Question of the Week
What is the name of the longest running Polish American newspaper in Philadelphia?
In 1902, Polish immigrant Stephan Nowaczyk began publishing Gwiazda (meaning "Star" in Polish), which would become one of the longest running Polish American newspapers in Philadelphia.
Nowaczyk was born in Poznan, Poland in 1869 and immigrated to the United States with his family in the 1870s. They settled in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, a predominantly Polish neighborhood. Like his father, Nowaczyk was trained as a printer. He purchased second-hand printing equipment from his employer in 1902 to begin publishing Gwiazda from his home. Upon Nowaczyk's death in 1923, his wife Frances became publisher until 1935. Then, their daughter Gertrude became the newspaper's publisher in 1935 and held this position until the newspaper was dissolved in 1985.
Gwiazda was published weekly at 3020 Richmond Street, Philadelphia while simultaneously serving as the Nowaczyk's home until they moved to the suburb of Wyncote in the 1930s.
The newspaper was originally printed entirely in Polish, but an English language section was gradually introduced and eventually filled half the newspaper. The advertising manager boasted that nearly the entire Polish American community in Philadelphia read Gwiazda as it was passed from household to household. From the 1930s to Gwiazda's final issue in 1985, the newspaper's circulation ranged from 6,000 to 7,500 subscribers.
HSP holds a large collection of records from Gwiazda and its company, the Polish Star Publishing Company (MSS63), that include correspondence, financial ledgers, tax returns, newspaper clippings, press releases, job orders, insertion instructions, and samples of material printed by the publishing company's print shop.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.