It is a pleasure and a privilege to write the Introduction to this important monograph. The book consists of three parts, written by different authors. It is to the credit of the editors that the parts complement each other and so blend together that they make the volume one readable unit. It would be futile to even try to ask which of the parts is the most valuable; all are important, and they have been placed in a logical sequence.
In order to cover the history and culture of Poland on forty-eight pages, the author obviously had no choice but to bring in her own emphasis. Her sense of historical perspective and her good judgment prevailed even though many facts had of necessity to be left out. There are bound to be readers who may not find in that part a description of their favorite Polish custom or a legend. Others may unduly be unhappy about the brevity of the very first historical section. Considering, however, the limited space at her disposal, the author fully succeeded in introducing the American reader to Polish history and culture. The Polish reader, well versed in the subject should remember--in all fairness to the author--that the purpose of this monograph is to serve primarily non-Polish readers, and that objective has been clearly achieved.
The section on the Polish immigration to America serves as a bridge between the first and the third parts of the book, and at the same time, it is an ideal introduction to part three dealing with the local situation in Cleveland. In part two the authors have wisely placed the question of the Polish immigration to the
United States against the context of world events. Thus, the monograph acquires a new dimension, and goes beyond the interest of just one particular ethnic community.
It is against the background of parts one and two that part three gives the book a special significance. Here too the local situation, expertly described,transcends the local interest, and may be viewed as a representative sample of a specific locality in a much broader context with broad implications.
The most important message which the author of this Introduction would like to share with the reader concerns not only this monograph as a whole but the entire series of these publications dealing with ethnicity. It is his strong conviction that the era of the melting pot in America is a matter of the past. It is over, hopefully never to come back. The diversity of the cultures, its "mosaic" which makes up the pattern of the American cultural scene, not only has to be recognized but it has to be encouraged. There should be no waste of resources which can potentially enrich that pattern. It is not enough for each ethnic group to make an effort to bring in the best of its national culture and contribute it to the American pattern of life. Such a contribution is an obligation to America on the part of each ethnic community. That obligation is thus twofold: to make a contribution, and to bequeath what represents the best in each ethnic group. This legacy can be bestowed without exaggerating the culture's positive values or
romanticizing its past. It is in this light that the present pioneering publication should be seen. (Because it is a pioneering effort, the book's shortcomings should be viewed with some indulgence. For instance, the spelling of the Polish first names ought to have been streamlined and made more consistent. However, whatever its shortcomings, they do not detract anything from the value of the book, and they are all minor.)
This book has many applications. It can be used both by students and teachers. Material in this and other similar monographs soon to appear in print can be used for such student projects as developing documentary tapes or slides (or perhaps even a motion picture), research papers, papers for special programs, etc. There is simply no end to its usefulness.
When the following pages go to press, they will produce more than just another book. They will represent a pioneering venture of one ethnic group made in recognition of its gratitude and its obligation to this great country in its bicentennial year.
Jerzy (George) J. Maciuszko