American Views of Poland During the 19th Century

Presentor: Barbara Klassa, Assistant Professor of History, University of Gdanski and 2013-2014 Visiting Kosciuszko Foundation Teaching Fellow, Polish Studies Program, State University of New York at Buffalo

There was no Poland then - that is true. American people had their own problems to deal with - that is also true. But still Americans - or rather some of them - were interested in Polish history. What did they know about that? What did they think about Poland and Polish people during that particular period of time, when the United States continued to develop as a powerful country while Poland was wiped out of the map of Europe by the three partitioning powers?

I will discuss those questions on the basis of American 19th century historiography. In that context several problems seem to be of high importance. For example, the vast territory of Central Europe was quite often referred to as 'Polish', even though Poland seemed to have been completely eliminated. But what territory was actually considered to be Polish? What did they think of Poland's role in European history? What was their opinion of the partitions and fundamental issues that underlay them?

American historiography could provide us with answers to all those questions. And it is far from being simply an academic issue, because it contributed to the creation of the image of Poland preferred by the American representatives during the Paris Peace Conference, thus influencing their stand and their decisions regarding the restoration of Poland's independence.

The meeting will be held at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, Snyder, and it will begin at 7:30 PM. Admission is free for members and a $5 donation is requested of non-members

Date: 
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Location: 
Harlem Road Community Center