Since its establishment in 1986 CPAA has been receiving many ephemeral publications that are placed in its vertical file: anniversary booklets convention materials programs of concerts, celebrations, reunions, dedications, dinners, balls, testimonials constitutions and by-laws of various societies flyers articles unpublished research and students' papers.
Often unassuming, published either as a keepsake or fundraising effort, full of advertisements, overlooked by librarians, archivists and researchers, these booklets are nevertheless important and often a unique source of historical data. They may contain historical essays, photographs, or membership lists. In a sense these materials are also portraits of a broader community: advertisements, list of contributors, donors, committee members, congratulatory letters give context to historical sketches. Repertoires and programs of concerts and celebrations provide a picture of heritage being cultivated. The list of places and organizations and their chapters demonstrates the richness and diversification of Polonia's social life.
The booklets listed here can not be compared in their significance to manuscripts and records. They may often supplement them or help in developing hypothesis or research ideas. In case of small, sometimes defunct societies, they are often the only historical records available. In genealogical research these booklets may be the second logical step beyond parish records. Another area of research that is still awaiting investigation that can be facilitated by these publications is the history of Polish American businesses. Even broader research into trends and transformation of Polish American communities can benefit from investigating these sources. Periods of dynamic development and later demise of different organizational forms of communal life, from religious, fraternal to political, charitable and veterans societies can be traced in these booklets.
The booklets included here come from 20 states (though most of them were published in Connecticut) and are organized first by state, then by town. Larger collections (Hartford, New Britain) are further broken down by parish or organization. Unpublished materials, such as student papers, as well as programs of testimonial dinners, concerts, etc. are listed at the end. Materials from national and district conventions are listed under towns/cities where they were held as well as a separate listing by organizations. There is also a separate listing by organization in alphabetical order.
One of the major problems in processing these materials is the decision
about the source and form of title. Most do not have a title page at all.
Information from the covers is often confusing or incomplete. Some of
these publications include Polish names of organizations and institutions,
some English ones. Many are bilingual, but often in a very precarious way
- a word here or there in English, half of the title in Polish, etc.
For the purpose of this list we decided to use the English
language information, if available, write it as supplied on title page
or cover, as long as it gives the clear picture of the content. In some
cases, though, we had to "reconstruct" the title from information found in
many different places: cover, title page, spine, text. We tried to have
three basic pieces of information included in each entry:
-name of organization or person
-date or dates.