Sunday, February 3, 2013

More on PAHA 2013 Awards Winners

As the concluding event of its recent annual meeting in New Orleans in early January 2013, PAHA held its yearly awards banquet at the Bourbon House restaurant in the French Quarter.  On that occasion, the following list of awardees was announced:

Mieczyslaw Haiman Award, for sustained contribution to the study of Polish Americans:

Professor Emeritus Richard Lukas, who earned his doctorate in History in 1963 from Florida State University, has published a series of significant books that deal with Poland, Polish-American relations, and Polonia's place in these matters.

His book, The Strange Allies: Poland the United States, 1941-1945 (1978) was one of the earliest scholarly works to study in depth the World War II relations between the United States and Poland's exile government.  In this book, Dr. Lukas brought to light the role of American Polonia and its political action organizations (in particular the National Committee of Americans of Polish Descent, KNAPP, and the Polish American Congress), KNAPP and the PAC in particular) and their place in Polish-U.S. relations. This book remains as current and relevant today as it was years ago when it first appeared.
His second major work, Bitter Legacy: Polish-American Relations in the Wake of World War II (1982) dealt with, among other significant matters in post war Polish history and Polish-American relations, the little appreciated subject of the humanitarian efforts on Poland's behalf that were organized on behalf of the Polish people.

In addition, Dr. Lukas’s subsequent book, The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944 (1986), remains the most complete and fair-minded effort to place what the Nazis did in Poland to all its inhabitants in its proper context.  This work is also of special importance for Americans of Polish origin who otherwise would have practically no serious source of information about the Holocaust in occupied Poland except that which has focused on the tragedy that befell the country's Jewish citizenry.  This book has won high praise and a third edition has recently appeared, again with a forward by the eminent historian Norman Davies. In 1994 Prof. Lukas was honored to receive the Janusz Korczak Award from the Anti-Defamation Committee of the B'nai B'rith.

Oskar Halecki Award, for an important book or monograph on the Polish experience in the United States, published in the two years prior to the year of the award:

Brian McCook, Borders of Integration: Polish Migrants in Germany and the United States, 1870-1924 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012).
Borders of Integration compares Polish immigrant miners in Pennsylvania in the United States and in the Ruhr Valley in Germany.  McCook challenges the views that immigrants assimilated into their host societies.  It represents the best of international research.  Brian McCook is an Associate Dean at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Distinguished Service Award, for valuable and sustained service to PAHA:

Dr. Thaddeus Gromada and the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America 
Thaddeus Gromada joined PIASA in 1961, holding posts such as Secretary General, Vice-President, and Executive Director.  He also served as a Professor of European History at New Jersey City University.  While he edited and contributed books dealing with Polish history, Gromada and PIASA constantly supported the many activities of PAHA. 

Swastek Prize, for an outstanding article in a given volume of Polish American Studies, as nominated by the editorial board of the journal:

Myron Momryk, "Ignacy Witczak's Passport, Soviet Espionage and the Origins of the Cold War in Canada," Polish American Studies 68, no. 2 (2011): 67–84.

Amicus Poloniae Award, for significant contributions enhancing knowledge of Polish and Polish-American heritage by individuals not belonging to the Polish-American community:

Harlan J. Berk, founder and president of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., Chicago, IL, was the person who noticed that items brought to his business for sale had come from the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. He did the right thing and notified authorities, thereby setting in motion the recovery of some $5 million worth of irreplaceable artifacts missing from the Polish Museum collections.

Skalny Civic Achievement Awards, for individuals or groups who advance PAHA's goals of promoting research and awareness of the Polish-American experience and/or have made significant contributions to Polish or Polish-American community and culture:

Blanka Rosenstiel has worked effectively to raise funds for causes like the Polish Cultural Center in Washington, District of Columbia and for the establishment of the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish History, initially established at the University of Virginia. She served as president of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs and was an agent of change in promoting the advancement of this organization, now the American Council for Polish Culture.

David Motak, a graduate of Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, has actively and continuously promoted Polish culture in a host of ways over the years. He even traveled to Asia in December 2011 to educate countless people about Polish Christmas customs.  Motak is also the highly talented editor of the Polish Falcon fraternal magazine. This outstanding multi-color 32 page fraternal publication appears six times a year and is filled with interesting information about Poland past and present, the Polish American heritage, and Polish Falcons activities. His work has helped make this fraternal publication one of the best in the Polish American community.

Mary Anselmo, President of the Illinois State Division of the Polish American Congress and Member of the PAC Council of National Directors. As already noted, Mary deserves recognition for her dedicated leadership as president of the Illinois PAC. Of further note is her service on the special national PAC committee that successfully revised the Mission Statement of the Polish American Congress in 2011 to take into account the Congress' duties and goals in the world of contemporary free and democratic Poland, one of America's staunchest allies in NATO.

Professor Roman Solecki,
a retired professor of mechanical engineering from University of Connecticut. Prof. Solecki is the author of a popular website “Prominent Poles,” an active participant of Polish cultural internet discussion groups, and a tireless defender of Poland’s good name in the internet and the American media.

Professor Ewa Thompson of Rice University, a scholarly specialist in the field of Polish literature, is the founder and Editor of The Sarmatian Review, which since 1981 has taken up a host of subjects relevant to Poland, Polonia, and Polish American studies, always in an engaging thought-provoking fashion.

Creative Arts Award, for contributions in the field of creative arts by individuals or groups who have promoted an awareness of the Polish experience in the Americas:

Brigid Pasulka, the descendant of Polish immigrants, lives and works in Chicago. In the early 1990s, Pasulka spent a year in Kraków, Poland, learning the language and exploring Polish history and culture. While in Kraków, she witnessed the economic and social transformations, which Poland went through after the fall of Communism. A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True is Pasulka's first break-through novel, which brings the readers to the early 1990s Kraków, while at the same time recalling a love story as it unfolds in the small village in the Polish mountains in the times of World War II and the Stalinist period. A Long Long Time Ago is a winner of several national awards, including PEN Hemingway and a National Geographic Traveler Book of the Month.

The awards banquet is always one of the highlights of PAHA’s annual activities.  On this occasion, attendees had the additional pleasure of the company of two of the honorees, Professor Thompson and Mr. Motak, who were able to accept their awards in person.


This report was written by the outgoing President of PAHA, Prof. Neal Pease. We greatly appreciate his service for our organization and are grateful for his leadership and achievements.  Thank you!