Newspapers were a foundation of the Polish American community for several reasons. First, they supplied the immigrant's need for news in their native language, including coverage of events in the home country as well as in the Polish community of the United States. Second, as one of the first community institutions to grow up outside the church, newspapers reflected divergent viewpoints including those of business and professional people as well as those of persons allied with particular political persuasions. Consequently, the newspapers contributed to the making of a Polish American identity by defining a range of issues which were specifically relevant to this ethnic group. Third, the appearance of journals in Polish communities throughout the country -- altogether at least 500 Polish language dailies, weeklies, and monthlies had been established in the U.S. by 1930, although many of these were short-lived -- testified to the presence of an educated immigrant elite who had left the Polish homeland for political reasons but who continued to exert influence in this country through the role of newspaper editor.
|Detail of Patryota
(Patriot), a Polish language newspaper published by T.
Wasowicz in Philadelphia beginning in 1889.
(Balch Newspaper Collection)
There were at least three Polish newspapers of long standing in Philadelphia, including Gwiazda (The Star), established in 1902. Gwiazda's founder, Stephan Nowaczyk, had emigrated to the U.S. with his family in the 1870s from the portion of Poland then controlled by Germany and trained as a printer (his father's trade) before establishing Gwiazda in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Upon Nowaczyk's death, the paper was taken over by his wife Frances (1923-35) and later by his daughter Gertrude (1935-85).
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