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Laura Polanyi Striker Papers on Captain John Smith

Identifier: MS 00067

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Scope and Contents

Research notes, drafts, and writings of Laura Polanyi Striker on Captain John Smith. Materials include correspondence, publications, newspaper clippings, reviews, books jackets and photographs related to her extensive research.

Late in her career, Striker wrote about Captain John Smith's Hungarian travels, including the 1957 introduction and translation of The Life of John Smith, English Soldier, a seventeenth-century text by Henry Wharton; 1953's Captain John Smith's Hungary and Transylvania; and 1958's The Hungarian Historian: Lewis L. Kropf.

This collection contains materials pertaining to Striker's scholarship from the mid-1940s through her death in 1959. It is arranged in the following series: Artifact, Correspondence, Photographs and Book Jackets, Research Notes, and Reviews.


  • Creation: undated


Language of Materials

English, Hungarian, and Latin.

Conditions Governing Access

The course work material in this collection contains grade reports which are restricted until May 2014. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Laura Polanyi Striker was an Austro-Hungarian historian, researcher and educator. She received a PhD in economic history from Budapest University, developed progressive pedagogical models for young learners, and was active in feminist and freemason societies. Striker came from a Jewish family of scholars, including economist and anthropologist Karl Polanyi and philosopher Michael Polanyi. Striker and her family immigrated to the United States during World War II.

In the mid-1940s, Striker joined American historian Bradford Smith's research project to write a new biography of Captain John Smith. Since Striker read Hungarian and Latin, she worked through non-English sources related to the many narratives about John Smith's experiences in Transylvania and Hungary. Striker's work addressed earlier scholarship by Hungarian-American historian Alfred Knopf, translated sources about John Smith, and in 1953 published her independent study, Captain John Smith's Hungary and Translyvania.

She married Sandor Striker in 1904 and had three children, including the designer Eva Striker Zeisel. Laura Polanyi Striker died in 1959.

For more on Striker's biography and career, see Lee Congdon's article, "The Hungarian Pocahontas: Laura Polayni Striker," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, July 1978.


2.00 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source: Jean Richards

Donation on behalf of the Laura Polanyi Striker Family, August 2016.

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository