Digital Repository of Wielkopolska Uprising

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About the Project

When in 2018 whole Poland celebrated the 100th anniversary of regaining independence, people living in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland region) had an additional reason for the celebrations. On 27 December 1918 the Wielkopolska Uprising broke out in Poznań, which soon took over the whole region, contributing to the inclusion of the cradle of Polish statehood in the borders of the newly emerging The second Republic of Poland.

On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Wielkopolska Uprising, the State Archive in Poznań, to commemorate this very glorious card in the history of our nation, prepared a project of placing digitised archival materials connected with the Wielkopolska Uprising on the Internet. Our main motivation, apart from, exposing the victorious uprising of independence, was the fact that the available materials devoted to the Uprising and their digitalization were prepared earlier. However, let us start from the beginning.

Already in 2003, works connected with defining a detailed list of objects connected with the Uprising, which were stored in the Polish State Archives and other institutions, such as libraries, were carried out. The main intention of this study entitled "Wielkopolska Uprising 1918-1919". Catalogue of sources and materials. Poznań, 2003", edited by Stanisław Sierpowski, was to identify and recognize the materials devoted to the Uprising for their later digitization. In the collection of the State Archive in Poznań and its branches in Gniezno, Konin and Piła, 2.320 units were catalogued, which include more than 61.000 pages of documents.

After the stage of preparing the Catalogue of Sources, it was verified by the employees of the Archive and the material was put in order, errors were corrected and the list was supplemented with missing items. Archival materials selected in this way were then successively scanned. Some of them were in poor technical condition and before scanning could take place, it was necessary to carry out necessary conservation works. The materials were digitalized in the Reprographic Laboratory of our Archive on Zeutschel OS10000 scanners. The scanned files had to be processed on a graphic station, and the ready scans of documents were verified in technical and substantive terms, and then archived in the basic, lossless archival format, i.e. TIFF. On an ongoing basis, utility copies in PDF and JPG formats were also prepared for further publication on DVD or on Internet. The above activities were accompanied by supplementing and verifying the electronic inventory of digitised materials. Digitisation and simultaneous publishing the digital copies of the materials on the Internet, on the one hand, enables universal and free access to them by all interested parties without the need to visit the Archives' research laboratory, and on the other hand, it allows to exclude the originals from making them available, and thus influences their security and facilitates further conservation works.

Most copies of the materials have been published on www.szukajwarchiwach.pl and are available for the Internet users. However, the specific nature of this archival portal makes it necessary for the users to have broad knowledge about the history of the political system in this period and hierarchy of the archival collections in order to be able to make efficient and optimal use of the published archival sources. For example, photographs related to the Uprising are among hundreds of other documents in various Acts of Cities, Acts of the Voivodeship Office, Acts of Veteran-of-war organizations, etc. Without a lot of knowledge and a bit of luck, people interested in the Uprising or in discovering of their family roots would probably never have found suitable materials.

So at the end, we decided that it is worth to use the "Catalogue of sources..." edited by Stanisław Sierpowski, as well as other studies and inventories available in the Archive and prepare the "Digital Archive of the Wielkopolska Uprising", which would collect all archival materials from the resources of the State Archive in Poznań, which are the sources for the history of the Wielkopolska Uprising. Moreover, the assumption was to link the service with scans available on the portal www.szukajwarchiwach.pl and to enable easy search for own index phrases - usually names of towns or villages and names of insurgents.

In the second half of 2018, the work began and the initial version of the website was inaugurated on December 28, 2018 at a meeting organized by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which took place in Belvedere, the palace of the President of Poland. The website contains a list of objects that have been digitalized and combines the entries on this list with digital copies of archival materials published on the www.szukajwarchiwach.pl portal. In a similar way, a list of key words of the material index prepared by Marek Rezler for selected archival materials from the list of objects subject to digitization was prepared and placed, along with linking index records to digital copies of archival materials. In addition, a list of participants in the Wielkopolska Uprising registered in the books of ZBOWID (The veteran –of-war association) was prepared and published. The entries on this list were also combined with digital copies of the books, so that everyone interested could easily find the insurgents and read the original documents.

We wanted the beneficiaries of the project to be not only scientists of various research profiles and historians dealing with the Wielkopolska Uprising and issues related to Poland's regaining independence, but also people focusing on the history of their own families and looking for their ancestors - the Wielkopolska insurgents. It was mainly for them that the search engine was developed and, we hope, a clear way of presenting information. Of course, we are aware of the fact that any study concerning such a great effort of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people from a hundred years ago, which was the Wielkopolska Uprising, will not be complete. Our goal, however, was to present the available materials concerning the Uprising from our archival resources and our districts in Gniezno, Konin and Piła.

The project was carried out by the State Archive in Poznan with financial support from the Veolia Foundation.