The article concerns selected problems associated with the development of self-study after closing of the Main School in Warsaw in 1869. The need for self-study by the students of the Main School was associated, among other things, with the lack of qualified teaching staff. In connection with the development of the self-study movement in Poland, there evolved a type of ‘private researcher’ who carried out research on the margins of paid work. In the circle of former students and graduates of the School the best-known self-education initiatives were: “The Flying University”, “A guide for the self-taught” initiated by Stanisław Michalski, and Kasa im. Józefa Mianowskiego. In the article, reference is made, inter alia, to the pedagogical propositions of Boleslaw Prus (who encouraged reading and self-study) and Adolf Dygasiński (who wrote “How to learn and how to teach others” – a guide for self-study). The article also discusses the less known self-education initiatives, such as the activity of Stanisław Kramsztyk, Feliks Kucharzewski and Szymon Methal.