1st Edition

Polish American History before 1939 Polish-American History from 1854 to 2004, Volume 1

By Adam Walaszek Copyright 2024

    The history of private lives of the first and second generations of Polish immigrants in the United States is viewed from the perspective of migrants themselves. What did the migrants do? How did they behave? How protagonists (men, women, children) with their own words presented their experience? Their experience is compared with one of the other groups. The book discusses migration processes, formation of neighborhoods, experiences at work, daily and family lives, functioning of parishes and tensions related to it, and construction of people’s identities and their constant reformulations. Migrants created mutual-aid societies, which played not only economic, but also ideological and political roles. Experiences of immigrants’ children at home and at school are presented, mostly in their own words and from their own perspective. Cultural activities reflect constant changes of groups’ self-identity.

    The book also depicts the relations between the Polish migrants and members of other ethnic groups – in the streets, public spaces, politics, and within the Catholic church. People lived in pluri-cultural, culturally diverse, contexts, and thus relations with “the others” were complex. The panorama ended in the year 1939, when after the Great Depression, the group entered into a new period of transformation during the war.

    1. From Seasonal Migrations To Departures To “Hameryka.” 2. Establishing Polish-American Neighborhoods 3. ‘We Have Had Enough Of The Over-Praised American Freedom’ -- Work And “Americanization” From The Bottom Up 4. Love And Anger: Private Lives Behind Closed Doors 5. Polonia Parishes, Parishioners And The American Roman Catholic Church, 1854-1939 6. Constructing Identity And Charting Ethnic Boundaries: Polonia’s Organizations And Societies 7. We’re Polish? Children And Youth At School And In The Streets 8. Crescendo: From The Great War To Great Post-War Changes: 1914-1924 9. Two Decades Of Change: The Roaring Twenties, Mass Consumption And The Great Depression 10. (Re)Shaping Identity After The Great War


    Adam Walaszek is professor of history, emeritus, at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland, and most recently at the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora. He specializes in the history of international migrations and the history of Polish ethnic group in the US. Among his works are Migracje Europejczyków 1650–1914 (Kraków, 2007) and Polska diaspora (ed., Kraków, 2001).

    "Adam Walaszek’s latest book is an exceptional synthesis of the experience of migration and ethnicity based on the case of Polish immigrants in the USA. Far from examining the social processes via the great collectives, this work presents Polish American history mostly from the individual’s perspective, neatly located within the context of the processes they were subjected to. Referring to personal documents, family stories, and letters the Author relies mostly on primary sources in which the immigrants and ethnics expressed themselves. This is an authentic narrative, far from hagiography, yet close to empathic compassion. We receive a vivid image of a community with the experience of migration, adaptation, integration, and assimilation, with the Author skillfully avoiding succumbing to "the tyranny of the national". The reader will appreciate the erudite writing style encompassing a lucid narrative flowing between the Polish, Italian, and Jewish diasporas and beyond. Within this popular description of the changes in the daily lives and experiences of individuals who have chosen to come to America, there are precious observations and research postulates that will be appreciated by experts. This is an important work, based on an excellent selection of literature, including the latest research. Far from repeating clichés or patterns, this book is innovative in method, style, and scope. Enhanced by genuine voices from the past, this scholarly work is a genuine page-turner." - Prof. Anna Mazurkiewicz, University of Gdańsk, former president of the Polish American Historical Association.