Tasks of Polish Archives
What is the organizational structure of archives?
Where is archival material to be found?
The network of archives is made up of:
Three main archives of national significance located in Warsaw:
- Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych (Central Archives of Historical Records) preserving the records of the central, and partially provincial, authorities as well as the archives of families of national importance produced prior to 1918,
- Archiwum Akt Nowych (Central Archives of Modern Records) keeping the records of the central authorities, and institutions and associations of national importance, as well as the documents and papers of outstanding political and social leaders produced after 1918,
- Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (National Digital Archives) preserving photo- and phonographic records as well as film documentation produced since the beginning of the 20th century.
There exist also 33 state archives and 41 local branches with 4 local offices subordinate to them.
The state archives and their branches preserve the records of the local authorities and state institutions; the judiciary organs; administrative and local-government bodies (including the records of towns); educational, religious and social institutions and organizations; industrial enterprises and economic institutions; the archives of families and land estates; the papers of individuals; as well as various regional collections. The majority of these archive materials date from the 19th and 20th centuries. Some contain records reaching back to medieval times.
The most valuable and oldest records are to be found in the state archives in Gdańsk, Kraków, Lublin, Olsztyn, Poznań, Szczecin and Wrocław.
Separate archives supervised by the respective ministries (Archive of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Archive of the Interior and Administration Ministry, Central Army Archives) as well as the Archives of both Houses of Parliament (Sejm and Senate), the Presidential Chancery and the Institute of National Remembrance. These archives keep the records produced by the institutions concerned and by the organizational units subordinate to them.
Archives entrusted to other bodies (indefinitely or for a specific period of time) by the Head Office of Polish State Archives. These exist in institutes of higher learning (e.g. the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and of Warsaw University) and in scientific and state institutions such as the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Main Office of Statistics, the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Archives of state offices, institutions, industrial enterprises etc. in which archival records are produced (that is documentation which, by law, has to be preserved). These archives constitute a part of the national archives network and are duty-bound to transfer their records, 25 years after they had originated, to the state archives to which they are subordinated. In practice, due to a shortage of storage space, this period is, in some cases, extended.
Archives of political parties, trades unions, social associations and organizations, churches and religious associations (the archives of the Roman Catholic Church, both diocesan and monastic, are particularly valuable). In line with an Act of Parliament of 1990, the archives of the Polish United Workers Party were incorporated into the state archival collection. The decision came in the wake of the dissolution of the party. The archives are to be found also in the collections of numerous libraries (mainly academic libraries) and museums (both state-run and supervised by local government).
Records relating to Poland and Polish communities abroad are kept also by archives, libraries, institutes and museums outside Poland (France, the United States, Great Britain and other countries).
The state archives are supervised by the General Director of State Archives who is responsible for the running of the Head Office of State Archives. Subordinate to the Minister of Culture, the Managing Director exercises control and care over the national archival depository.
At present Władysław Stępniak PhD holds the post.
tel.(+48 22) 565-46-00, fax (+48 22) 565-46-14