Archive for April 23rd, 2011

April 23, 2011

1926 – Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In 1926, on the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, the children and government of Poland had undertaken a massive effort of friendship with their Polish Declaration of Admiration & Friendship for the USA. Poland had only re-emerged 8 years earlier at the end of World War I, from nearly a 150 years of occupation! Imagine if you will, a nation occupied nearly the entire history of these United States of America who with the help of the Allied Powers in World War I (including the USA) and with the aid of Americans (USA and Canadians) who formed an expatriate army, known as Haller’s Army or the Polish Army in France.  These Allied Powers through 1918 and Haller’s Army through the early 1920 skirmishes, re-established the borders of Poland between the two World Wars and bottled up Communism for another two decades.

You will be forgiven gentle reader if you have never heard of this gift from the people and government of Poland to the people and government of the USA on their 150th Anniversary of our nation’s founding. President Calvin Coolidge received the gift and placed it into the Library of Congress  (LOC) where it was forgotten until 70 years later in 1996 when it was re-discovered. The LOC has digitized 13 of the 111 volumes which has the signatures of approximately 5.5 Million Polish school children. There is also an index to the location names of the schools in the other volumes that have not yet been digitized. The main LOC page (also reachable from the index page above is here):

http://memory.loc.gov/intldl/pldechtml/pldechome.html

The LOC has not produced a searchable index person names from the digitized volumes. Fortunately, there exists a web app with nearly 3,000 pages scanned to produce a person name index of nearly 250,000 people by the the PTG (Polish Genealogical Society) with a summary of the project so far here. The PTG searchable index is reachable from their main page:

http://genealodzy.pl/index.php?&newlang=eng

and clicking upon ‘Declarations‘ on the left side of the main page. The page is in Polish.  ‘Tom’ = Volume (type 1 – 13) and ‘Strona’ = Page. You can use the LOC website to locate the volume and page of  interest to you and reach the same page here at PTG. You enter the TOM and the STRONA and click on the ‘Pokaz’ button to go to the image of that volume and page to read the names. Remember that most schools have more than one page. PTG however, also has a way to search on the names. In the first field (no name) you can type a last name and click on the ‘Wyszukaj’ button to search on the name. The check box (‘dokladnie’) should be left unchecked (to avoid having to enter diacritics) for the name you are searching on. Many American Polish names are spelled differently from their original names in Poland. You  can overcome this somewhat by using a wildcard character at the end. For example, if Stanczyk wanted to search for ELIASZ or ELIJASZ or ELJASZ, he could enter ‘EL%’ and click on the ‘Wyszukaj’ button to search for those possible spellings.

The wildcard can also be used in the middle as shown in the picture below:

Stanczyk got all good matches except for number 2. In particular,  matches 3,4,5 are probably Stanczyk’s ancestors, since Tom/Volume 13, Strona/Page 419-420 is for the school in the village of Pacanow from whence Stanczyk’s direct lineage comes from. Now I could use those Tom’s and Strona’s to bring up the image of the page with those signatures and save the image in my family history.

There is also a nice web page in the LOC, called Emblem of Goodwill with many details of the friendship between Poland and the USA. It also includes pictures of the artwork in the volumes and even a few photos of two classes.

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