Mary E. Cygan taught at the Stamford Campus of the University of Connecticut from Fall 1990 to Fall 2018, where she taught the United States history survey, American immigration, American biography, the history of women in the United States and an introductory Western Civilization survey. She incorporated oral history into several of her courses at the Stamford Campus. Examples include student interviews with residents of the Stamford Manor (public housing targeted by a controversial urban renewal proposal) and former employees of Yale and Towne, the largest employer in Stamford until 1950. In 1998-99 she served as the Acting Director of Women’s Studies at the Stamford Campus and remained a member of the Stamford Campus Women’s Studies Advisory Group. Her research has focused on Polish American religion, family life, popular culture, and politics.
She began her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago, was a graduate fellow at the Institute on East Central Europe at Columbia University and received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1989. She has delivered papers at annual meetings of the American Historical Association, the Social Science History Association, and the Polish American Historical Association and at conferences at the Immigration History Research Center (University of Minnesota), the University of Bremen, and the Institute for Polonia Research of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. She has been involved in community history projects in Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee and developed the Oral History Archives of Chicago Polonia (at the Chicago Historical Society) which recorded the life stories of approximately 130 immigrants. She is currently working on an article on Polish American folk theater and revising a manuscript on Polish American socialism.
“A Man of His Times: Paul Robeson and the Press, 1924-1976,” Pennsylvania History 66, no.1 (Winter 1999): 27-46
“Inventing Polonia: Notions of Polish American Identity, 1870-1990,” Prospects (An Annual published by Cambridge University Press), 23 (1998): 209-246
“Polish American Socialism,” chapter in the anthology, Immigrant Radicalism, Paul Buhle and Dan Georgakas, eds. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996):148-184
“Polish Women and Emigrant Husbands,” in Dirk Hoerder and Horst Rossler, eds., Roots of the Transplanted, (Boulder: East European Monographs, Columbia University Press, 1994): 359-374.
“The New Art: Polish American Radio Comedy During the 1930’s.” Polish American Studies, XLV (autumn, 1988): 5-21.
“Ethnic Parish as Compromise, The Spheres of Clerical and Lay Authority in a Polish American Parish, 1909-1930.” Occasional Papers Series of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Series 13. (South Bend: Cushwa Center at Notre Dame University, 1983): 1-37.