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Polish Information Center (New York, N.Y.) records
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Alternative Form Available
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content Note

  • Title: Polish Information Center (New York, N.Y.) records
    Date (inclusive): 1940-1945
    Collection Number: 48018
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: In Polish and English
    Physical Description: 82 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box (35.8 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Clippings (primarily from American sources), correspondence, administrative files, press reviews and summaries, bulletins, printed matter, sound recordings, and photographs, relating to World War II, the German and Soviet occupations of Poland, the persecution of Jews in Poland, and the spread of communism in Eastern Europe.
    Creator: Polish Information Center (New York, N.Y.)
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    Box 82 may not be used without permission of the Archivist. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1948

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Polish Information Center (New York, N.Y.) records, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (67 reels).

    Historical Note

    Polish government information and propaganda agency.

    Scope and Content Note

    The Polish Information Center was founded in 1940 and remained active until 1945. It consisted originally of staff responsible for Poland's presence at the World Fair in New York in 1939; indeed, its first director, Stefan Gotfryd Ropp, was curator of the Polish Pavilion. He remained in his post for the first three years of the center's existence, and was a major force in the creation of a Polish lobby influential in U.S. military, financial, and political circles, particularly to counter American isolationism before the United States entered the war.
    Originally called Centrum Informacji Prasowej, the center at first was funded with the proceeds from the sale of objects that couldn't be returned to war torn Poland. In its first year, it operated unofficially, but with the declaration of war by the United States, it had to fulfill certain requirements from the Justice Department. Later, the center became a branch of the Ministry of Information and Documentation. The center's main offices were located on Fifth Avenue, in the heart of New York City, but it eventually had representatives in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
    The center had a well-educated and skilled staff, involved in the collecting and dissemination of information on Poland and on matters relevant to Polish interests in the United States. Ropp himself wrote regular reports for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are excellent examples of his visionary ideas. In the magazine he founded, New Europe, he wrote of a new post war continent, united and free of ideological divisions. This publication was considered one of the most intellectual and most effective instruments of allied propaganda in the United States.
    In 1943, the center's structure underwent significant changes and its budget was increased. The broadening of operations found immediate reflection in the way materials were collected: for instance, specialized firms were hired to deliver clippings from hundreds of American newspapers. These clippings constitute three fourths of the collection held at Hoover, and point at issues and events that were of vital interest to the Polish raison d'être. Organized by subject and date, they document developments as they happened, especially for 1943 and 1944 (for other years, the coverage is uneven and in short runs).
    The year 1943 was of critical importance to Poland's diplomatic efforts to save its international position after it broke off relations with the Soviet Union and after the death of General Sikorski. Polish politicians found themselves under permanent attack from the American left, which required intensification of their propaganda efforts.
    Also in 1943, Ropp was moved to London to head the Biuro Prac Kongresowych responsible for planning the peace conference and a new post-war Poland. Still, the office grew steadily, gradually attracting some of the best minds working for the Polish cause on American soil: from 35 experts in 1943, it employed 51 in 1944.
    In 1944, at the peak of its activities, the center had at its disposal a budget of a million dollars. It published weekly bulletins in several languages, as well as numerous brochures on Polish history and politics. During the first six months of the year, over one hundred thousand short publications were distributed, not only in the United States but also in Central America, South Africa, and Australia. Among the recipients of those bulletins and daily reports were the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, etc. Additionally, some 500-700 letters with inquiries were received and answered each month.
    Specialized departments were responsible for the press, radio, exhibits, lectures, films, and cooperation with the United Nations. The Radio Department, for example, delivered programs to numerous English-speaking radio stations, in addition to the 27 Polish-American stations that received regular weekly programs. The center also sponsored the production of some 22 films, and organized several traveling exhibits a year.
    Very little in the collection at the Hoover Archives covers the work of those specialized departments operating within the center, such as the German Section (Dzial Niemiecki) directed by Joseph Frejlich, which dealt with the activities of German and German-American circles in the United States. Employees would attend meetings of such groups on the East coast and report back to London. Fortunately, Frejlich also deposited his papers at Hoover, and they should be considered a good complement to the center's records.
    The year 1945 brought big budget cuts, and half of the employees were laid off. The center shared the fate of many other Polish diplomatic posts, as the loss of diplomatic recognition of the London government by the Western Allies resulted in the termination of its operations. By decree of Poland's President, Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz, on July 3, 1945, the center was officially shut down.
    Its office files were divided among the Pilsudski Institute in New York and the Hoover Institution, which acquired the records described in this register in 1948. Traces of the center's activities can be found in almost all of the other Polish wartime collections at the Hoover Institution in the form of documents, periodicals, and monographs, particularly, as noted above, among the records of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Preparatory Work Concerning the Peace Conference, as well as of the Polish Embassy in Washington.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Sound recordings
    Poland -- Emigration and immigration
    Poland -- History -- Occupation, 1939-1945
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees
    Polish people -- United States
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Propaganda
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Poland
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Peace
    Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
    Jews -- Poland
    Propaganda, Polish