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Poland has had a long, troubled history. Between 1795 and 1918, it was part of Prussia, then Germany, Austria-Hungary, and finally, Russia. In 1918, after World War I, Poland won its independence. During these years of turmoil, many thousands of Poles fled their homeland, searching for both economic and religious freedom.
Polish immigrants began coming to St. Louis in the mid to late 1800s. For the most part, the Polish community lived on the near north side of St. Louis. This area, now called Old North St. Louis, was teeming with commerce by the turn of the twentieth century. As with most cities, as new waves of immigrants arrived, their predecessors accumulated more wealth. In St. Louis, that has meant that Poles have left the confines of their original neighborhoods and dispersed throughout the city and county.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is and was the premier Polish Catholic church in St. Louis. Approved by the Archdiocese in 1878, it has withstood fire and urban decay, and is today an active parish. Church records and the jubilee history are available at St. Louis County Library.
Polish Jews began arriving in St. Louis in the late 1800s also, for the same reasons as Catholic Poles. The Polish Jews were also escaping pogroms, acts of violence in small Jewish villages perpetrated by Russian soldiers. These Polish immigrants, too, settled in the downtown area, although not as far north. For more information on their early history, see the St. Louis Jewish timeline on this website.
St. Louis County Library, Special Collections has a special finding aid outlining Polish Catholic and Jewish resources available at the library. Click on St. Louis County Library Finding Aids for further information.
Catholic Parish Jubilee Histories. St. Louis: Central Bureau of the CCUA, 1999. [Microfilm]
Centennial of St. Wenceslaus Society of St. John Nepomuk Parish, No. 1 of Catholic Central Union: St. Louis, 1856–1956. St. Louis: Centennial Jubilee Committee, 1956.
Mysliwiec, John Stanislaus. History of the Catholic Poles of St. Louis. St. Louis: St. Louis University, 1936.
Ortell, Gerald A. Polish Parish Records of the Roman Catholic Church: Their Use and Understanding in Genealogical Research. Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society of America, 1996.
St. Louis Genealogical Society · #4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140 · St. Louis, MO 63143 · 314-647-8547