International Programme "Reconstitution of the Memory of Poland"


The Programme initiative was suggested in 1997 by International Council on Archives (ICA), in relation to activities carried out by UNESCO with the aim to assess the losses archives worldwide suffered in the 20th century and the dispersion of their holdings as a result of war, plunder and border changes.  Polish response to the UNESCO questionnaire made it clear that Poland had suffered the largest losses and was struggling to overcome the largest problems of this kind on a worldwide scale.  The reaction to this fact the international community had until then been unaware of, was a proposal to run the Programme, treated from its inception as an international initiative whose results, including the methodology developed under the Programme, would be widely available for use.  In 1998 the Programme was approved by the Council of Europe


The fundamental objective of the programme is to provide information about the sources on the history of Poland and the Polish nation over the period 1772 - 1918, and eventually – also up to 1945, which is to contribute to obtaining replacement materials for documents irrevocably lost by Poland or scattered in other countries’ holdings.  Apart from its fundamental objective, the Programme is also to provide knowledge about the technical and organizational capabilities of creating a shared repository of (meta)data gathered from different archives.


By now archive searches have been carried out in the following countries: Austria, Belarus, France, Moldova, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Italy.  It should be noted that in the archives in Russia and Ukraine the work was carried out by local archivists, while in the archives of Germany, Austria and Belarus – by Polish ones.  In the remaining archives the documents related to Poland are being registered on the basis of bilateral agreements.  It is planned that the search in the local (  reguinal ) archives of the participating states will be intensified and the search in the archives in Lithuania and Beloeussia will be launched in the next Phase of the Programme.

In 2003, Phase One of the Programme – that is search in central archives – was completed.  The descriptions of archival holdings from Austria, Germany, Ukraine, Italy and France were obtained (data not yet entered into the database).


Results of archive searches carried out by Polish and foreign archivists are organized in the format of a database entitled Reconstitution of the Memory of Poland.


The Programme has been carried out by archivists from Poland and cooperating countries.  It is being financed by funds provided by the Council of Europe, Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and Poland.  The Programme has also received support from Die Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH and The Leopold Kronenberg Foundation.

The Programme contents has been supervised by the Head Office of State Archives in Poland – Associate Professor Władysław Stępniak, Deputy Director General of State Archives in Poland is Head of the Programme.

The Internet version of the database has been created with the help of Warsaw University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling.  The cooperation with the Warsaw University, initiated in 2004, is aimed not only at the presentation of current search results in the format of on-line database, but also at gathering experience with respect to the application of cutting-edge technology for collecting and presenting data on archival holdings.  Directions of these changes will also depend on valuable suggestions and comments of on-line users.  Please send your comments to the addresses below.


Database contents – Anna Barszcz
Database functionality – Wojtek Sylwestrzak