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Polish engineers in United States and Canada

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  • Hypolite Oladowski (1798 - 1878)
    Civil War Confederate Officer. A native of Poland, Oladowski's service to the Confederacy includes a tenure on the staff of General Albert Sidney Johnston. At the rank of Captain, he served this genera...
  • John Thomas Pellack (1866 - 1949)
    Immigrated to the U.S. in 1874 at age 8.
  • Napoleon Koscialowski (1812 - 1859)
    Napoleon Koscialowski arrived in New York on March 28, 1834. He was one of the 235 Polish exiles from Trieste, sent to America by Austria following the 1830 November Upraising. He was a friend of Edwar...
  • Lieutenant Edward Młodzianowski (c.1812 - 1842)
    Lieutenant Edward Młodzianowski was one of the 235 Polish exiles from Trieste, sent to America by Austria following the 1830 November Upraising. He was a friend of Napoleon Kościałowski. He arrived in ...
  • Sir Casimir Stanislaw Gzowski (1813 - 1898)
    Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski (born March 5, 1813, died September 24, 1898) was a Polish-Canadian engineer. He left Poland in 1830 with his family, after the November Uprising. He first went to the United...

The goal of this project is to highlight Polish born engineers who made a significant contribution to the economy of United States and Canada.


In the early 1900’s, the Polish emigrants in the Chicago area were developing a bustling economy. As their participation in the industrial development within the Chicago area was increasing, a need existed for engineering oriented organizations to assist these hardworking people in meeting and in overcoming new challenges.

While at the present time providing educational guidance for young people is a pressing need, it was even more so in the early 1900’s. Parochial and public school graduates at both the elementary and high school levels usually could not turn to their parents for advice on the ways to acquire a technical education. These graduates had to rely on their own efforts or at best on advice from their teachers.

In the city of Chicago’s rapidly expanding industrial climate, the needs of the small industrial establishments who were trying to grow and to develop into useful ventures had to be met. These small industrial concerns did not have any engineering advice available to assist them in their business ventures.

During these times, the legal, medical and religious professions were reasonably well organized and provided guidance for the youth interested in these disciplines. Technically oriented organizations did not exist. The Polish press presented infrequent but accurate accounts on the accomplishments of the master builder, Ralph Modjeski. They also shared with their readers the achievements of other engineers of Polish descent who settled in America. These well written but infrequent references served to inspire youths of Polish descent to seek an engineering training and to make engineering their life’s work.

Engineers of Polish descent mainly lived outside of the Polish ethnic areas and had little if any, contact with each other. More important, there was a lack of communication between these engineers and the youth aspiring to obtain an engineering education. One can well understand the difficulties facing a typical eighteen-year old and the bewilderment that arose when the student entered a technical institute’s environment.

The first technical society in the Chicago area serving the needs of the Polish-American Community was the POLITECHNIK. This organization was formed in 1920 by a group of students of Polish descent who were attending the Armour Institute of Technology, today the Illinois Institute of Technology.