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2008 | 56 | 1 | 19-29

Article title

GENTRY MANORS AND THE WARDROBE OF GENTRY-WOMEN IN THE REGION OF ZAMOSC ON THE BASIS OF NOTARISED INVENTORIES FROM 1835-1876 (Dwory ziemianskie i garderoba ziemianek Zamojszczyzny na podstawie inwentarzy notarialnych z lat 1835-1876)

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Notarial deeds have long been proved an excellent source to studying material culture and the history of civilization. Historians highly appreciate probate inventories as giving them insight into everyday life through lists of furnishings, utensils and household appliances. Polish research on inventories was initiated by Wladyslaw Lozinski, author of studies on the culture of the Lvov patriciate; his example was soon followed by specialists of various disciplines. Probate inventories have become a widely-used source of data on material culture, as is evidenced by many symposia hosted by The Institute of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in the 1990s. In the last few years symposia on inventory research have also been held at the State Archive in Radom and at the Zamojski Museum in Kozlowka. In 2004 articles were published that are directly relevant to the topic undertaken in the present paper. The research presented here concerns the region of Zamosc in the period from 1835 to 1876; more specifically it is based on the records of the notary public Franciszek Strzyzowski from 1864-1876 and the notary public Michal Celejowski from 1835-1862. In the first half of the 19th c. the region was under the Austrian and then the Russian rule, which was increasingly repressive. In 1821 the town of Zamosc was sold by the owners of the Zamosc entail to the Russian-controlled government of the Kingdom of Poland, as a result of which Zamosc lost its status of a private town and became a government town. Institutions based in Zamosc were moved elsewhere; the management of the Zamosc entail was transferred to Zwierzyniec and the main town of the newly-created Zamosc county was Janow. Since 1821 the fortress of Zamosc was being restructured and the town saw an influx of soldiers and officials supervising the army. Many public buildings, churches and private houses were taken over and adapted for military purposes, which in fact led to their ruination. As a result of those political decisions, citizens of Zamosc suffered impoverishment and wished to secure their property by notarised deeds. Therefore, notaries noted a steady growth of the number of clients throughout the 19th c. The forty volumes of records left by the notaries Michal Celejowski and Franciszek Strzyzowski include one hundred and thirty testaments, among which there are seventy inventories of women's property. All women's inventories in the corpus were analysed; 97% of those were probate inventories or testaments, while 3% were inventories drawn up for the purpose of prenuptial agreements. The article quotes both most common items and the descriptions of rarely occurring objects. The discussion of furnishings and women's clothing takes into consideration the social class of their owners. The article has paragraphs on women's rooms, tastes, interests and financial situation. It also describes toiletries, cosmetics and sewing accessories used by the women of Zamosc, as well as their religious tokens. Finally, it describes how women passed their free time. Lists of the movables with which women surrounded themselves are miniature stories about tastes and in a wider perspective can be evidence of their owners' personalities and attitudes to life. The content of the list depended on many factors, including legal regulations, the occupation and personality of the owner. The inclusion or absence of various categories of objects in the inventories points to differences in the material standing of their owners. There are also items indicating that some women did not confine themselves to their household duties and had wider interests.










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  • Agnieszka Szykula, Labunki I 80, 22-437 Labunie, Poland


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Publication order reference


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