Presented in partnership with the Polish American Historical Association and the Polish Museum of America, join us for an exciting symposium delving into Chicago’s Polish history!

Free; RSVP required.


10:00–10:15 a.m. – Welcome

  • Peter T. Alter, PhD, Gary T. Johnson Chief Historian and Director of the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History, Chicago History Museum
  • Paweł Zyzak, PhD, Republic of Poland Consul General in Chicago

10:15–11:00 a.m. – Exhibition Discussion | Back Home: Polish Chicago

  • Peter T. Alter
  • Rebekah Coffman, Curator of Religion and Community History, Chicago History Museum
  • Dominic A. Pacyga, PhD, Emeritus Professor of History, Columbia College Chicago, and Affiliated Faculty Member, History Department, University of Illinois Chicago

11:00–11:30 a.m. – Book Discussion | Footprints of Polonia

11:30 a.m. – Wycinanki (Polish paper cutting) Workshop

  • Grace Bazylewski, teacher and practitioner

11:30 a.m. – Gallery Viewing | Back Home: Polish Chicago

  • Joanna Bak, Educational Assistant, Chicago History Museum
  • Rebekah Coffman
  • Andrea Jablonski, Artist

12:30–1:30 p.m. – Performance | Lajkonik Song & Dance Ensemble


1st floor, Robert R. McCormick Theater

1:30–2:30 p.m. – Panel Talk | Midwest Urban Polonia 

  • Chair: James S. Pula, PhD, Emeritus Professor of History, Purdue University Northwest
  • Chicago: Mary Erdmans, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Director, Undergraduate Studies in Sociology, Case Western Reserve University
  • Milwaukee: Susan Gibson Mikoś, author of Poles in Wisconsin
  • Detroit: Dr. Karen Majewski, First Vice President and incoming President of the Polish American Historical Association

2:45–4:00 p.m. – Panel Talk | Growing up Polish in Chicago

  • Chair: Dominic A. Pacyga
  • Mark S. Dobrzycki, announcer and organizer of Chicago’s Polish May 3rd Constitution Day Parade (19 years, 1992–2010)
  • Emily Helfeld-Grutz, co-owner of Helfeld’s Delicatessen
  • Marlene Magon
  • Daniel Pogorzelski, coauthor of Avondale and Chicago’s Polish Village
  • Kamila Russ
  • Monika Sołtys



People in Avondale neighborhood Shoppers on North Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale, Chicago, Jan. 24, 1975. ST-90003274-0013, Chicago Sun-Times collection, CHM
Performers at Christian Millennium Celebration at Soldier Field Performers at Soldier Field for Polish Christian Millennium Celebration, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, Aug. 29, 1966. ST-15002327-0006, Chicago Sun-Times collection, CHM
Man kissing his mother on Mother’s Day at Holy Trinity Polish Church Man kissing his mother on Mother's Day at Holy Trinity Polish Church, 1112 North Noble Street, Chicago, May 1988. CHM, ICHi-039081; Richard Younker, photographer
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