14On June 27 through 28, 2017, the Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka hosted a Polish-American research conference entitled POLES in AMERICA. The event was organized by W.A.R.K.A. Association and the Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka to commemorate the Museum's 50th anniversary.

The subject matter attracted many researchers from Poland, the United States, and Canada as well as numerous non-affiliated individuals. Over 50 speakers presented their papers on various topics connected with the Conference's theme of Poles in America, which covers a wide range of subjects. Thousands of relevant research papers have been presented to date, and yet we may not say that our knowledge is complete and satisfies the need for further research. The discussion panels were a great example to that effect.

The speeches touched upon various periods and figures, often debunking myths or discovering uncharted territories. The panels had been grouped according to the subject matter into: Poles in America in the 1700s and 1800s; People of art; People of science and research; On migration; The fate of Poles in America; On war and the military; Poland's Renaissance; From the lives of Polish Americans; and The pursuit of the American Dream.

The incredibly gripping, even innovative speeches prove that some areas remain undiscovered. This is the case with over 20,000 volunteers who left their homeland towards the end of World War I to fight for Poland's independence in the Blue Army, which was being formed in France. Little do we know about such individuals like Karol Rathaus (composer, d. 1954,) Walter Golaski (bio engineering pioneer,) and Frank Piasecki (builder of one of the first helicopters, d. 2008.) Also the Polish-American icons such as Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko were discussed. Other big names included in the Conference were Ignacy Paderewski and Julian Niemcewicz.

The concept of the American Dream was a thread that ran through many presentations and debunked the myth that has been accompanying Polish emigrants and the Polish American community for centuries. It is important to remember that America is a land of chances, but also challenges. For many, the journey across the ocean was a lucky one; others paid a high price with their suffering, the bitter taste of failure, and sacrifices. Also the problem of a Polish mafia in the United States was mentioned.

Some speeches depicted America as seen by travelers and Polish emigrants through their memoirs and letters from the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. People of art, such as photographer Ignacy Teliga, graphic artist Tadeusz Lapinski, illustrator Wladyslaw Benda, architect Jerzy Szeptycki, and a group of Polish artists called Krakart Group from California were widely discussed.

The key note speaker was Prof. Dorota Praszalowicz from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She stressed that migrants coming into a new environment often rebuild old structures. Thus, the presence of ministry, press, and recently also new media has been of great importance to Polish communities abroad.

The last speech was given by a senior of Polish art history, Prof. Andrzej Olszewski, who summed up the Conference as a whole and deemed much of the presented research innovative. He congratulated the organizers on such a great event and encouraged all to continue their work on Poles in the United States and present their research as part of mutual projects.

The participants described the Conference as incredibly rewarding. Further cooperation and broader research on the subject of Polish emigration to the United States show promise. For the event, the organizers partnered up with the Kazimierz Pulaski University of Technology and Humanities in Radom, Poland; Polish Institute of World Art Studies, Warsaw, Poland; and American Corner Radom, Poland. Histmag.org assumed media patronage. The Conference was co-financed by the Polish Senate.

Photos by Rafal Donica

Day 1 - 27 June, 2017


Day 2 - 28 June, 2017