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  Home > Books, Calendars, Maps, Movies, Music And More > Books > History > Polish American History >

Polish Americans: An Ethnic Community
James S. Pula defines what it has meant to be Polish in America since the first large groups of Poles left the Old Country - what they called "Stary Kraj" - for the New more than 150 years ago.


 
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ISBN: 9780805784275

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If it can be said that what the children of immigrants wish to forget, their grandchildren wish to remember, what can be said of their great-grandchildren?  Their great-great-grandchildren?  What can be left in the ethnic storehouse of memories, values, and traditions that has meaning for the generations three, four, or more times removed from the Old Country?  In this history of "Polonia" - the community of Polish immigrants and their descendents residing in America - James S. Pula defines what it has meant to be Polish in America since the first large groups of Poles left the Old Country - what they called "Stary Kraj" - for the New more than 150 years ago.

The Polish American community has long been identified with three characteristics that the early immigrants brought with them to America, writes Pula: "an affection and concern for their ancestral homeland, a deep religious faith, and a sense of shared cultural values."
Most of the nearly 2 million Poles estimated to have come to the United States amidst the mass migrations from Europe in the late 1800's and early 1900's settled in such big cities as Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Buffalo.  Close-knit communities of Poles soon developed.  Parishes, schools, newspapers, fraternal societies, and clubs offered everything from health insurance to home mortgages - all organized to serve Polish needs and preserve Polish values.
The social bonds forged and organizations formed at the beginning of the century had a lasting influence on Polish American culture and accomplishment.  Despite on-again, off-again struggles for ascendancy among the leading Polish American organizations, these groups backed union organization efforts affecting Polish American workers during the Progressive Era, contributed to the successful drive for Polish independence during World War I, and could be counted among Poland's few reliable sources of support during the hard years of World War II and its aftermath.
The decades following World War II meant enormous change for Polonia.  A new wave of immigrants from Poland arrived on the heals of the war, and friction arose between them and the established Polish American community.  Young people began to intermarry.  The old neighborhoods began to deteriorate as urban areas slumped into economic decline and people moved out to the suburbs.  And the mainstays of Polonia, the fraternal organizations, began to lose their usefulness as many Polish Americans became more assimilated into the mainstream culture.
In the 1990s, according to one estimate, US citizens descended from Poles number more that 8 million.  Now more American than Polish, they are nonetheless heir to a rich cultural and historical legacy rooted in their ethnicity.  James S. Pula's "Polish Americans will help to preserve that legacy for third and fourth generation, fith and sixth generation Polish-Americans and beyond.
Features
  • Hardcover
  • 181 pages
  • 1995
  • Black and white photographs
  • Size 6.25" x 9.5" - 16cm x 24cm


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