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University at Buffalo Libraries

Polish Room

History of the Polish Room

The Polish Room owes its existence to a special relationship between the University, the city of Buffalo, and the local Polish community. It was established in 1955, on the occasion of a large conference of Polish Americans held in Buffalo, then home to a thriving Polish Arts Club and many other organizations and institutions devoted to preserving their Polish heritage. The 21 royal documents, that are the cornerstone of the collection, were donated to the library by the owners of Sattler's Department Store as a symbol of goodwill and commitment to the East Side of Buffalo and to Polonia. Their purchase was arranged by the prominent Polish journalist, Aleksander Janta, who had made Buffalo his home.

Since 1955, the Polish community of Buffalo has dispersed somewhat, but Buffalo remains a center for many Polish cultural activities. For many years the Polish Room participated in the exchange of books and journals with scholarly publishers in Poland.

There is an undergraduate Center for Polish Studies at the University, offering courses in the Polish language, Polish literature in translation, post-war history and culture. Visiting professors from Poland offer additional courses, including advanced Polish. The Polish Room also occupies an important place regionally for the State University of New York and other educational institutions in Western New York, Southern Ontario, and Western Pennsylvania. Scholars from Binghamton, Rochester, Toronto, and Syracuse, as well as from the local area, use the Polish Room regularly for their research, and the Room has become a reference source for many people outside of academia, including genealogical researchers, Polish immigrant high school students, and Polish Americans with an interest in their heritage. Among the students and faculty who use the collection frequently are those researching topics in political science, history, comparative literature, sociology, theater, law, and environmental studies.

Lost Library Treasure Returns

A long lost UB Libraries treasure has been recovered. A stained glass medallion, depicting Marie Curie, has returned to the UB Libraries, thanks to a generous donor and the diligent work of a UB alumnus.

For more information, see the news release Marie Curie Medallion Returns to UB Polish Collection By Way of eBay on the UB NewsCenter website.

The story was also featured on WGRZ Channel 2's – Daybreak program on Thursday, September 13, 2007.