The article presents the beginnings of onomastic research in Poland, distinguished researchers and the greatest research programmes in the field of anthroponymy (Słownik staropolskich nazw osobowych) [Dictionary of Old Polish Personal Names], toponymy (Atlas onomastyczny Słowiańszczyzny, Nazwy miejscowe Polski) [Onomastic Atlas of Sclavinia, Polish Place Names], hydronymy („Hydronymia Europaea” series) and zoonymy (dictionary of Slavic folk zoonymy).
Each of the programmes was begun by a remarkable personality; these were profoundly knowledgeable scholars characterised by charisma and organisational talents. Only one of the programmes, i.e. the compilation of Old Polish names, was accomplished. The remaining ones have still been continued. The name categories which fascinated the former generations of the researchers who attempted to discover the oldest onomastic resources have been pushed into the background by new civilisation phenomena (mass media). However, modern transformations and development tendencies could not be understood were it not for the research and the great material and theoretical works.
The subject of the article is a linguistic analysis of proper names (anthroponyms) excerpted from the Poznań księgi przyjęć do prawa miejskiego [books on the civil law] (1575–1793). The surnames of the residents of Poznań characterised here confirm the progress of various linguistic phenomena over three centuries (16th, 17th, 18th centuries), that is those typical of the historical Polish language and characteristic for the dialect of Greater Poland. Although it is difficult to draw conclusions based on individual excerpts, it is possible to discern features of the dialect of Greater Poland in the analysed names, e.g. diversification -ow//-ew, high frequency of the suffix -ski, lack of forms created as a result of the simplification of the consonant cluster chw- to f-.
The onomastic processes indicate the existence of certain anthroponymic predilections of creators of names, which became the onymic usage, e.g. the formation of certain types of surnames or the employment of characteristic surname-forming suffixes. Certain processes became a consequence of the social, economic and/or cultural correlations of those days (e.g. Germanisation /Polonisation of proto-surnames). The geographical location of the city was also reflected in the anthroponymic structures of the residents of Poznań (dialectal elements in historical surnames).