About Us


The Polish American Historical Association is a non-profit, tax-exempt, interdisciplinary organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture. Founded in 1942 as part of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, PAHA became an autonomous scholarly society in 1948. As an affiliate of the American Historical Association, PAHA promotes research and dissemination of scholarly materials focused on Polish American history and culture.

 PAHA is recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization (EIN 362729972) and is headquartered in New Britain, Connecticut, with a membership of scholars and individuals interested in Polish immigrant history from around the world. One of PAHA's main functions is to maintain liaison with scholars throughout the world and promote research. The organization also encourages and assists local Polish American programs.


The Mission Statement identifies the following goals:

• To promote the study of Polish American history and culture as part of the greater Polish diaspora.
• To encourage and disseminate scholarly research and publication on the Polish American experience in the fields of history, the social sciences, the humanities and the arts, and advance scholarly collaboration across disciplines
• To support collection and preservation of historical sources regarding the Polish past in America


 PAHA's scholarly journal, Polish American Studies, edited by Prof. James Pula to December 2014 and Prof. Anna Jaroszynska-Kirchmann since January 2015, appears twice per year. The organization publishes a semi-annual PAHA Newsletter, available in print and online, as well as a monthly blog, PAHAnews.blogspot.com, with current news and brief articles pertaining to the history of Polish immigrants in America (edited by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk). PAHA also supports the publication of books on Polish and Polish American subjects by the Ohio University Press and has sponsored its most substantial publication, the Polish American Encyclopedia, edited by Prof. James Pula and published in 2011 by McFarland to a great critical acclaim.

A special anniversary publication is a volume of essays about PAHA's history, with appendices listing PAHA award winners, officers, annual meeting locations, and other relevant details.  Edited by James Pula, the book of 212 pages is available on amazon.com:

PAHA: A 75th Anniversary History of the Polish American Historical Association
edited by James S. Pula, ISBN-10: 0960216200, ISBN-13: 978-0960216208, $20.00



 PAHA sponsors an annual conference, in conjunction with the American Historical Association, which serves as a forum for research in the field of ethnic studies. The 71st Annual Meeting took place in Washington, D.C., in January 2014 and the 72nd Meeting in January 2015 in New York. The list of earlier Annual Meetings is posted on PAHA Website.


 Each year at its Annual Meeting, PAHA bestows a series of awards honoring individuals and organizations for their contributions to the Polish American cultural, artistic, and social life. The Oskar Halecki Prize honors books, the Miecislaus Haiman Award - distinguished scholars, the Amicus Poloniae - individuals not of Polish descent dedicated to the cause of Polonia, the Swastek Prize - articles, and the Skalny Civic Achievement Awards - contributions to Polonia's community. PAHA also bestows Creative Arts Awards, Distinguished Service Awards, and Graduate Student Awards, as well as - occasionally - Honorary Memberships. •The annual Miecislaus Haiman Award for sustained scholarly effort in the field of Polish American Studies.

•The annual Oskar Halecki Prize for the best book on a Polish American topic.

•The annual Swastek Prize for the best article appearing in Polish American Studies.

•The annual Amicus Poloniae Award for an individual not of Polish descent who is dedicated to studying Polish and/or Polish American culture and/or aiding the Polish American community.

•The annual Skalny Civic Achievement Awards for contributions to Polonia's community.

•The Creative Arts Prize honors Polish-American artists, writers, filmmakers, etc.

•Nominations for other candidates for PAHA's Awards and Prizes.


Compiled by John J. Bukowczyk, 
Professor of History, Wayne State University

With the assistance of the Polish Government-in-Exile and the support of several Americans and American Poles, on May 15,1942 a group of Polish émigré scholars who had fled the Nazi onslaught founded the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America (PIASA) in New York City.  According to historian and PIASA president Jan Kucharzewski, the new Polish institute vowed "to assemble, preserve, and harness for posterity the values of a nation" and "to represent Polish thought in the world."   PIASA was organized into four "Scholarly Sections," including a section devoted to the "Historical and Political Sciences," headed up by the renowned Polish émigré historian, Oskar Halecki.

At the first meeting of the latter, on September 11, 1942, Halecki proposed creating "a special Committee for the study of the history of Poles in the United States" and, once approved, enticed Miecislaus Haiman of the Polish Museum in Chicago to head it.  Open to "all students of Polish immigrant," without regard to their ethnic background, and headquartered at the Polish Museum in Chicago, the new Commission on Research on Polish Immigration held its first conference and meeting December 29-30, 1943, in New York City.  At is second meeting, held at Orchard Lake Seminary in Michigan in October 1944, the organization changed its name to the Polish-American Historical Commission and that year began to publish its own scholarly journal, "Polish-American Studies".   In June of 1947, both the organization and journal dropped the hyphen from their names, and the Commission formally joined both the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Catholic Historical Association.

After the death of Miecislaus Haiman, in January 1949, leadership of the organization increasingly shifted to American-born Poles, prominent among whom were nuns and priests, the most active of whom was Rev. Joseph Swastek, who served as president of the organization and its long-time journal editor.  In that year, the Commission also  changed its name to the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA).  Reflective of the growing role of Polish-American religious in PAHA affairs, in 1950 the organization moved its headquarters to St. Mary's College in Orchard Lake, Michigan.

The role of Polish-American religious in the life of PAHA remained prominent through the long tenure of service of Rev. M. J. Madaj, a past president and long-time executive secretary.  Rev. Madaj--together with a few other lay officers like Eugene Kusielewicz--spearheaded the modernization and professionalization of PAHA, including the creation of local chapters (now defunct), a 1965 resolution to hold PAHA annual meetings in concert with the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, and the creation in 1965 of an annual scholarly award, the Haiman Award (the first of many that the organization would establish in future years).

In 1969, Madaj oversaw the movement of PAHA headquarters from Orchard Lake to St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, and shortly thereafter back to the Polish Museum in Chicago.  On October 16, 1972, PAHA was incorporated  in Illinois as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, finally ending its formal connections to PIASA, and in 1975 the group was accepted as an affiliate society of the American Historical Association.  In 1980, PAHA became a contributor to the AHA's National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC).

During these years, increasing professionalization of PAHA was accompanied by increasing secularization, as a generation of university-educated Polish-American Ph.D.s. took up service as PAHA officers and council members and in editorial roles for the journal.  By the mid-1980s, both the organization and journal had become, for all intents and purposes, lay professional  projects.

In 1981, the organization conferred its first annual Halecki (best book) Prize and first annual Swastek Award (best article published in Polish American Studies); subsequently, the organization created the Stanley A. Kulczycki Prize (for graduate and post-doctoral research in Polish-American studies), a Distinguished Service Award, a Civic Achievement Award, a Creative Arts Award, the Amicus Poloniae Award, and, most recently, a Graduate Research paper award.  In 1998, PAHA's headquarters returned to St. Mary's College at the Orchard Lake Schools campus in Orchard Lake, Michigan, and in 2004 found a permanent home at Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, Connecticut, under the sponsorship of the CCSU Polish Studies Program and the Polish Chair there (named after the late CCSU professor and past PAHA president Stanislaus A. Blejwas).

Since its founding in 1942, PAHA has become a modern, secular, interdisciplinary academic and professional organization with a diverse, international membership of individuals and institutions.  As of this writing, in 2008, PAHA sponsors an annual conference, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Historical Association; awards about a dozen annual scholarly, publication, and civic prizes and awards; publishes a semi-annual journal, Polish American Studies, and a semi-annual newsletter; and is a funder of the Ohio University Press Polish and "Polish-American Studies" Series and, on an ad hoc basis, a sponsor of various other publication and scholarly projects, conferences, and public programs.  In 2008, Polish American Studies joined the History Cooperative and also accepted an invitation to participate in the JSTOR archival project.

Source:  Information for this brief history was drawn from John J. Bukowczyk, "Harness for Posterity the Values of a Nation'--Fifty Years of the Polish American Historical Association and Polish American Studies," Polish American Studies 50, no. 2 (Autumn 1993): 5-99; and  Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann, "The Polish American Historical Association: Looking Back, Looking Forward," Polish American Studies 61, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 57-76. 


Note about the artwork by Polish American artist Julian Stanczak: Structural Cadmium Red, and Structural Cobalt from a 2012 series of paintings (24 by 24 each). Used by Permission.

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