The "History of the Workers' Movement Library" Collection: A preliminary guide


As extensive as it is, the real significance of the acquisition of the History of the Workers’ Movement Library collection is yet to be fully discovered. A preliminary examination, however, has left little doubt that it is a highly unique collection including hundreds of publications that are rarely, if ever, found outside Poland. One might even consider the acquisition of this unique Polish collection as the attainment of an important piece of history itself, for the collection came from a unique research library that the Central Trade Union Council (Centralna Rada ZwiÄ…zków Zawodowych, or CRZZ) built in Warsaw with a clear focus on the history of the workers’ movement in Poland. Much still remains to be learned about the collection. What follows may be best thought of as a preliminary guide to the collection--the first step of that learning process. Suggestions and comments are welcome. (see the contact information below)

Summary information

Name: The History of the Workers’ Movement Library (Biblioteka Historii Ruchu Zawodowego, or BHRZ)

Type of materials: Published monographs and periodicals
Extent: 647 bound newspaper and journal volumes, mostly oversized, about 1,550 unbound journal issues, about

          1,250 monographs

Subjects: CRZZ (Centralna Rada ZwiÄ…zków Zawodowych, or Central Trade Union Council), PZPR (Polska

          Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza, or Polish United Workers' Party), trade unions, workers' movement,

          labor, working class, workers' benefits, propaganda, BHP (bezpieczeÅ„stwo i higiena pracy,

          or safety and hygiene at work)

Date of publications: Ranges from the early 20th century to the early 2000s, with a high concentration in the

          1950s – 1980s

Languages: Polish (predominant), Russian, English, German, Spanish, French, Czech, Hungarian, Serbian

Provenance: The former History of the Workers’ Movement Library in Warsaw, Poland. Click here for a

          brief history of the BHRZ written by Padraic Kenney (Department of History, Indiana University) 

Date of arrival at Indiana University: September 2009

Current location: ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility) of IUB
Physical conditions: Some publications are brittle, but the majority are in good conditions
Restrictions: Oversize bound newspapers are library use only, but all others circulate

Search method: Search in IUCAT “biblioteka historii ruchu zawodowego” as a keyword
Ephemera: Book slips (over 1,000), workers’ union membership card, a few
          book order slips, catalogs, correspondence regarding book orders

Contact: Direct all questions and suggestions to Wookjin Cheun (, 812-855-9413),

          Librarian for Slavic and East European Studies, Wells Library E560, 1320 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN



Periodicals constitute the backbone of the BHRZ collection, but monographs are far from marginal in the collection. Numerically significant, they cover a wide range of topics in diverse publishing formats. In the following, the section for monographs lists some of the more salient topics and formats, and the section for periodicals the CRZZ's national press. 

Monographs: Click each category to see sample titles.
          BHP (bezpieczeÅ„stwo i higiena pracy): Issues related to safety and hygiene at work places
          CRZZ (Centralna Rada ZwiÄ…zków Zawodowych) directives and training materials

          Foreign countries

          Handbooks (poradniki, informatory)

          KC PZPR (Komitet Centralny, Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza) 
          Monographic series: Includes titles from more than 80 monographis series. Click here for a full list of the

               series titles. 

          Reference publications

          Reports (sprawozdania)

          Statutory publications  
          Trade Unions
          Vacations and recreations
          Workers’ rights and welfare 

Periodicals: The CRZZ was publishing 22 national periodicals in the early 1970s. The BHRZ Collection currently contains 21 out of those 22 titles including GÅ‚os pracy, the holdings of which are almostcomplete. Click here to see the sample images of each periodical. Except for DziaÅ‚kowiec and WiadomoÅ›ci graficzne, each of the following titles is linked to an IUCAT record.

          DziaÅ‚kowiec (monthly)

          Energetyk (monthly)

          GÅ‚os nauczycielski (weekly)

          GÅ‚os pracy (daily)

          Górnik (bi-weekly)  

          Horyzont (monthly)

          Kultura i życie (monthly)

          Kwartalnik historii ruchu zawodowego (quarterly)

          ÅÄ…czność (weekly)

          Magazyn hutniczy (bi-weekly)

          Metalowiec (bi-weekly)

          Nasze Å¼ycie (bi-weekly)

          Produkcja i usÅ‚ugi (bi-weekly)

          Pracownik paÅ„stwowy i spoÅ‚eczny (bi-weekly)

          PrzeglÄ…d zwiÄ…zkowy (monthly)

          Przyjaciel przy pracy (monthly)

          Robotnik rolny (bi-weekly)

          Sprawy chemików (bi-weekly)

          SygnaÅ‚y (weekly)

          Transport i drogi (weekly)

          Trybuna samorzÄ…du robotniczego (bi-weekly)

          WiadomoÅ›ci graficzne (monthly)                  

          *Click here to see the full list of the periodical titles of the BHRZ collection



The exhibition was held in the Reference Reading Room of the Wells Library from October 4 to 29, 2011. Though the primary goal of the exhibition was to bring this rare collection of official publications to the university community and beyond, it incorporated some materials pertinent to the underground resistance under communist rule. The result was a unique opportunity to present the "above-ground" and underground publications and artifacts side by side. This section may be considered an abridged electronic version of the exhibition. One may notice certain inconsistencies in the use of technology. For optimal viewing it is recommended to be prepared to zoom in or out of the images. 

Exhibition catalog

PostersExhibition postersCRZZ national press, Opposition posters, Opposition pressWorkers'

          benefitsLibrary operation materials and miscellany


          Sections of the exhibition: Congress publications, Identity and legitimacyMonographic series,

               Branch press, and others


Related resources

This is a reference section that puts together information that would facilitate access to the body of scholarly information relevant to the workers' movement of Poland, mainly of the communist era.

LC call number ranges related to the history of the Polish workers' movement


          Reference publications for the periodicals of the PRL era


          Periodical articles


Useful links

          Archiwum opozycji: Formerly (1991-1998) called "Archiwum Peerelu," it is a comprehensive

                   collection of materials in different formats related to the Polish opposition to communist rule

          Biblioteka Cyfrowa OÅ›rodka KARTA: The KARTA Center's digital library of its own archival

                    materials. It currently consists of collections on: Jacek KuroÅ„, Solidarność - Narodziny Ruchu,

                    Federacja MÅ‚odzieży WalczÄ…cej, Ruch Obrony Praw CzÅ‚owieka i Obywatela, Komitet Obrony

                    Robotników (KOR) i KSS KOR, Studencki Komitet SolidarnoÅ›ci (SKS), Ruch MÅ‚odej Polski

                    (RMP), Konfederacja Polski NiepodlegÅ‚ej (KPN), Solidarność WalczÄ…ca, Ruch "Wolność i Pokój,"

                    PomaraÅ„czowa Alternatywa, Komitet Oporu SpoÅ‚ecznego (KOS), Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów

                    (NZS), Niezależny Ruch ChÅ‚opski, Wolne ZwiÄ…zki Zawodowe (WZZ)

          BibuÅ‚a: Polskie wydawnictwa niezależne 1976-1989 r.: Comprehensive reference resource

                    (bibliographies and indexes) for independent publications from 1976 to 1989

          Encyklopedia SolidarnoÅ›ci: Web version of the important encyclopedia Encyklopedia SolidarnoÅ›ci

                    (Warszawa and Katowice, 2010- ) with numerous supplementary resources such as the  

                    comprehensive digital library "Wirtualna Czytelnia BibuÅ‚y"

          Instytut Lecha WaÅ‚esy

          Instytut PamiÄ™ci Narodowej: The website of the all-important IPN. Comprehensive and informative

                    (regarding IPN's history and activities including publishing). Its monthly journal Biuletyn Instytutu

                    PamiÄ™ci Narodowej is available online

          Internetowe Muzeum Polski Lodowej: Contains a number of text fragments, photos, and documentary films

                    from the PRL era

          KOR (Komitet Obrony Robotników)            

          OÅ›rodek KARTA: The KARTA Center's website. Comprehensive, informative, and rich in resources.

                    Contains several archives ("Archiwum fotografii," "Archiwum opozycji," "Archiwum wschodnie")

          PoznaÅ„ski czerwiec '56

          Rewolta grudniowa 1970

          Serwis fotograficzny XX wieku


Created in December 2011