HU OSA 300-55 Polish Underground Publications Unit

Identity statement

Reference code
HU OSA 300-55
Polish Underground Publications Unit
1976 - 1992
Description level
Extent and medium (processed)
239 Archival box, 29.88 linear meters
5 Archival card box, 1.57 linear meters
2 Boxes of color prints, 0.88 linear meters


Name of creator(s)
RFE Polish Underground Publications Unit
Archival history
The RFE Polish Underground Publications Unit was established in March 1984 with Witold Pronobis as section chief. The Unit was a separate research desk that answered to the chief of RFE Research and operated parallel to Polish Research. The two units never duplicated their functions, though materials were often exchanged. The RFE Polish Underground Publications Unit was initially established to collect Polish underground publications already accumulated by RFE and to receive future acquisitions. Zdzislaw Najder, the director of Polish RFE section at that time, decided it was necessary to respond to the rapid boom of underground publishing in Poland during the 1980s. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that the origins of Polish samizdat go back to the 1970s, at which time the Polish democratic opposition had already formed a well-organized structure. It might be also stressed that the traditions of clandestine publishing in Poland are as long as the struggle of Polish people against various forms of foreign domination. Thus, Poland could easily be perceived as predestined for samizdat activities. The Unit also carried out publications, such as the Polish Independent Press Summary and the monthly Polish Independent Press Review, which was published in English. Another publication, the Polish Underground Extracts, was background material for a weekly 20-minute program on Polish issues.

Content and structure

Scope and Content (Abstract)
The Polish Samizdat collection originates from the records collected by the RFE Polish Underground Publications Unit. It is the second largest collection of Polish Samizdat outside Poland, after the Hoover Institute’s holdings. This collection provides a unique opportunity for studies on the democratic opposition in Poland though it’s exhaustive documentation of underground publishing. The Polish Samizdat collection presents the broad scope of activities of the Polish clandestine publishing market, covering underground serials from 1976 to 1990, including Monographs and Ephemera. The collection holds publications of such samizdat notables as NOWA (Independent Publishing House) and KRyG as well as numerous bulletins of Solidarity. In addition, you will find documents on political opposition and subject files, which contain 156 subjects, which cover and monitor dissidents' approach toward political, economic and social issues.

Not expected

Conditions of access and use

Conditions governing access
Open for research