Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2011

Capstone Advisor

John Western

Honors Reader

Amy Lutz

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

American Studies | Other American Studies


The purpose of my Capstone project is to construct an ethnography centered on Polish immigrant women living in the suburbs Chicago. The goal is to study whether or not they believe they keep their Polish culture and identity alive. However, in order to study culture, I had to first identify the factors that contribute to the construction and maintenance of Polish culture. They are: values, community, culture, identity, and perceptions of the United States and Americans. My research began with attempts to gather information from established and respected Polish organizations, like the Polish Museum of American (PMA) and the Polish Women’s Alliance of America (PWAA). However, after both institutions proved unhelpful, I asked a family friend, Anna, who was the inspiration for my project, for help. An interview with Anna and a former coworker of mine, Ada, helped me to establish strong interview questions and techniques and shifted my project in a different but more accessible and interesting direction. I began collecting data via interviews and questionnaires. My greatest resource turned out to be St. Margaret Mary Church in Algonquin, Illinois. Nearly half of the participants of my project were parishioners. The women from the parish, made it possible for me to gather the necessary data to conclude that although the majority of the women have American citizenship, and quite a few identify their children as American, the woman succeed in maintaining their Polish traditions, culture, and identities.

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