The Polish Geographical Society was established on 27 January, 1918. The founding meeting took place in Warsaw with the participation of 47 initiators, most of whom were professors from the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University, e.g. Stanisław Lencewicz, Jan Lewiński, Jerzy Loth, Bolesław Olszewicz, Stanisław Poniatowski and Ludomir Sawicki. In addition to geographers, the founding members came from different professions and scientific disciplines, including economists, historians, sociologists, meteorologists, geologists, botanists, zoologists and anthropologists.
During the inter-War period, local branches of the Society operated in Kraków, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź and Warsaw. In addition to branches, which enjoyed considerable autonomy, there were also Committees within the Society: Cartography, Historical Geography and Education (later renamed to Didactics), as well as a Lecture Section. From 1918 onwards, the Society published the Przegląd Geograficzny quarterly, and the Kraków branch published the Wiadomości Geograficzne monthly (from 1923).
The first Polish Geographical Society (PTG) convention took place in Kielce on 20-23 August 1921. From then onwards, the Society’s membership met at General Assemblies held every year. The PTG was also a co-organiser of the Polish Geographers Conventions. In 1927, the Society hosted the Second Convention of Slavic Geographers. A similar convention held in Gdynia in 1931 attracted some 400 participants, including Eugeniusz Romer and August Zierhoffer from Lvov, Mieczysław Limanowski from Vilnius, and Stanisław Pawłowski from Poznań. The event was organised as a response to the Convention of German Geographers, held at the same time in the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk). In 1934, the PTG co-organised the Congress of the International Geographical Union in Warsaw.
In 1924, the PTG had 659 members. However, in the following years its membership shrank to 194 (in 1935). It has to be remembered however that in the inter-War period the PTG was not the only organisation bringing together geographers. In parallel, there operated other geographical associations, in Lvov (established in 1926) and Poznań (established in 1928). Additionally, in 1923 the Polish Geography Teachers Association was set up.
After a forced break caused by the Second World War, the Polish Geographical Society resumed its activity on 6 May 1945 in Warsaw. In June 1946, at the Convention of Polish Geographers in Wrocław, all the pre-War associations were united and a new organisational structure was adopted for the Polish Geographical Society, which now included the departments of Research, Teaching of Geography and Promotion of Geography. In 1946-1953, the Society was a major centre of geographical research in Poland, involved in such projects as developing a geomorphological and a hydrological map of Poland, and preparing a Bibliography of Polish Geography.
In 1953, the existing structure of the Polish Geographical Society underpinned the establishment of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organisation of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute took over a large part of the Society’s research activity and was now the publisher of Przegląd Geograficzny. Post 1953, and throughout the period until 1989, the PTG was mainly involved in the promotion of geography and in its teaching methodology. It published a scientific monthly addressed to the general public, Poznaj Świat, and organised research expeditions (e.g. voyage on the ‘Śmiały’ around South America in 1956-66, and an expedition to Iceland in 1968). At that time, the Society was funded by the state budget. The membership numbers were unstable: from an increase in 1945-49, a significant decrease at the beginning of the 1950s, another increase to the level of 2500 members in 1956, decrease in the subsequent years, and to yet another increase to 3000 in 1968 and then to 3418 in 1978.
The 1980s and the early 1990s saw a dramatic collapse, both in the membership (of only 1000 in the mid-1990s) and in the financial base of the Society. The PTG had to face the new economic reality, in which the state financing of all scientific societies and associations was terminated. In the late 1990s, the situation of the Society considerably improved, both in financial and membership terms. The role of the PTG’s research activity increased, with projects as a rule being organised in cooperation with other bodies (such as universities or scientific institutes). In 2001, certain provisions of the Statute were amended to adapt to the new socio-economic reality. Other changes were introduced in the Statute in 2005. As of 2006, the Polish Geographical Society has operated as a public benefit organisation.