About the Collection
The PMA Photographic Archive is comprised of an estimated 25,000 photographs and negatives depicting the rich history and diversity of the lives of Polish immigrants in the United States. This priceless collection contains photographs of individuals active within the Polish American community; photos of organized groups: fraternal, paramilitary, and religious; images of buildings: churches, schools, residences, and businesses; photos of traditional rituals including holiday celebrations, processions, parades, jubilees, and banquets.
There is a strong representation of Poland and its history in the Collection. Polish immigrants received correspondence with photographs from Poland, they traveled, and they also customarily sent monetary assistance to their beloved home country. As a token of gratitude and often a proof of how the funds were used, photographic documentation was sent back to the U.S., to the organizations and individuals involved. A large number of these photographs revolve around World War I and World War II.
The Archive holds some photographs from the nineteenth century, although the majority of the photographs dates from the beginning of the twentieth century through the present. The Collection contains color and black and white prints, slides, and negatives. The black and white negative holdings are relatively small, but significant, due to the presence of original glass plate negatives. The Collection also contains a significant number of banquet camera prints and panoramic format photographs of large groups and gatherings.
Digitization and Access
The Collection is partially catalogued, digitized, and accessible online: Follow the link:
If you can’t find what you are looking for, please send detailed inquiries to PMA@PolishMuseumOfAmerica.org, with the subject line: Photo Archives inquiry.
Please keep in mind that the PMA charges fees for providing and use of photographs from its Collections.