Iwona's Sources - Education in the Russian Partition
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.
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.
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.
Błonie (Błoniejewo) 1839-1852
Boska Wola 1897-1905
Boże Małe 1836-1839
Ciszyce Górne 1867-1914
Ćmielów 1824 -1915
Czarna 1815 -1911
Długa Wola 1866-1876
Gliniany 1832-1836, 1905-1910
Góry Wysokie 1819-1911
Grabów nad Pilicą 1866-1915
Holendry Magnuszewskie 1897-1915
Janowiec town 1819-1859
Jeżowa Wola 1910-1913
Kazanów 1875 -1915
Koprzywnica 1818-1915 (in Sandomierz county)
Koprzywnica 1865-1871 (in Opatów county)
Kowale Stępocina 1820-1831
Kozia Wola 1865-1866
Łapczyna Wola 1891-1901
Lasocin 1837 -1914
Legęzów (dates not available)
Malkowska Wola 1860-1915
Nowa Wieś 1865-1901
Olszów (Olszowa) 1843-1852
Pawłowska Wola 1865
Pęcławice and Luszyce 1840-1846
Podklasztorze Sulejów 1865-1866
Radom 1818-1915 (includes ca. 20 schools)
Ruda Meleniecka 1890-1906
Sandomierz 1819-1902 (several schools)
Sienno 1816, 1874-1915
Słupia Stara 1876-1915
Solec 1817-1915 (several schools)
Stromiec 1818, 1891-1915
Wólka Tyrzyńska 1836-1853
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For Website Corrections or Problems: Webmaster at email@example.com
Copyright © 2010Iwona Dakiniewicz All Rights Reserved
Last Updated on January 15, 2012