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May 18, 2024

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New National Museum In Washington
To Tell History of Polish Americans

NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2014 (NMAP NEWS) – There’s a museum being planned for Washington, DC now that will tell when and how Poles came to the United States, where they settled, how they became Americans and about their contributions to this nation.

The story of Polish Americans will be told along with every other group that became Americans in the National Museum of the American People. Polish Americans are the fifth largest European ethnic group in the nation and the largest group from Eastern Europe. There are more than 10 million Polish Americans living in the U.S. today.

The museum will tell the dramatic story of peoples crossing oceans and continents to begin new lives. The story begins in the prehistoric period and winds through the nation’s compelling history about the making of the American People through today.

The Coalition for the National Museum of the American People, comprised of more than 150 ethnic, minority and nationality organizations, is calling for a commission to study the museum’s establishment. There is a resolution in Congress with 48 bipartisan cosponsors including Reps. Daniel Lipinski, D-IL, and Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, two of the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Poland.

The museum has been endorsed by two major national Polish American organizations, the Polish American Congress and The Kosciuszko Foundation.

“No one, no matter who he or she is or what he or she does, can fail to appreciate the American experience and what it has meant for all of our peoples,” said Polish American Congress President Frank Spula. “By telling their stories, the National Museum of the American People offers not only a look back at what was done, nor just a focus on what is happening today, but rather includes critical insights for this country’s march into the future.

“The National Museum of the American People is one sure way to keep the story of who we are, where we came from, and all that we have contributed to our great society not only in our minds and hearts, but also front and center in our nation’s capital.”

Visitors to the museum will learn, among many other facts, that the first Poles arrived in the Virginia Colony in 1608 and were a key to the colony’s survival. When denied the right to vote on the future of the colony, they organized the first, and successful, strike on American soil with the slogan: “No vote – no work.”

Visitors will also find out that two of the greatest heroes of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War were two Polish American generals, Kazimierz Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko. They will also learn about the patterns of immigration, including the main wave of Polish Americans who came between 1870 and 1914 when more than 2.5 million people left Polish territories for the United States. Other waves of immigrants followed over the years.

Among the scholars associated with the museum who have studied Polish immigration is Alan M. Kraut, university professor of history at American University, chair of the history advisory committee of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, chair of the Organization of American Historians and former president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. He is the author of The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921.

Other scholars include John Bodnar, Chancellor’s professor of history at Indiana University, co-author of Lives of Their Own: Poles, Blacks and Italians in Pittsburgh, 1900-1950; John J. Bukowczyk, professor of history, Wayne State University, author of And My Children Did Not Know Me: A History of the Polish-Americans, and editor of Polish Americans and Their History: Community, Culture, and Politics; and Matthew Jacobson, professor of american studies and history and chair of American Studies at Yale, author of Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States. They, along with many other scholars, will help tell the museum’s story.

For more information call Sam Eskenazi, Director, 202-744-1868 or e-mail: