Zbigniew J. Wójcik
Jan Pazdur – historyk dawnego przemysłu Starachowic
Jan Pazdur – historian of the old industry of Starachowice
Jan Pazdur lived in the years 1909-2000. He graduated from the history department of the Jagiellonian University, and in 1948 gained a doctorate there. He worked as a teacher in secondary schools in Kielce from 1932 to 1951, with a break in his work during the 2nd World War, when he was imprisoned in the German concentration camp in Sahsenchausen (1940-1945). From 1954, he was employed in the Institute of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
In his work he concentrated mainly on the history of metallurgical-mining industry of Central Poland, researched old technical press, and particularly pursued studies on the creation of methodological basis of a new at that time scientific trend – history of material culture. Results of his own work, together with studies of his associates were announced in printed publications in Poland and abroad. He edited a series Studia z Dziejów Górnictwa i Hutnictwa (Studies in the History of Mining and Metallurgy) – 14 volumes in 1957-1970 – that became a worldwide sensation. Pazdur was an author of numerous books and articles, dealing to a large extent with the history of industry of so-called Old Polish district (region covering Sandomierz, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Kielce, Starachowice, Końskie and Olkusz).
He was especially interested in development of the Kamienna valley, where in the 19th century an idea of continuous ironworks (by Stanisław Staszic, Ksawery Drucki-Lubecki, Polish Bank) was realised: at the top of the valley were mines producing pig iron, in the middle – puddling workshop, etc., and at the bottom – factories producing agricultural tools and weapons for the military. The centre of this plant was located in Starachowice, where to this day is kept an open-hearth furnace, probably the last one in Europe.
That astute archive researcher and country analyst much of his attention devoted to inventorying industrial monuments that were deteriorating in Poland. He edited and published catalogues of those monuments, was co-author of the joint publication Historia kultury materialnej Polski w zarysie (An outline of the history of material culture of Poland) – 4 volumes in 1978-1979.
Pazdur was the sole author of a monograph (1968) Starachowice – osiedle i zakłady do 1939 r. (Starachowice – estate and factories until 1939), which is a canon of literature of this kind. It gives a view of construction and functioning of the metallurgic continuous plant in the first half of the 19th century, and also of adaptation of its fragments during mid-war period into the Central Industrial District.
Being aware of efforts to preserve industrial patrimony (especially in France), Pazdur, together with i.a. Danuta Molenda, mining history specialist, endeavoured to set up a museum protecting monuments in place where they had been established and functioned. That is how an idea of ecomuseum of industrialised area of Old Poland Kamienna valley came into being. The antique furnace in Starachowice, together with all the accompanying objects, are today a museum named after Pazdur. It is as an example of dissemination of knowledge about Old Poland mining-metallurgical industry and technology development.
Analecta – Studia i Materiały z Dziejów Nauki
[Analecta – Studies and Materials on the History of Science]
XXV, 2016, 2, 197-208
Zbigniew J. Wójcik