Tomasz Makowski


Libraries as such are an object of research for library and book scientists who explore the sui generis role of these institutions, or, more specifically, their unique role within the meaning of today’s standards. The social, cultural and scientific role of Polish libraries remains practically outside the scope of interest of scholars, and almost completely outside the scope of interest of scholars specializing in the history of historiography. The existing synthetical and analytical literature about the history of research projects, general scholarly activity, or the historical education of society, contains explicit reservations that it will not dwell on the role of libraries and the collections development of national memorabilia, thereby narrowing the scope of interest to the activity of historians in areas specific to today’s historical science: academic seminars, scientific societies and scientific or popular science periodicals.1 Is this the right approach for exploring Polish historiography of the 19th century? Let the Zamoyski Family Library in Warsaw serve as an example in this discussion.

The first Zamoyski book collection, established by Jan Zamoyski (1542-1605), Chancellor and Great Hetman of the Crown and one of the richest and most powerful men of that time in Poland and in Europe as well, played a functional role in the best meaning of the term. Printed and hand-written books were to serve their owner and his scholarly environment, which was composed of professors of the University and some equally well-educated courtiers and clients of the Chancellor.2

They were also to serve those who dealt with describing the national history. The founder of the Zamoyski libraries, both the palatial and the university ones  (which upon having been moved to Warsaw formed the nucleus of the Zamoyski Family Library), pursued an active policy of presenting the past of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was based upon the collected source material.3 These historical interests did not subside with subsequent generations of the Zamoyski Estate owners holding the title of Ordynat. After having been moved to the Blue Palace in Warsaw in 1811, the combined Zamoyski book collections – those of the palace, the former Academy, ex-Chancellor Andrzej, Ordynat Aleksander XI, and his successor Stanisław Kostka Zamoyski – gave rise to the Zamoyski Family Library (Polish abbreviation: BOZ).

Let us have a closer look at the Warsaw-based Zamoyski Family Library under the rule of Józef Przyborowski and Tadeusz Korzon. The scientific situation for Polish scholars in Warsaw was very different from that in Cracow and Lwów, due to the loss of independence by Poland in 1795 – which was regained in 1918 – and the different approaches of the new rulers: Russia, Prussia and Austria. For instance, in Cracow, the university had existed from the 15th century. In Warsaw, under the Russian occupation, the situation was very hard for those who wanted to do any research on Polish history or literature. Stefan Kieniewicz distinguished three stages of the development of science in Warsaw in the 19th century, or rather three successive scholarly milieus working under various conditions that, in each case, relied upon different institutions. The first stage, after the third partition, was connected with the activity of the Society for the Advancement of Sciences, and, later on, the University of Warsaw. That period lasted until the November Uprising of 1830, whereupon the Society was disbanded. The following, post-Uprising generation was not to find a historical milieu in Warsaw. Reintegration of the historical community started in the 1840s in the editorial boards of several scientific journals, first among them the “Biblioteka Warszawska.” The meetings of the editorial board were a stopgap for the meetings of scientific societies. It is worth remembering that at that time only every sixth scholar was connected with some kind of a scientific institution. In historiographical writings, the Main School - founded in 1862 and closed down seven years later - basked in glory, while in actual fact outstanding professors, such as Adolf Pawiński or Karol Estreicher, were exceptions to the rule. One fourth of the lecturers had no publications at all. In 1869, the Main School was replaced by the Tsar Alexander University. In this third stage, history professionals made a living from various sources: legal and illegal pedagogical work, journalism, or work in a variety of social institutions. The post-1870 period saw a revival of periodicals that attracted scholars.4

1 See J. Maternicki, Kultura i edukacja historyczna społeczeństwa polskiego w XIX w. Zarys problematyki i postulaty badawcze [Historical Culture and Education of Polish Society in the 19th Century. An Outline and Suggestions for Future Research] In: Edukacja historyczna społeczeństwa polskiego w XIX w. Zbiór studiów [Historical Education of Polish Society in the 19th Century. A Collection of Studies], ed. J. Maternicki, Warszawa 1981, p. 121.

2 T. Makowski, A brief history of Jan Zamoyski’s library [in] J lag med böcker. Festschrift till Ulf Göranson, Uppsala, 2012, pp. 243-251. Zarys dziejów biblioteki Jana Zamojskiego [History of the Jan Zamoyski Library. An Outline] in: Zamojsko-Wołyńskie Zeszyty Muzealne, 3, 2005, pp. 91-100; The Zamoyski Library: from Jan to Jan,. ed. T. Makowski, Warszawa 2005, pp. 40-47.

3 Jan Zamoyski was the student of Professor Carlo Sigonio who “broke away from the old rhetorical approach, and switched not so much to purely philological studies as to historical ones. Right now, after the war, some Italian scholars found that he is the predecessor of Muratori, who to a great extent – like August Bielowski in Poland – was the first to establish the foundation of source materials for studies in the history of Italy, covering the period since the 5th century until his contemporary times. He recovered a huge amount of chronicles, documents etc. He put a special emphasis on the Middle Ages, i. e. the period so much neglected and held in contempt during the Renaissance” – H. Barycz, Studia zagraniczne Jana Zamoyskiego [Foreign Studies of Jan Zamoyski], In: Czterysta lat Zamościa. Materiały sesji naukowej zorganizowanej przez Wydział I Nauk Społecznych PAN, Uniw. Im. M. Curie- Skłodowskiej w Lublinie, Zamojskie Tow. Przyj. Nauk, 12-13 czerwca 1980 r. w Zamościu [Four Hundred Years of Zamość. Proceedings of a Scientific Session Organized by the Department of Social Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Zamość Society for the Advancement of Sciences, 12-13 June, 1980, in Zamość], ed. J. Kowalczyk, Wrocław 1983, p. 231. Zamoyski owned not only the fundamental source material for studies in Polish history, such as Górski’s 16th century “Files” from the Royal Chancery, the chronicles of Gallus Anonimus and Jan Długosz, but also the five-volume inventory of the Archives of the Crown Treasury on the Wawel Hill which came into being under his direction. To find more about his historiographic activity, see S. Łempicki, Polski Medyceusz XVI w. [The Polish 16th Century Medici], in: Mecenat wielkiego kanclerza . Studia o Janie Zamoyskim [Patronage of the Great Chancellor. Studies on Jan Zamoyski], ed. S. Grzybowski, Warszawa 1980, pp. 494-499; idem, Śladem komentarzy Cezara (hetman Jan Zamoyski współpracownikiem Heidensteina) [In the Footsteps of Caesar’s Comments (Hetman Jan Zamoyski as a Collaborator of Heidenstein)], in: ibid., pp. 381-402; idem, Hetman Zamoyski – miłośnik starożytności [Hetman Zamoyski – The Lover of the Antiquity] , in: ibid., pp. 581-585; H. Barycz, Szlakami dziejopisarstwa staropolskiego. Studia nad historiografią w. XVI-XVII [In the Footsteps of Old Polish Historiography. Studies in 16th -17th Century Historiography], Wrocław 1981, pp. 45-67.

4 S. Kieniewicz, Trzy etapy rozwoju nauki w Warszawie w XIX w [Three Stages of the Development of Science in Warsaw in the 19th Century], in: idem, Historyk a świadomość narodowa [The Historian and National Awareness], Warszawa 1982, pp. 143-161.