The history of the Warsaw
Archives is closely tied to the history of the city of Warsaw and its municipal
administration. The latest research shows that Warsaw was probably founded near
the estate of the Prince of Masovia in Jazdów between the 13th and 14th century.
Unfortunately the original foundation charter was not preserved to our times.
We may be sure, however, that it existed and that it was the first document in
the Archives of the capital city of Warsaw. The oldest existing original document
preserved to our times is the privilege founding a town bath in Warsaw, issued
by the Prince of Masovia, Janusz Starszy on August 26th, 1376.
The turning-point in the history of the city of Warsaw and the city Archives was included in the Polish Constitution of May 3rd, 1791. It was the law of crown towns and cities in the Polish Kingdom. The General City Archives of Warsaw were established in April 1792. The new institution was to preserve all municipal administration records. Hipolit Lemański was the first General Archivist in Warsaw. Though records were collected at an impressive pace the whole action was stopped by the events going on at that time - following the Targowica Confederation in 1792 the jurisdiction offices began to reclaim their records. The General City Archives of Warsaw and the position of the General Archivist existed for a few months only.
In 1810 the Prince of Warsaw issued an edict which moved the oldest
municipal records (c.a. 1800 vol.) to the Archives of Historical
Records in Warsaw. In 1817 the remaining records were moved to the new
City Hall building in the old Jabłonowski Family Palace located at today's Theater
Square, close to the Old Town. The old, medieval building of the City Hall was
Just before Poland regained independence
new regulations for Warsaw municipal administration have been approved. In 1917
on the basis of these regulations the Main Archive of the Warsaw Municipal Administration
was established. In 1925 the City Council established a special archival committee
responsible for reforming the Archives, nevertheless no improvement was noted.
However, due to the pressure of historians interested in the 19th century holdings
a professional historian was employed in the Archive - Eugeniusz Szwankowski.
Together with another archivist, Adam Słomczyński, they began to process archival
holdings (c.a. 300 000 records) coming from from 1780-1934.
Another turning point in the history of the Archives was the year 1935, when major Adam W. Englert from the Military Historical Office of the Polish Army was appointed the Director of the Warsaw City Archives. The new director, with the support of the President of Warsaw, Stefan Starzyński, took over the Old Arsenal building at Długa 52nd Street and reconstructed the building for archival purposes. The ceremonial opening of the new Archive took place on November 29th, 1938. The Warsaw City Archives have finally acquired a building in which all historical records of the city of Warsaw could be kept. Unfortunately one year later World War II began. The records were not damaged in the siege of Warsaw in 1939 and the German occupation. The most damage to the holdings was done during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The records survived heavy fights, the majority of the holdings was saved, however just after the fighting was over the Nazi troops methodically burnt down all archival records kept in the Arsenal.
April 1945, after Warsaw was liberated, the Warsaw City Archives were brought
back to life by the President of Warsaw. In the beginning the Archives occupied
a few rooms at 8th Marszałkowska Street. In 1955 the Archives received three reconstructed
townhouses (7th and 9th Krzywe Koło Street and 12th Nowomiejska Street). For almost
half a century now these buildings have been the main seat of the Archives. In
June 1951 the Warsaw City Archives were incorporated in the structure of the state
archives and received a new name - Voivodship State Archive. The scope of activity
of the Archive changed, too, as it was now to cover the whole Warsaw Voivodship
© APW 1997-2009