A guide to the digital collections of Polish archives

In this one-woman-effort, historian Victoria Phillips gathers students, researchers and archivists in a series of online seminars to provide insight into the digital collections of archives from all over the world. The upcoming session on Friday, 12 March, will give a „sweeping view“ of selected archives in Poland.

A year into the pandemic, it's fair to say that it has pushed almost everybody and everything online. The myriad of academic blogs, podcasts and websites it has produced can make it difficult to discern which of the many endeavours are worth one's time (and that of their authors, considering many projects have, by now, either lost their relevance or ceased to exist altogether).

History Online, however, does not belong into that last category. It was devised by historian Victoria Phillips, visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, in an attempt to adapt her class to the new teaching conditions. Bearing the full title: On-Line Global Research Tactics for the Twenty-First Century, her project puts the archivist front and centre and acknowledges their crucial work in guiding researchers through the colossal amount of freely accessible digital collections.

The upcoming seminar on 12 March will feature archivists from two Polish institutions: Franciszek Dąbrowski and Marek Dąbrowski from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), as well as Jan Annusewicz and Rafał Sztarski from the Central Archives of Modern Records (AAN). The presentations will be followed by a discussion on how to work with Polish Cold War documents featuring Patryk Babiracki and Sławomir Łukasiewicz, moderated by Victoria Phillips. Registration for the event is free and open to all.

History Online is an individual initiative by Phillips and has, as of now, no institutional home, whilst managing to attract, at times, over 80 participants. Normally, Phillips would have taken advanced undergraduate, M.A. and Ph.D. students to archives in the United States and Europe as part of her Cold War Archival Research Project (CWAR). So far, the series of online seminars has hosted archivists from the Blinken Open Society Archives, the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) digital archive, the British National Archives, the Total Digital Access Project by the League of Nations, and discussed Latin American newspapers and databases.

All presentations can be revisited on Phillips' website, where the recording of the upcoming seminar on Polish archives will be made available afterwards, too.

Phillips plans to continue History Online in the summer term and is currently looking into other archives and institutions to collaborate with. Get in touch with her or stay tuned for news on Pol-Int.

Linked content


History Online is a new series of seminars to explore freely accessible digital collections with archivists internationally. In the COVID and post-pandemic world, more primary-document research will be conducted via remote devices using new techniques. While upholding the rigors of responsible scholarship, what are the possibilities now available to...

more