Research on community archives
From 2016 to 2019 I was the PI of a research project entitled Community archives in Poland - multiple case study [Archiwa społeczne w Polsce – wielokrotne studium przypadku], funded by the National Science Center in Kraków, Poland. The project was designed to collect information about Polish contemporary community archives, using methods of interviews, observations, and desk research.
Monograph summing up the project:
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Inaczej to zniknie. Archiwa społeczne w Polsce - wielokrotne studium przypadku, Nicolaus Copernicus Univ. Publishing House, Toruń 2019, pp. 615.
Translation of the title: Otherwise, it disappears. Community archives in Poland - multiple case study (2019). First scientific monograph about community archives in Poland (in the Polish language). The book presents results of field studies in eight contemporary Polish community archives and presents their variety on the map of Polish cultural heritage. Detailed reports on each of those archives describe e.g. archive's history and objectives, specification of archival holdings, activities and cooperation with other institutions and organizations, ways of collecting, storage, arrangement and description, and providing access to the archives, how is the archive funded, who creates it, and what are archive's problems and plans for the future. The book contains also a detailed description of previous definitions of the term 'community archives' (in Poland and abroad), previous research of the phenomenon, current situation of and around community archives in Poland, as well as extensive description of methodology and research process. The monograph is based on my PhD dissertation defenced in May 2018 at the Faculty of History, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland. The research was funded by the National Science Center in Kraków, Poland (grant no. 2015/19/N/HS3/02466).
Table of contents:
- Commentary on publication's title and construction
- Reasons for interest in the phenomenon of community archiving
- Aims and objectives
- Research questions and scope of the study
Chapter 1: The term "community archive" - analysis of English-language and Polish definitions
Chapter 2: Previous research on community archives (in Poland and abroad)
Chapter 3: Theory and methodology
- Paradigm and research approach
- Research strategy
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Pilot study
- Problems and challenges
Chapter 4: Case report: Cyfrowe Archiwum Łodzian Miastograf.pl (Digital Archive of Łódź Citizens Miastograf.pl)
The Digital Archive of Łódź Citizens Miastograf.pl is a grassroots project initiated by young residents of Łódź, a city in middle Poland, whose aim is to collect and share information about past Łódź - primarily in the form of oral history recordings and copies of photographs of the city in the past. The idea of the initiative is based on presenting the past of the city from the bottom-up, "ordinary person" perspective.
Chapter 5: Case report: Bronowickie Archiwum Społeczne (Community Archive in Bronowice)
The Community Archive in Bronowice is a digital community archive, which includes oral history interviews of residents of Bronowice and copies of documents they provided (mainly photographs) about the history of everyday life and traditions of Bronowice - once a village near Kraków, now part of the city of Kraków.
Chapter 6: Case report: Archiwum Południowo-Wschodniego Instytutu Naukowego (Archive of the Southeast Scientific Institute in Przemyśl)
The Southeast Scientific Institute in Przemyśl is an association formed on the canvas of the Scientific Station of the Polish Historical Society Branch in Przemyśl. The Institute is an information center running a scientific library, which collections mainly concern Ukrainian studies. The other fields of Institutes's activity are research and publishing. The Institute organizes conferences and scientific symposia, as well as various educational projects for school and academic youth, and also provides assistance to those involved in research of Ukraine or in Ukraine. The archives held by the Institute are the organization's own records, as well as materials taken over from the Polish Historical Society, and donations related to the Institute's interest, including private individuals' archives.
Chapter 7: Case report: Fundacja Generał Elżbiety Zawackiej. Archiwum i Muzeum Pomorskie Armii Krajowej oraz Wojskowej Służby Polek (General Elżbieta Zawacka Foundation. Archive and Museum of the Home Army and Polish Women Military Service)
The General Elżbieta Zawacka Foundation was formally established in 1990, however documentary activities and work methods were initiated as activity undertaken by Elżbieta Zawacka at the end of the 1960s. The Foundation's archives include materials on three main topics: history of the military conspiracy in Pomerania, history of Polish military service and history of the Foreign Communications Department of the Home Army. The most important part of the archives are personal files (several thousand in total), showing these three issues through the prism of the personal fate of Pomeranian conspirators, women soldiers and Home Army couriers. The Foundation also has museum and vast library collections. The Foundation conducts lively educational activities, organizes lectures, workshops, scientific and popular science conferences, as well as publishes biographical dictionaries and materials from organized meetings.
Chapter 8: Case report: Archiwum Stowarzyszenia „Opowiadacze Historii Dolnego Miasta w Gdańsku” (Archive of Association "History Tellers from the Lower City in Gdańsk")
The Association "History Tellers from the Lower City in Gdańsk" deals with documenting the history and present of the Lower City (one of districts in Gdańsk's downtown) as well as extensive activities for revitalizing the Lower City and improving its image. As part of their activities, members of the Association record memories of the district, collect copies of photographs from family albums, buy postcards and pre-war photographs of the Lower City. The Association has published a total of six subjective guides to the Lower City and a book about the history of the district until 1945. In the summer, History Tellers play the role of local guides, organizing alternative walks around the district.
Chapter 9: Case report: Obywatelskie Archiwum Podkowy Leśnej (Civic Archive in Podkowa Leśna)
The Civic Archive in Podkowa Leśna (a satellite town close to Warsaw) is part of the Society of Friends of the Garden-City Podkowa Leśna; the Society has got pre-war traditions. The materials collected in the archive relate in particular to the history of the town (founded in the interwar period) and the democratic anti-communist opposition of the 1970s and 1980s. A large part of the archive was professionally processed as part of a subsidy from the State Archives.
Chapter 10: Case report: Archiwum Fundacji Archeologia Fotografii (Archive of Archeology of Photography Foundation)
The Archeology of Photography Foundation was established in Warsaw in 2008. Currently, it stores the photographic archives of twelve outstanding Polish photographers operating in the 20th century, including Zofia Chomętowska, Wojciech Zamecznik, Mariusz Hermanowicz, Antoni Zdebiak, Andrzej Georgiew. The Foundation owns only the Chomętowska's archive - the remaining collections are deposits. The Foundation undertakes numerous activities around photographic archives - exhibitions, workshops, meetings; the organization has also published many exhibition catalogs and albums.
Chapter 11: Case report: Klub Historyczny LGBTQIA Fem (LGBTQIA Fem History Club)
The LGBTQIA Fem History Club operates as part of the Q Foundation in Warsaw, documenting history of non-heteronormative people in Poland and history of feminism. The archive consists of materials from the 20th and 21st century - including leaflets, brochures, zines, magazines, books, photographs, traditional records, oral history interviews.
Chapter 12: Cross-case analysis
- Local character, beginnings and aims of community archives
- Archives' headquarters and storage of archival materials
- Character of community archives' holdings and ways of collecting them
- Archival processing and description in community archives
- Providing access to archival materials and public work of community archives
- Cooperation with environment
- People engaged in creating community archives
- Future plans and further fate of archival holdings
- Community archives movement
- Significance assessment
- Stability of community archives
Each case report (chapters 4-11) comprises of the following sections:
1 - Introduction
1A - Archive's name
1B - Short description of the project
1C - Participant (interviewee)'s data
1D - Ways of collecting data
1E - Comments
2 - Project's profile
2A - Name of organization responsible for the archive
2B - Subject of archival holdings
2C - Location and area of operation
2D - Date of creation
3 - Beginnings
4 - Purposes (aims) of the archive
5 - Headquarters (seat)
6 - Character of archival holdings
6A - Paper/digital
6B - Size
6C - Formats and physical character
7 - Actions taken by the archive
7A - Exhibitions
7B - Confreneces, meetings, workshops, lessons, lectures…
7C - Games, competitions, archival tourism…
7D - Publishing activity
7E - Others
8 - Structure and cooperation
8A - Type of organization
8B - Ways of managing
8C - Cooperating institutions and organizations
9 - Funding
10 - People engaged in creating the archive
10A - Number of people engaged
10B - Functions
10C - Type of cooperation with the archive (volunteer, employed, practicum, training, other)
10D - Ways to gain volunteers
11 - Collecting archival materials
11A- Who does that?
11B - Ways of collecting materials/reaching donors
11C - Acquisition registers
11D - Archival selection
11E - Wheather original materials or copies are collected
11F - Ways of acquisition (offering, deposit, loan, other)
12 - Storage of archival materials
12A - Storage conditions
12B - Tools and equipment
12C - Additional comments
13 - Arrangement and description of archival materials
13A - Finding aids
13B - Structure of the holdings
13C - Signatures
13D - Aid materials (eg. using some professional regulations or standards for archival processing)
13E - Information system (if the archive created an individual, separate information system)
13F - Additional comments
14 - Providing access to archival materials
14A - Ways of providing access
14B - Archival queries (ordered by users)
14C - Assesment of accessibility and its limitations
14D - Number of users
14E - Types of users
14F - Ways of registering users
15 - Problems
16 - Future plans
16A - Conduct with archival materials in case of closing the organization
17 - Engagement in the community archives movement
18 - Significance assessment
18A - Value of archival holdings
18B - Impact on local (or other) community
18C - Possible impact on archives' general image
18D - Project's stability
18E - Others
Description of the project in English:
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Community archives in Poland - multiple case study: description of the research project, pp. 18 [published: 3.11.2016].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Miastograf – Cyfrowe Archiwum Łodzian – szkic raportu z badania pilotażowego, pp. 35 [published: 4.01.2017].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Bronowickie Archiwum Społeczne – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 31 [published: 9.02.2017].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Południowo-Wschodni Instytut Naukowy w Przemyślu – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 51 [published: 17.07.2017].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Archiwum Stowarzyszenia „Opowiadacze Historii Dolnego Miasta w Gdańsku” – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 39 [published: 8.02.2018].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Obywatelskie Archiwum Podkowy Leśnej – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 39 [published: 28.02.2018].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Fundacja Generał Elżbiety Zawackiej. Archiwum i Muzeum Pomorskie Armii Krajowej oraz Wojskowej Służby Polek – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 66 [published: 8.03.2018].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Archiwum Fundacji Archeologia Fotografii – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 61 [published: 21.03.2018].
M. Wiśniewska-Drewniak, Klub Historyczny LGBTQIA Fem – raport z badania terenowego, pp. 22 [published: 23.08.2019].