The special collections consisting of manuscripts, old prints, cartographic items, drawings, photographs, video recordings, prints published after 1800 (from the old, pre-war Library holdings), bibliophilic prints and microfilms constitute the most precious – from the scientific and historical point of view – part of the Raczynski Library holdings. They are available in the Special Collections Reading Room (Wolnosci Square 19, room 3) pursuant to the Reading Room rules. Apart from the special collections, the Reading Room offers also a rich reference library.
You are welcome to visit the Special Collections Reading Room on:
Department Director – Agnieszka Baszko, MA, custodian
Library Museums subordinated to the Special Collections Department:
The collection of manuscripts accumulated systematically from the Library’s beginning in 1829, amounts to over 4,000 items now. The collection consists mainly of literary and historical materials.
The most important set among the literary manuscripts is the Polish portfolio of Boleslaw Erzepki containing numerous materials (usually their copies and excerpts) referring to Polish national poets, writers and playwrights: Mikolaj Rej, Jan Kochanowski, Marcin Kromer, Adam Naruszewicz, Ignacy Krasicki, Stanislaw Trembecki and Teofil Lenartowicz. Another collection contains autographs of Antoni Malczewski, Wincenty Pol, Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, Stanislaw Przybyszewski and Jan Kasprowicz.
The historical materials predominantly include manuscripts depicting the political, social and cultural history of the Wielkopolska region. The majority of them date back to the 19th and 20th century, but the special collections abound also in sources describing the history of Wielkopolska from before the times of partition, e.g. Lauda of Sroda from the 16th and 17th century. Among historical manuscripts one may find:
The manuscripts collections contain also materials describing the history of the Church (also materials about Wielkopolska monasteries and convents) as well as precious diaries and rich materials going beyond the Wielkopolska region, e.g. Radziviliana acquired from poet Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz which include e.g. royal letters from the 16th and 17th century.
According to printed catalogs, until 1939, the Library had been in possession of 237 certificates, 156 of which dated back to the Medieval times. All but one of them had been taken to Poznan City Archives and have gone missing since the Second World War. Currently, the Library is in possession of almost 500 certificates, 4 of which come from the Medieval times (e.g. king Wladyslaw Jagiello’s certificate from 1424, and king Jan Olbracht’s – from 1496). Among the most precious ones one may find also: royal certificates (e.g. of Queen Bona, Zygmunt Stary, Zygmunt August, Stefan Batory, Zygmunt III Waza, Wladyslaw IV, Jan Kazimierz) and papal certificates (e.g. of Clement XII, Benedict XIV, Pius VI, and Innocent IV).Among the most interesting manuscripts one may find:
The following manuscripts catalogs are available in the Special Collections Reading Room:
While using the manuscripts one may also consult indexes (alphabetical, subject, provenance) and library files (of manuscript prints and photographs).
The collection of old prints, i.e. prints published before 1801, comes chiefly from the old pre-war Library holdings. One may find among them some books from the Wyszyna collection of the Raczynski family, from Wielkopolska monastery libraries and from Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz’s collections.
The most valuable of old prints are incunabula (prints from before 1500) - the Library has 252 of them. The majority of them are foreign prints. It is worth to mention the following items:
In terms of their contents, the manuscripts comprise various fields of knowledge, however the historical and literary works constitute a majority. The most precious among them are Polish materials from the 16th century representing all important printing houses, especially those from Krakow. One my find there Missale Vratislaviense, a print from 1505, published by Jan Haller, including an illuminated parchment cannon of the Holy Mass along with a handwritten musical text. The Library is in possession of over 80 foreign materials concerning Poland published in the 16th century, over 140 – published in the 17th century, and about 290 – published in the 18th century. Over a half of them comes from German printing houses. Polish materials from the 16th century are dominated by religious subjects. Their main representatives are Polish authors published abroad: Stanislaw Hozjusz, Andrzej Chrzastowski, Stanislaw Karnkowski, Stanislaw Sokolowski and Marcin Kromer. A great amount of Polish materials from the 16th century takes up historical subjects, mainly concerning Poland, e.g. Marcin Kromer’s work De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum. The work was published in Basil in J. Oporinus’s printing house and is represented in the Library holdings by three editions – from 1555, 1558 and 1568. A special position among Polish materials published abroad is occupied by the first edition of Nicholas Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Nuremberg, 1543. The 17th- and 18th-century Polish materials are dominated by historical, political and religious subjects, yet more and more frequently one may come across scientific dissertations in fields of science and natural science.
Our Library also has a great number of old prints published in Poznan and the Wielkopolska region (over 1000 volumes) including those coming from the oldest publishing houses of Melchior Nehring and Jan Wolrab. The most interesting among them are:
Apart from Polish prints, there is also an abundance of German, French, Latin and Greek ones. English, Italian or Spanish prints are actually a rarity. Among the most valuable ones one may mention those from famous printing houses: of Aldus Manutius in Venice, the Giunts in Florence, the Estiennes in Paris, the Frobens in Basil, Plantina in Antwerp, and the Elzewirs in Leiden.
In the Special Collections Reading Room one may use the following catalogs:
Besides, Library files of provenances, of historical bindings, and of Polish and European printing houses may also prove to be helpful while working with the old prints.
The cartographic collection contains almost 1000 items and is very diversified in terms of scientific value. It is dominated by domestic and foreign publications concerning Poland, as well as local materials concerning Wielkopolska and neighboring regions. Local materials constitute 20% of the collection and are a particularly valuable addition to historical research on this region.
Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, the Library did not have a separate collection of maps and atlases. It is difficult even to estimate the size of the pre-war cartographic collection. Presumably it was larger than 4,000 items. The majority of them were local materials and a set of maps published by the Military Geographical Institute. The war brought about destruction and dispersion of the cartographic objects, and only about a quarter of the pre-war collection survived. 859 items have been regained from Saxony.
Among the most precious historic objects belonging to the old Library holdings one may find 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century atlases, as well as maps of Poland from that period. It is worth to mention:
Currently the Library is trying to collect regional cartographic items on a possibly large scale (including topographic maps from the 19th century). Moreover, the Library acquires the newest Polish cartographic publications not only for scientific use but also for educational purposes.
Library’s cartographic holdings are cataloged in a cross card index complying with the Central Catalog of Cartographic Collections.
The Film Collection contains VCRs which have been recorded for the Library since 1987, by Poznan Television Center and "Vimax" Video Studio. The collection depicts a selection of artistic events taking place in Poznan, as well as profiles of artists and scientists who are in any way connected with Poznan either through their descent or cultural activity. Among people from literary circles one may find the profiles of: Stanislaw Baranczak, Przemyslaw Bystrzycki, Nikos Chadzinikolau, Jerzy Korczak, and Egon Naganowski. The theatrical circles are represented by: Izabella Cywinska, Slawa Kwasniewska, Wieslaw Komasa, Conrad Drzewiecki, Roman Kordzinski, Leokadia Serafinowicz. To the musical world belong among others Mieczyslaw Dondajewski, Florian Dabrowski, Jerzy Golfert, Stefan Stuligrosz, Stanislaw Wislocki. The collection contains also recordings of famous visual artists - Jan Berdyszak, Izabella Gustowska, Tadeusz Kalinowski, Stanislaw Teysseyre, Andrzej Okinczyc, Barbara Houwalt, and professors of Poznan universities - Janusz Pajewski, Jerzy Topolski, Lech Trzeciakowski, Waclaw Wilczynski. It is also worth to mention an over 3-hour-long interview with the brilliant raconteur Jerzy Waldorff recalling his connections with Poznan. Apart from that, there are recordings of some theatrical performances, concerts, exhibitions and gallery presentations. One may also find the recordings of Guenther Grass and Jozef Garlinski’s visits to Poznan, as well as the ceremonies of granting doctor honoris causa titles to Krzysztof Penderecki and Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski held at Poznan University.
The recordings are collected for archival purposes and are made available only for research purposes in the Special Collections Reading Room. For public use (e.g. on TV) a consent of people and institutions recorded is required.
Alphabetical card index cataloged according to the names of people and institutions may be very helpful in using the film collection.
Drawings – the collection amounts to about 1,700 items and contains mainly small drawings on local subjects. It includes 19th- and 20th-century postcards depicting Poznan and other cities of the Wielkopolska region (both in single and album forms), historical and patriotic postcards (e.g. 7th Rally of the Polish Gymnastic Association “Falcon”, apotheoses, city coats of arms), Edward Raczynski portraits, views of the Raczynski Library in different periods, images of famous persons, and sundry small drawings, e.g. Marian signs by Antoni Golebniak. Among the most interesting drawings one may mention:
Browsing through the drawings one my find it helpful to consult an alphabetical index (names of people, authors, places, institutions, etc.).
Bookplates – the bookplates collection amounts to 37,000 items and is a totally post-war acquisition. Apart from individual bookplates (including Library's bookplates), the collection contains 5 large sets. These are collections of: Ignacy Kozlowski, Jozef Sikorski, Franciszek Zygarlowski, Romuald Erzepki and Klemens Raczak.
Ignacy Kozlowski’s bookplates were acquired in 1958 and initiated the present collection. Kozlowski was a Poznan bookbinder who collected 973 bookplates from 19th- and the first half of the 20th century, almost exclusively Polish material. In 1960, another bookplates collection (amounting to 426 items) was donated by an antiquarian, Jozef Sikorski. In 1982, the Library purchased a precious bookplates collection of Franciszek Zygarlowski, a pre-war owner of a National Lottery outlet and a tobacco storehouse in Poznan. The collection amounts to 1,884 items. Finally, in 1985, the Library purchased a large bookplates set of Romuald Erzepki (1848-1929) which had been considered lost during World War II. In January 1995, the Library received the largest collection exceeding in size all previous ones. The collection was donated by a famous Poznan bookplate-maker and collector, Klemens Raczak, agricultural engineer by education. The collection includes 673 hand-made bookplates, and over 25,000 collected ones, both Polish and foreign. Poznan bookplate artists are strongly represented by Franciszek Burkiewicz, Maria Dolna, Antoni Golebniak, Andrzej Jeziorkowski, Zbigniew Kaja, Andrzej Kandziora, Czeslaw Kelma, Stanislaw Mrowinski, Jan Olejniczak, Marian Roman and Jerzy Rybarczyk. Among the bookplates handmade by K. Raczak it is worth to mention those of Arkady Fiedler, Adam Hanuszkiewicz, pope John Paul II, Czeslaw Milosz, Irena Siewinska, and Lech Walesa. Bookplates made by foreign artists, mainly from Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Germany, and the Ukraine, constitute a large part of the collection. K. Raczaks’ collection is complemented by small drawings, a book collection on bookplates (books, catalogs, bookplate portfolios, rare bibliophilic prints published in limited editions), as well as his correspondence and workshop.
Klemens Raczak’s donation triggered a series of “Competitions for a bookplate.”
The bookplate collection is accompanied by an alphabetical index of owners and makers. Klemens Raczak's collection has been cataloged and ordered by its initial owner and is mainly classified according to the names of bookplates authors and countries of origin.
Photographs - the photographic collection currently amounts to 270,000 items. Until 1973, the Library used to collect old pictures depicting the history of Poznan, and the whole region, but only on a small scale. From among the oldest ones it is worth to mention:
The general photographic collection pertains to the activities of the Raczynski Library: pictures of the facilities, library branches, interiors, events, ceremonies, exhibitions, etc. The photographs give also a fragmentary account of activities of Poznan theaters, museums and other cultural institutions. A larger section is occupied by portraits depicting artists and scientists from Poznan and Wielkopolska.
While using the photographs one may find it helpful to consult a subject index ordered by institutions and an alphabetical index referring to the portraits.
Theater memorabilia constitute a group separate from the manuscripts. It contains the collections of Poznan theaters: Polski Theater and Nowy Theater. Plays staged in Nowy Theater in the years 1923-1973 constitute a part of the Polski Theater collection. In the post-war period, Nowy Theater has been functioning as a separate unit only since 1973.
The 1973 donation of the Polski Theater collection to the Library was caused not only by difficult accommodation conditions of the theater, but most of all by the necessity for an adequate protection and professional classification of the collection which is now of a historical value, as well as by the desire to make the theatrical collection available to general public. It consists of manuscripts, typescripts, prints and copies of theatrical plays, mainly from the 19th and 20th century, 19th- and 20th-century scores, playbills, programs, set design projects, and photographs. Among the most precious materials one may certainly rank: Gabriela Zapolska’s manuscript with the excerpts of drama Antek the Misery. A melodrama in 5 scenes by Gabriela Zapolska, 1896, as well as an autograph of Helena Modrzejewska found in a notebook containing the text of Julia by Octave Feuillet. Apart from a fragment of the play handwritten by the actress, the notebook contains also her short story dated “Warsaw, March 18, 871” and her personal comments concerning costume designs for 14 roles prepared for guest performances in Lvov.
In 1984, the Library received materials from Nowy Theater in Poznan concerning its activities in the years 1973-1989. The materials connected with staging of a particular play: texts, scores, cast (frequently printed on separate sheets of paper), rehearsal schedules, costume and set designs, correspondence, programs, playbills, invitations, advertisements, monthly repertoires, photographs, negatives, and clippings. Among the most interesting materials one may rank these pertaining to outstanding stage adaptations made by Izabella Cywinska, Janusz Nyczak and Janusz Wisniewski.
Theatrical collections are included in the following catalogs: