Antoni Alfred Paryski established the Polish-language Ameryka in 1889, in Toledo, Ohio. He had immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1883, and spent several years learning English and the newspaper trade in and around Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Toledo and editing the short-lived Gwiazda (“Star”). Toledo had become a center of the Polish population in America by the early 20th century, and over the course of the next several decades, the Ameryka grew to be one of the most successful and widely distributed Polish publications of its time. Unlike many of its contemporaries, the Ameryka was independent in politics and not tied to a particular community or fraternal group. It was liberal, supported the American labor movement, and anticlerical (although not necessarily antireligious), in opposition to the Roman Catholic establishment that was influential in the Polish community.
The Ameryka had a number of minor name changes during its first few years of existence: Ameryka w Toledo (“America of Toledo”); Ameryka w Toledo i Kuryer Clevelandski (“America of Toledo and Cleveland Courier”), after a merger with the Kúrjer Clevelandski; and back to Ameryka in 1893. In 1902, the publication merged with the Echo, a Polish newspaper from Buffalo, New York, to form the Ameryka Echo. In addition to serving Polish immigrants of Toledo, the Ameryka Echo was distributed throughout the United States, reaching communities in large urban industrial centers like Chicago, but also those in rural areas. Subscribers lived outside the United States as well, in other countries that were part of the Polish diaspora (“Polonia”); there were even readers in Poland. Circulation had reached about 50,000 by World War I, and 120,000 by the 1920s. The Ameryka Echo was published in several daily, weekly, and “mail” editions from 1914 through 1956.
Paryski had been was a proponent of Polish Positivism, a movement emphasizing the importance of self-education and learning from others in the community in order to improve and strengthen the Polish nation. To this end, the Ameryka Echo encouraged readers to contribute their thoughts and opinions, which would be published in sections named “Korespondencye” (“Correspondence”), “Głosy Czytelników” (“Readers Voices”), “Kącik Piorunkiewicza” (“Piorunkiewicz’s Corner”), or “Kącik dla Wszystkich” (“Corner for Everybody”). The scope for this correspondence was wide, covering religion, immigration, Americanization, daily life, and other topics. The Ameryka Echo featured a variety of literary material, including poetry, folk literature, and English works in translation. These were sometimes issued as separate supplements, and for a short time, as a separate paper known as the Niedziela (“Sunday”). Paryski believed it was his responsibility to provide all manner of reading material for the Polish community, which also led to the establishment of the Paryski Publishing Company through which he published more than 2,000 titles on a variety of subjects. Like traditional newspapers, the Ameryka Echo also included news of the day from local, national, and international sources, alongside local business advertisements. The diversity in content led to the wide appeal of Ameryka Echo.
Paryski’s business success and resulting wealth earned him the nickname “The Polish Hearst.” Paryski remained associated with the newspaper until his death in 1935, when his family took over. Financial difficulties led to its sale in 1956, and in 1961, the Ameryka Echo merged with the Dziennik Chicagoski (“Chicago Daily News”). Both papers were published simultaneously until 1971.
- Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann, Anna D. and Theodore L. Zawistowski. Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902-1969: A Corner for Everybody. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013.
- Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann, Anna D. The Polish Hearst: Ameryka-Echo and the Public Role of the Immigrant Press. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015.