(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Tens of thousands of Eastern European immigrants, most of them Polish, arrived in the Connecticut River Valley beginning in the 1880s. Lured by rich soil and the promise of jobs in industrial centers like Holyoke and Springfield, these immigrants energized the region's ailing agrarian and industrial economies. They brought with them their own unique languages and cultures. Longtime residents often reacted with curiosity, fear and prejudice to the newcomers and the different customs and religions they introduced. "Polonaise," a painting by Stephen G. Maniatty (1910-1984) records the Polish presence in the region. Many rural New Englanders viewed the culture and customs of their new Polish neighbors as foreign and exotic, an impression Maniatty captured in his painting of a young Polish woman in her dancing costume.