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Polish St. Petersburg

Polish Petersburg
, an educational online encyclopaedia has been published since 2015 and is intended for a wide audience. Its publishers and administrators are the International Cultural Centre (ICC) on the Polish side, and the Likhachev International Charitable Foundation (FL) from St. Petersburg. The encyclopaedia is created in two non-identical language versions adapted to the needs of its respective readers: in Polish (ICC → www.polskipetersburg.pl) and in Russian (FL → www.polskipetersburg.ru).

The main goal of this project, which was launched in Polish in April 2015 and in Russian in September 2016, is to introduce Polish and Russian readers to the history of Polish inhabitants of the former capital of the Russian Empire and their cultural achievements. The authors of the encyclopaedia sought to present the multifaceted, often forgotten role that these Poles played in the social, cultural, scientific, artistic, economic and political life of St. Petersburg from the late 18th century to the present day. They also tried to tell a story of those aspects of the Polish life on the Neva, which, apart from associations and charity, self-help and educational organizations, were its most important constitutive features, i.e. the Polish language and books as well as the Roman Catholic religion.

In its current shape, the Polish version of the encyclopaedia offers almost 3 thousand pages of texts in the form of 300 basic entries and a bibliography for the years 1945-2018 (27 pages covering Polish, Russian and English-language publications). In addition to the dominant biographical entries, including those addressing well-known figures, the portal features also pioneering thematic entries with varying degrees of detail, emphasising the creative contribution of Poles to the development of modern St. Petersburg or the role they played after 1918 in building an independent Poland.

Among the authors of Polish-language entries are more than 50 scholars representing almost all academic centres in the country (Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Poznań, Lublin, Wrocław, Opole, Białystok and Toruń). Featured are also entries by Russian researchers, such as Professor Tamara M. Smirnova, author of publications on Poles in St. Petersburg and their organisations. Most of the encyclopaedia entries, both in Polish and Russian, are based on generally available material, although there are also those that were developed on the basis of many years of scholarship, including archival research.

The encyclopaedic narrative is complemented by an interactive map presenting selected places and addresses related to the life of the Polish diaspora on the Neva. Many more addresses can be found in individual biographical and thematic entries.

As part of the encyclopaedic project, its authors released an electronic collection of essays titled Petersburg and Poland, available for free to all readers to promote the knowledge about the role played by Poles in the life of the city for several centuries. Prepared by the ICC, edited by Dariusz Konstantynów, this richly illustrated study presents, in the form of 17 essays by Polish and Russian authors, the history, the size, and the social structure of the Polish colony in St. Petersburg from the late 18th century up to the 1930s. The publication dedicates a sizeable space to the discussion of the presence of Poles in the political life of Russia and St. Petersburg and the fate of the Leningrad Poles during the period of the great terror, as well as to the presentation of Polish collections in St. Petersburg museums, libraries and archives. The advantage of this study, apart from its format, friendly to Internet and mobile devices users, is the selection of bibliography, list of illustrations, and thematic and personal indexes.

The library section of the portal is continuously being expanded, offering post-conference papers, excerpts from publications, bibliographic information and other materials. The use of the website is facilitated by indexes (organised by subject, person, author, address and iconography).

The intention of the authors of the Polish Petersburg encyclopaedia is to:

 present the Polish community in St. Petersburg as an important component of the multinational and multicultural fabric of the city;

 identify, examine and describe tangible and intangible cultural heritage related to the Polish presence in St. Petersburg (including churches, residences and public buildings, monuments and commemorative plaques, historic cemeteries and burial sites, topography, archives and museum and library collections);

 present the profiles of outstanding Poles, whose life and work were tied with the city of St. Petersburg;

 present the role and place of St. Petersburg in the history of Poland and Polish-Russian relations, also in terms of the transfer of knowledge and professional experience gained by Poles in St. Petersburg to the Russian and Polish soil;

 create a corpus of bibliographic information on archival sources and printed matter related to the "Polish" St. Petersburg.

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