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Register of the Polish independent publications collection, 1976-1990
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Acknowledgement
  • Introduction

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Polish Independent Publications Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1976-1990
    Collection Number: XX840
    Collection Size: 206 manuscript boxes (82.4 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Serial issues, books, and pamphlets, published by underground and uncensored presses in Poland, relating to political and cultural conditions in Poland. Includes issuances of Solidarnosc, among other organizations.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language: Polish.

    Administrative Information


    Collection open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (222 reels).

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Polish independent publications collection, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Access Points

    Underground literature--Poland
    NSZZ "Solidarnosc" (Labor organization)


    This work was made possible in part through a grant from the United States Institute of Peace


    The phenomenon of large-scale independent and underground political publishing in Communist Poland during the final years of Soviet domination over Eastern Europe has no parallel in the region. Whereas illegal anti-Communist literature in all of the other countries of East Central Europe was a phenomenon that produced a total of several hundred imprints, in Poland during the 1976-1990 period the output of monographs and periodicals by independent and underground presses amounted to several thousand titles. Because of the vast scale and the great variety of Polish opposition publishing of the 1976-1990 period, it is most encouraging to note that projects have been undertaken, both in Poland and elsewhere, to compile full bibliographic documentation of underground publications, as well as to preserve and to make available for scholarly study as many of these materials as possible. The present register, revised and updated thanks to the financial assistance of the United States Institute of Peace, is meant as a contribution to this effort.
    The Hoover Institution's collection of Polish independent materials was initiated late in 1976, when photocopies of the first publications became available in the West. The results of the efforts of the first collectors, Rimma Bogert and Joseph Dwyer, were recorded in a list of titles issued as The Polish Uncensored Press: Holdings of the Hoover Institution, 1977-1982 (Hoover Institution, 1982). By 1985, the collection more than doubled in size. A new list, Polish Uncensored Serials, 1976-1985 (Hoover Institution, 1985), compiled by Maciej Siekierski, included some 340 serial titles. Its successive updates, each prefaced by the compiler's summary and analysis of developments in underground publishing, recorded a steady growth of holdings. By mid-1989 there were already some 1,500 serial titles in the collection. In 1990, the task of recording new titles and organizing the holdings was taken over by Christopher Lazarski, who, with the assistance of Jolanta Lazarska, completed the project in 1994. The present list is comprised of 2,310 titles from 1976-1990. Over ninety percent of the collection is comprised of original issues, rather than later photocopies.
    Both the chronological bounds and the composition of the collection require some explanation. The year 1976 marked the beginning of a series of crises which culminated in the collapse of the Communist system in Poland during 1989-1990. The year 1976 marked also the beginning of a very definite new wave in independent political publishing, publishing which soon became a fundamental feature of the struggle against the Communist regime, toward a democratic society. The year 1990 provides a somewhat less definite caesura. An argument could be made that the victory of Solidarity in the June 1989 elections marked the end of the Communist era and the beginning of a new period in Polish history. June 1989, however, is not a convenient terminal date for independent publishing in Poland. Indeed, an upsurge of independent publishing began in the spring of 1989, and continued through 1990. Furthermore, it should also be noted that censorship was not formally eliminated in Poland until June 1990. The Hoover collection includes over 400 titles from the 1989-1990 period. A few titles even go beyond this general boundary, and include issues from 1991. These periodicals, most of which belong to a new category, that of "citizens' press" ( prasa obywatelska), document the beginning of the transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one, from an underground society to an open society. Obviously, the conditions for independent publishing during the 1976-1990 period varied considerably -from the difficult beginnings in the 1976-1980 period, to the relative toleration during the sixteen months of "legal" Solidarity in 1980-1981, to the severe repression of the martial law period and the subsequent weakening of the regime in the late 1980s, through the collapse of the Communist system in 1989-1990. Nevertheless, just as it was not useful to assign a precise terminal date for the collection, it was not practical to subdivide it chronologically into pre-Solidarity, Solidarity, martial-law, post-martial-law, "neo-Solidarity", or citizens' press categories. Even though only a few titles got published for more than several years, hundreds of titles spanned two or more periods in this last chapter in the struggle against the Communist regime in Poland. All of these titles belong to the same genre of "independent press" --a broad movement striving peacefully to undermine the Communist monopoly of power and to provide a forum for discussion of ways to achieve a democratic society.
    Besides the qualifications regarding the chronological limits of the collection and the issue of its internal periodization, a note on some technical aspects of the project is in order. What has been completed is not a bibliography of Polish independent publications of the 1976-1990 period, but rather an alphabetical guide, a list of periodical titles in the collection. Because of the proportions of the project and technical limitations, a decision was made to provide only a title entry, without Polish diacritical marks, and, as much as it was possible from a general examination, the basic bibliographic information, with the aim of informing researchers as to what titles and which issues are available in the Hoover collection. Bibliographers will argue over what constitutes the most complete and accurate entry for many of the publications involved. Historians will decide which organizations and printing presses were responsible for some of the titles. Neither will be able to identify all of the numerous titles and counterfeit issues produced by police agents and disinformation specialists in the Ministry of the Interior. Nevertheless, the compilers hope that improved access to this large collection will contribute to progress of scholarly research on many aspects of the political, intellectual, and social history of Poland of the last two decades.
    It should also be noted that independent serials is only one of several Solidarity-era collections held by the Hoover Institution Archives. About 1,350 underground monographic titles (a list of monographic holdings follows that of the serials), as well as thousands of leaflets, underground postage stamps, photographs, etc., are also available in the Archives. Additionally, the Joanna Szczesna and Tadeusz Stachnik collections, comprised almost entirely of Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR) and underground Solidarity materials, deserve attention. The Hoover Archives also hold over 500 casette recordings, most from 1980-1981, documenting the activities of the leadership and the central bodies of the Solidarity movement. Finally, The Hoover Institution Archives has acquired a substantial collection of reports, analyses, and miscellaneous materials produced and collected by Department III of the Polish security police, SB, providing important complementary documentation of the anti-Communist movement in Poland during the 1980's.
    Of the many people who have contributed to the building of the Hoover Institution's Polish Independent Publications Collection, three individuals deserve special recognition. Wladyslaw and Wojciech Chojnacki, who under the collective pseudonym of Jozefa Kaminska published the first comprehensive scholarly bibliography of the Polish underground press (Jozefa Kaminska, Bibliografia publikacji podziemnych w Polsce , Paris: Editions Spotkania, 1988), were the principal suppliers of independent publications to the Hoover Institution beginning in 1985. It was largely due to their contacts, ingenuity, and courage that hundreds of underground titles found their way to Stanford. The other person who made a special contribution to the Hoover collection was Joanna Szczesna. From 1976 to 1989, she was successively the co-editor of the Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR) "Information Bulletin" ( Biuletyn Informacyjny ), of the Solidarity Press Agency "AS", and of underground Solidarity's central organ "Mazovia Weekly ( Tygodnik Mazowsze). She was also an avid collector of underground literature. Her collection of underground publications was donated to the Hoover Institution in 1992. Periodicals from the Szczesna collection were added to the previously processed holdings of Polish independent periodicals, resulting in the addition of about 250 new titles and of several thousand individual issues to the present guide. It is thanks to these dedicated individuals, and others too numerous to mention in this brief introduction, that the Hoover Institution's holdings of Polish independent publications are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
    by Maciej Siekierski, Curator East Central European Collection Hoover Institution