Collecting, sharing and examining sources
The research activities of the Institute leverage our access to a large body of hitherto undisclosed or forgotten documents. Archival materials are not just dusty volumes stacked away in a never-ending wall of bookcases – each document contains vast amounts of information which can be successfully disseminated by contemporary researchers. We wish to help them achieve this goal by the creation of novel tools facilitating the efficient and in-depth analysis of archival sources.
One of the main tasks undertaken by the Institute is conducting preliminary archival research – basically, we aim to gather as many archival polonica as possible in a single location. We are currently acquiring documents concerning the situation of Poland during the Second World War and under German and Soviet occupation.
The Department of Archival Projects searches through the resources of Polish institutions and foreign archives – we have already conducted preliminary research in Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Serbia, the United States, Switzerland, Great Britain, Hungary and the Ukraine. Digital copies of selected materials have been added to the librarial collections of the Institute. We have obtained thousands of documents of the United Nations War Crimes Commission, from the Hoover Institution, and from the National Archives of Great Britain. We have also signed a contract with the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives), which gives us access to its archival holdings.
PROVIDING ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
In 2018 we started work on a tool – unique in Poland – which facilitates searching through and conducting analyses of digitized documents located in the Pilecki Institute’s reading room. Soon, one mouse click will suffice to access documents concerning the fate of Poland and its citizens in the 20th century. The materials will be catalogued and translated into English in order to accommodate the needs of foreign researchers, while advanced metadata will allow readers to cross-reference documents with ease.
We hope that our collections will assist both Polish and foreign historians in their research, and that a visit to the Pilecki Institute’s reading room will become an indispensable element of the study of 20th century history. We firmly believe that our efforts will greatly improve the way in which the body of knowledge about the significant role played by Poland in this period of history is documented and disseminated.