Jan Piotr Dekowski,
ethnographer; b. 22nd February 1907 in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, d. 20th November 1988 in Łódź. At the age of 19 he enrolled in a teaching collage in Tomaszów, emerging with a diploma in 1931. While still a student he joined a Student Tourist Club, and collected ethnographic materials during school trips, e.g. wooden door locks. A study of the collection has been published by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (Polska Academia Umiejętności). Having left school, he worked as a teacher at primary schools in Pludwiny (near Brzeziny), Tomaszów Mazowiecki, and – during German occupation – in Zarzęcin (near Opoczno). This allowed him to continue his research and collect ethnographic records. Living in Tomaszów, he was head of the city's regional museum run by the Polish Touring Association (Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze). Before WWII he obtained about 600 exhibits for the museum, and opened the first exhibition in 1946. In 1949 Dekowski started ethnographic studies at the University of Łódź. In 1956-72 he was the curator of the folk costume department at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography in Łódź. Having retired, he continued collaborating with the museum, conducting research and doing publishing work. While still an employee of the museum, he started cooperating with the ethnography department of the University of Łódź, doing fieldwork (mainly in central Poland) and archival research. He was an active member of the Polish Ethnological Society (PTL), which he had joined in 1946. As part of the PTL, he set up and led a club for admirers of the industrial folklore of the city of Łódź. He also worked on an ethnographical who's who: he wrote an extensive set of entries, sent out biography queries, and wrote biographical notes.
He received the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the Kolberg Award (1978). In 1984 he became PTL's honorary member. His ethnographic records are in the custody of the PTL in Wrocław and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography in Łódź.
updated: February 2015 (mkk, ab)