Polish Declarations: Sharing a Forgotten Treasure Through Digitization
This unusual collection had been challenging for researchers to use for nine decades. The secondary school signature sheets (Volumes 7-13) are bound in random sequence. Although most of the elementary school volumes (14-110) are arranged alphabetically by administrative district (powiat, plural powiaty), unless the researcher happens to know in which powiat a school was located, she or he will not know in which volume to search. Powiat boundaries of 1926 Poland do not coincide with present-day administrative districts. Moreover, volumes 94-110 contain signature sheets that for unknown reasons were not bound with the other elementary school entries from their respective powiaty.
The digital version of Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States, available in its entirety since 2017,resolves some of these issues of searchability. With the exception of famous persons after whom institutions are named, such as the Maria Konopnicka Municipal Gimnazjum in Leszno or the Queen Jadwiga State Gimnazjum in Pabianice, personal names are not searchable. However, researchers are now able to search by keyword (English or Polish without diacritics) and locate information about particular villages, cities, districts, provinces, institutions, or organizations. The source of these place names was an Index prepared previously by European Division staff.
The names of cities, towns, and villages are presented precisely as recorded in the original Polish, although diacritic marks have been stripped to facilitate searching. Variant spellings in other languages of the region are not offered.
Although they lack precise equivalents in American usage, the Polish administrative units are translated as follows: wojewodztwo (abbreviated woj.)–province; powiat (abbreviated pow.)– district; and gmina (abbreviated gm.)–township. The Polish terms gimnazjum [later spelled gimnazium] and liceum remain untranslated, as they have no counterpart in the American educational system.