The origins of Kurów date back to the 12th century. The first mention of the town comes from 1185. Around 1336 a stronghold was built in the area and given to the Kurowski family by Władysław Łokietek. The town was granted formal town privileges in 1442 based on the Magdeburg Laws thanks to the effort of Piotr Kurowski. Kurów was recorded under the name “Podkowie.” By virtue of the privilege, Thursday was designated as the trading day. Kurów was established by the route used by merchants going from Lublin to northern Poland.
In 1466 Stanisław Zbąski became the owner of Kurów; in fact, Kurów remained in the hands of the Zbąski family for two centuries. The initial development of the town was halted by a fire that broke out in 1553. In 1580 there were 121 craftsmen living in Kurów who were members of guilds of shoemakers, coopers, tailors, and smiths. In the mid-16th century, the owner of the town, Abraham Zbąski, converted to Calvinism, and in 1559 he transformed the local church into a Protestant one. Protestantism existed in the town until 1620 when the family converted back to Catholicism.
In 1630 a huge fire devastated the town. In the mid-17th century, Kurów was destroyed by Cossacks under the command of Khmelnytsky, who killed the entire Jewish community of the town. During the Deluge, after the battle of Gołębie (1656), Kurów was again destroyed by the Swedish army.
In 1700, the Kurów estate was purchased by the Vice-Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Stanisław Antoni Szczuka, and in 1741 it was purchased by the Potoccy family. The subsequent owners were the Kuszyński, Byszewski, and Iżycki families. In 1717, military clashes between the troops of Tarnogród Confederates and the units of Field Marshal Flemming took place near Kurów. After the confederates’ defeat, the town was captured by Russians, who raided Kurów and other nearby localities.
In 1795 Kurów became part of the Austrian partition (New Galicia), in 1809 of the Duchy of Warsaw (Lublin Department), and in 1815 of the Kingdom of Poland (Province and then Lublin Governorate, Russian Partition). During the November Uprising, on 3 March 1831, a victorious battle of the troops of General Józef Dwernicki with the Russian army took place near Kurów. The January Uprising participants also succeeded near Kurów on 24 January 1863. In 1870 the town lost its town privileges and was transformed into a village.
In the 19th century, Kurów began to develop into a trade and craft center, and furriery came to occupy a central place in the town’s economy. From the 1870s onward, Kurów witnessed rapid demographic development; within 40 years, the population of Kurów doubled. In 1909 the Musical and Dramatic Association was established in Kurów. A year later, the Kurów Agricultural Club (an agriculture service organization) was set up. Before World War I, branches of Polish and Jewish political parties were established in the town.
At the beginning of August 1915, Kurów was a battlefield for German-Austrian troops fighting the Russian army. During the interwar period, Kurów (Puławy County, Lublin Province) remained an agricultural-trade-craft settlement. Jews constituted 50% of its total population. In 1926 Kurów was electrified.
After the outbreak of World War II, the German Air Force bombarded Kurów. As a result, many citizens died and the center of Kurów, which was mainly inhabited by Jews, was almost completely destroyed. On 12 September 1939, the town was captured by Germans. The majority of Kurów’s Jews, who were closed in a ghetto, died in 1942 in the death camp in Sobibór. Kurów was liberated in July 1944. Since 1999 Kurów has been a part of Puławy County. It still does not hold town privileges.
K. A. Boreczek, Kurów. Od początku XVIII do połowy XX wieku. Część pierwsza 1700–1918, (1996).