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Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side, 1880-1922 (Urban Life and Urban Landscape Series) Hardcover – June, 1991

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews


"A well-organized, thoughtful work which amply demonstrates the author's command of the literature on labor, social, and class history. . . . Pacyga illustrates better than any previous author the relationship of Polish behavior in America to the traditional values and practices of Polish peasant society in Europe."
(James S. Pula Journal of American Ethnic History)

“Its outstanding quality is the description of the life of its subjects. . . . [Pacyga] offers a graphic and vivid picture of what it was like for an unskilled, blue-collar foreign worker to labor in the arduous and dangerous environments of the slaughterhouse and the steel mill at the turn of the century”

(Victor Greene The Journal of American History)

“A classic social history of one immigrant community. Yet it also links the experiences of Poles on the South Side of Chicago to broader elements of social, class, and labor history. [Pacyga’s] work offers important insights into American history during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.”

(The History Teacher August 2005 2005-08-01)

“Scholars who have followed the recent scholarship of Lizabeth Cohen’s Making a New Deal (1990) and of Robert A. Slayton’s Back of the Yards (1986) will wish to study Pacyga’s valuable monograph in more detail.”

(Joseph J. Parot American Historical Review 1993-02-01) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

How did working-class immigrants from Poland create new communities in Chicago during the industrial age? This book explores the lives of immigrants in two iconic Polish neighborhoods—the Back of the Yards and South Chicago—and the stockyards and steel mills in which they made their living.

Pacyga shows how Poles forged communities on the South Side in an attempt to preserve the customs of their homeland—how through the development of churches, the building of schools, the founding of street gangs, and the opening of saloons they tried to recreate the feel of an Eastern European village. Through such institutions, Poles also were able to preserve their folk beliefs and family customs. But in time, the economic hardships of industrialization forced Poles to reach out to their non-Polish neighbors. And this led, in large part, to the organization of labor unions in Chicago's steel and meatpacking industries.

Brimming with insights into the Polish American experience, this book is must reading for anyone interested in the histories of Chicago, the working class, and immigration.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Urban Life and Urban Landscape Series
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio State Univ Pr (Txt) (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814205410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814205419
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,636,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dominic A. Pacyga was born in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1981. While in college he worked as a livestock handler and security guard in the famous Union Stock Yards. He has authored, or co-authored, six books concerning Chicago's history. Pacyga has lectured widely on topics ranging from urban development, residential architecture, labor history, immigration, and racial and ethnic relations, and has appeared in both the local and national media. His latest book is "Slaughterhouse: Chicago's Union Stock Yard and the World It Made."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've traced your Polish ancestors back to turn-of-the-century Chicago, You will find a lot of valuable insights on their experience by reading this book. The life of any new immigrant was never very easy in this country and Pacyga leads you through all of the hardships that these determined people faced. Unfortunately, Pacyga's focus shifts away from the immigrant towards the end of the book and he includes an in-depth history of Chicago's labor unions. Although the unions certainly affected the Polish immigrant's life, I thought that too much of the divergent chapters were off-subject. But, don't let that discourage you from reading it. There is real American history being told here.
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By S Szabados on September 29, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love it, great insight on Polish immigration and South side of Chicago
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