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A concise history of the Poles in Minnesota and the influence they have had on the state's religion, history, and culture.
Polish Americans have been part of Minnesota history since before the state's founding. Taking up farms along newly laid rail networks, Polish immigrants fanned across the countryside in small but important concentrations. In cities like Winona and St. Paul, Northeast Minneapolis and Duluth, as well as on the Iron Range, Polish American workers helped drive a growing industrial and agricultural economy. In this highly readable volume, author John Radzilowski tells the story of the Polish Americans, many of them political refugees, who created and sustained community institutions across Minnesota. He describes how they developed a significant literary tradition, published newspapers, and built distinctive churches that still adorn the landscape, and he traces the careers of individuals who immigrated with little and built businesses and new lives. A personal account from rural Lincoln County recalls challenges involving harsh weather and early housing options but also the warmth and joy of community gatherings, whether at church or school, for games or dance, or to relish traditional Polish dishes from the Old Country. This deft overview, filled with intriguing details, shows how Polish Americans established their own cultural identity within the state.