The Polish collection is by far the richest and most comprehensive of the Hoover Institution's East European collections. It is also the largest and the most important research collection on twentieth-century Poland outside Poland itself.
There is in-depth coverage of
- Efforts for the restoration of Poland's independence during the period immediately following World War I, 1914–21. The Wlodzimierz Wiskowski papers, the Polish subject collection, and the recently acquired Janusz Cisek collection include large numbers of leaflets, proclamations, and posters, more than 3,000 items in all, issued by groups representing virtually the entire political spectrum in Poland in the war years.
- Poland during World War II, including the archives of the Polish government in exile and most of its agencies, with extensive records on the deportation of Polish citizens and on Poland's military efforts during the war. Among the archival collections on Poland during World War II and its aftermath, several deserve special note. The records of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Polish Embassy in Great Britain, and of the Polish Embassy in the United States represent the quintessential archival legacy of the Polish state in the international arena. These three collections constitute a unique source for scholars studying not only Polish diplomatic history since 1918 but also more general subjects of World War II and events surrounding the postwar division of Europe and the beginning of the cold war.
- The Wladyslaw Anders papers, the records of the Polish Embassy in the Soviet Union, and the records of the Polish Ministry of Information and Documentation contain the fullest available documentation (including more than 30,000 original depositions by survivors) on the tragic fate of many hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens in the Soviet Union: prisoners of war, labor camp inmates, and deportees. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk's papers document his activities as one of the most prominent political leaders of Poland during World War II and of Polish emigration following the war. Important recent additions to the Hoover Institution's holdings on Poland during and immediately following the war are the collection of Polish underground anticommunist publications, 1939–41 and 1944–53, and the collection of the resistance press of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. These collections, component parts of the Polish subject collection, include more than 3,000 rare periodical issues, pamphlets, and leaflets. More Polish underground literature, mostly on microfilm, is available in the Jan Karski papers. A large collection of the papers of Edward Osobka-Morawski, one of the top government leaders of the Polish People's Republic, is a recent acquisition that complements the documentation of the post-World War II period.
- The Solidarity era, including substantial holdings of internal Polish communist materials and an extensive collection of underground opposition publications and archival collections. The Tadeusz Stachnik papers include comprehensive documentation of the Confederation of Independent Poland (KPN), and the Joanna Szczesna collection is made up largely of the press archives of the Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR) and the underground Tygodnik Solidarnosc (Solidarity weekly). More recently, the extensive Solidarity collections of Marek Garztecki and Krzysztof Jagielski were acquired. The Polish independent publications collection (1976–90) is one of the largest such collections in the world. It was recently cataloged and microfilmed. Polish Security Service (SB) materials on the Solidarity opposition can be found in the Poland-Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa-Departament III collection. Another large Solidarity-era collection of SB provenance, the Okragly Stol collection, includes an extensive videotape and photographic collection documenting contacts between Solidarity and the communist authorities, which culminated in the "round table" agreements and the partially democratic elections in the Eastern bloc of 1989. Other noteworthy recent acquisitions pertaining to the 1980s are the papers of Romuald Spasowski, Poland's ambassador to the United States and the highest-level Polish communist official to defect to the West, as well as the archives of Zdzislaw Najder, director of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe during the 1980s.
Exchange agreements with the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Polish State Archives opened new opportunities for the acquisition of microfilm. Among the collections filmed are the Polish Foreign Ministry holdings on U.S.-Polish relations during 1945–60. Central Military Archives contributed a large collection of documents on microfilm, mostly on the early years of the cold war, 1945–50. Additionally, the Hoover Institution received extensive microfilms from the archives of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party. In exchange, the Polish State Archives received and digitized microfilm copies of eighteen Hoover collections pertaining to Poland (1,599 reels), mostly from the World War II era. The digitized documents are part of Poland's National Digital Archive.
During 2001, the Hoover Institution acquired two large and comprehensive collections on the Polish People's Republic: the complete files of the Polish News Bulletin (226 manuscript boxes) and the Archives of the Council of Ministers. The PNB—a joint translation project of the American and British Embassies in Warsaw during the entire period of communist Poland—was one of the principal sources of information on Poland for American and British diplomats. The Council of Ministers records, transferred on 108 CDs, containing about 450 shelf-feet of archives, represents virtually the complete record of the highest executive body of the Government of People's Poland, declassified only in 2001. It is available through a searchable database on a computer workstation in the Archives reading room.