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    Preserving Polish Culture: The Legacy of the Polish Library in Paris

    Explore the enduring legacy of the Polish Library in Paris, a cultural sanctuary preserving Polish heritage for over 180 years.

    The Polish Library in Paris, the oldest cultural institution in the West, founded on November 24, 1838 by Poles who arrived in France after the fall of the November Uprising in 1830, was opened to the public on March 24, 1839. Significant role in its establishment was played by the French society "Société de Civilisation," which, in 1833, approached Adam Mickiewicz with a request to draft an "appeal to civilized nations." The library became a sanctuary of Polish independence, a refuge for political emigrants, and an arena for the defense of the Polish cause. At that time, it brought together the collections of four Polish associations: the Literary Society (1832), the Historical Department (1836), the Statistical Department (1838), and the Society for Scientific Aid. Its first director was Karol Sienkiewicz, with Prince Adam Czartoryski as its lifetime president. The board included Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, General Karol Kniaziewicz, Adam Mickiewicz, Karol Sienkiewicz, Stanisław Barzykowski, Teodor Morawski, and Andrzej Plichta. (by Anna Łucka, mabpz.org)

    Established in 1839, the Polish Library in Paris emerged as a beacon of Polish culture amidst the turbulence of emigration. Dr. Katarzyna Seroka, a scholar specializing in emigrant libraries, sheds light on its significance.

    Driven by the aftermath of the November Uprising, the library became a sanctuary for Polish emigrants, preserving their literary heritage and fostering intellectual exchange. Initiated by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, the library’s opening in March 1839 marked a pivotal moment, celebrated by Polish and French intellectuals alike.

    While primarily serving Polish expatriates, the library also endeavored to engage with the French community, promoting mutual understanding and appreciation. Despite political influences, the library remained a vital cultural hub, adapting to changing times and continuing to inspire future generations.

    For 185 years, the Polish Library in Paris has stood as a testament to resilience, safeguarding Poland’s cultural legacy and bridging generations across borders.

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