KeywordsBorkowski, Joseph A , 1907-2003
Polish Americans--Pennsylvania--Societies and clubs
Polish people--Foreign countries--History
Pennsylvania--Emigration and immigration
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AbstractThis collection contains material documenting Polish Americans in western Pennsylvania collected by Joseph A. Borkowski.
Poles in Western Pennsylvania Collection, 1950s-1990s, AIS.1965.16, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.
Initial gift from Joseph Borkowski in 1965; additional material subsequently added.
Joseph A. Borkowski (1907-2003) dedicated his life to the preservation and fostering of interest in ethnic and local history. He received his elementary education at Immaculate Heart of Mary School and Holy Family, graduated from Duquesne University with a bachelor's degree in economics, and earned a master's degree in history at the University of Pittsburgh. He was employed by the city of Pittsburgh for 27 years as an auditor-accountant, supervisor of the parking tax department, and manager of wage tax. He also worked for the Allegheny County controller's office. He was World War II veteran who served in the African and Italian campaigns. Acknowledged as the "unofficial" Polish historian of Pittsburgh, Borkowski was instrumental in obtaining a number of historical markers and plaques. These included ones honoring Anthony Sadowski (Allegheny County Court House), Polish Volunteers in American Civil War (City Council Building), Marcella Sembrich (William Penn Hotel on the corner of Oliver Ave. and Strawberry Way), Polish Army Recruitment (97 S. 18th St., site of old Falcon Hall), Three Polish Army Chaplains (Immaculate Heart of Mary Church), Casimir Pulaski's First Battle at Brandywine (marker on Highway 1, Chadd's Ford), Pulaski's Training and Recruitment Site (York, Pa.), Pulaski Banner Site (Bethlehem, Pa.), and Marie Sklodowska Curie (Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, O'Hara St., Pittsburgh). The Polish prelate, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, dedicated the last plaque listed. Borkowski was also instrumental in obtaining a plaque marking the 50th anniversary of the participation of American pilots in the Polish-Russian War. To obtain the markers, Borkowski, who served as Chairman of the Polish Historical Commission of the Central Council of Polish Organizations, researched and provided the necessary documentation. His writings include materials on: Polish pioneers of Pittsburgh; Anthony Sadowski; Christian Frederick Post; Marcella Sembrich; Madame Modrzejewska; Ignance Jan Paderewski's first Pittsburgh concert; Stanislaus Parzyk, the first Polish priest in Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh's part in the formation of the Polish Army in France; History of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish and Cemetery; Madame Marie Sklodowska Curie's visit to Pittsburgh; History of Holy Family Parish; Colonial and Pre-Revolutionary Poles; and the Poles of Jamestown. It is unclear how many of these pieces were published and how many were submitted as required source documents. As President of the Central Council of the Polish Organizations, Borkowski served as Master of Ceremonies when the United States Post Office issued a stamp in 1966 commemorating a thousand years of Christianity in Poland. He also initiated the Polish Christian Millennium at the Civic Arena, which drew over 20,000 people. Shortly after the Lawrenceville Historical Society was organized in 1982, one of its first acts of business was to name Joseph A. Borkowski as Honorary President because of his work as a pioneer historian in the field of local history. In 1955 Borkowski was involved with the restoration of the monument honoring the soldiers buried on the grounds of what is now the Foster Community Center. Then in 1962 he successfully convinced the Dolly Madison Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of the Veterans of 1812 and other parties to save the historic cast iron plaque which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Allegheny Arsenal, and return it to the grounds of Arsenal Park. Borkowski and other civic-minded men also saved 35 of the historic stones from the demolished Allegheny Arsenal gatehouse, and moved them to Arsenal Park. Then on July 4, 1965, through Borkowski's efforts a historic marker was erected on 40th Street to designate the site of the Allegheny Arsenal. In 1989 Borkowski was still active with many organizations, including the Polish National Alliance, Polish Roman Catholic Union, Polish Falcons of America, District IV (he served as secretary for this organization for 26 years), Legion of Honor Silver Medal of the Polish Falcons, American Legion, Boys Club of Western Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Commander of the V.F.W., and the Chairman of the Americanism Committee of Allegheny County. Over the years, Borkowski received a number of awards, citations, and commendations from the American Pilots Association, V.F.W. Man of the Year, Allegheny County Bi-Centennial Heinz Foundation Medal, Arsenal Board of Trade Man of the Year, Polish Army Citation, Community Service Award from the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, and the Service Award from the Catholic Diocesan Holy Name Union. Borkowski's writings are scattered in various libraries and archives, and it is doubtful that he ever bothered to catalog his works. The following constitutes a partial listing of his published writings: "Early Polish Pioneers In The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County" (1948); "The Lawrenceville Burial Ground and William B. Foster" (1955); "City of Pittsburgh's Part in the Formation of the Polish Army, World War I, 1917-1920" (1956); "Camp Wilkins: Military Post 1861," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 45, September 1962; "Pittsburgh and John Morgan," Pittsburgh Press, Sunday, July 31, 1963; "Selected Highlights of Poland's History and of Polish American Historical Events," Pittsburgh, Pa.: Polish Falcons of America, 1968; Historical Highlights and Sites of Lawrenceville Area (Comprising Present 2nd, 6th, 9th, and 10th Wards of the City of Pittsburgh) (1969); "The Role of Pittsburgh's Polish Falcons in the Organization of the Polish Army in France" (1972); The Poles of Erie (1972); "Prominent Polish Pioneers of the United States of America, 1770-1790" (1975); (With George Swetnam) "Our Military Heritage," Bicentennial Commission of Pittsburgh, (1976); "Father Stanislaus Parzyk, C. P.," Memorial Service and Dedication and Unveiling of the Plaque to Rev. Stanislaus Parzyk, Pittsburgh: Sponsored by the Passionist Congregation and the Polish Historical Commission of the Central Council of Polish Organizations, December 4, 1977; "History of the Central Council of Polish Organization in City of Pittsburgh, Pa." (1980); Miscellaneous History of Lawrenceville (1989); "Holy Family Church 50 Years Ago, Fiftieth Anniversary of the Current Holy Family Church Building" (Booklet), October 28, 1990; "200th Anniversary of the Polish Constitution," Polish Day Anniversary Booklet at Kennywood (1991); "History of the Legion of Honor," Sokol Polski, May 15, 1995. NOTE: Portions of this biography excerpted from Lawrenceville Historical Society: Joesph A. Borkowski (http://www.lhs15201.org/memorial_b.asp?ID=19).
Finding aid Available in repository and on Internet; Box level control; http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/f/findaid/findaid-idx?type=simple;c=ascead;view=text;subview=outline;didno=US-PPiU-ais196516