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Archive of Western and Northern Territories of the Institute for Western Affairs

Archive of Western and Northern Territories of the Institute for Western Affairs

Project information


The project is designed to preserve the journal copies held by the Institute for Western Affairs and make them broadly accessible. The project involves the digitization of diary materials gathered in three contests organized by the Institute for Western Affairs.

In keeping with the traditions of Poznań cultural sociologists inspired by Florian Znaniecki and his humanist methods, the Institute for Western Affairs has for years collected the journals of Western Territory settlers. It has held three contests which helped it amass approximately 1100 diaries. These became the object of numerous studies on social and cultural transformations in the Western Territories. The authors of such studies included Zygmunt Dulczewski and Andrzej Kwilecki. The contests were:

The December 1956 journal contest for settlers in the Recovered Territories (a total of 227 submissions were received);

The 1966 journal contest for young residents of the Recovered Territories (167 submissions)

The 1970 journal contest for the residents of Western and Northern Territories (747 submissions).

Of particular interest were materials from the contests held in 1956 and 1970. The fact they were written during periods of political transition allowed their authors to be more forthright. They contain a number of critical facts, remarks and reflections on events and issues ranging from the Katyń massacre and the massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia to displacements of German nationals, pilferings and rapes by Red Army soldiers and the failings of Polish administration. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, censorship had previously prevented their publication. As a result, the material remained inaccessible and largely unused. Access to the entire collection was limited to a small group of researchers from Poland and, after 1989, also from Germany. Interest in the materials has not subsided over the years. The materials continue to serve cultural scientists, ethnologists, historians and sociologists as an invaluable resource. Regrettably, their full use is prevented by their continuing deterioration. Since the majority of the texts are manuscripts, it is not possible to examine them in depth by advanced computer analysis (e.g. by means of qualitative and semantic analysis).

Expected outcomes

The aim of the project is to digitize (in part by OCR processing of typewritten journals) and transcribe the journals (manuscripts). Ultimately, the digitization is intended to protect these valuable materials from further disintegration whereas the transcription is to make it possible to create a complete database of journals that will subsequently enable their deeper analysis. Such work will make it possible to preserve precious testimonies on efforts to keep national and cultural identity alive in the Western Territories.

The outcomes of such digitization and transcription will be used to create an online database accessible to researchers and other persons interested in its content. Once established, the database may help disseminate knowledge on social and cultural transformations in the Western Territories in the post-war period.

In addition to journals, the project covers the digitization of photographs. The photograph archive of the Western and Northern Territories includes the positives and negatives of a total of ca. 6000 photographs made in the late 1940s. These constitute a unique record of post-war life in the Recovered Territories.


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the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan

ul. Mostowa 27 A
61-854 Poznań
NIP: 783-17-38-640