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400 Years of Polish Immigrants To America

WASHINGTON, D.C. // It seemed like a good idea at the time, and turned out to be an excellent one when it was finally brought to fruition. Counselor Mariusz Brymora -  Chief of the Culture, Press and Public Relations Office here at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland - wanted to undertake a commemorative project to celebrate Polish immigration to America that began with the first Poles who arrived in the new English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia in 1608.

Encouraged by Ambassador Robert Kupiecki, Brymora teamed up with Professor James S. Pula, of Purdue University, to write their book "400 Years Of Polish Immigrants In America, 1608-2008." The resulting large format album was published in 2008 to coincide with the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown, whose Polish contingent of the settlers represented the vanguard of all the Polonia in America today.

The work is divided into three sections: Icons of the Past, Icons of Today, and More Icons. One hundred individuals of Polish blood were chosen to appear therein. They were chosen for their outstanding achievements that brought them fame and the appreciation of their fellow man. The choice of persons presented is by no means complete, nor was it ever intended to be - as per the authors' intent. To be inclusive of all worthy Poles would be a task impossible to complete, which is something of a very pleasing conclusion in-of- itself.


Polish Immigrants Chronicled. Editor and coauthor Mariusz Brymora is depicted above holding his book “400 Years Of Polish Immigrants In America, 1608-2008,” amid a related exhibit at the Embassy of Poland in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2009.


Basically, almost each featured person is given a full dedicated page with their likeness or photo displayed. A small sampling of those represented in the publication range from: Tadeusz  Kosciuszko (Polish/American Patriot), Helena Modjeska (Actress), Ralph Modjeski (Bridge Engineer), Joseph Karge (Civil War General), Florian Znaniecki (Philosopher), Kazimierz Funk (Scientist/Vitamins), Francis Gabreski (WWII Flying Ace), Stefanie Powers (Movie Star), Andrew V. Schally (Medicine)...

...Continuing with: Jan Kiepura (Opera), Liberace (Pianist), Czeslaw Milosz (Poet), Stanislaw Ulam (Mathematician), Hilary Koprowski (Polio Vaccine), Danuta Mostwin (Author), Edward Rowny (General/Presidential Advisor), Stanley Musial (Baseball), Steve Wozniak (Computer Pioneer), and Scott Parazynski (Astronaut).

Included inside the hardback's back cover is an equally informative companion CD titled "Global Jamestown and the Poles," with renowned Polonia historian John Radzilowski as an author. Two key artistic contributors to the project were Rafal Olbinski -‘ Master of the Poster' - who designed the hardback's front cover, and Marcin Bondarowicz, who drew the needed portraiture in the absence of any featured persons' photograph.

The publication was financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, under the kind patronage of Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who, in its introduction, penned a familial letter addressed to all Americans of Polish descent.

And the indefatigable Mariusz Brymora even went one step farther: Anyone visiting the Polish Embassy over the past several months would immediately be attracted to a group display of five triangular columns, each seven feet tall. Twelve personalities chosen from the book were portrayed on the three faces of each column. Another beautiful and professionally executed compliment was being paid by Poland to the American Polonia - and another gift given.

Need it actually be said that "400 Years" is most worthy to be prominently displayed on the book shelves of every library and Polish home in America? It is a very proud testament to who and what we are, both as a people and culture. Yes, our collective accomplishments and contributions are in reality too numerous to mention...but this book is an excellent place to begin.

Text and Photographs by Richard P. Poremski; contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Polish-American Journal, May 6, 2009

This book is available on Amazon

Brymora book400 Years of Polish Immigrants in America 1608-2008 (Hardcover) - by Mariusz Brymora and Radoslaw Sikorski. Here is the link

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