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General Biographical Sources for Poland

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This section was prepared by Barbara Bulat, a reference librarian at the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow, Poland.
Note: Throughout the text abbreviation OIN refers to Oddzial Informacji Naukowej of the Jagiellonian Library, Krakow.


Polish Memoir Literature War Casualties Cemetery Sources and Necrologies


 Guides to Biographical Literature

Slowniki biograficzne, spisy osobowe, herbarze, wydawnictwa genealogiczne.

[in:] Czachowska, Jadwiga; Loth, Roman. Przewodnik polonisty: bibliografie, slowniki, biblioteki, muzea literackie. 3rd. edition. Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1989. pp. 44-56.
OIN Call Number: H 1453
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.49185 C99P1989

This selected list of 44 general biographical dictionaries, lists of persons, and 14 genealogical publications, includes monographic and serial titles, works published within journals, and even unpublished works. The works listed are described as to their content, organization, its reviews. Biographical dictionaries, lists of persons, and works containing bios of persons from particular fields of endeavor, are classified within sections devoted to each field.


Slowniki biograficzne polskie

[in:] Starnawski, Jerzy. Warsztat bibliograficzny historyka literatury polskiej: (Na tle dyscyplin pokrewnych). 3rd edition. Warszawa: PWN, 1982. Pp. 335-337.
OIN Call Number: H 1452
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.89185 ST2W1

The section gives a brief description of the most essential works.


Brzezinska, Leokadia. Slowniki biograficzne. Informator Bibliotekarza i Ksiegarza , 1970, pp. 162-172.

U of I Library Call Number: Oak Street Facility 027.1438 In3X

This is a selective list of biographical dictionaries, published in monographic form in the years 1956-1968. Included are mostly dictionaries of a more general character, with particular emphasis on literary and regional ones. Omitted from the list are highly specialized dictionaries, general encyclopedias, and essay-like works.


Wasiak, Julia. Materialy do badan biograficznych w Archiwum Panstwowym w Lodzi. Rocznik Lodzki , t. 21: 1976, pp. 211-223.

U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 943.8 R5995

The article provides a general description of materials available in the museum.


Lists of Biographical Materials in Polish – Bibliography of Bibliographies 

Hahn, Wiktor. Bibliografia bibliografij polskich do roku 1950.

uzupelnil Henryk Sawoniak. 3rd edition. Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1966.
OIN Call Number: D 84
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) and Main Stacks 015.438 H12B1966

Dzial trzeci: Bibliografie specjalne. Rozdzial XXV: Osoby. 1. Bibliografie i biografie zbiorowe; 2. Kobiety (pp. 476-482). Listed are general biographical publications which list Poles, sources focusing on particular families, heraldry books, works focusing on women. Included are works published up to 1950 as monographs, and articles. Cross-referencing to other chapters in the “Bibliograpy” are provided.


Sawoniak, Henryk. Bibliografia bibliografii polskich 1951-1960.

Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1967.
OIN Call Number: D85
U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 015.438 SA96B
Dzial V: Bibliografia osobova. Poddzial 2: Osoby. (Grupy osob; poszczegolne osoby). (pp. 305-366).

The part “Grupy osob” notes publications containing biographical material regarding groups of persons, while the part “Poszczegolne osoby” registers various types of bibliographies on particular persons (not necessarily Polish). Included are monographs and journal articles published in years 1951-1960. Most of the entries are annotated. Cross-referencing to other parts of the “Bibliography” is provided.

Bienkowa, Maria Barbara. Eychlerowa, Barbara. Bibliografia bibliografii polskich 1961-1970. Warszawa: Biblioteka Narodowa, 1992.

OIN Call Number: D86
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 015.438 B477B
Dzial V: Bibliografia osobowa. Poddzial 2: Osoby (Zespoly osob; Poszczegolne osoby) (pp. 513-611).

The chapter “Zespoly osob” lists publications containing biographical materials regarding groups of persons, while the part “Poszczegolne osoby” registers bibliographies devoted to single persons (not only Polish). Included are monographs and articles published in the years 1951-1960. Most entries are annotated. There is cross-referencing to other parts of the work.

Bibliografia Bibliografii i Nauki o Ksiazce.

OIN Call Number: D 112, D 112a

U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks and Oak Street Facility 015.438 B471
For years 1937-1967 (section: Bibliografia, subsection: Bibliografia osobowa)
1968-1980 (part 1. Bibliografia bibliografii polskich. Dzial V: Bibliografia osobowa).
1981– title changed to “Bibliografia Bibliografii Polskich” (Dzial V: Bibliografie osobowe).

This serial publication lists biographical materials regarding groups and individual persons, not only of Polish origin. Included are books as well as articles; most of the entries are annotated. Cross-referencing to other sections of the publication are provided.


Wykaz polskich bibliografii nie opublikowanych (planowanych, opracowywanych i ukonczonych).

Marzena Przybysz, Danuta Urbanska (eds.). 7th edition. Warszawa: Biblioteka Narodowa, 1997. (Prace Instytutu Bibliograficznego/ Biblioteka Narodowa; nr. 31).
OIN Call Number: D 87
U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks 010 W26P (Cataloged under series: Prace Instytutu Bibliograficznego/Biblioteka Narodowa)

Dzial V: Bibliografie osobowe. Zespoly osobowe. Osoby (pp. 147-193).

This section includes planned bibliographic lists, bibliographic works in progress, or unpublished (existing only in paper or electronic manuscript form). Listed are bibliographies of groups and single persons (even those included in MA theses). The material for the bibliography was verified via a questionnaire sent out towards the end of 1994 to approx. 800 libraries and other institutions, as well as private persons. The bibliography is also available online. URL: http://mak.bn.org.pl/cgi-bin/makwww.exe?BM=14

It can be searched using 6 indexes: ‘Autor-osoba’ (author-person), ‘autor_korp’ (corporate author), ‘tytul’ (title), ‘slowo_w_tyt’ (word in title), ‘haslo_przedm’ (subject heading), ‘temat/okreslnik’ (subject/descriptor).

Historical Bibliographies Containing Bibliographical Material

Bibliografia historii Polski. T. 1: do roku 1795. Cz 1.: do roku 1454.

Helena Madurowicz-Urbanska. Warszawa: PWN, 1965.
OIN Call Number: J 1997
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 P76B

Dzial ogolny. A: Bibliografie i informatory. V: Slowniki. 2. Slowniki biograficzne polskie (pp. 53-56).

A selected list of 42 biographical dictionaries published up to 1960, which deal with the period up to 1944.

Bibliografia historii Polski. T. 3: 1918-1945. Cz. 1.

Wieslaw Bienkowski (ed.). Warszawa: PWN, 1974.
OIN Call Number: J 1997
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 P76B

Okres 1918-1939. A: Dzial ogolny. III: Slowniki biograficzne (p. 22)

A selection of 10 items published up to 1965, covering the years 1918-1945.


Bibliografia historii polskiej za rok…

PAN, Instytut Historii 1944
OIN Call Number: 1998
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 B47

Beginning with volume for year 1976-dzial C: Historia Polski. I: Ogolne. 4: Biografie (a. ogolne, b. poszczegolne)

The work registers monographic and publications and serial titles, published in Poland or abroad, which contain biographical information on Poles. Included are biographies of groups and individuals of different historical periods, professions, regions. Some of the descriptions are annotated.

Bibliografia historii Polski XIX wieku. I: 1815-1831 .

Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1958.
OIN Call Number: 2222
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 B471

Dzial pierwszy: Materialy ogolne. Rozdzial III: Pamietniki, korespondencje, zyciorysy. 1: Bibliografie; 2: Materialy biograficzne zbiorowe; 3: Materialy dotyczace poszczegolnych osob (pp. 24-57).

The section contains memoirs, correspondence, descriptions of travel from the years 1815-1831, and biographies of persons whose activity falls in those years. Included are monographs and articles, published up to 1955 inclusively. Materials concerning strictly the period of the November uprising, as well as memoirs devoted to special themes (such as social life and customs), were placed in separate sections.
Subchapter 2 contains collections of bibliographies and bibliographic dictionaries, which include the basic biographical dictionaries from Austria, Germany, and Russia, due to the polonica these works contain. Subchapter 3 includes not only Poles; each entry includes both the person’s writings (memoirs, correspondence), as well as material written about the person. Single letters, fragments of memoirs centering on only one issue (for example a certain battle)were placed in separate thematic sections. Dzial 8: Powstanie listopadowe. Rozdzial III: Wykazy uczestnikow powstania, pamietniki, korespondencje, zyciorysy. 1:Wykazy uczestnikow powstania; 2: Zbiory zyciorysow i pamietnikow; 3: Pamietniki, zyciorysy i korespondencje poszczegolnych osob (p. 472-495).
The chapter contains lists of the participants of the uprising, collections of biographies and memoirs in chronological order. Included also are memoirs, biographies, and correspondence of individual persons (not only Poles) in an alphabetical arrangement by name, and within the section devoted to each name, chronologically. Memoir materials concerning particular periods in the history of the uprising have been placed in appropriate sections. Included are books, articles and chapters published up to 1955 inclusively.


Bibliografia historii Polski XIX wieku. II: 1832-1864. Czesc I.

Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1968.
OIN Call Number: 2222
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 B471

Dzial 1: Materialy ogolne. Rozdzial IV: Pamietniki, korespondencje, zyciorysy. 1: Materialy biograficzne zbiorowe; 2: Materialy dotyczace poszczegolnych osob; 3: Wspomnienia anonimowe. (pp. 101-376).

The chapter includes books, articles and chapters, published from 1832 until 1965 inclusively. Subchapter 1 contains alphabetically arranged collections of biographies, biographical dictionaries from Poland and other countries which contain polonica. Items covered in volume I of “Bibliografia historii Polski XIX wieku”. Subchapter 2 contains material arranged alphabetically by name. Each entry contains bibliographies, then memoirs and correspondence, and finally biographical works on the particular person. Within the above division the order is chronological, by year of publication. Items included in “Bibliografia historii Polski XIX wieku” are not repeated. In the case, when the biographical material regarding a person was exhausted in volume I, there is no entry for that person in volume II at all. On the other hand, when only a part of the material on a person has been presented in volume I, in volume II p. 1 includes the continuation, as well as a cross reference to the entry in vol. I. Memoirs and biographies which center for the most part around political events, and social, cultural, or religious issues were placed in separate thematic sections.


Polish Biographical Archive = Polskie Archivum Biograficznem + Series Two.

K.G. Saur, 1992-1999.
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Microform (Slavic) Mfiche 920.0438 P757 and MFICHE 920.0438 P7571.
613 fiches + 463 fiches.

As with the other K.G. Saur biographical archives on microfiche, they have copied the entries from biographical reference books and cumulated all of the entries for one individual together. Thus, the entries are replicas of the original source with a citation to the original source at the head of each entry. This source is valuable because it eliminates checking numerous books for information and also provides access to sources that the Uof I Library may not own. The Polish biographical archive and its second series contain entries for thousands of individuals from 304 sources published between the 18th and 20th centuries. Entries include individuals living in the territory that was called Poland at any time in her history. Depending on the original sources, the entries may or may not have bibliographical references and may appear in languages other than Polish. Beware that sometimes the entries for different people with the same name may be conflated.

The K.G. Saur web site provides a list of the 304 sources covered in the archive in case you want to see the range of biographical resources in this area. This list is also available on microfiche at the beginning of the set. You can search for a person listed in the Polish Biographical Archive in the World biographical index which is available for UIUC students and faculty through Online Research Resources (Databases) . If you are not affiliated with UIUC you may want to check with your institution or your local library: it is possible that they provide access to the World biographical index . However its entries contain only brief biographical data, not the actual entries that are on the microfiche. The results of the search will tell you which sets contain entries for the individual and from which reference books they were taken. Beware: Although this archive is a valuable resource, do not be deceived into thinking that use of this source is will cover all bases. It is impossible to include all of the biographical resources that exist. If you rely on the Archive alone, you will miss some potentially useful material.

Follow the link for two entries for Arkadiusz Mucharski , a Polish illustrator, from two different sources as they appear on the microfiche.