Buffalo Polonia 1873-1998
Helping Mark the Sesquicentennial of Buffalo's Polish-American Community
In 1997, the Club made a formal proposal to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society that it mark the 125th anniversary of the Polish-American community in Buffalo with a historical exhibition. The proposal was accepted by the Society and resulted in the mounting at the Society's Historical Museum of Buffalo Polonia 1873-1998, a major exhibit that opened on October 24, 1998 and run through February 7, 1999. Subsequently, it was reconstituted by the Historical Society as a travelling exhibit for showing at various locations around the county.
The Club assisted in the mounting of the exhibit by helping secure artifacts for exhibition, by identifying individuals who could give a historical perspective on the Polish community, by writing commentaries for some of the exhibits, by making a $1000 donation to the Society, and by sponsoring a fund-raising musical event to benefit the Society.
Club docent Teresa Gessner with a class of schoolchildren at the Polonia exhibit
The exhibit, according to calculations made by the Director of the Historical Society, increased attendece at the museum by 22% over a similar period during the preceeding year. As an added outreach effort, the Club undertook a Let the Children Know initiative, the goal of which was to have Social Science teachers bring classes to visit the exhibit for discussions of Polish-American heritage in the context of lessons on immigration. To help teachers their classes ready for the visit, the Club prepared a 137-page Polish-American Heritage Heritage Instructional Packe, a resource for educators, which it distributed gratis to interested teachers. Further, it solicited funds so as to be in a position to pay for bus rentals and museum entrance fees for schools requesting such assistance. Also, it supplied docents to guide the classes around the exhibit. As a result over 900 children visited the exhibit on class trips and their reactions, often communicated via the mails, were enthusiastic.