All About the Falcons
The Archive of the Polish Falcons of America
The history of this extraordinary donation started in March 2019 with talks between the representatives of the Archive of the Institute of National Remembrance and the Polish Falcons of America in Pittsburgh. These led to a consensus on the character and possible areas of cooperation between the institutions. During the talks, the parties also drafted an agreement with provisions related to the incorporation of the PFA’s archive into the IPN archival repository. IPN also committed to pack all the materials, secure them, organize their transport to Poland, and then arrange and digitalize them.
The talks were finalized on June 9, 2019 in Niagara-on the Lake. On this day, Timothy L. Kuzma, president of Polish Falcons of America and Dr. Jarosław Szarek, president of the Institute of National Remembrance, signed an agreement. The place of this event was not accidental – over 100 years ago, from 1917–1919, a military training camp was held there for Polish volunteers for the Polish Army in France in this small Canadian city on the American border.
One of the main reasons for the PFA’s decision to donate their unique collection to the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw was the desire to promote the history of the Falcons and American Polonia [the Polish diaspora in the USA].
The donated archive contains unique and invaluable materials documenting the history of American Polonia and its contribution to the independence of Poland. Simultaneously the collection is a testament of over one hundred years of the history of the Polish Falcons Alliance of America, established in the spring of 1887 in Chicago as Sokół Polsko-Amerykański. In the following years, the organization grew in membership and changed its name and location. In December 1912, Dr. Teofil Antoni Starzyński was elected president of the Polish Falcons Alliance of America and Pittsburgh was chosen as the headquarters of the organization. From the very beginning, the Polish Falcons defined their mission as the promotion of culture, physical activity, and the strengthening of national consciousness. All-round physical development and the formation of good civic attitudes were pursued, which was to prepare young people to fight for the independence of the Fatherland. It was assumed that if there was ever a chance for Poland to regain its sovereignty, only people who were physically well-prepared as well as mindful of their nationality could stand in such a trial.
The Polish Falcons’ archive is comprised of seventy linear meters of documents, photographs, and artifacts covering the period from the close of the nineteenth century until the early years of the twenty-first century. Among the documents are those of the Falcons’ Board of Directors and regional subdivisions (districts and nests), as well as documents donated to the PFA by private individuals. The Falcons’ own documents include records of the organization and management (statutory documents, minutes of meetings, reports, correspondence), and publications (books, magazines, commemorative brochures), as well as photographs detailing more than one hundred years of the activities of Polish Falcons of America. A significant part of these materials is also related to the Polish Army in France, as many of the volunteers who served during World War I were from the Falcons in America. Among the collected archival materials of private provenance are those of Teofil Starzyński (1878–1952), the long-term president of the Polish Falcons of America, Artur Waldo (1896–1985), an émigré historian and researcher of the history of Polonia in the USA, and also the private documents of Agnieszka Wisła.
Together with the donated archive, IPN also received their library of books and magazines on sport and scouting, many valuable materials from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries relating to the history of Poland and Polish people (polonica), as well as a large collection of museum items, mostly uniforms, flags, and medals.