The Poles Abroad Digital Library (Polonijna Biblioteka Cyfrowa – hereafter PBC) was set up in 2012, as a part of the project “Cooperation with the Poles Abroad” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has been financed from several sources since then, mostly projects granted by the Polish Senate, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, as the so-called Specialised Research Device. Prof. Dariusz Kuźmina from the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, has been its curator and founder, and Zdzisław Dobrowolski, Ph.D. is the administrator. The PBC team is composed independently for each year, depending on research topics positively verified in grant competitions for preservation and dissemination of the Polish heritage abroad. The Library has become a recognized and leading platform of information exchange and further research and promotion of the Poles’ abroad activities, as well as their common, both innovative and unifying attribute of identity.


The reason for establishing PBC and its main aim is the preservation of the collections of Polish diasporas organizations worldwide, having resources for digitalization of Polonica, their presentation and provision on the Internet. They are priceless in regard to the Polish history, intellectual and cultural achievements of emigration communities in the last two centuries. The PBC activities complete undertakings of the largest centers digitalizing Polish cultural heritage. Thanks to cooperation of the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies (up to 2016 – the Department of Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw) with many institutions of the Polish diaspora all over the world, the PBC collections include archival materials, books, photographs, and journals most valuable for the Polish history and research.


The Poles Abroad Digital Library is a unique institution. Its collections cannot be characterized as easily as most of the other Polish digital libraries. The PBC mission is preservation and provision of Polonica stored by Polish and Polish diasporas organizations and institutions active abroad of different kinds, as well as those in private collections. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012), there are more than 2000 organizations of the Polish diaspora worldwide. The PBC team cooperates directly with more than 20 of them on four continents.


The Library’s activity is of universal character and complements significantly works realized by the largest centers digitalizing and providing Polish cultural heritage, like POLONA (the National Library of Poland digital library). The PBC offers objects unavailable in the National Library of Poland, often historical sources of great value, documenting fates of the Poles abroad in the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, the collection of “Orzeł Biały” (White Eagle) weekly, published in the USSR by the Polish Army in the East. Therefore, the value of PBC collections should be named priceless.


The Poles Abroad Digital Library provides a wide set of unique documents, as well as publications introducing the Polish diaspora as a topic. Its collection amounts currently to more than 25 000 units, visited by on average approximately 15 000 readers monthly. The collection is divided into three main categories:

1. Press – in particular, a daily press of the Polish diaspora of the 19th century,

2. Books – printings published abroad in the first half of the 20th century,

3. Archival materials – for instance, documents of associations, institutions, or individual persons.

4. Broadcasts Of The Polish Section Of Vatican Radio

Materials were gathered during inquiries in different parts of the world, in particular where large communities of the Polish diaspora exist, just to mention England, France, Czech Republic, Israel, Australia, the United States, Brasil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and New Zealand. Therefore, the PBC contributes to the preservation of dispersed Polish documentary and written heritage. It also promotes knowledge on the significance of the Poles’ activities worldwide, and its contribution to the development of local communities. Those interested in the Poles’ abroad cultural heritage receive the complete spectrum of past and current achievements of this diaspora in a convenient, virtual architecture. They have direct, free, online access to digitalized source materials (e.g. archival materials, printed sources and extremely valuable monuments of emigration writings, literature included) of permanent historical, cultural or bibliophile value.


The vast majority of the collection contains daily press of the Polish diaspora of the 20th century. These newspapers are actual “time capsules”, preserving the ephemeral – social, political and cultural activity of the Polish diaspora.

The following weeklies of the Polish settlers in Brasil deserve mentioning among the periodicals which are listed in the PBC collection in sets or almost completed: Lud (The People) and Gazeta Polska w Brazylii (Polish Newspaper in Brasil). The press from Parana makes the largest part of scans provided by the PBC. This is a valuable support for the Slavonic studies, successfully developing not only in Curitiba but also in other universities. The scholars specialized in the Polish cultural heritage also refer to this collection.

Thereby the PBC completes Polish collections with this great publication output, hardly known in Poland. The Library both preserves it against destruction and promotes the Polish national heritage.

„Les Amis de la Pologne”, „Notre Pologne”, „Wiarus Polski” (Polish Veteran) and „Pod Prąd” (Upstream) are worth mentioning from among the press published in Europe.

The first title was an organ of the French association of the same name (Les Amis de la Pologne – Przyjaciele Polski – Friends of Poland), active and publishing its journal in French during the whole interwar period, until June 1940. It was the main source of information about Poland for the French press. The title had its equivalent for young readers, i.e. „Notre Pologne” (Nasza Polska – Our Poland), shaping the knowledge of Poland among French youth during 9 years of its functioning.

On the other hand, „Wiarus Polski” (Polish Veteran), available in the PBC collection, is the first Polish diaspora periodical published in Westphalia and Rhineland. It was set up in 1890 in Bochum by rev. F. Liss. The title is in a terrible condition – it has been preserved for future generations thanks to digitalization.

Pod Prąd (Upstream) was published by a group of interned soldiers from the camp in Fribourg (Switzerland). The biweekly was to resist communist propaganda, calling to return to Poland. Nowadays, it is a precious information source for the researchers specialized in that period.

The periodicals related to the Polish Army in the USSR, later in Iran, Iraq, and Palestine, and the civilians as well, are also worth mentioning. The PBS provides – among others – „Skaut: Czasopismo Związku Harcerstwa Polskiego Wschód” (Scout: Journal of the Polish Scouting Association East) and its supplement Zuchy (Cubs).

Ephemera make part of the collection, consisting mostly of printings from Palestine (Jerusalem in particular) and related to the Polish Army in the East, institutions, and organizations active in its surroundings. For instance Uśmiech: Jednodniówka Szkół Młodszych Ochotniczek (Smile: The Daily of Schools of Younger Girls Volunteers) – the typewriting consisting of as many as 190 pages, published by Szkoła Powszechna Młodszych Ochotniczek (Public School for Younger Girls Volunteers) in Jerusalem in 1946. This document is one of the few substantial traces of cultural activity of the Polish diaspora in the Near East in the 40s of the 20th century.

The PBC offers not only periodicals from the first half of the 20th century. The library provides also a modern press. „Gazetka Dom Polski” (Polish House Bulletin) is a publishing organ of Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Peruwiańsko-Polskich „Dom Polski” („Polish House” Association of Peruvian-Polish Families, established in 1983 to maintain Polish culture, habits, and traditions among the emigrants. „Wiadomości Polskie” (Polish News), the periodical of Polskie Narodowo-Kulturalne Centrum „Jedność” („Unity” Polish National and Cultural Centre) in the Kuban, or „Głos” (Voice), the Polish daily from the Czech Tesin city are other examples of the modern press.


This group contains mostly printings published abroad in the first half of the 20th century, including works of the Polish publishing houses in South America, or books written by foreign authors concerning the Polish diaspora. At least three titles are worth mentioning: Racjonalna gospodarka hodowlana w Paranie : opracowanie specjalne dla kolonistów by Stanisław Górniak (Curitiba 1924), Szymon Kosynier: wielki bohater Parański by Józef Stańczewski, using an alias Fredecensis (Curitiba 1923) or Na Amazonce i wschodnim Peru by Mieczysław Bohdan Lepecki (published in Książnica-Atlas publishing house in Lvov in 1931).

Books concerning farming, religion, and those addressed to children, or belles lettres e.g. poetry by Piotr Siciński Echo Brazylii: utwory wierszem are among titles from South America.

Publications related to the Polish Army in the Near East make a distinctive group, e.g. Z polskiej niwy: zbiór pieśni polskich edited by Władysław Wargowski in Tel-Aviv in 1941, Bajki biało-czerwone by Anatol Krakowiecki, published in 1944, and Śląsk Opolski by Marian Kamil Dziewanowski, published in 1945 by Culture and Press Department of the 2nd Corp in Rome.

Two of the oldest publications from the PBC collection are worth mentioning. The first one is the rare edition of 1693 Singularia Qvædam Polonica... by Mikołaj Chwałkowski. The other early printed book is Prawdziwy Stan Duchowienstwa W Polszcze... by Wojciech Skarszewski (Warsaw 1776). Extremely interesting is also the printing Voyage en Allemagne et en Pologne, commencé en 1776 par M. de L.S.M.A.S.D.P. (Paris 1784) – memoirs of a French nobleman from his journey to Germany and Poland, a priceless material documenting perception of Poland by the foreigners in the second half of the 18th century.


The PBC collection contains also archival materials, although they do not constitute the core of the Library. However, a few precious examples are worth mentioning.

For instance, there is Archiwum oo. franciszkanów z argentyńskiego Martin Coronado (the Archive of the Franciscans from Martin Coronado, Argentina), concerning mostly activities of the Polish clergy in Argentina, originating in the 19th century. These documents are provided thanks to cooperation with the Franciscans (Bernardines) from Martin Coronado, currently the religious center of the Polish community.

„Archiwum Jamajskie” (Jamaican Archive) of Józef Obrębski is a very interesting position. One of the most deserved Polish ethnologist run pioneer anthropological studies in Jamaica in the years 1946-1948 in the London School of Economics. Political changes in Poland after 1945 prevented him from returning to the homeland. Finally, rejecting numerous proposals of British universities, he decided to go to the United States of America. The Poles Abroad Digital Library provides his unpublished materials from the only ethnographical studies ever run in Jamaica. The main part of the Jamaican Archive consists of typewritings, containing his observations and conclusions resulting from the studies on two families, titled Bull Savannah and Warsop.

Archiwum Ignacego Domeyki (the Archive of Ignacy Domeyko) can also be found in the PBC. One of the most famous Polish geologists and mineralogists contributed to the promotion of education in Chile. He had acted as a rector of the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, caring not only for research but also for education and culture development. He was recognized and respected in Chile. A mountain range was named in his honor as Domeyko Mountains (Cordillera de Domeyko), and one place (Domeyko) as well. The Poles Abroad Digital Library provides two collections of Domeyko letters to the Minister of Education in Chile of that time. The first is named as „Delegacion Universitaria”, and contains the correspondence for the years 1862-1873. The other – „Universidad de Chile” for the years 1874-1879 – contains letters referring to Domeyko activities as the University rector for the reform of education in Chile. The correspondence is in Spanish.

The manuscript of 1831 found in the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia in Tbilisi is also worth mentioning, i.e. Kurs bibliografii (Course in the bibliography) by Łukasz Gołębiowski, a librarian of the Public Library and Professor of the University of Warsaw, who was to teach bibliography students of this university.

A travel document and a flight log of Rajmund Szejner are also available in this collection. Szejner performed combat flights in the Squadron 1586 from Italy (Brindisi) to Poland as a flight engineer and master sergeant. Flights were performed on Halifax V aircraft, with dropping weapons, materials, and paratroopers.

Flights dates:

1. 14.08.1944

2. 20.08.1944

3. 26.08.1944

4. 07.10.1944

5. 16.10.1944


Wirtualne Muzeum Polonii

Activities of the Poles Abroad Digital Libraries and the Virtual Museum of the Poles Abroad include also digitalization of the materials of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio. The aim and goal of this project is to preserve these archival and multimedia materials.

Vatican Radio started its activity in 1931, and its Polish Section was established seven years later. Programs were broadcast twice a week until 1948, and further on a daily basis. Polish programs of Vatican Radio played a particular role during World War II, often being the only means of transmitting information on the church and national matters from the Vatican to Poland. After World War II, the Polish Section of Vatican Radio had been the only Catholic radio which could be received in Poland for a long time.

The project has been completed by units of three universities: the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, the Institute of Journalism and Management, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin and the Ignatianum University in Cracow. The project was directed by Prof. Janusz W. Adamowski and Prof. Dariusz Kuźmina.

The task has been completed as a grant of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, DUN (Działalność Upowszechniająca Naukę – Research Promotion Activity), the promotion category – the application “Zachować i promować polskie dziedzictwo narodowe – digitalizacja i opracowanie naukowe archiwaliów Polskiej Sekcji Radia Watykańskiego” (Preserving and promoting Polish national heritage – digitalization and research study of archival materials of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio) – 751/P-DUN/2019.


In the PBC collection, there is also „Cogito dla Polonii” (Cogito for the Polish diaspora) – e-magazine for the young readers aged 12-19, from the Polish diaspora around the world, published by the Polish Guild of Gutenberg Knights, and its meritorious partner COGITO Group. The periodical concerns activities of the youth from the Polish diaspora, learning the native language or history of Poland. The Poles also share their histories of exploring Polish roots here, describe educational, patriotic and cultural projects. Authors of the e-magazine have become the Polish Diaspora’s Ambassadors of Polishness.

Each e-edition consists of approximately 40 pages, containing:

- information from the young Poles living abroad, contests,

- interviews with their representatives,

- coverage of events organized by the young Poles abroad,

- reportages about their life,

- descriptions of universities in Poland and recruitment procedures,

- a course in Polish grammar, discussion on Polish lectures, materials for matura exam in the Polish language,

- guidebook of interesting places in Poland,

- cultural news,

- highlights concerning Poland, geography, culture, and history.


Wirtualne Muzeum Polonii

The PBC website contains also the Virtual Museum of the Polish Diaspora. Basing on press material, it offers fundamental information about Polish archives, libraries, research institutes, museums, and monuments abroad. There are descriptions of the Polish communities in particular countries; each of them was provided extensive references so that interested users could use carefully selected publications concerning a topic being explored. Importantly, a part of these resources is available in e-versions and directly uploaded. Thus, the Museum is a guide to the Poles Abroad Digital Library. Both an initiator and curator of the Virtual Museum of the Polish Diaspora, alike the PBC, is Prof. Dariusz Kuźmina from the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, and Zdzisław Dobrowolski is its administrator.



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