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Alternative title:

Polish Women in Exile to Siberia in the 19th Centutry


The exile to Siberia was one of the most severe punishment in the penal law of the Russian Empire. Sentenced Poles had to journey thousands kilometres heading East. The history of 19th century exiles has an important impact on the historical memory. Siberia became a place where Polish political activists, patriots and insurgents were deported for political reasons and as well as fights for independence against Russian authority. According to the historical sources and research, women represented around 10% of the whole number of exiled people. The main aim of the dissertation is to analyse the history of Polish women exiled to Siberia in 1830-1883. According to their status, deported women represented either the political activists involved in the independency movement, especially in the time of The January Uprising, or the companions of exiled men such as: partners, husbands or relatives. Political activists frequently crossed social and cultural boundaries in order to act against Russian authority and take part in the conspiracies. They smuggled illegal literature, arranged help for insurgents, were committed to spreading information of independency and freedom as well as took part in the armed fights. Women arriving with relatives were primarily wives accompanying their husbands. Sometimes they came with children, thus whole families had to start completely new life in foreign environment. Entirely voluntary decisions they made, meant a huge sacrifice demanding courage and determination. According to the Russian law, women determined to go out to Siberia with their relatives, had to first apply for a special document giving authority to leave. One of the significant aspects of the history of exiled women was the time of journey concerned difficult living conditions, unstable material standing and problems with weather. It frequently lasted long weeks and thousands of kilometres. Journey time was especially challenging and cruel for the families with kids, who were exiled because of the repressions of the January Uprising. According to the memories of many Polish exiled women, the journey was exactly the most exhausting and traumatic experience they had to face with. Polish women played an important role in local communities. Most often, they worked on housekeeping, raising children as well as taking care of Polish cultural heritage. Moreover, they were often involved in cultural activities as well as charity initiatives in order to help Polish people in need. Having a great impact on the local community, they organised popular social events related to religious holidays and Polish traditions. Sometimes women provided for the families, being employed in the educational fields. The best educated found the jobs as the private teachers of music or foreign languages. Furthermore, some of them raised and taught children of prominent, wealthy families, whereas the poorest once were employed there as servants. Some of them also worked on handicraft. Furthermore, they were involved in initiatives such as: charity bread baking for sell in order to help needy Polish people and organising fundraiser events. The situation of Polish women, living in Siberia, was complex and also inspiring. Thanks to their vibrant activities, local communities were able to keep their national tradition and cultural heritage. Moreover, they were often involved in the initiatives, which the main aims were to preserve Polish identity, customs and culture.

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Bibliografia na stronach 335-348



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Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach


Michalska-Bracha, Lidia


Dziedzina nauk humanistycznych

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Wydział Humanistyczny

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tylko w Oddziale Informacji Naukowej

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Last modified:

Mar 14, 2023

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Mar 14, 2023

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