The Institute of History of the Jagiellonian University



The University was established in Krakow as early as 1364 but in the medieval system of education, the teaching of history did not play an important role and was part of rhetoric. The origins of historical studies at the University go back to the early 15th century. In his lectures, Professor Jan Dąbrówka commented on the 13th-century chronicle written by the Bishop of Kracow Wincenty Kadłubek, and in 1434-1436 he even compiled an extensive commentary on this important work. In the late 16th century, history started to emerge as a separate discipline of the humanities. At the time, lectures on history were given by Jan of Kłobuck and his student, Samuel Nakielski. In 1621, Professor Sebastian Petrycy of Pilzno created the position of University historiographer. In the 17th century, lectures on the history of Poland started to become more frequent, especially ones based on the chronicle of Marcin Kromer. After the reform of Hugo Kołłątaj in 1776, history and geography both joined the same faculty, called the Academy of Fine Arts.

In the aftermath of the Partitions of Poland, Krakow fell into the hands of the Austrians, who opened the University's first Chair of History in the Faculty of Philosophy. However, the true organisational and academic development of historical studies took place in the 1860s. 1861 saw the establishment of the Historical Seminary, and the discipline started to flourish with the opening, in 1869, of the first-ever Chair of the History of Poland, headed by Józef Szujski. It was Szujski who, together with such eminent historians as Michał Bobrzyński, Stanisław Smolka, and Stanisław Krzyżanowski founded a new research trend called the Krakow historical school, which led to a completely new, critical approach to the history of Poland. They, and their equally outstanding successors in the interwar period and after World War II should take the credit for the fact that the standard of teaching history at the Jagiellonian University was one of the highest in Europe.

At present, the Institute of History is the largest organisational unit of the Faculty of History and one of the largest institutes of the University. In today's form was organized in 1970. The Institute employs seventy staff members (including over forty independent academic staff) and teaches almost 1,000 students. The Institute conducts research covering all historical eras, from Antiquity to modern times, focusing mainly on the history of Poland, Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. The Institute is divided into several departments, among which the Department of History of Culture and Historical Education, founded in 1919 is the key department for our project. Founded by Prof. Stanisław Kot, one of the key historian of culture in interwar Poland, the Department is one of the most important units, each year organizing many international conferences, public lecture and also being headquarters for the Studies in Central and Eastern Europe: Histories, Cultures and Societies. 

The Institute of History of the Jagiellonian University is located in the Witkowski Collegium in the the very heart of historical Krakow, at ul. Gołębia 13. It is situated next door to the Collegium Maius, the oldest University building, and it is just a short walk from the Main Square and the Wawel Castle, which used to be the seat of Polish kings for many centuries.

The building housing the Institute of History was constructed in 1908-1911 but it was thoroughly renovated and modernised in the last decade. Lifts and disabled facilities were added and classrooms were furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. The library, established in 1873 and boasting an excellent collection of books, is an integral part of the Institute.

Role of the partner: The creation of database of bibliography and of the sources to the history of musical theatre in Krakow (1870–1920); collection of theatre playbills (music theatrical productions of the traveling companies, Krakow, Lwów); presentation of the latest outcomes of the project (the musical life,Krakow-Lwów); participation in a joint workshop, authorial share in publishing of a brochure from the project. The partner is one of the most important researchers of the history of music in Krakow. The Austrian Army brought to Krakow its rich tradition of military bands which was then integrated into the musical life of the town. The partner will bring in discussion the activity of these bands which were genuine orchestras composed of a full-size ensemble and played during opera performances as well.

Renata Suchowiejko

Tomasz Pudłocki, PhD, Professor in the Institute of History, Faculty of History, Jagiellonian University.

CV and publications >