Jan Bułhak was a prolific Polish photographer who specialized in landscape and architectural photos in Poland and present-day Lithuania and Belarus. Jan Bułhak was born on October 6, 1876 in Ostaszyn, near Navahrudak, which can be seen in some of the University at Buffalo’s collection. In 1905, Bulhak became interested in photography and began to publish his works in various Polish magazines.
In 1939, Bułhak created the collection entitled Polska w obrazach fotograficznych Jana Bułhaka ("Poland in Jan Bułhak’s photographic pictures"), which contained over 11,000 photos arranged into 158 subject albums: Vilnius, Kresy, Lviv, Warsaw, Kraków, Nowogródek Voivodeship , to name a few. The photos in the University at Buffalo’s collection belong , for the most part, to this original collection, although many of the photos were taken in the mid-1920s.
By World War II, Bułhak had taken between 40,000 and 100,000 photographs. In 1939, he presented the collection to the Polish government. Unfortunately, a majority of these negatives perished during the war. In 1944, after bombardments in Wilno (Vilnius), Bułhak's studio burned down and it is reported that about 30 thousand negatives were lost in the fire.
The University at Buffalo’s collection of Jan Bułhak photographs was originally donated by to the Library in 1955 by Mr. John M. Walczak of New York City.