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May 19, 2024

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Polish American Historical Association
Presents 2017 Awards

Los Angeles, January 8, 2018 – During its 75th Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. (January 4-7, 2018), the Polish American Historical Association announced the winners of its Annual Awards. The PAHA Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 132nd Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, also featured eleven sessions with scholarly presentations about diverse aspects of Polish American history and culture.

IN PHOTO: Robert Synakowski (center) with Prof. Neal Pease, Dr. Ewa Barczyk, Prof. Grazyna Kozaczka, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Mr. Stanley Kozaczka. Photo by Marcin Szerle.

After a welcome by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Prof. Piotr Wilczek, the awards were presented by PAHA President, Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz of the University of Gdańsk, assisted by Dr. Pien Versteegh, PAHA Executive Director.

The Oskar Halecki Prize recognizes an important book or monograph on the Polish experience in the United States.  Eligibility  is  limited  to  works  of  historical  and/or  cultural  interest,  including  those  in  the  social sciences or humanities, published in the two years prior to the award.  The 2018 Halecki Prize has been presented to Dr. Joanna Wojdon for her book White and Red Umbrella: The Polish American Congress in the Cold War Era 1944-1988 (Helena History Press).

The Miecislaus Haiman Award is “offered annually to an American scholar for sustained contribution to the study of Polish Americans.” The Award commemorates a historian, writer, journalist, translator and Polonia activist, Mieczyslaw Haiman (1888-1949), who was the first director of the Polish Museum of America, and the first historian of American Polonia. The 2017 honoree was Dr. Joanna Wojdon, Associate Professor, the Institute of History, University of Wroclaw. The history of Polish Americans after World War II is one of her major research interests, alongside the history of education under communism. Her research in the Polish American archives was made possible thanks to a Kosciuszko Foundation Fellowship (2003) and a Fulbright Senior Award (2014).

The James S. Pula Distinguished Service Award, given occasionally to a member of PAHA who has rendered valuable and sustained service to the organization, was presented to Dr. Grażyna Kozaczka. This award was renamed in 2017 to honor Prof. James S. Pula, a long-time editor of the Polish American Studies, PAHA’s past president, current treasurer, and awards recipient. Professor of English at Cazenovia College in New York state, Dr. Kozaczka is a long-time PAHA Board Member, PAHA President in 2015-2016 and a faculty member at Cazenovia College since 1984. She played a leadership role in securing trademarks for PAHA’s logo and name, organizing PAHA conferences, and representing the organization at international events.

PHOTO: PAHA President Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz presents James Pula Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Grazyna Kozaczka

The Swastek Prize is awarded annually for the best article published in a given volume of Polish American Studies, the journal of the Polish American Historical Association. This award, established in 1981, is named in honor of Rev. Joseph V. Swastek (1913-1977), the editor of Polish American Studies for many years, and a past president of PAHA. The Editorial Board of Polish American Studies recommended that the Swastek Prize be presented to Dr. Marta Cieślak for her article “Crossing the Boundaries of Modernity: The Post-Abolition Journey of Polish Peasants to the United States,” partly based on research for her doctoral dissertation of 2014.

The Amicus Poloniae Award recognizes significant contributions enhancing knowledge of Polish and Polish-American heritage by individuals not belonging to the Polish-American community. The 2017 recipient Therese Clarke of Buffalo, NY is a founding member of the Pomost International, a local organization sending volunteers annually to Rzeszów, Poland, Buffalo’s Sister City. Therese went to Rzeszów 16 times as leader of the program.

The Skalny Civic Achievement Awards honor individuals or groups who advance PAHA’s goals of promoting research and awareness of the Polish-American experience and/or have made significant contributions to Polish or Polish-American community and culture.  The 2017 Skalny Awards honor Jerald Rachfal and Robert Synakowski. Jerald “Jerry” Rachfal has been a recognized leader of the Rochester, NY Polonia. He has been associated with the Polish Historical Society of Rochester, NY and currently serves as its board member, taking an active role in promoting Polish history and culture. As a close associate of Dr. Frederic Skalny, he has also been associated with the Skalny Foundation and Charitable trust, as well as other charitable causes.

PHOTO: Dr. Maja Trochimczyk presents American poetry about Paderewski as a pianist and statesman, with Paderewski piano rolls – at the Awards Ceremony, January 6, 2018

Skalny Award recipient Robert Synakowski has dedicated his life to promoting Polish American culture and serving Polish American communities in New York State and nationwide. As the President of The Polish Home in Syracuse, NY he works tirelessly to both secure the physical well- being of this historic home and to make it into a welcoming educational space for Polish Americans and their friends. Under his directorship, the Polish Home became a new location for the Polish Heritage Society which he also leads as its president. Mr. Synakowski also serves as a PAHA board member and the First Vice-President of American Council for Polish Culture.

The 2017 Creative Arts Prize was bestowed on Dr. Czesław Karkowski, a philosopher, journalist, novelist and an academic, author of novels, memoirs, collections of essays, and creative nonfiction. Editor of New York’s Polish language newspaper, Nowy Dziennik, Karkowski wrote several books in Polish: a contemporary interpretations of The Iliad by Homer, a historical novel entitled Drugi w Sztuce, novels of immigrant experience Kamienna Drabina Dziennik Jednego Roku and Na Emigracji. Using his own emigrant/immigrant experiences, Karkowski provides a sensitive commentary on immigrant identity and the immigrant connection to the home country.

The Graduate Student Travel Grant was presented to Sarah “Moxy” Moczygemba, a Religious Studies doctoral student at the University of Florida. Her dissertation will focus on ethnic identity, historical memory, and Catholicism in the Silesian Polish Texan community. Ms. Moczygemba presented her research on the contemporary Polish American Catholic community in South Texas associated with the Panna Maria settlement.

Dr. Iwona Drag Korga, President and Executive Director of the Piłsudski Institute in New York, served as the Chair of the Awards Committee for 2017. The Awards Reception was held on January 6, 2018, at the Residence of the Ambassador of Poland Prof. Piotr Wilczek and also included a presentation by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, “Poland 1918-2018: Remembering Ignacy Jan Paderewski.” Trochimczyk commemorated the role of pianist-composer-statesman in restoring Poland’s independence in 1918 by reading laudatory poems by notable American writers, accompanied with recordings of Polish music performed by Paderewski himself (piano rolls and film recordings).

The Program of PAHA’s 75th Annual Meeting included eleven sessions on diverse aspects of Polonia’s culture, presented from historical, sociological, anthropological, and literary perspectives. The Meeting started with a roundtable on Teaching Polish and Polish-American History on Thursday, January 4, 2018, and ends on Sunday, January 7, 2018, with a session on new books on political activism of Poles. In between, sessions focused on  teaching, researching, and promoting Polish American history and culture; discussed issues in immigration history, identity and gender studies. Participants learned about how Americans saw Poland and represented their views in novels and on stamps; discovered the unique artistic activities of Władysław Benda, art group Sztuka, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Ignacy Jan Paderewski; and found out about the role of Poles in the American Civil war, the daily lives and memoirs of Polonia members,  female friendships portrayed in writing, and much more.  See the attached full program for further details.

IN PHOTO: PAHA President Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz Presents Amicus Poloniae Award to Therese Clarke of Buffalo, NY. 

About PAHA: The  Polish  American  Historical  Association  is  a  non-profit,  tax-exempt,  interdisciplinary organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture as part of the larger Polish diaspora. Founded in 1942 as part of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, PAHA became an autonomous scholarly  society  in  1948  and  is  an  affiliate  of  the  American  Historical  Association. PAHA publishes  a newsletter   and   a   semiannual   scholarly   peer-reviewed  journal, Polish   American   Studies  (University  of Illinois Press, ISSN 0032-2806; eISSN 2330-0833; with past issues on JSTOR). PAHA has over 600 international members, including both individuals and institutions. Membership is open to all individuals interested in the fields of Polish American history and culture, and immigration studies. You may join PAHA and subscribe to PAS via the website of the University of Illinois Press:

Maja Trochimczyk, PhD, PAHA Secretary and Communications Director, 818 384 8944                        

Award Winners and participants at the Award Ceremony, Residence of the Ambassador of Poland, Prof. Piotr Wilczek, Washington, D.C.

photos by Marcin Szerle