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Probing the Past

Festschrift in Honor of Leo Schelbert

Edited By Wendy Everham and Virginia Schelbert

This Festschrift acknowledges the scholarly work of Leo Schelbert and his mentorship of graduate students in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where for 33 years he taught American history. Professor Schelbert has specialized in the story of European migrations and especially of immigration to the United States. His courses offered not only pertinent data, but they also raised theoretical issues to which historical work is tied inescapably.
The varied essays included in this book reflect the range of themes former students, who now are scholars in their own right, have been pursuing. The topics of three essays center on North American Indians facing white intruders, another on émigré Hungarians living in Scotland, and one (contributed to this volume by a most esteemed colleague with whom Leo Schelbert shared many a student) on striking women straw workers in Tuscany. Another essay concerns matters relating to those grappling with mental health issues, while others deal with African newcomers in Chicago, Jewish immigrants to America who first worked as peddlers, contemporary Polish American politics in Chicago, and also with a nineteenth-century Swiss American theologian. Two of the last three essays honor Leo Schelbert’s work as a colleague and historian apart from the university setting, whereas the final one honors Leo Schelbert as a teacher as well as the Department of History at UIC in which its Swiss-born member worked from 1971 to 2003.
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Losing Clout: Nancy Kaszak Versus Rahm Emanuel and the Decline of Polish American Politics in Chicago



On Sunday November 4, 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, investment banker Rahm Emanuel announced his plans to run for elected office in Chicago’s 5th Congressional District. The 41 year old former advisor to President Bill Clinton vied with several other candidates for the Democratic nomination. Polish American Dan Rostenkowski had once held the seat, and it was recently vacated by Rod Blagojevich who decided to leave Congress in order to run in the Democratic Party primary for the governorship of Illinois. Two weeks earlier, former state representative and Polish American Nancy Kaszak announced her intention also to run for the seat. Kaszak emphasized her Polish ancestry in a district that spanned the city’s Northwest Side and contained a considerable Polish American population.

Emanuel, a long-time political operative, had never run for elected office before. His resume, however, did include six years as an advisor to President Bill Clinton. He began his involvement in politics with Illinois Public Action, an advocacy group, and worked on former U.S. Senator Paul Simon’s 1984 campaign and for Richard M. Daley’s 1989 mayoral campaign for which he had raised a considerable amount of money. Rumors had long circulated that Rahm Emanuel would enter the race, and he had already raised $700,000 in campaign funds with a goal of having over $1,000,000 in his coffers by the March primary. Kaszak had raised roughly $200,000.1...

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