April 21, 1997 Program Celebrates Polish-American Friendship

Contact: Ronald Bachman (202) 707-8484

A program devoted to the long tradition of Polish- American friendship will be held May 2 from noon until 2 p.m. in the new European Reading Room. The program is the first public event in the new quarters for the reading room, now located adjacent to the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First St., S.E. It is one of three new reading rooms opening as the Jefferson Building nears the completion of a 12-year restoration effort.

Polish historian Piotr Wandycz of Yale University will discuss "The United States and Poland: Historical Reflections." One of the worlds foremost authorities on the history of Polish foreign relations, Dr. Wandycz is the author of The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795- 1918; Soviet-Polish Relations, 1917-1921; The United States and Poland; and The Price of Freedom.

His talk will be followed by the display of a unique gift presented to President Calvin Coolidge by the people of Poland; it is the first public showing since it was given in 1926. The gift consists of 111 bound volumes of sheets bearing nearly 6 million signatures and photographs of Polish schoolchildren and their teachers; local, regional and national governmental leaders; and members of the clergy and various professional associations. The collection is ornamented with original watercolor paintings and calligraphy by some of Poland's greatest artists of the interwar period. The volumes were delivered to the White House to commemorate the 150th anniversary of American independence. Four facsimile posters of illustrations from the first volume and several of the complete volumes will be on display through the end of May in the European Reading Room.

Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Ambassador Jerzy Kozminski and other diplomats as well as representatives from the U.S. government, academia, and the Polish American community are expected to attend the program, which will be followed by a reception in the adjacent Southeast Pavilion. Due to space limitations, the event is by invitation only; however, members of the press are free to attend.


PR 97-073
ISSN 0731-3527