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Polish Encyclopedias

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Note: The following material was produced at the Jagiellonian University Library by Ms. Barbara Bulat. There are some minor differences in formatting.

From the foreword to Wielka encyklopedia PWN. “Polish encyclopedic efforts abound in projects which for many reasons are admirable, but most of the time unfinished and incomplete: very often work on the encyclopedias was interrupted by dramatic historical events-wars, uprisings, and heavy-handed censorship (first by by the partitioning powers, then by the communists). The first edition of Encyklopeia powszechna by Samuel Orgelbrand, lost most of the subscribers after the 1863 uprising, and was with great trouble completed only five years later. Wielka encyklopedia powszechna ilustrowana, started in 1892 by Saturnin Sikorski, was interrupted in 1914 on the letter “P.” Publication of Encyklopedia powszechna Ultima Thule ended on the ever of WW II on the letter “S.” The 12-volume Wielka encyklopedia powszechna PWN, published after much difficulty in years 1962-1969, although used to this day, is to a great extent mutilated by censorship.” (“Przedmowa” in Wielka encyklopedia PWN, vol. 1. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2001, p.8).

One must remember that in all Polish encyclopedias published after WW II and before 1989, censorship was used heavily to make all content reflect the communist ideology.

Guides to Polish Encyclopedias

Information on the development of the Polish encyclopedias can be found in the following sources:

“Encyklopedye polskie”

Chmielowski, Piotr, In “Wielka encyklopedia powszechna ilustrowana” Vol. 19, Warszawa, 1897, pp. 336-338.
Jagiellonian library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna sygn. A86.

“Encyklopedie polskie”.

Gloger, Zygmunt, “Encyklopedia staropolska ilustrowana” Vol. 2, Warszawa 1901. Also in reprint:  Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna, 1972, pp. 130-135.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. A53.

Grzegorczyk, Piotr, B, 1932, pp. 277-285.

Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. D960

Lists of Polish Encyclopedias

Bibliografia bibliografij polskich do roku 1950.

Hahn, Wiktor, Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1966. 3rd edition.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. D84. Section 2: Bibliografie ogolne. VII: Encyclopedias.  General works. Pp. 72-80.

U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) and Main Stacks 015.438 H12B1966

Subject-specific encyclopedias are listed (selectively) in separate chapters: History, p. 153; Socio-political and economic sciences, p. 176; State and Law, p. 195; Military, p. 201; Technology, industry, crafts, p. 246; Agriculture, p. 259; Medicine, p. 279; Culture, Science, Education, p. 311; Religion, p. 405; Bibliography includes items published up to 1950 inclusively.

Grzegorczyk, Piotr

Index lexicorum Poloniae: Bibliografia slownikow polskich.

Grzegorczyk, PiotrWarszawa: PWN, 1967, 286 p.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. A2354 V. Encyklopedie powszechne, pp. 233-236.
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.49185 G92I

A list of 42 general encyclopedias. Subject encyclopedias are listed in chapter IV: ‘Slowniki dziedzin i zagadnien.’ The bibliography lists, almost without selection, all dictionaries (except biographical ones) and Polish encyclopedias published up to 1964.


Uniwersalne encyklopedie polskie: przeglad adnotowany.

Markiewicz, Ewa, “Informator Bibliotekarza i Ksiegarza”, 1984, pp. 172-188.

Jagiellonian Library Call Number: sygn. W 52.

A list of 27 Polish general encyclopedias published in years 1608-1976.  Chronological arrangement, annotated.

Encyklopedie i informatory wydane w l. 1967-1972.

Jurewicz, Elzbieta, “Informator Bibliotekarza i Ksiegarza” R. 19: 1974, pp. 195-200.

A list of 63 Polish works, arranged by subject matter.

Bibliografie, encyklopedie i slowniki polskie: Wybor bibliograficzny.

Kwiatkowska, Hanna, Warszawa: Biblioteka Narodowa, 1977.

A selection of the main sources, including 9 general encyclopedias for years 1859-1976. Some subject encyclopedias (published 1945-1976) are listed by subject. Contains author index.

Polskie encyklopedie dziedzinowe i slowniki terminologiczne wydane w latach 1945-1986: wybor. 

Barteczko, Ewa. “Informator Bibliotekarza i Ksiegarza” 1988, p. 176-190.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. W 52.

List arranged by subject, includes about 190 items.

URL: http://we.pwn.com.pl/

A list of encyclopedias published by Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe w Warszawie. Click on Encyklopedie PWN for the complete list.

Bibliografia historii Polski.

Vol. 1: up to year 1795. Part 1: up to year 1454 (Helena Madurowicz-Urbanska). Warszawa: PWN, 1965.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. J 1997.
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) and Oak Street Facility 016.9438 P76B

Dzial ogolny: A: Bibliografie i informatory. II: Encyklopedie polskie

(pp. 38-40). 1. Ogolne, 2. Specjalne

A selection of 11 most important Polish general encyclopedias, and 20 subject encyclopedias, published until 1960.

Bibliografia historii polskiej za rok.PAN.

Instytut Historii. 1944-
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. 1998.
U of I Library Call Number: International & Area Studies Polish Reference (Slavic) 016.9438 B 47

In the general section there is a chapter containing a list of encyclopedias, dictionaries, information guides, published for each year. Some entries are annotated.

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

Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1968.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. 2222.
U of I Library Call Number: Polish Reference 016.9438 B471

Section one: Materialy ogolne. II: Encyklopedie wspolczesne, pp. 5-6.

A list of Polish encyclopedias published in years 1832-1864.

Polish General Encyclopedias (a selection of more prominent titles)

Encyklopedia powszechna.

28 vols. Warszawa: naklad druk i wlasnosc Samuela Orgelbranda, 1859-1868.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A 53.
2nd edition. 12 vols, Warszawa, 1872-1876. In Jagiellonian Library: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. A 51.
3rd edition 13 vols. + 3 vols. of supplement. Warszawa: 1892-1912

The first true general Polish encyclopedia. A publication of a fundamental nature in the development of Polish culture and science. The entries are very well developed, with bibliographic entries included. Some entries turned into entire treatises, rich in source material. The writers consulted a wide array of foreign encyclopedias and numerous Polish works from all branches of knowledge.

Wielka encyklopedia powszechna ilustrowana.

Vols. 1-55 (up to entry ‘Patrokles’).
Warszawa: naklad i druk Saturnina Sikorskiego (from vol. 23-naklad i wlasnosc Komitetu redakcyjnego), 1890-1914.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A 86

A very important work (although not completed due to the start of WW I).  Numerous outstanding and progressive scientists from all subject areas participated in its creation. The entries were prepared extremely carefully. Many entries (signed by authors’ initials) have a character of short monographs (with an attached bibliography). The text is richly illustrated with drawings, maps, photographs. Illustrations are distribued throughout the text and in special inserts (esp. for painting reproductions).

Encyklopedia powszechna Ultima Thule.

St. F. Michalski (ed.). Vols. 1-10 (A-T). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo “Ultima Thule”, 1927-1939.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A87.

The publication was not completed, the last part appeared in 1939, publication was interrupted by the start of WW II. The encyclopedia is illustrated with black-and-white drawings, photographs, charts and maps on inserts.

Ilustrowana encyklopedia Trzaski, Everta i Michalskiego.

Vol. 1-5 (A-Z). Vol. 6 – Supplement (A-Z). Warszawa: Nakl. Ksiegarnia Trzaski, Everta i Michalskiego, 1927-1937.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A 71.

Stanislav Lam was the editor of this work, overseeing the efforts of 412 contributors. This modern, high quality publication gives brief, clear and factual entries. The text contains numerous illustrations, both in black-and-white and color some on inserts.

Wielka ilustrowana encyklopedia powszechna.

Vols. 1-18. Uzupelnienia vols . 19-22.
Krakow: Wydawnictwo “Gutenberg”, 1929-1938.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A83.

Most entries are brief, black-and-white illustrations are inserted throughout.  Volume 13 is devoted entirely to the entry “Poland” and has monographic character.  The entries of this volume are arranged by subject, are divided into smaller subject chapters, followed by extensive bibliography.

Wielka encyklopedia powszechna PWN.

Vols 1-12. (A-Z), vol. 13 Supplement.
Warszawa: PWN, 1962-1970.
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn. A54; Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A89.
U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks Reference 037.85 W6362

The encyclopedia was prepared by over 2000 contributors. Encyclopedia contains 82,000 entries, 12,000 illustrations, 200 color and 650 black-and-white inserted illustrations, and 120 color maps. Many entries are signed, many contain bibliographic material. The encyclopedia shows severe censorship.

Nowa encyklopedia powszechna PWN.

Vols 1-6, vol 7 Supplement.
Warszawa: PWN, 1995-1999.
U of I Library Call Number: Main Stacks Reference Q.037.85 N856

The first post-war encyclopedia written without censorship. The work includes 85,000 entries. The larger entries are accompanied by basic bibliographic references (mostly of newer sources). Many entries are signed by their authors. This encyclopedia, supplemented by 120, 000 definitions from “Nowy leksykon PWN” appeared also in electronic form on CD-ROM, “Multimedialna nowa encyklopedia powszechna PWN” (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1999).

Wielka Internetowa Encyklopedia Multimedialna

URL: http://wiem.onet.pl/wiem

This work was based on “Popularna encyklopedia powszechna” (vols. 1-20 A-Z + supplement, Krakow: Oficyna Wydawnicza Fogra, 1994-1998). It contains 94,000 entries, 6,000 photographs, drawings and maps, 68 minutes of film and animation, 195 minutes of music.

Encyklopedia PWN

URL: http://encyklopedia.pwn.pl/

The site contains about 90,000 brief and almost 500 broad (survey-type) entries. The work is based on “Encyklopedia PWN w trzech tomach” (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe, PWN, 1999, vols. 1-3). Some entries have have bibliographic notes. Unfortunately the online version does not include any illustrations.

Wielka encyklopedia PWN.

Warszawa: PWN
Jagiellonian Library Call Number: Oddzial Informacji Naukowej, sygn A54 a, Czytelnia Glowna, sygn. A90 a.

The encyclopedia is planned for 30 volumes. It is supposed to contain 140, 000 entries (including approximately 40, 000 biographies). The first volume appeared in January 2001, and volume 30 is planned for 2006. The entries vary greatly in their length and scope, from brief definitions to extended entries monographic in scope. Similarly, the biographical notes are vary greatly their comprehensiveness. Many entries are signed, many are accompanied by bibliographic notes, including Polish and foreign works. Richly illustrated.