AN UNUSUAL LIBRARY

The Kashubian Region

OUR LIBRARY - containing books of poetry, fiction, history, music, and language is a very unusual collection and a cooperative effort to preserve the written inheritance and history of 6000 Kashubian Polish immigrants who settled in Winona in the 1870s. 


CLICK ON THE LINKS TO SEE:
List of Titles

Polish Sheet Music Collection
Book titles, authors and description (including owner/user/donor)
A list of inventoried books and known publishing dates


Some books came in lovingly. Some came in by being snatched away within minutes of the recycling truck. Soon our collection grew as we added maps, manuscripts, magazines, records and oral histories. 


THE LIBRARY'S MOST UNUSUAL FEATURE is a section dedicated to prayer books. Coming to the U.S. in the ballast section of the ship, immigrants were allowed only one box for food. The clothes they had to wear.  The rest was in their heads, but they still carried their Polish prayer books. Those were held onto the longest, until they too, had to go. Our library has hundreds of them - most with names of original owners (immigrants) in them. 

Historians, using statistical evidence often come to the conclusion that the Polish migrants were poor and ignorant, because of the jobs they took upon arrival. That conclusive style of history can mask subtle error, if one does not bear in mind concurrent factors of reality of the times, such as lack of child labor laws, inability to communicate, lack of certification, and the pressing need to work to eat. Books and their contents tell a lot about their owners. The classical literature, amount and styles of art, the language and grammatical texts and especially the historical and biographical editions lead one to an entirely different conclusion.  One fascinating aspect of our library is the rarity of some of its publications. One shelf was discovered to have four volumes available in only one or two other places in the world! For three copies, our collection is their only place of existence.  (Father Paul Breza, Director, 2015)


An inventory of our library is in progress.  As of November 2016, one-third of our books have been cataloged!