The archival activity in Suwałki region dates back to the beginnings of settlement in these lands.
With the emergence of royal administration officials (district authorities, forestry, royal estates), church authorities, town locations, private land estates, the beginnings of archives appeared. Some of the earliest information about these archives dates back to the 17th century. It is impossible not to mention the archive of the Wigry Camaldolese. It was a priceless archive for our region and of considerable size (the inventory of this archive consisted of three extensive books).
Significant changes in this field were brought about by the development of bureaucracy in the 19th century. Large institutional archives (of a practical, rather than historical nature) were established in Suwałki, the seat of the province since 1817, including archives of provincial (gubernatorial) authorities, municipal authorities, and judicial archives. Older records from this area, dating back to the mid-16th century, were not kept in Suwałki but were placed in the archive established in Łomża in 1834. In 1885, some documents from this archive were transferred to the Main Archive in Warsaw and were destroyed in 1944.
History of the State Archive in Suwałki.
Archival activity in the Suwałki region has a long tradition dating back to the early settlements in this area. With the arrival of officials from royal administration (including district offices, forestry, royal estates), the church, town foundations, private estates, the beginnings of archives emerged. Some of the earliest information about these archives dates back to the 17th century. It's worth mentioning the archive of the Camaldolese monks from Wigry, which was invaluable for our region and extensive in size (the inventory of this archive consisted of three extensive books).
Significant changes in this field were brought about by the development of bureaucracy in the 19th century. Large-scale institutional archives (with practical rather than historical character) were established in Suwałki, the capital of the province since 1817. Among them, the archives of provincial (gubernatorial) authorities, municipal authorities, and judicial archives stood out. Older records from this area, dating back to the mid-16th century, were placed not in Suwałki but in an archive organized in Łomża in 1834. In 1885, records from that archive were transferred to the Central Archives in Warsaw and were destroyed in 1944. The history of the State Archive in Suwałki: The first archival institution of a historical nature in the Suwałki region, the State Archive in Suwałki, began its operations in 1921. It gathered archives left behind by the general and special administration of the Suwałki province at various levels. After preliminary organization and selection, its entire collection was transferred to the State Archive in Grodno in 1926, and the Suwałki archive ceased to exist. Not all the archives of the former Suwałki province ended up in the Grodno archive.
In Suwałki, records from the Regional Court (judicial, land registry, notarial, civil status records) remained. Some administrative records were evacuated to Russia before and during World War I. Further dispersion occurred during World War II: a portion of Suwałki's archival materials was taken by the Germans to the Staatsarchiv Königsberg and, after the war, ended up in various archives in the USSR, including Grodno, Moscow, Leningrad (Petersburg), Gorky, Kaunas, Vilnius. Most of the 19th-century archives were concentrated in the then Central State Historical Archive of the [Lithuanian] SSR (Centralnyj Gosudarstviennyj Istoričeskij archiv Litovskoj SSSR, currently Lietuvos valstybes istorijos archyvas). A relatively small part of them was returned to Poland as part of the "restitution" process. However, there was no place for them to return to until 1954 when the District State Archive in Suwałki was established, and from 1955, it began its actual operation, under the jurisdiction of the Provincial State Archive in Białystok. The organizer and initially the only specialist worker, and later the long-time head and director, was Irena Filipowicz. Despite local and financial difficulties, the archive collected, processed, and made the resources available, engaged in popularization activities, and participated in academic life. In 1965, the District State Archive in Suwałki was renamed to the Provincial State Archive in Białystok Branch in Suwałki.
Significant changes occurred in 1976. Due to administrative reform and the establishment of the Suwałki Province, it was transformed into the Provincial State Archive in Suwałki. The archive in Ełk became its branch. In 1983, its name changed to its current one - the State Archive in Suwałki. Since 1990, Tadeusz Radziwonowicz served as the director of the State Archive in Suwałki. Since 2022, Sławomir Filipowicz has held the position of director.
History of the Branch in Ełk.
The Branch in Ełk was established in 1954 and was subordinate to the Provincial State Archive in Białystok. Initially, it was located in the building of the District People's Council at 6 Kwietnia Street. The collection of the Branch in Ełk was slowly growing, initially by taking over the records of dissolved units of state administration, schools, cooperatives within the branch's area of operation, which covered the Ełk, Gołdap, Olecko, and Grajewo counties (the first acquisition of documentation took place in 1955).
In 1963, significant changes occurred. The branch received a building at Kąpielowa Street, previously used as a public bathhouse, and occupied it until 2001. The collection also substantially expanded: records of German institutions from the Ełk, Gołdap, Olecko counties, including banks, land registry offices, notaries, Evangelical parish offices, and the superintendent's office in Ełk, were transferred from the Provincial State Archive in Białystok. Additionally, records of Biebrza notaries, formerly part of the Szczuczyn county during the partitions, were added to the branch's holdings after being repatriated from the USSR, initially to AGAD and subsequently, through the Provincial State Archive in Białystok, to Ełk.
Another significant year was 1976. As a result of administrative reforms, the area of operation of the Branch in Ełk changed, and it continues to cover the cities of Biała Piska, Ełk, Giżycko, Mikołajki, Orzysz, Pisz, Ruciane-Nida, Ryn, Węgorzewo, and the municipalities of Banie Mazurskie, Budry, Kalinowo, Kruklanki, Miłki, Pozezdrze, Prostki, Stare Juchy, Wydminy, and Świętajno. The Branch in Ełk became a branch of the Provincial State Archive in Suwałki (since 1984, the State Archive in Suwałki). Due to the change in the archive's jurisdiction, it acquired new archival materials from dissolved units of state administration.
In September 2001, the Branch changed its location, moving to the building of the former workshops of the Mechanical-Electrical School Complex at 17 A Armii Krajowej Street, provided by the city authorities for the Branch's needs. The entire collection was subjected to vacuum chamber disinfection in preparation for the move. The new premises significantly improved the conditions for the Branch: the storage area increased considerably, and the research room (reading room) offers good working conditions for users, resulting in increased visits, both by Polish citizens and foreigners, especially Germans interested in genealogy.