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Polish Americans and Their History

Polish Americans and Their History: Community, Culture, and Politics

Edited by John J. Bukowczyk
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Polish Americans and Their History
    Book Description:

    "These richly detailed, readable essays come at a propitious time. For despite all the talk in the academy of 'multiculturalism,' the Poles presence on the American scene is still too often neglected." --Anthony Bukoski, University of Wisconsin, Superior This rich collection brings together the work of eight leading scholars to examine the history of Polish-American workers, women, families, and politics. Contributors: Stanislaus A. Blejwas, Andrzej Brozek, William G. Falkowski, William J. Galush, Thaddeus C. Radzilowski, Daniel Stone, and Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchmann John J. Bukowczyk is professor of history at Wayne State University and author of And My Children Did Not Know Me: A History of the Polish Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7321-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 Polish Americans, History Writing, and the Organization of Memory
    (pp. 1-38)
    John J. Bukowczyk

    Stateless, colonized, and conquered peoples in modern times have derived appreciable political vitality and strength from nurturing their national myths, manufacturing historical memory, and transmitting narratives—sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic, sometimes chiliastic—to succeeding generations who they hoped would become the patriots and nationalists of the future. Poles were not “stateless” in the sense that, for example, Gypsies or Basques either never have had or have not yet succeeded in forming a nation-state of their own. But as a conquered and colonized nation-in-the-making (with their country’s political administration inadequately bureaucratized and centralized; its populace sharply divided by class, region, religion,...

  2. 2 Labor, Radicalism, and the Polish-American Worker
    (pp. 39-57)
    William G. Falkowski

    Although negative, racialist stereotypes of the so-called “new immigrants” long have colored historical treatments of Southern, Central, and Eastern European immigrant workers, in recent years scholars have produced a host of increasingly sophisticated studies concerning the role of Polish immigrants and their descendants in the process of working-class formation. To be sure, the complexity of this work is underscored by the tremendous diversity of the Polish immigrant experience in both the Polish homeland and the United States. Poland’s tripartite division by Prussia, Austria, and Russia fostered divergent patterns of political, social, and economic development. And conditions in each partition changed...

  3. 3 Family, Women, and Gender: The Polish Experience
    (pp. 58-79)
    Thaddeus C. Radzilowski

    Polish-american scholarship has produced a rich array of studies on parishes, Polonias, neighborhoods, institutions—the Americanokolicaswithin which families and individuals worked out their status and destinies. But, unlike Italian—American scholarship, it has done very little on the history of the family itself.¹ Lois Kalloway’s 1977 survey of writing and research on Polish-American topics from 1967 to 1977 notes only seven entries under the topic of family. Two of the entries are autobiographical accounts; two are master’s theses; one is a doctoral dissertation on post–World War II immigration; and one is an article that touches on the...

  4. 4 Polish Americans and Religion
    (pp. 80-92)
    William J. Galush

    The ancient proverb “bóg zaplać” (god will repay) says much about Polish religious sensibility. In its traditional Roman Catholic form, religion has pervaded Polish-American existence, fostering a rich spirituality and evoking extraordinary material sacrifices from lower-class immigrants. As the one institution that transcended the partitions in the period of mass immigration, the Roman Catholic Church was intimately linked with national identity. Yet the dominant religious persuasion has had critics: from loyalists with differing visions of an ethnic Catholicism to independent Catholics to anti-clericals. Tensions creative and disruptive have marked the relations of Poles to religion in America.

    The historiography of...

  5. 5 Jewish Emigration from Poland Before World War II
    (pp. 93-120)
    Daniel Stone

    The polish-american yiddish author sholem asch told this Jewish legend explaining the Jewish attachment to and affection for Poland, which developed over seven hundred years of Jewish history there.¹ In this legend, Asch talked of religious Jews, but the same attitude applied to modern Jewish Bundists, Zionists, and Autonomists, who tried to build a secular Zion in Poland in modern times. However, faced with the same economic pressures that drove Christian Poles out of the land in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews emigrated to the New World. A study of their history,...

  6. 6 Polonia and Politics
    (pp. 121-151)
    Stanislaus A. Blejwas

    In the 1872 presidential election, a pole from virginia complained in the New York journalSwoboda(Freedom): “very nationality secures for itself vested rights. Only Poles sweetly daydream—quietly as if they were not [present here] in America. Likewise, no one cares about us in America, no one knows about us, for who is aware of the dumb [niemowa]?” Responding to this mournful lament, a writer from Chicago replied that the nearly twenty thousand Chicago Poles, who previously had not participated in politics, had undertaken to enter the presidential election “politically as Poles from Chicago.” Piotr Kiolbassa, who would go...

  7. 7 Displaced Persons, Émigrés, Refugees, and Other Polish Immigrants: World War II Through the Solidarity Era
    (pp. 152-179)
    Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann

    Each time an immigrant wave reaches the shores of this country, a multitude of personal histories are transformed according to the choices made by particular individuals. For the Poles, this process is defined by the specific time and historical context at work both in Poland and in the United States. Although the immigrant experience best can be explored on the individual level, immigration waves have usually some general characteristics that allow historians to identify particular groups of persons with particular migration experiences. Each wave arriving to settle in a foreign country is faced with the task of establishing its ethnic...

  8. 8 Post–World War II Polish Historiography on Emigration
    (pp. 180-192)
    Andrzej Brożek

    It is estimated that polish territories remaining under russian, Austrian, and Prussian partition and inhabited by more than 27 million persons produced a total emigration of about 5 million (Poles as well as Jews, Ukrainians, Germans, Lithuanians, Byelorussians) before 1914. Of the figure, net emigration (excluding re-migration) reached approximately 3.5 million persons. World War I forced some additional mass migration; according to some estimates the emigration of 1914–1918 corresponds to that of 1870–1913. During the interwar period more than 2.1 million persons emigrated from the Republic of Poland producing a net emigration of approximately 950,000 persons. The six-year...