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Towarzystwo Łączności z Polonią Zagraniczną "Polonia" Collection

About the Collection

The Towarzystwo Łączności z Polonią Zagraniczną "Polonia” Collection is an assortment of photographs created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in communist Poland sent to the United States’ “Polonia,” or, areas or countries with a significant community of Poles outside of Poland. These photographs, most likely sent out in series, date from the 1960s to the early 1970s. The University at Buffalo’s collection is made up of 32 folders containing 461 photographs that pertain to an assortment of topics highlighting Poland’s cultural, historical, technological and industrial advances, especially during the period of communist rule. The University at Buffalo Libraries have digitized these photographs and have attempted to maintain the original order of the series.

This collection of propaganda photographs portrays selections of Polish culture, meant to show the country in the most advantageous fashion. Series in the collection include photographs of famous professors, actors, and musicians. There are also series featuring important industrial, historical and educational institutions, including bustling, modern cities and relaxing vacation destinations, according to the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This collection was created by the Towarzystwo Łączności z Polonią Zagraniczną "Polonia,” which translates to the Society for Foreign Liaison with Poles, “Polonia.” This group wanted to establish a relationship between Polish people at home and abroad. The Towarzystwo Łączności z Polonią Zagraniczną "Polonia” and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in communist Poland aimed to give a broad and positive overview of life in Poland for those who emigrated and those with Polish heritage.

The photographs themselves were taken by the Centralna Agencja Fotograficzna which translates to the Central Photographic Agency. This agency operated from 1951 to 1991 and released millions of photographs.

Historians have noted that during this time in Poland, there was a “propaganda of success.” This meant “[m]edia reporting bloated domestic economic results and political accomplishments and glowingly described the party leader’s close contacts with foreign heads of state. Never had Poland’s stature in the international community been so great, propaganda repeated” (Taras, 1984, p. 145). This tone of flawless accomplishment appears to have bled into this collection. Many of the photograph descriptions boast Poland’s accomplishments while ignoring serious economic, cultural and societal problems.