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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Honoring heritage

STEVEN FONDO Times Leader Correspondent

WILKES-BARRE – The Luzerne County Historical Society hosted a series of events on Saturday to culminate its "Polish Heritage" exhibition, which began in October.

The multi-faceted exhibit was organized as a way to honor the many families who immigrated to the area in the late 1800s.

The day began with a children’s program titled, "Smok the Polish Dragon," which featured a Polish-themed story-telling hour, craft making and refreshments. The program continued with an afternoon session which featured a Polish-costume embroidery discussion and demonstration by Alice Rae Kutish of the Embroidery Guild of America.

“We wanted to celebrate the ethnic experience and contribution of the Polish immigrants here in Wyoming Valley," said Mary Ruth Burke, the historical society’s curator.

According to Burke, many Poles came to this country to find work in the coal-mining industry with a plan to return to Poland once they had saved enough money. However, the two world wars and ensuing Russian occupation prevented many of them from returning to their homeland.

“Their community was centered around their neighborhood church," added Burke. "The exhibit demonstrated that once established in the region, home ownership became the goal for many Polish immigrants, as a way to escape the harsh conditions of mining company housing.”

Burke said the historical society plans to publish an ethnic cookbook.

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