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Collection of precious photographs has expanded the Virtual Shtetl collections

Over 200 archival photographs from the collections of the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences have enriched the collections on our website. Majority of the photographs have not been published yet.

These are mostly photographs of synagogues and their interiors from, among other places, Brest-Litovsk, Dubno, Gąbin, Grodno, Gwoździec, Izabelin, Janów, Kleck, Klewań, Kórnik, Krzemieniec, Nowogródek, Kobryń, Końskie, Lutomiersk, Maciejów, Mogielnica, Parzęczew, Przedbórz, Sidra, Targowica, Tarnopol, Zbaraż, Zelwa and Żydaczów. Most of these buildings were destroyed during World War II. The collection includes photos of general panoramas of the cities, photographs of cemeteries and local residents.


The photographs were taken by, among others, Adam Bochnak, Jan Bułhak, Henryk Poddębski, Szymon Zajczyk; the names of many authors, however, remained unknown.

That unique collection was obtained thanks to Adam Dylewski, editor-in-chief of the Virtual Shtetl website, and Justyna Filochowska, the website's Polish laanguage version editor. We would like to extend our thanks to the employees of the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences where other precious materials possibly await being discovered.

The initial research carried out in different Polish academic institutions, in particular those dealing with documenting monuments of history, prove that very valuable collections of photographs and Jewish artefacts are being preserved by them. However, they have often remained undeveloped for years not to mention being exhibitied or published.

At present, the process of acquiring  similar collections from institutions dealing with the history of industry and architecture is underway.

The photographs are available on the Virtual Shtetl website, in sections of particular cities as illustrations to descriptions of synagogues and the articles on history of Jewish communities.

Author: Krzysztof Bielawski
Source: own information