Historian Of America’s Polish Diaspora Visits The Hoover Library & Archives

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Joanna Wojdon, July 2018

There are about ten million Americans of Polish descent living in the United States and interest in the history of that community is growing in Poland.  Professor Joanna Wojdon of Wrocław University is one of Poland’s top specialists in Polish American studies. She is visiting Hoover as a Kosciuszko Foundation fellow to explore its world-renowned library and archival holdings on Poland and on post World War II Polish political immigration. 

Prof. Wojdon is the author of three books and dozens of articles.  This is her third scholarly expedition to the United States. She spent six months of  2003 as a Kosciuszko Foundation fellow at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, and another six months, in 2014, as a Fulbright scholar at Loyola University in Chicago.  Her principal research interest has been the history of the Polish American Congress (PAC), an umbrella association of Polish Americans and their organizations. Extensive archives (170 ms. boxes) of the Washington office of the PAC have been donated to Hoover several years ago.  They cover mostly the 1988−2010 period, one of intense activity on behalf of Poland, which was emerging from decades of Soviet-imposed communism, struggling to undo the damage it wrought.

Prof. Wojdon’s research includes the massive charitable aid to Poland organized by the PAC, the campaign for NATO enlargement, immigration issues, contacts with US Government agencies and prominent politicians, and the coordination of lobbying efforts of Central and East European ethnic groups in the USA. Hoover Archives is also home to the papers of many prominent Poles who had settled in America after World War II:  Stefan Korbonski, Jan Kowalik, Irena Lasota, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Zygmunt Nagorski, Witold Sworakowski, Wojciech Winkler, and others, all of whom actively engaged in work on behalf of a free and democratic Poland.  Since some of these collection remain not yet fully processed, Prof. Wojdon shared her notes about their contents with the Archives, facilitating the compilation of preliminary finding aids, which will ease access for future users.

Joanna Wojdon’s secondary field is the methodology of teaching history.  Her doctoral dissertation was a study of propaganda in primary school textbooks in People’s Republic of Poland.  This work just came out in English as Textbooks as Propaganda (Rutledge, 2018).

Prof. Wojdon is a board member of the International Society for History Didactics and managing editor of its scholarly journal.  While at Stanford, Prof. Wojdon participated in a Graduate School of Education intensive teacher training course aimed at developing historical thinking by inquiry-based lessons.  It has been a very busy and productive visit for Prof. Wojdon, one quite beneficial for her Stanford hosts as well.

Maciej Siekierski PhD

Senior Curator / Research Fellow

Maciej Siekierski is curator of the European Collections at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

siekierski [at] stanford.edu