Aniela Mieczysławska Raczyńska Collection
London Princes Gate 20, United Kingdom SW7 1PT
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Name of collection
- Kol 476, the Countess Aniela Mieczysławska Raczyńska Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The PISM Archives consist of three parts:
- Documents pertaining to the Polish Government (the Chancellery of the President of the Republic, the Council of Ministers, the National Council, individual ministries, embassies, legations, commissions);
- Documents relating to the Polish Armed Forces;
- Personal and Subjects Collections which contain the papers of individuals and institutions.
Numerous émigrés actively supported the democratic opposition in Poland through publishing and book exchanges that not only served the needs of the exile community, but also sought to influence the situation in Poland by breaking the communist state’s monopoly on information and confronting censorship. Aniela Mieczysławska Raczyńska (1910-1998) was one of four Lilpop sisters of a very well known Polish family of Jewish descent. She was married to a Polish diplomat, Tadeusz Mieczysławski, from whom she separated during the Second World War. After the war she lived in New York until 1961 when she moved to London. She was the longtime partner and third wife of Count Edward Raczyński (1891-1993), former Polish Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Great Britain, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and President of Poland in exile from 1979 to 1986. From the late 1940s to the 1970s, Mieczysławska was a close collaborator, friend and fundraiser of Jerzy Giedroyc, chief editor of the France-based Kultura review and founder of the Literary Institute in Paris. She also befriended painter, soldier, and writer Józef Czapski, another towering figure of the Kultura milieu. She made significant contributions to the work carried by PISM.
The collection of Mieczysławska’s personal papers includes extensive correspondence with luminaries of Polish politics, literature, music and arts, including Jerzy Giedroyc, Józef Czapski, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, Kazimierz Wierzyński, Andrzej Bobkowski, Józef Wittlin, Witold Lutosławski and Zygmunt Mycielski. Mieczysławska bequeathed her personal papers to the Archives of the PISM, which acquired them in 1998, upon Mieczysławska's death. The collection consists of 355 files and is one of the larger collections kept in the PISM. It was processed and described by Wacław Milewski, Keeper of Archives from 1980 to 1989 and later a volunteer worker. He prepared the collection’s finding aid, which is available for use in the reading room of the Archives. The collection was frequently used in research projects and journalistic publications on Polish history, culture, literature, émigrés, and Kultura review. It provided a source base for two edited volumes of correspondence between Aniela Mieczysławska and writer Andrzej Bobkowski.
Description of content
The bulk of the collection consists of Aniela Mieczysławska’s personal correspondence. Some files include a few letters, whereas other exchanges lasted for years. For example, her correspondence with Józef Czapski and Jerzy Giedroyc consists of hundreds of letters preserved in 11 folders that cover the period from the late 1940s to the early '90s. Mieczysławska corresponded with both émigrés and people who lived in Polish People’s Republic. The last letters date to 1993, the year Mieczysławska lost her friend Józef Czapski, sisters Felicja and Halina, and husband Edward Raczyński. She withdrew from social life and lived a solitary existence until her death in 1998.
The Collection documents the activities of the Kultura milieu and Literary Institute, Mieczysławska’s fundraising for Jerzy Giedroyc, Raczyński’s support for the democratic opposition in Poland, and the cultural life in exile and Poland. It chronicles the personal and official affairs of Polish cultural elite in the West. Following her relocation from New York to London to join Edward Raczyński in 1961, Aniela stepped into the role of the 'first lady' of the Polish émigré community in Great Britain, broadening the scope of her correspondence.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): unknown quantity
- photos: unknown quantity
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Suchcitz, Andrzej
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Kunicki, Mikołaj
Grochowska, Magdalena. „Aniela, kawaler d’Éon”, in Gazeta Wyborcza 23 May 2011.
---------------------------. Ćwiczenia z niemożliwego. O tych, którzy sięgają po zabronione (Warsaw: Wielka Litera, 2012).
Interview, Andrzej Suchcitz, London, 25 May 2016.
Kossowska, Stefania. „Aniela”, Kultura 11 (1998), pp.31-32.
Listy 1951-1961. Andrzej Bobkowski, Aniela Mieczysławska (Warsaw: Więź, 2010).
PISM Archives, Kol 476 Kolekcja Anieli Mieczysławskiej-Raczyńskiej, 70-76, Jerzy Giedroyc, 1957-1992.
Siostry Lilpop i ich miłości/ The Lilpop Sisters and Their Loves (2005) dir. Bożena Garus-Hockuba, Poland.
Suchcitz, Andrzej , interview by Kunicki, Mikołaj, May 25, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection