Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spring 2016 Message from the President – by Prof. Grażyna J. Kozaczka


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

PAHA opened the New Year 2016 with a strong 73rd Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz, PAHA's First Vice President, organized an impressive program, which included eighteen papers grouped into eight sessions that testified to the multidisciplinary nature and vibrancy of the research conducted in the field of Polish American history and culture as well as migration studies. Presentation topics ranged from Cold War issues, to Kaszubian funeral traditions in Canada, post-war experiences of women prisoners of German concentration camps and the concept of a double diaspora in Polish American lesbian fiction.

Dr. Anna Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann organized a session devoted to the work of the late Victor Greene (1931-2014), an eminent historian interested in the fields of immigration, popular culture and labor. During this fitting tribute to a scholarly life, many of his colleagues and former students discussed Professor Greene's scholarship as well as shared personal stories and anecdotes. In addition, the 73rd Annual Meeting provided PAHA with an opportunity to recognize excellence in scholarship and service during the awards ceremony held at a charming and historic southern restaurant.

Victor Greene Session organized by Dr. Anna Jaroszynska-Kirchmann

As members of PAHA, we should also be proud of the strong showing of scholarly monographs on Polish American and Polish topics at the book fair organized in conjunction with the AHA conference. Many of these titles were authored by our members. It was also pleasure to see our own journal, Polish American Studies, prominently displayed and advertised by the Illinois University Press.

May I also extend my appreciation to ALL those PAHA members that attended or contributed in any way to the planning and success of the program. Without their volunteer efforts and their dedication to PAHA, nothing in our organization could possibly work. Bardzo dziękuję!

Dr. Joanna Wojdon, with Dr. Pien Versteegh, PAHA's Executive Director
and Dr. Grazyna Kozaczka, PAHA's President.

As proud as we are of past accomplishments, it is time to look to the future. We are already planning our 74th Annual Meeting to be held in Denver, Colorado, January 5-7, 2017. Hopefully, many of you will be able to join us there to present your scholarship. And, of course, it is impossible not to notice that in about a year and a half, we will be celebrating PAHA’s 75th Annual Meeting. What a great accomplishment for our organization!

The 75th Annual Meeting will also coincide with PAHA’s 70th anniversary as an autonomous scholarly society. Even a cursory glance at the history of PAHA allows us to appreciate the changes this organization has undergone from its original heavily religious profile to what we see now, a multidisciplinary and multinational association of scholars who study the history and culture of Polish Americans, respond to the changes in the fields of migration studies, look at the larger Polish Diaspora, and who research the experience of Polish immigrants on different continents.

PAHA Board in Atlanta: Anna Mazurkiewicz, Grazyna Kozaczka, James Pula,
Pien Versteegh, Anna Miller, Anna Jaroszynska-Kirchmann, Mary Patrice Erdmans,
Robert Synakowski and Maja Trochimczyk 

Also as can be attested by our latest meeting in Atlanta, PAHA begins to attract scholars of other ethnic groups who seek comparative approaches and topics. In addition, PAHA keeps strengthening its connections to migration scholars in Poland by again cosponsoring migration workshops together with the Jagiellonian University and Polska Akademia Umiejętności. The workshops will be held in Kraków in early June 2016.

We have already started planning special projects to mark PAHA’s double anniversary. One is a plan to digitize the past issues of PAHA’s Bulletin/Newsletter all the way back to 1943. This publication provides not only a wealth of historical material chronicling the evolution of PAHA but also of the changes in the approach to ethnic studies. With the help of Ms. Renata Vickrey, University Archivist, of the Central Connecticut State University Library and Ms. Magda Jacques also of CCSU, we hope that the whole run of the Bulletin/Newsletter will be available to researchers in a digital format (issues from 2002-15 are posted online). An easy access to the full run of this publication may attract researchers interested in conducting an analytical study of the Bulletin/Newsletter. Such a study could become a fitting celebratory gesture to mark PAHA's Anniversary.

The second project under consideration is a revision of Polish Heritage Guide to USA and Canada edited by Jacek Gałązka and Albert Juszczak (Polish Heritage Publications, 1992). Thanks to sensitive negotiations conducted by Dr. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann, PAHA obtained rights from Mr. Gałązka to revise and edit the previously published material and seek publication for the revised edition.

The final project that PAHA might implement is a planned and systematical strengthening of Polish American topics available through Wikipedia. All projects will be discussed at the May 2016 midyear board meeting to be held at the Joseph S. Skalny Welcome Center, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, thanks to the kind invitation PAHA received from Mr. Frederic Skalny and the Polish Heritage Society of Rochester.

I would like to end on a couple of personal notes. I received an invitation from Polska Akademia Umiejętności to represent PAHA at a seminar “Poles in World Scholarship” organized in Krakow in mid-June of this year to plan the 2017 Congress of Polish Scholarly Associations Abroad. I accepted this invitation since I believe that it is very important for PAHA to be represented during the planning stages for such an important Diasporic event.

Dr. Iwona Drag Korga, Executive Director of the Pilsudski Institute.

Also, this past winter, I was fortunate to visit the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America in their new headquarters in Brooklyn, NY on a kind invitation of its Executive Director and PAHA’s Second Vice President, Dr. Iwona Drąg Korga. It is truly impressive what the Institute was able to accomplish in such a short time. Not only are the collections beautifully displayed, but the archives now boast archival shelving which maximizes space. Likewise the Institute immediately after its forced move from Manhattan grew into the fabric of its new Polish American community through an impressive number of programs both scholarly and popular that it organizes on its premises. I would like to wish the Institute continued success.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Grażyna J. Kozaczka
Cazenovia College
President, Polish American Historical Association