includes some archival materials.

TOK FM - a news and current affairs-based radio station.

TVP - the Polish State broadcaster, which has its own news channel.

TVP Polonia - television channel aimed at the Polish diaspora.

TVP Kultura - television channel with a strong focus on Polish culture.

Kino Polska - television channel dedicated to Polish cinema and classic television series.

TVN24 - a news channel.

Polsat News - a news channel.

The Warsaw Voice - Poland's first English-Language Weekly.

PAP's on-line English Service- based on PAP's Polish-language service, it runs 6 days a week and is prepared by experienced journalists and translators.

1.3 libraries


Biblioteka Narodowa - The Polish National Library
The National Library in Warsaw has over nine million items in its collections, with specialist sections includingdocuments of social life in Poland, musicaudio-visual materials and manuscripts, with over 20,000 items, the earliest of which are from the sixteenth century. The Library's online catalogue contains a large portion of the materials available, although part of the collections are yet to be cataloged. Details of how to acquire a reader card are available here. The University also has numerous departmental libraries with significant holdings.

Ossolineum - Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich
The Ossolineum Library in Wrocław has large collections of books, manuscripts, documents on everyday life, maps and journals. Its oldest holdings were transferred from Lwów/Lviv after World War II.


All Universities in Poland, both state and private, have libraries. This is a selection of links to some of the largest and most renowned collections.

The Warsaw University Library

This modern library in central Warsaw has significant collections, a large portion of which are available on open-access shelves - something still quite unusual in Polish academic libraries. The Library's catalogue is available here, although not all holdings have as yet been incorporated. The Library issues reader cards  to non-students for a small fee (around 12 zlotys).

Jagiellonian University Library in Krakow
The library at Poland's oldest university is open to the public, with foreign users required to present their passport to gain a reader card. The library has a section dealing with underground publications, underground audio-visual materials and photographs from the communist period, while also holding materials on Solidarity and other oppositionorganisations.

University Library, Poznan
This is the library of Adam Mickiewicz University, holding arts, humanities and social sciences collections.

The Gdansk University Library
The library has considerable holdings in its main building and in numerous departmental libraries. A catalogue details collections added after 1989.

The Library of the University of Torun
The Nicolaus Copernicus University Library in Torun alongside its academic collections hold archives on Polish exile and emigration.

Other significant university libraries include:

Wrocław University Library

Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) Library

Marie Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS), Lublin, Library

Library of the University of Silesia

Łódź University Library

Specialized and municipal libraries

The Polish Academy of Sciences has numerous specialist subject libraries, with links to their individual cataloguesavailable here. The Academy's specialist libraries include those at the Institute of History, the Institute of Slavic StudiesInstitute of Literary StudiesInstitute of Art, which also includes significant audio recording collections, and Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology. The University of Warsaw's Department of Philosophy and Sociology, the Polish Philosophical Association and the Academy's Institute of Philosophy and Sociology run a joint library.

The Polish Academy of Sciences also has more general libraries outside Warsaw.

Polish Academy of Sciences Gdansk Library (BG PAN)
This library holds rich collections in various fields, including cartography, numismatics, theatre, music and history, spanning several centuries. The library has contributed to the Pomeranian Digital Library, which has put online some older documents and publications.

The Kórnik Library of the Academy of Science
This library, located in central Poznan and in Kórnik 20 km away, specialises in Polish literature and history. It has significant collections of manuscripts, including Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady part III and works by Juliusz Słowacki. It also hold letters by Tadeusz Kościuszko and Napoleon, among others. Some of its holdings are available on the Digital Library of Wielkopolska (WBC), where various older documents, newspapers and journals can be viewed online.

Polish Academy of Learning Library in Krakow
This specialist humanities library is run jointly by the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and the Polish Academy of Learning (PAU). Alongside large holdings of academic books, it also holds significant collections of engravings and prints, music and manuscripts.

Książnica Pomorska (Pomeranian Library)
This large library in Szczecin has a large collection of academic publications, as well as specialist holdings in family history - including archives, a large archive of letters by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy), numerous autobiographies, maps and manuscripts.

The Raczyński Library in Poznan
The library holds academic, non-academic and specialist collections over several sites in the city, with dedicatedspecialised libraries including a music library and an art library.

The Library of Poznan Society of Friends of Arts and Sciences (PTPN)
This specialist arts and humanities library has also significant holdings in German. The Library has specialist manuscript, iconography, cartographic and nineteenth-century collections.

Instytut Zachodni Library, Poznan
The Institute of Western Affairs in Poznan has significant holdings, primarily in German and Polish, on Polish-German relations, German and Polish history and society, as well as significant collections of autobiographies from the communist period.

Filmoteka Narodowa
A specialist film studies library in Warsaw with over four thousand books, also offering access to significant archives.

Instytut Teatralny
A specialist theatre studies library in Warsaw, also offering access to archives.

2. resources in the UK

There are several institutions that hold Polish materials in Britain. They can be classified in the following categories:

2.1 archives

The National Archives
This is the national achive of England, Wales and the United Kingdom. It brings together and preserves the records of the central government and the courts of law. The records span an unbroken period from the 11th century to the present day. Their website runs a database search engine to help you find the records you need. They also have several searchable databases to help you find out about records held by other archives.

Arts and Humanities Data Service
As a postgraduate student in humanities you will find this service useful and relevant. It includes 5 different domains:

  • Archaeology Data Service
  • Visual Arts Data Service
  • Oxford Text Archive
  • Performing Arts Data Service
  • History Data Service

Piłsudski Institute Archive, London
The Archive holds significant documentation on Józef Piłsudski and the Legions, the life of Polish émigrés in Britain, the Polish-Bolshevik War - including an archive of the Polish military leadership - and materials concerning Solidarity and the anti-communist underground. The archive is supplemented by the significant library collections which focus on Polish history since 1863. More detailed information on the holdings of the Institute can be found using the search engine of the Polish State Archives. The Piłsudski Institute Archive also has numerous photographs and maps.

Sikorski Institute Archive, London
The Archive has significant materials concerning the Polish military and goverment-in-exile during World War II, with the documents covering official institutions as well as personal papers.

Archives Hub is a portal bringing together descriptions of thousands of the UK's archive collections and representing nearly 300 institutions across the country.

AIM25 is a database of archives and manuscript collections from many of London's higher education institutions, learned societies, cultural organisations and City livery companies.

2.2 cultural institutions

The Polish Cultural Institute
Based in London, the Polish Cultural Institute is a diplomatic mission of Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It promotes contemporary Polish culture in Britain, covering the visual arts, film, theatre, music and literature.

The Polish Embassy in London

The Polish Consulate in London, which also has a Consulate General in Edinburgh and Manchester.

The Polish Educational Society (PMS)
This institution has some fifty Polish Saturday Schools under its patronage in the UK and provides them with manuals and other teaching aids, trains Polish teachers, organises GCSE and AS and A Level exams, publishes periodicals and runs a bookshop selling English and Polish books, periodicals and music tapes.

The Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK)
Based in Hammersmith, London, POSK serves the Polish community while also promoting Poland and Polish culture more broadly. Its centre houses a library, museum, theatre, bookshop and café.

The Association of Polish Combatants in Great Britain (SPK)
The Association has branches throughout the country and supports Polish servicemen who found themselves in Britain as a result of World War II.

Polish Art Europe
PAE promotes Polish art and culture by organising exhibitions and film festivals, most notably Play Poland, which toured the UK in 2011.

Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange
Run by the Polish Ministry of Education it is a useful source for those wishing to study and/or research in Poland.

British Association of Slavonic and European Studies (BASEES)
BASEES promotes arts, humanities and social science research on Central and Eastern Europe in the United Kingdom and beyond. It holds an annual conference in Cambridge in late March/early April.

There are Polish studies courses at the University of Glasgow in arts and in social sciences, UCL-SSEES, Edinburgh (short Polish language courses), Sheffield and Cambridge.

Congress of Polish Student Societies
An association of Polish student societies from universities around Great Britain.

This institution offers a wide range of Polish language courses at all levels.

2.3 libraries

We cannot list all the libraries in the UK holding Polish resources. So before checking one of the larger libraries on this page, always search the catalogues of your University library first, and those which are in your neigbourhood. University libraries tend to have different specialisms depending on the research interests of the lecturers and researchers associated with the institution, so collections may vary considerably. Be creative when doing your research and use COPAC to locate your materials.

The British Library
The British Library is one of the world's most important libraries. It holds over 150 million items. You can search thecatalogues and order copies of some documents online. You will also find many electronic resources. Access is free but you need to get a reader's pass. Photocopying, microfilming, photographic and digital services are available but be warned: charges are very high. If you can copy the materials elsewhere, then do so. See the special webpages dedicated to the Polish Collections of the British Library. The collections include first editions of the classics of Polish Romanticism and a large number of books and documents on Solidarity and the anti-communist underground.

Bodleian Library at Oxford
This is the main research library of Oxford University, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library, having a stock of 6 million volumes. Admission is free to members of Oxford University, and to other bona fide scholars on production of a suitable letter of recommendation and proof of identity. Graduate students affiliated to universities and colleges funded by the higher education funding councils of the UK or the Republic of Ireland are exempt from payment. Specific information on its Polish collections is available here.

Cambridge University Library
This library has more than 5 million books and more than 1.5 million serial volumes. For vacation access only your student ID is required, although during term time and for the section Manuscripts & Rare Books you have to produce a letter from your supervisor. Students from foreign universities are subject to an administration charge of £10 for six months. The library holds over 20,000 items in its Polish collections.

The Taylor Institution Library (Oxford)
The Taylor Institution Library is devoted to modern languages and has a total stock of over 500,000 volumes - it is the largest specialist library in its field in the UK. Its collection concentrates on the literary and philological aspects of continental European culture, but also contains much background materials in fields such as history and philosophy.

School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library at UCL
This is one of the the largest specialist libraries on Central and Eastern Europe in the UK. Its Polish collections contain over 25,000 books and pamphlets, while the Library also holds significant collections of Polish and Poland-related journals.

University of London Library: Senate House
The University of London Library is one of the major academic libraries of the United Kingdom. Access is free for all postgraduates (although you have to show proof of identity and get a card). However, lending rights are only given automatically to University of London students and staff. Anyone else has to pay a fee (there are various different categories). Photocopying (also onto CDs) is available at a reasonable rate.

University of Glasgow Library
This holds large collections of books, journals and periodicals on the Central and Eastern European Region in fields including the arts, literature, history, and social and economic studies. The University's Language Library also has a significant collection of Polish films.

National Library of Scotland
The NLS holds some Slavonic collections, focusing on the humanities. However, it stopped regular purchases of Polish materials in 1995. It does, though, maintain a strong reference section of more recent Polish publications.

Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) Library, London
POSK houses a research library and archive with a focus on Polish émigré publications. It also has significant collections of periodical, newspapers and manuscripts, including the Joseph Conrad collection. 

Piłsudski Institute Library, London
Housed in the same centre as POSK, the reference-only library holds significant book and journal collections focusing on Polish history since 1863. The library is run in conjunction with an archive, which includes considerable amounts of documentation on Piłsudski, Polish émigrés in Britain, the Polish-Bolshevik war, and also some materials on communist-era opposition and exile.

British Film Institute Library
The BFI Library provides access to a large collection of documentation and information on film and television including Polish films and scripts.

The National Art Library - Victoria and Albert Museum
NAL is both a major reference library and the Victoria and Albert Museum's curatorial department for the art, craft and design of the book, with a special collection of prints, drawings and paintings.

3. Resources in the rest of the world

3.1 archives

Hoover Institution, Stanford University
The largest collection of historical documents on Poland outside the country. The focus is the twentieth-century history of Poland, with significant collections on the interwar period, Polish experiences in the war - including JanKarski's papers - and also secret police materials and opposition documents from the communist period. The collection is split into three categories: before WWII, the war itself, and after WWII.

Piłsudski Institute of America, New York
The Institute's Archives are second only to the Hoover Institution in size for collections outside Poland. The Archives comprise materials from the prewar Piłsudski Institute for Research on the Modern History of Poland and also materials donated by members of the Polish diaspora and others. The archives are particularly valuable for research on the interwar period.

PIASA - Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, New York
The Institute is home to a significant library and also archives which include materials on interwar political parties, embassy documents, and writers' and scholars' personal papers. The Institute is a significant centre for the study of Polish Americans and the diaspora in South America.

Yad-Vashem - The International Institute for Holocaust Research
Among the Institute's archives are documents on the history of Jews from Poland.

Yivo - Institute for Jewish Research
The Institute has notable materials on the life of East European Jewry.

Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv
These Archives hold significant materials on the history of the city of Lviv/ Lvov/ Lemberg/ Leopolis/ Lwów, which has a mixed Ukrainian-Polish-Jewish-Austrogerman heritage.

Federal Archives, Germany
The various centres of the Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) offer documentation on areas of Poland that were once German.

Archives Portal Europe provides access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent. 

3.2 cultural institutions

The Kościuszko Foundation
The Kościuszko Foundation promotes cultural and education exchanges between Poland and the United States. Its activities include organizing academic exchanges and offering scholarships.

Polish Cultural Institute in New York and Institut Polonais Paris
Both promote and support contemporary Polish culture in their respective countries; a full list of Polish Cultural Institutes around the world can be found here.

Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies
Formerly the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, it works towards promoting knowledge about Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Its journal is Slavic Review.

Association for Women in Slavic Studies
AWSS sponsors research and teaching for scholars interested in gender studies and women's studies in the region.

Deutsches Polen Institut, Darmstadt
The Institute is an academic research centre focusing on Poland, Polish-German relations and European integration. It houses a significant library.

Herder Institut, Marburg
A leading centre for historical research on Central and Eastern Europe and is associated to the Giessen Centre for Eastern European Studies.

In the United States, Universities that offer Polish studies include: Indiana-BloomingtonSUNY Buffalo,ColumbiaCentral Connecticut State UniversityFloridaWisconsin-MadisonBerkeley and Harvard.

In Canada, Polish can be studied at Toronto and Alberta.

In Germany, there are Polish Studies courses at MainzBerlin-HumboldtBerlin-FreiePotsdamBochum,RegensburgBambergGöttingenHeidelberg and Hamburg.

In Switzerland, the University of Zurich and Fribourg and Bern jointly offer courses, as does Vienna in Austria.

In France, the Sorbonne in Paris offers Slavonic Studies while the University of Toulouse II - Le Mirail offers Polish Studies.

There are also Polish studies at Tokyo University.

3.3 libraries

National Libraries with resources relevant to Polish studies and Polish culture

The Polish Collections in the Library of Congress
These include nearly 150,000 books in Polish with many more volumes concerning Poland available there in other languages. A significant portion of the collections are in the field of history.

University and Specialized Libraries

Deutsches Polen Institut in Darmstadt
The Institute has a specialist library with around 58,000 volumes concentrating on Polish-German relations and cultural exchange.

Herder Institut, Marburg
The Herder Institut specialises in research on Central and Eastern Europe. Its research library has large Polish collections, with a particular focus on history.

Bavarian State Library
The East European Collections are the Library's largest specialist section and include large numbers of books on Polish subjects.

Bibliothek des Osteuropa Instituts, Freie Universität, Berlin
The library of the University's Eastern European Institute has over 350,000 volumes, including significant numbers of works concerning Poland.

Hoover Institution, Stanford University
The largest collection of historical documents on Poland outside the country. The focus is the twentieth-century history of Poland, with significant collections on the interwar period, Polish experiences in the war - including JanKarski's papers - and also secret police materials and opposition documents from the communist period. The collection is split into three categories: before WWIIthe war itself, and after WWII.

Widener Library, Harvard University
Harvard's largest collection of Slavonics-related materials are housed at the Widener, though other libraries also have relevant materials. Of particular note at this library is the collection of underground and Solidarity publications from Poland.

University of Kansas Library
The University of Kansas has invested in Polish studies collections, hosted here.

Indiana University, Bloomington
The University library has over 50,000 books in Polish and is investing in expanding collections.

Uppsala University Library, Sweden
The Library has a particularly interesting collection of early Polish books.

The Polish Library at McGill University, Montréal
The Library is part of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada, which promotes Polish culture and learning in North America.

University of Wisconsin - Madison, Memorial Library
The library has a growing Polish collection.

Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris
The Polish Library in Paris specialises in literary and historical themes.

4. virtual resources

Besides descriptions and catalogues of real libraries and archives, you can find on the Net numerous virtual libraries, that is, numerous websites containing the transcriptions of entire texts. We suggest that you should have recourse to them only for the first reading, or in order to search for particular words or phrases. If you need to quote those texts in your thesis or papers, you should refer to printed editions, whose philological accuracy is more easily verifiable. On the other hand, the Net offers you several other research tools, such as:

  • META-OPACs: these are search engines that allow you to scan materials of several library catalogues at once
  • humanities portals and sites, that is, portals/sites devoted to different aspects and fields of humanities
  • digital works and authors, that is, web-sites devoted to individual authors or works
  • e-journals, that is, periodicals published only (or also) online
  • internet bookstores


Another essential digital source of information is the

  • MLA International Bibliography which represents the best source for tracing secondary literature, especially articles and chapters in books. It will be available on CD-ROM (or in print) in your University Library. The MLA International Bibliography provides a listing and subject index for books and articles published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. It indexes over 50,000 books and journals each year.

4.1 Digital works and authors

Czesław Miłosz portal - courtesy of his publisher Znak.

Witold Gombrowicz

Jerzy Grotowski

Tadeusz Kantor

Please visit the Virtual Libraries page here for more ways to access Polish literature texts. 

Project Gutenberg also has a large selection of Polish literature in the original and in translation.

Europeana provides access to over 50 million digitised items - books, music, artworks and more.

4.2 e-journals

Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEOOL)
CEOOL provides access to academic journals published in Poland. You will need to pay a fee or log in through your institutional or Athens account.

JSTOR - Slavonic Studies Journals

Central Europe


European Stages - in 2013, the journal combined with Western European Stages to become European Stages. Archived past issues of Slavic and East European Performance can now be found on the European Stages website.

Catalogue of Journals Published by the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)

Catalogue of Cultural Periodicals
This gives a list of periodicals available in Poland in various fields, with information on where to access some of the publications and content details for some, too.

Kultura (Paris)
An online archive of the émigré journal edited by Jerzy Giedroyc during the communist period, Kultura was a focal point for dissident literature and criticism.

4.3 humanities portals/sites

Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEOOL)
CEOOL provides access to academic journals published in Poland and in other Central and Eastern European countries. You will need to pay a fee or log in through your institutional or Athens account.

British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies - main website with links to information on Poland and other countries in the region.

H-Poland is part of H-Net, an international consortium of scholars and teachers that coordinates Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Among H-Net's most important activities is its sponsorship of over 100 free electronic, interactive newsletters ('lists') edited by scholars in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. The goals of H-Net lists are to enable scholars to easily communicate current research and teaching interests; to discuss new approaches, methods and tools of analysis; to share information on electronic databases; and to test new ideas and share comments on the literature in their fields. - comprehensive Polish and English-language portal on contemporary Polish culture and events. - history portal.

History Meeting House (DSH), Warsaw - history portal.

XX Wiek (20th Century) - Karta Foundation history portal.

Polish painting and art portal - a portal provided by the Centre for Contemporary Art (CSW) with links to Poland's art galleries nationwide. - theatre portal. - theatre portal with access to a huge archive of contemporary theatre reviews and articles. - Polish museums portal. - film and cinema portal. - poetry portal.

4.4 metaopacs


This is the most searched British META-OPAC. It contains the online catalogue of 22 of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland, plus the British Library catalogue.


NUKAT offers a search of Polish academic and research libraries; one difficulty, though, is that many libraries have electronically catalogued only more recent acquisitions, usually post-1989, while some older materials are yet to be included. Thus, a trip to the library card indexes might be necessary.

4.5 virtual libraries

A full list of Polish digital libraries within the dLibra project

Among selections of such digital libraries relevant to humanities students and researchers are:

Polona - the National Digital Library

Digital library of the Karta History Foundation

Digital Library of Pomerania

Jagiellonian University Digital Library

RCIN - Digital Library of Polish Academy of Sciences Institutes

Silesian Digital Library

Warsaw University Digital Library

Wrocław University Digital Library

Lower Silesian Digital Library

Wielkopolska (Poznan) Digital Library

Other virtual libraries:

The Virtual Library of Polish Literature - Includes material taken from the Central Archives of Historical Records and the Archives of Modern Records.

Polish Internet Library -includes digitalized/scanned texts of Polish Literature as well as Polish translations of foreign literary texts.

Catholic Portal Opoka -Includes several thousand literary texts, philosophical treatises and scientific papers. - huge database of Polish theatre reviews.

Digital Library of Polish and Poland-Related News Pamphlets

Virtual Museum of the National Museums in Krakow

Warsaw Uprising Museum Virtual Museum