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Polish American Historical Association
Presents Its 2018 Awards At
76th Annual Meeting In Chicago

Los Angeles, January 9, 2019 – At its 76th Annual Meeting at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago Il. (January 3-6, 2019) the Polish American Historical Association announced the winners of its Annual Awards for 2018. The Meeting also included many scholarly presentations in nine sessions on diverse aspects of Polonia’s culture, presented from historical, sociological, critical, and literary perspectives with a focus on immigration issues and the theme of “loyalties and communities.” The meeting was held in conjunction with the 131st annual Meeting of the American Historical Association.


The Miecislaus Haiman Award is offered annually to an American scholar for sustained contribution to the study of Polish Americans. The 2018 Award was presented to Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz of the University of Gdańsk, the first Poland-based president of PAHA and an outstanding scholar who advances the field and is recognized on both sides of the Atlantic by various prizes and prestigious fellowships. In addition to her many articles, conference presentations, and two conference volumes (East Central Europe in Exile, Cambridge Scholars), she has become an international expert on the role of post-World War II political exiles in American Cold War politics. Her scholarly reputation will no doubt be enhanced by her forthcoming book East Central European Migrations During the Cold War: A Handbook. Described as an “exemplary scholar who is determined to hunt down the last archival scrap of paper for her project,” Dr. Mazurkiewicz was also recognized for her energetic leadership of PAHA, her generosity, and her unwavering commitment to bring together scholars from both sides of the Atlantic.

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 2018 Award was presented to Dr. Stephanie Kraft, a journalist who visited Poland for the first time 28 years ago and, after that visit, she decided to learn Polish. She is recognized as a translator of such novels as Emancypantki (Emancipated Women) by the 19th-century Polish novelist Boleslaw Prus, and Stone Tablets by Wojciech Zurkowski, and co-translated Marta by Eliza Orzeszkowa (2018). In one of her interviews, Stephanie Kraft said “I really want Polish literature to be better known… that’s really why I got involved in this.”

The Joseph Swastek Prize is given annually for the best article published during the previous year 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 PAS Editorial Board has decided to award the Swastek Prize to Prof. Neal Pease for “Mighty Son of Poland: Stanislaus Zbyszko, Polish Americans, and Sport in the 20thCentury,” by, PAS, 74/1 (2017): 7-26. This well-written/organized study of professional wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko (Jan Stanislaw Cyganiewicz) makes a persuasive argument based on extensive use of primary resources.


The James S. Pula Distinguished Service Award is given to a member of PAHA who has rendered valuable and sustained service to the organization. The 2018 Award was presented to Prof. Dorota Praszałowicz of Jagiellonian University in Poland, who has been contributing to the success of PAHA for a long time, including her role in securing Polish grants for PAHA’s 75th Anniversary Conference. The series of conferences titled American Ethnicity that she organizes every two years offers an outstanding opportunity for PAHA members to present their work, advance their expertise and knowledge, and connect with distinguished European scholars.

The Creative Arts Prize recognizes contributions in the field of creative arts by individuals or groups who have promoted an awareness of the Polish experience in the Americas. The 2018 Prize was presented to Ken Peplowski who, in the words of Russell Davies, is “arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist.” Born to the Polish parents in Cleveland, Ken grew up to the tunes of Polish music. In a 2013 interview, Ken Peplowski said: “When you grow up in Cleveland, Ohio, playing in a Polish polka band, you learn to think fast on your feet.”

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 2018 Skalny Awards recognize five outstanding individuals.

1. Stephen Kusmierczak made numerous contributions to the flourishing of Polish and Polish American culture: he serves on the Board of the Polish Museum of America and together with his wife Jamie actively invests time and funds for its advancement. Among the various charitable organizations and cultural institutions are the Gift of the Heart Foundation and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.





2. Joseph A. Drobot Jr.’s devotion to the cause of sustaining Polish-American communities spans over 50 years. Born in Detroit, he serves a number of esteemed economic institutions in Michigan, including Polish Roman Catholic Union of America. He also serves as the Chairman of Executive Board of The Polish Museum of America.

3. Edward Rajtar has dedicated his life to promoting Polish American culture in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. For the past 22 years he has been serving his community as a dancer and choreographer of the Dolina Polish Folk Dancers as well as a guest instructor and choreographer for a number of Polish dance groups both in the US and in Canada. As a highly talented organizer and one of the leaders of the Polish Folk-Dance Association of the Americas, as well as through very popular lectures, workshops and festivals, he shows American and American Polish audiences the importance of Polish cultural heritage and diversity for the thriving of the United States. Last but not least, he is also an occasional freelance writer for Pol Am, a local monthly Polish newsletter in the Twin Cities.

4. Mary Lou Wyrobek received the Award for her role in advancing knowledge and appreciation of Polish history and culture in the United States. There is not enough space to mention all the initiatives she has been involved in, Mary Lou Wyrobek arranged many concerts by local and internationally recognized Polish artists, coordinated movie festivals and exhibits, as well as various scholarly events. Since 2007, she has also served as the President of the Central Administration of the Polish Singers Alliance of America.

5. Anne Gurnack has undertaken a number of efforts to mobilize both the Polish American community and to engage the Polish institutions to study, protect and promote Kaszub heritage in Milwaukee. She fostered cooperation between the Milwaukee Public Library and the Emigration Museum and contributed to the international cooperation between the Universities of Gdańsk and Wisconsin – Parkside. The hours of lobbying, perseverance and commitment extended to our students made this exchange a success.




The Graduate Student/Young Scholar Travel Grant to young and promising scholar in the humanities or social sciences. The winner receives a travel grant to present the paper at the PAHA Annual Meeting. This year PAHA recognized two young outstanding scholars: Weronika Grzebalska and Florence Vychytil-Baudoux.



PAHA Board of Directors: The 76th Annual Meeting also included the presentation of the new Board of Directors of the Polish American Historical Association, to serve in 2019-2020, under the newly elected President Dr. Anna Müller of University of Michigan at Dearborn. The Officers include: Dr. Neal Pease, U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, First Vice President; Dr. Marta Cieslak, U. of Arkansas, Little Rock, Second Vice President; Dr. James S. Pula, Purdue U. Treasurer; Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Secretary/Comm. Director; Dr. Pien Versteegh, Executive Director; Dr. Anna Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann, Eastern Connecticut State U. Editor, Polish American Studies. PAHA Council will also include Dr Ewa Barczyk; Dr. Mieczysław B. B. Biskupski, Central Connecticut State U.; Dr. John Bukowczyk, Wayne State U.; Dr. Mary Patrice Erdmans, Case Western Reserve U.; Dr. Hubert Izienicki, Purdue U. Northwest; Dr. Grażyna Kozaczka, Cazenovia College (Past President, 2015-2016); Dr. Stephen Leahy, Shantou U. China; Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz, U. of Gdańsk (Past President, 2017-2018); Bożena Nowicka McLees, Loyola U. Chicago; Dr. Dorota Praszałowicz, Jagiellonian U. Poland; Robert Synakowski, Syracuse; Dr. Kathleen Wróblewski, U. of Michigan.

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. In September 2018, PAHA celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a three-day conference at Loyola University in Chicago, funded by the Senate of the Republic of Poland, in collaboration with Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU and others. PAHA publishes Polish American Studies, a biannual scholarly peer-reviewed journal (U. of Illinois Press, ISSN 0032-2806; eISSN 2330-0833; past issues on JSTOR and EBSCO). PAHA has over 600 international members. Membership is open to all interested in Polish American history and culture, and immigration studies.;
Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D., PAHA Secretary & Communications Director, 818 384 8944

Click below for the Polish version of the above press release
Polsko Amerykanskie Towarzystwo Historyczne Prezentuje 2018 Nagrody na 76 Konferencji w Chicago