The Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) recently launched a new and important initiative to collect information on Polish American historical sites. The results of these compilations will be published next year as a book titled Guide to Polish Historical Sites in North America. As we well know, Polish immigrants and their descendants made innumerable contributions in their communities and left their visible marks on monuments, bridges, churches, cultural centers, and cemeteries. Before these identifiers disappear, it is vital to create a guide to interesting and informative sites to showcase Polish American history and accomplishments as a guidebook for Polonia as well as introduce Americans to the important contributions of Polish immigrants. In addition to creating a catalogue of existing sites as they and these neighborhoods are changing, this initiative is also an attempt to encourage Polonia organizations to recognize and protect our heritage before these sites totally disappear. By engaging these groups, we hope to inspire them to become more familiar with the part they have played through the years in their region and in turn engage in promoting events in their communities to celebrate these proud achievements as well as being involved in preservation actions as needed. This project can be a bridge between Polonia and its own history.
Creating an Updated Version of:
Polish Heritage Travel Guide to USA and Canada COLLECTING POLONIA'S HISTORICAL FOOTPRINTS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
The results of the gathering of information from this project will be the publication of a new successor to the well-done 1992 book Polish Heritage Travel Guide to the U.S.A. and Canada published by Polish Heritage Publishers, compiled by Jacek Galazka as editor-in-chief and Albert Juszczak managing editor This volume is now out of date and out of print, so a new book is needed to replace it. The earlier book contained information about 26 states and 5 Canadian provinces whereas the expanded edition will attempt to cover all states and provinces where traces of Polonia are still evident. The revised guide will continue to be a travel companion for anyone interested in learning more about the rich heritage and contributions of Polonia in the U.S. and Canada. Furthermore, by promoting this book in Poland, visitors from Poland can be enabled to use this as a guide to find the contributions that Poles made on this continent. In addition to its primary purpose as an aid to travel, the book can serve as a resource guide for Polish language schools as well as Polish American organizations and individuals interested in Polish American sites. The printed book can be the springboard for further inquiry through websites provided throughout the book and eventually as direct links in an e-book or app which would be a future development.
Volunteers throughout the country are currently helping to identify Polish related objects of interest by writing a short statement about the monument, building, artifact, or historical landmarks such as churches, squares, historical markers and taking a photograph, often on their iPhone, of the object. At present, there are approximately 350 submissions plus many others in progress regarding 30 states and all Canadian provinces. Many photos have also been submitted, which are another form of documenting these sites.
This book cannot be totally comprehensive as Poles have left their imprints so widely and there is necessarily a limit on the length of the book. If it is to serve as a guidebook, it needs to be a reasonable weight. The focus is on places that still exist and can be seen even if the original purpose of the building has changed. Many Falcon homes or Polish Army Veteran halls may no longer be in use by these organizations, but the buildings still reflect their origins with carvings of the Polish Eagle, or lettering in Polish. Many historical sites are falling into disrepair or have completely been torn down. An occasional subject is the now bygone past if it was a core of Polonia life, such as the Poletown neighborhood that was bulldozed by GM & the City of Detroit, or the Chene Street neighborhood that was a vital Polish commercial and residential center, and now a poster child for Detroit's deterioration but whose vestiges may still be seen, and which helps to understand the original Polish neighborhood This really underscores the need to document what still exists. Since the focus is on historical sites, items such as restaurants or private businesses which are Polish owned or themed will not be included, nor will streets, highways, parks, towns named after Poles or locations in Poland unless Polonia involvement justifies inclusion.
We still have several states, mainly western and southern, needing individuals to submit short (200 words or less) descriptions and photos, if possible. I welcome your individual assistance or help obtained from local Polish American organizations in collecting the information and photos of your state.
If you live or have contacts in the following states, please contact me asap: Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona (other than Phoenix), New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, Maine.
You don't want your state to be left out! If you have knowledge of the history of your region and can solicit volunteers from local organizations who can provide more information, I welcome your assistance for this project to help identify those footprints created by our ancestors.
The names of volunteers will be included in the future book planned for publication next year. If you wish to help to make this book inclusive of all states, please contact me. I am happy to provide further details and can be easily reached on my cell phone 414-412-6456 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ewa Barczyk, editor