Community Collections portal
Community Collections is a portal and a tool run by the Centre of Community Archives, a Polish institution of culture which supports community archives movement in Poland.
Community Collections is where community archives can make their collections available for free – community archivists mostly share photographs, documents, oral history audio and video recordings, and so on. The materials gathered by community archivists are extraordinary and they significantly differ from what we normally find in national archives – community collections focus on everyday life and the experiences of people often unknown in great historical narratives.
Thematically, community collections are as diverse as community archives can be. While browsing through photographs and documents, you will learn about local history and traditions, passions and crafts. There may be something about alpinism, esperanto, jazz, free time, or various professional groups.
The Community Collection portal presents historical sources from the nineteenth century until today in a stellar variety. They shed light into the everyday life of villages, towns, and cities of almost every corner of the country. There are both great historical figures and anonymous agents of historical change. The portal treasures large knowledge about local traditions, like songs or chronicles. Numerous social and professional groups are being represented among the community collections.
The Open Archive System
To make a collection public via the Community Collections portal it should be first organised and described in the Open Archive System.
The Open Archive System is a cataloguing tool where community archivists can upload digital copies of their material and thoroughly describe it. Within the System it is required to maintain a hierarchy similar to the traditional archival unit, which ensures order and a simple way of organising the collection. The System is adjusted for people without expert archival knowledge and yet allows them to handle their collection in a professional way.
After doing so, the source material can (but does not have to – that is up to the archivist) be made public on the Community Collections portal. One-of-a-kind source material stockpiled in libraries, foundations, or literally in private chest-of-drawers, can be made available for anyone on the internet for free. Currently, there are more than 145 000 materials on the portal and the number is growing.
Centre of Community Archives
The Centre of Community ArchivesNote: The CAS link will open in a new window. is a public institution of culture which serves as a hub for the community archive movement in Poland; as such we do not hold our own archival collection. Conversely, we share the knowledge about community archives, and we ignite and support the initiatives by community archivists themselves. Together with more than 700 community archives from all corners of Poland, we foster interest in social history so that we can better understand the past and the present. We help create new community archives to preserve as many testimonies of community life as possible, and to properly secure them.
Our institution was established in 2020 on the initiative of the KARTA Centre Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to support the grassroot movement of community archives in Poland.