WORCESTER, Mass.--Polish Americans are one of Worcester County's largest ethnic groups, but their shared history in central Massachusetts has never been documented--until now. "Worcester County's Polish Community," by Barbara Proko and Janice Baniukiewicz Stickles with Our Lady of Czestochowa Guild of Catholic Women, tells Polonia's story for the first time, in more than 225 vintage photographs, maps, and other illustrations.
A new release in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, this photo history broadens the scope of Proko and Stickles' first book, "The Polish Community of Worcester" (2003). It highlights the seven Polish parish seats of the Worcester Diocese--Clinton, Dudley, Gardner, Southbridge, Webster, West Warren, and Worcester--and encompasses Gilbertville, South Grafton, Uxbridge, and other towns where Poles settled in substantial numbers.
About a hundred individuals, as well as Polish parishes, organizations, and archives, contributed photographs, documents, and memorabilia for this book. Rare images depict two uniformed members of the Krakow Guards, a Worcester society founded in 1896; a young women's sodality at St. Joseph's Parish, Webster, in 1897; the Webster and Worcester Polish bands circa 1910; a map of Thorndike mill workers' "Patch" housing in West Warren; and American Steel & Wire South Works mechanical department workers in 1927.
The book examines the full range of the Polish American experience in Worcester County. More than 700 people are identified by name in images of immigration and settlement, establishment of parishes, religious ceremonies and rites of passage, family life, work, education, sports, military service, and preservation of cultural heritage.
Images run the gamut from Douglas dairy farmer Konstanty Mosczynski with his calves in 1936, to a 1958 Al Banx cartoon of Gardner football coach Walt Dubzinski Sr., to Miss Massachusetts Kathleen Sterczala with comedian Bob Hope in 1972. Photos recall key organizations such as the Polish Falcons, Polish National Alliance, Polish Roman Catholic Union, and Polish American Veterans of World War II. They honor the accomplishments of outstanding individuals from a variety of fields: bowling champion Stasia Czernicki, White House nurse Elizabeth Chapowicki, and musical composer/conductor Aleksander Marczewski, among others.
Polish settlement in Worcester County had humble beginnings: a small group of German Poles immigrated to Webster in the 1870s. Over the next decades, thousands of Russian and Austrian Poles, fleeing economic and political hardship, pinned their hopes for a better life on jobs in the burgeoning industries of central Massachusetts.
Hundreds more came as displaced persons in the wake of World War II, and others left communist-controlled Poland in the 1960s. Ongoing immigration brings new Poles who sustain this ethnic heritage. Today more than 51,500 persons of Polish ancestry call the county home. "Worcester County's Polish Community" is unique in synthesizing their shared history for the first time.
Proko and Stickles are second-generation Polish Americans whose immigrant grandparents settled in Worcester nearly a century ago. They are alumnae of St. Mary's High School, New England's only Polish Catholic secondary school, and members of the Polish Genealogical Society of Massachusetts. They have scheduled several book signings this fall.
Arcadia Publishing is the leading local history publisher in the United States, with more than 4,000 titles in print and hundreds of new titles released every year.
For more information, contact Barbara Proko at firstname.lastname@example.org.