Archives in Poland

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, the szukajwarchiwach.pl facility makes a detailed search very simple applies only to the State Archives in Poznan and 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 fotohistoria.pl 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 various theatre productions. It also runs the e-teatr.pl portal, which collects reviews and articles on recent Polish theatre 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 grotowski.net.

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.