2020 Student Research Conference:
33rd Annual Student Research Conference

The Resilience of the Polish Catholic Identity of Belarusians Emigrants  

Hannah R. Pohl
Dr. Sally West, Faculty Mentor

The story of the Zhdans and the historical turmoil that followed their lives in Eastern Europe and America represent how utilizing genealogy can shape historical perspectives. Sam and Zofia Zhdan exemplified how personalized identity could persevere through oppression. Growing up in Minsk, the capital of Belarus under the rule of the Russian Empire, the Zhdans lived amidst cultural, political and religious tensions. The Catholic Poles and the Orthodox Russians both pushed the Zhdans towards a specific identity. Sam was originally raised Orthodox, but chose to join the faith of his wife Zofia, who was Polish Catholic. Both before and after the Zhdans emigrated to St.Louis, Missouri, they faced cultural, political and even economic oppression. Yet they maintained their chosen identity as Polish Catholics regardless of the extrinsic pressures experienced in Belarus and America. 


Keywords: genealogy , history , religion, immigration , identity , Russian Empire , Polish Kingdom , 1920s

Topic(s):History 496: Genealogy and Family History
Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: TBA
Location: TBA
Time: TBA

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