Studies in the History of Overseas Migrations
Edited By Agnieszka Malek and Dorota Praszalowicz
David A. Jones: Neighbourhood on a Hill: the Traditional Polish American Neighbourhood: Has it Changed Forever? Has it a Future? The Examples of Worcester and Webster, Massachusetts
Neighbourhood on a Hill: the Traditional Polish American Neighbourhood: Has it Changed Forever? Has it a Future? The Examples of Worcester and Webster, Massachusetts David A. Jones (University of Warsaw) Neighbourhoods were very important to Polish Americans from before World War II until well into the 1980s and beyond. Frequently, Polish-American neighbourhoods were built on a hill, much as was the Massachusetts state capi- tol on Beacon Hill in Boston, that prompted colonial governor John Winthrop to portray Boston (and America) as being a “city upon a hill” (Winthrop, 1630), the imagery of American exceptionalism and of America as a “Redeemer Nation” (Tuveson, 1980). Indeed, one could argue that the Polish-American communities of central Massachusetts were built on hillsides, often physically but always metaphorical- ly, because they stood out and apart from other ethnic communities in terms of their superior values. They were, they are, a cut above other ethnic neighbour- hoods in America: cleaner with far more visible flowers in window boxes, almost crime free. As important, perhaps even more so, one could discern Polish- American homes in Worcester and Webster by the newspapers delivered to the porches of their homes (sometimes weeks after publication), written in Polish, German, Russian Cyrillic, and sometimes Yiddish languages, in addition to the global and local newspapers written in English. First generation Polish- Americans read all of these languages fluently, and this ongoing connection with Eastern Europe helped the Polish diaspora settling in central Massachu- setts to recreate their own civil society there...
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