Michael Z. Kislo Notebooks

3 boxes (1.25 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 246
rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

Polish immigrant who worked in a basket shop and as a machinist while residing in Florence, Massachusetts. Includes nine volumes of Kislo's writing (mostly in Polish and thematically religious, patriotic, personal, and autobiographical) and artwork (drawings and paintings with religious allusions, Polish costumes, weapons, imaginary animals and fanciful landscapes).

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Background on Michael Z. Kislo

Michael Z. Kislo (1896-1978) of Dzieciekowo, Poland, immigrated to the United States and married Mary A. Skowronek (1907-65) of Holyoke, Massachusetts. He began work in a basket shop in Northampton and eventually became a machinist at International Silver Company. The Kislos lived in Florence, Massachusetts.

Scope of collection

The collection comprises 9 volumes (1954-74) of Michael Kislo's writing and artwork. The writing, mostly in Polish, handwritten and typewritten, is frequently religious, but also patriotic, personal, and autobiographical. It is usually in the form of "songs," as Kislo calls them. Allusions to the F.B.I., especially in 1962, are of interest.

The drawings and paintings are Chagall-like at times-a floating world of religious allusions. At other times, Polish costumes make appearances, as do weapons, imaginary animals, and fanciful landscapes. It is unclear whether the images are traditional, re-interpretations of traditional ones, or unique to Kislo's imagination.

The notebooks make accessible the thoughts and feelings of a Polish immigrant in a uniquely intense way, when ordinarily the inner life of this generation is lost to the future.



Volume numbers taken from cover.

Polish and English; much art; remarks on writing
1954-1955, 1962
Vol. 5
1955-1956, 1962-1963
Vol. 6
1956-1958, 1962-1963
Vol. 7
No artwork; nearly all Polish
Vol. 8
"John told the truth" around page ends
Vol. 9
March-June, 1971
Vol. un-numbered
Many drawings
November 1971-September 1972
Vol. un-numbered
No artwork
Vol. un-numbered
No artwork
Vol. un-numbered

Administrative information


The collection is open for research.


Acquired from: Susan Kislo via Stanley Radosh, 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman.


English, Polish


Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Michael Z. Kislo Notebooks (MS 246). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms


  • Art, Polish--Massachusetts--20th century.
  • Florence (Mass.)--Biography.
  • Immigrants--Massachusetts--Florence--Diaries.
  • Kislo, Michael Z., 1896-1978--Notebooks, sktechbooks, etc.
  • Kislo, Michael Z., 1896-1978--Views on United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Poles--Massachusetts--Florence.
  • Polish American artists--Massachusetts--Florence--Diaries.
  • United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.


  • Kislo, Michael Z., 1896-1978 [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Notebooks.

Link to similar SCUA collections