Friday, February 17, 2017

Call for Submissions - Stories about Polish American Experience Due July 1, 2017

Folk bird-whistlels from Krakow, Poland, photo by Maja Trochimczyk

In 2018, the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) will celebrate its 75th anniversary. As part of the celebration, PAHA plans to publish an illustrated volume on the immigrant experience of Polish Americans, people who travelled across the Atlantic to establish a new life in North America.

Polish folk Dances - Krakowiak and Kujawiak by Zofia Stryjenska

Everyday objects play an especially important role in the life of any immigrant. They remind of significant moments and experiences, and testify to the various paths taken, and the aspects of heritage the immigrants want to pass on to the next generations.

Historical photo from the Polish Home in Rochester, NY

Such objects can tell a story of their past, emotional involvement, aesthetic preferences, ethical life choices, and leisure activities. They provide insight into the material culture, diverse ways of living, and pasts that they wish to either remember or forget. The materials objects carry both local and global dimensions; they can define us directly or indirectly through associations. Finally, the decision to keep certain objects not only speaks about our past life, but about us in the present as well.

Dance of the Krakusy Ensemble in Los Angeles in Lowicz costumes, 1980s

The Polish American Historical Association is announcing a wide, American search for material objects that speak about and to the Polish American experience, an experience of the life of an immigrant: its plurality and complexity, including fear and longing, joy and excitement, and the desire for and the fluid nature of stability. We are looking for photos and description of objects that traveled across the Atlantic along with their owners as symbols of lives and homes left behind as well as those acquired during the journey and after the arrival to the new place, as something that symbolizes individual activities and identity shaped here; for example, clothing, household items, toys, musical instruments, and various small or large self-made objects that tell a piece of a family’s history. We are especially interested in the history that a given object carries, its individual story, values, joys, and tribulations it symbolizes; and particular events or people from the past it commemorates.

Polish medal pinned to bread, photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Appreciating the importance and value that given objects play in personal life, we are NOT asking for objects themselves, but rather for a photo(s) (even a photo made with phone cameras) of a given object. The quality and setting of the photo is not relevant at the time of submission. Along with the photo itself, we are requesting a description of the object itself along with a family story for which the object is relevant. We especially appreciate objects and stories that underline the importance of the Polish American experience. The photos we receive will be submitted to a committee, which will select some to be included in the publication. If needed, we will organize a professional photo session of a given object.

Szopka krakowska (Nativity Scene) and bird-whistles, photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Please submit your photo(s) and short description of the chosen object, together with your names, address, and the best way to contact you to Anna Muller at anmuller@umich.edu or via mail to

Anna Muller
Department of Social Sciences
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128, USA

The deadline for submission is July 1, 2017.

St. Casimir Society in Rochester, NY - Photo from Society of Poles's Polish Home.


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