The initiator of the Polish Biographical Dictionary and its first editor in Chief in 1931-1949 was Wladyslaw Konopczynski (born 1880- died 1952) – historian, professor of the Jagiellonian University, recognized authority on the history of Poland from the 16th to the 18th century. He was a prisoner of the Sachsenhausen camp during World War II. In 1948 the Communist authorities forced him to resign from his position at the university, and in 1949 – to give up his post as edition in Chief of the Polish Biographical Dictionary.
Rules for the preparation of the publication took shape in the years 1931-1934. The first volume of the Polish Biographical Dictionary was published by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1935. Four volumes were published before World War II, encompassing biographies up to entry Dabrowski Ignacy.
After World War II, two volumes edited by Konopczynski were published in the years 1946-1949, up to entry Firlej Henryk. Four issues for the next volume were also prepared. The publication of the Dictionary was suspended for 10 years during the Stalinist regime. It was resumed in 1958 with the publication of Volume 7 which mostly included materials prepared by the late Konopczynski.