Since the 1600s, Polish immigrants have moved to the United States of America in hopes of beginning a new life with an abundance of resources to obtain the American Dream; or to reconnect with their relatives whom have settled in the States a while ago; or to escape the times of war or national oppression Poland faced by its neighboring countries. Whatever the reason may be, from the beginnings of Poles immigrating to America, once arriving in the states, they created for themselves a Polish ethnic community, otherwise known as Polonia. This community was intricately constructed in which Poles held onto their Polish customs and traditions so they would not have to change their entire way of living even though moving to America (Lopata 1976:1). However, in the years following 1918, Poles eventually began to evolve towards Americanized ideologies and slowly withdrew their Polish practices from everyday life in the United States (Lopata 1994: 100). Thus the immigrants that came to the U.S. before World War I are considered “old emigration” immigrants while the Poles that moved to America after World War I are known as “new emigration” immigrants (Lopata 1976: 3).
There are several reasons for why Poles have made the 4,000-mile journey to America, many of which have already been explored and discussed within past research studies. In the present research study, the Polish immigration rates to America during the years of 1929 to 1931 will be examined. Statistics show that a large number of Poles move to the United States in 1929 and an even greater number of Polish immigrants come during 1930. Why such a large of mass of new emigration Poles came to America during this time frame poses as an interesting question as the United States entered its Great Depression in 1929. It would seem that people would want to avoid moving to America when the economy was suffering greatly in all states and where its citizens were not only loosing their jobs, but also staying unemployed for a considerable amount of time because there were very few available jobs. Yet, this did not seem to phase the increase of almost fifteen hundred Polish immigrants as illustrated in the “Table of Immigration Since 1928” from the Chicago Daily Tribune (1945: 5).
Thus for the following paper I pose the research question: Who were the Poles that made up the great influx of immigrants moving to the United States from 1929 to 1930 during America’s Great Depression? In order to answer this question I explore narratives from past immigrants to gather information about the type of families or individuals migrating to the United States. Some of the narratives I use come from media data sources including past newspaper articles written in the time period of 1929 to 1945. Using the narratives I am able to ask sub-questions in response to my main research study. Were they employed or unemployed? What type of labor did they perform? Are they immigrating alone or with family? Do...