Iwona's Sources - Education in the Russian Partition

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Education in the Russian Partition and School Records in Radom Gubernia

I have restricted my research on the subject of the history of education to the 19th century, that is, to the time when the ancestors of the first Polish emigrants to America were being educated. I turned to this topic for two reasons: to portray how our ancestors were educated, and also to point out the next gateway to advanced genealogical research. The majority of school records are to be found in the Polish State Archives. Some may seem useless, but it often turns out that they contain lists of students, gradebooks, certificates, teachers’ opinions on children, and information on the parents with a description of the family situation. The larger the locality and the school, the more records there are.

If this material interests our readers, I will prepare similar articles regarding the Austrian and Prussian Partitions.

In general, education in Poland suffered during the partitions, which lasted over 100 years. Schools were subject to foreign national authority; they were underfunded; they were often under strict supervision and badly neglected, especially in the villages.

Education Reform

After the first partition in 1772 the Komisja Edukacji Narodowej [National Education Commission] came into existence. It was the first government agency for education affairs in Polish territory and in central Europe—a reform that provoked great distaste on the part of the Russian Tsarina Catherine. The Russian Empress opted for the old system of parish and monastic schools. But not public ones!

The situation changed in 1801 under the rule of the new Tsar, Alexander I, who showed more liberal tendencies. A network of public schools began to be created: a gimnazjum [middle school] in every town that was the capital of a gubernia, elementary schools in all county seats; and parish schools remained in the villages.

The gimnazja were better equipped, with teachers for individual subjects. The following subjects were taught: Latin, Greek, ancient culture, modern languages (Russian, French, German), algebra, geometry, history, geography, calligraphy, drawing, and declamation (speaking in language that was comprehensible, pleasant, and attractive to the ear). Schools in county seats had two classes with two teachers, and the term of education lasted four years. Parochial schools (elementary) in the villages had one class with a single teacher; education lasted for two years. In parochial schools they taught reading, writing, arithmetic, catechism, morality, basic information on geography and nature, and singing.

A decree in 1807 obligated all children to go to school. In practice this decree was ignored, due to the scarcity of schools.


Every nationalistic impulse, every attempt to oppose the government of the partitioner influenced more and more restrictive decisions on the part of the Tsar; this affected education as well. That is what happened after the defeat of the 1830 November Uprising.

Until 1832 Polish was the language in which classes were taught; after the November Uprising education began to be Russified. It began with the elimination of the University of Lwów and then of the entire Polish educational system. The order was that classes were to be taught in Russian. Higher education was limited to diocesan seminaries. There were still Alexandrian Institutes for the Education of Young Ladies as well as training colleges for teachers.

A new regulation allowed the opening of elementary schools in the villages, but under the condition that the costs of maintaining them and the pensions for the teachers were to be paid by the individual gmina [district ]. In connection with this, gmina’s imposed compulsory monthly fees on parents. These fees were set on the basis of the parents’ financial situation. The teachers frequently did not possess the appropriate qualifications, as a result of attempts to save money.

A subsequent regulation from 1839 limited education in gimnazja to children from the families of nobles, officials, and the bourgeoisie. In this way the path to further education was closed to children of peasants and townsmen. The curricula of elementary schools were limited to the minimum: the teaching of writing, reading, arithmetic to four operations, and religion. A new subject was introduced: basic information on farming, for instance, what made pigs sick and how to avoid it. The teacher was usually the local clergyman, who could often teach only in his native language. Every school was under the supervision of a guardian appointed by the authorities; in villages these were most often clergymen, landowners, and representatives of the local community. They saw to the needs of the school, influenced the parents to send their children to school, and made sure the children were not overloaded with work at home during school time. For this purpose special instructions were given for the village to employ shared herders and free children from the obligation of feeding cattle (which was the most frequent cause of children’s absence from school). The schools were compulsory for children in the towns from the age of six, and in villages from the age of eight. Children had to attend school until they acquired the necessary knowledge or until about their 11th or 12th year.

After the January Uprising in 1864 teaching in Russian was enforced more strictly. By 1872 Polish textbooks were printed in the Cyrillic alphabet. The directors and supervisors of schools had to be Russians. Teachers were very poorly paid and could not quit their jobs, because they were under threat of induction into the army. Files were even kept on all teachers.

Secret Education

It was at this time that private schools developed. Home schooling also became fashionable, but it was possible only for the wealthiest social levels. This form of education was not subject to special restrictions, a fact often exploited for education in secret. The most secret education centers were created during the most intense wave of Russification.

During the years 1880-1910 Polish teachers organized these education centers in manors, little parish schools, in private homes, and even in government schools, where they set up disguised forms of teaching, for instance, the history of Poland, literature, and geography. Increasingly stricter laws and harsher punishments only intensified this phenomenon. As an example, during the two-year period 1898- 1899 the police uncovered 65 secret education centers in the gubernia of Kielce, 50 in Piotrków gubernia, and 203 in Radom gubernia. The larger a locality was, the more secret education centers there. The Russian government transferred teachers’ training colleges in towns to outlying villages, in order to remove the students from the nationalist influences of the Polish intelligentsia.

With the beginning of the 20th century this movement of secret education gained in strength, and things went as far as mass strikes of children and parents, resulting in numerous trials and sentences. The determination of society was so strong that matters even came to hand-to-hand fighting. A revolt might last from several days to more than a year. In the face of such strong resistance the partitioning government began finally to give in.

During my genealogical adventures I have come upon local histories several times that tell how a given school stood up to the formidable occupiers. Even today such memories are still accompanied by emotion.

Holdings of theRadom State Archive

This is a list of Radom State Archive school records for towns and villages in the gubernia of Radom during the period 1817-1920. I have also provided samples of the kinds of documents one can find, so that researchers can see for themselves what these records may tell them.

Aleksandrów 1869-1914
Antoniów 1866-1914
Bałtów 1818
Białaczów 1835-1915
Białobrzegi 1825-1914
Błogie 1818-1820
Błonie (Błoniejewo) 1839-1852
Błotnica 1898-1913
Bodzechów 1865-1915
Bodzentyn 1845-1866
Bogorja 1825-1915
Boiska 1863-1914
Bolesławice 1860-1864
Boleszyn 1866-1914
Borkowice 1843-1848
Boska Wola 1897-1905
Boże Małe 1836-1839
Brody 1862-1915
Bronowice 1898-1911
Brzeźnica 1897-1914
Brzóza 1829-1915
Bzin 1847-1915
Chlewiska 1819-1911
Chybice 1867-1915
Chynów 1836-1852
Ciecierówka 1824-1826
Cieplów 1819-1915
Ciszyce Górne 1867-1914
Ćmielów 1824 -1915
Czarna 1815 -1911
Częstocice 1885-1913
Czyżów 1876-1915
Dąbrówka 1868-1914
Dąbrowo 1865-1914
Dębno 1866-1907
Denków 1832-1911
Długa Wola 1866-1876
Drzewica 1817-1911
Dwikozy 1819-1826
Falków 1873-1914
Gaj 1848-1861
Gielniów 1818-1915
Gierczyce 1819-1822
Gliniany 1832-1836, 1905-1910
Głowaczów 1819-1901
Gniewoszów 1823-1914
Góry Wysokie 1819-1911
Gorzałków 1863-1914
Gowarczów 1865-1915
Góral 1818-1915
Grabowice 1832-1915
Grabów nad Pilicą 1866-1915
Gworek 1865-1866
Holendry 1896-1897
Holendry Magnuszewskie 1897-1915
Idzikowice 1861-1862
Iłża 1810-1916
Iwaniska 1825-1915
Jakubowice 1865-1901
Janików 1876-1915
Janiszów 1876-1915
Jaszowice 1864-1914
Janowiec 1863-1915
Janowiec town 1819-1859
Jastrzębia 1862-1915
Jedlińsk 1820-1915
Jedlna 1816-1915
Jeżowa Wola 1910-1913
Kajetanów 1842-1848
Kaszów 1873-1915
Kazanów 1875 -1915
Kaźmierzów 1865-1915
Kiedrzyn, 1836-1838
Kiełbów 1817-1818
Kliczanów 1820-1822
Klimontów 1825-1915
Klwów 1817-1857
Końskie 1816-1897
Koprzywnica 1818-1915 (in Sandomierz county)
Koprzywnica 1865-1871 (in Opatów county)
Kowale Stępocina 1820-1831
Kozia Wola 1865-1866
Kozienice 1817-1907
Kozłów 1832-1914
Krzczonowice 1866-1915
Kunów 1817-1915
Łagów 1817-1901
Łapczyna Wola 1891-1901
Laski 1866-1915
Lasocin 1837 -1914
Legęzów (dates not available)
Libiszów 1870-1914
Lipa-Niklas 1866-1914
Lipnik 1876-1915
Lipsko 1816-1911
Łoniów 1877-1915
Luszyca 1839-1840
Magnuszew 1818-1914
Malkowska Wola 1860-1915
Małachów 1896-1913
Mariampol 1897-1915
Maruszew 1877-1915
Mąkosy 1866-1879
Michalów 1845-1915
Mirów 1817-1832
Mnin 1866-1901
Mniszek 1818-1914
Mokra 1895-1866
Myśliszewice 1819-1901
Nietuliska 1850-1915
Nosalewice 1850-1915
Nowa Wieś 1865-1901
Obrazów 1818-1820
Odrzywół 1817-1914
Olbierzowice 1868-1901
Olszów (Olszowa) 1843-1852
Opatów 1817-1908
Opoczno 1817-1917
Osiek 1821-1915
Osiemborów 1865-1866
Ossala 1876-1915
Ossolin 1874-1915
Ostrowiec 1824-1895
Ożarów 1824-1911
Paradyż 1818-1914
Parszów 1835-1901
Pawłów 1817-1818
Pawłowska Wola 1865
Pęcławice 1840-1841
Pęcławice and Luszyce 1840-1846
Pelagiów 1836-1852
Piotrkowice 1869-1902
Pliskowola 1898-1915
Podklasztorze Sulejów 1865-1866
Połaniec 1816-1901
Potworów 1865-1866
Przeczów 1839-1840
Przedbórz 1817-1915
Przysucha 1816-1914
Przytyk 1818-1915
Rączki 1866-1914
Radom 1818-1915 (includes ca. 20 schools)
Radoszyce 1816-1915
Radzice 1817-1915
Raków 1819-1907
Regów 1815-1911
Rogów 1864-1904
Rozniszew 1866-1915
Ruda Meleniecka 1890-1906
Ruszków 1897-1915
Ryczywół 1837-1915
Rutwiany 1816-1915
Rzeczniów 1819-1915
Samborzec 1819-1902
Sandomierz 1819-1902 (several schools)
Sieciechów 1821-1915
Sielec 1868-1915
Sielpia 1852-1915
Sienno 1816, 1874-1915
Siepno 1868-1877
Skaryszew 1816-1915
Skarżysko 1819-1915
Skotniki 1819-1890
Skórkowice 1869-1914
Skrzynno 1819-1915
Sławno 1878-1915
Słupcza 1878-1901
Słupia Stara 1876-1915
Smogoszew 1846-1915
Solec 1817-1915 (several schools)
Sołtyków 1835
Stanowiska 1865-1890
Staszów 1817-1901
Stawki 1839-1851
Stodół 1866-1914
Stromiec 1818, 1891-1915
Studnia 1842-1852
Studzianna 1818-1915
Sulejów 1864-1915
Sulisławice 1898-1914
Szadkowice 1868-1890
Szczęka 1834-1915
Szewna 1863-1915
Szydłowiec 1817-1915
Taraz 1837-1842
Tczów 1818-1915
Trójca 1819-1940
Tursko 1810-1915
Wąchock 1816-1901
Weronów 1865-1868
Węgrce 1875-1881
Wiązownica 1865-1915
Wierzbica 1816-1901
Wierzchowiska 1817-1914
Wilczyce 1876-1915
Witkowice 1865-1892
Wojciechowice 1880-1915
Wólka Tyrzyńska 1836-1853
Wrzeszczów 1866-1915
Wyśmierzyce 1838-1885
Żarnów 1817-1914
Zawichost 1820-1915
Złota 1849-1950
Zwolen, 1817-1905

This 1818 record lists students by number, giving for each his first and last name, when he reported to school, his age, and, in a few cases, the month and day he left school. Thus the first student listed is Maciey [modern spelling Maciej] Rogaliński, who came to school on 7 September and was 9½ years old; it’s unclear what the “101 54 refers to. Number 8 is Augustyn Kasprzycki, who began school on 5 November [9br.], was 8 years old, and left school on 5 May.

A 1909 Russian-language list of students in Solec who completed study. Column 1 numbers the students in sequence. Column 2 gives each graduate’s first and last names. Column 3 gives the year, date and month of his birth. Column 4 gives his social class—in most cases "peasant,"? but #5, Mark Kozłów, is "middle-class"?; #27 (not shown here) was classified as “Cossack"?! Column 5 gives each student’s religion. Column 6 gives the amount of the official stipend given each graduate. The first student, for instance, was Hieronim Bratoś, born 18 September 1889, peasant, Roman Catholic, with a stipend of 50 rubles.

The document on page 6 is fascinating. It’s in Russian, and it’s titled "Brief characterization of participants in the 3rd course of the Solec Teacher’s Gimnazjum [secondary school] who completed the course in 1914."? It lists students by first and last name, then gives the teacher’s opinion of that student. The first student is Stanisław Adamski, described as "A hard-working young man, not overly intelligent, of below average capabilities, could be a mid-level teacher."? Most of the others received less favorable comments. Number 6, for instance, is Stanisław Denkowski, 'a secret agitator, cunning and clever, the class leader, rather rude, secretive, with good capabilities, completed the course with distinction."? Did it ever occur to this teacher that perhaps any Pole with half a brain might have reason to be rude and secretive when dealing with authorities representing the Czar’s government?


Losy szkolnictwa w Królestwie Polskim [The Fate of Education in the Kingdom of Poland] – Władysław Korotyński Analfabetyzm i walka z ciemnotą w Królestwie Polskim [Illiteracy and the Struggle with Ignorance in the Kingdom of Poland] – Antoni Lange Historia szkolnictwa i oświaty pod zaborami [The History of Schools and Education Under the Partitions] – Stefan Truchim Akta Komisji Województwa Sandomierskiego [Records of the Commissions of Sandomierz Province] – State Archives in Radom.

Iwona Dakiniewicz, Łódź, Poland genealogy@pro.onet.pl

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Last Updated on July 5, 2017