Register of the Records of the
ASSOCIATED POLISH HOME OF PHILADELPHIA
Laura A. Szumanski
A Polish "Home" refers to a house that functions as a home for a wide variety of Polish-American organizations. The Polish Home, moreover, is not unique to Philadelphia. Rather, it is a common institution found in nearly all sizable Polish communities located within the United States.
The Associated Polish Home of Philadelphia was founded in July, 1900 with several basic aims. The first elected officers of the group emphasized above all the need to organize the vast array of Polish-American societies within the city into a collective whole, united by spirit and purpose. The achievement of this goal required members to continually foster Polish patriotism within their own individual organizations and within the larger, city-wide Polish-American community as well.
On 5 July 1907, the Associated Polish Home opened its doors at the Arbeiter-Saengerbund Hall on Fairmount Avenue. There it remained until 1958 when a new site was obtained on Academy Road off Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. Throughout its decades of service, the Associated Polish Home has housed a number of prominent Polish-American organizations dedicated to furthering Polish culture and pride. Among them are the Uniwersytet Ludowy (Polish People's University), Adam Mickiewicz Polish Language School, Paderewski Cultural Society, Polish Dramatic Theater, Polish National Alliance, Polish Veterans of World War II, and the American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee. The latter of these groups is the primary focus of this collection.
The American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee, housed at 211 Fairmount Avenue, was founded in the wake of World War II to serve a dual purpose. Firstly, American Relief for Poland sought to ship basic necessities such as medicine and clothing to war-ravaged Poland. Secondly, the organization wanted to assist the large number of displaced Poles scattered about the globe in various camps and colonies. Displaced persons were found not only in Europe, but in more distant locations such as Mexico, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, India, South Africa, and New Zealand.
In conjunction with other Polish-American organizations such as the Polish National Alliance and the Polish YMCA, American Relief for Poland was able to collect a vast amount of materials to send overseas, storing them in warehouses located within the United States before transport. Despite their many successes in this venture, the officers of the organization, after having traveled to Poland themselves in December of 1945, decided that American Relief for Poland was simply not able to undertake a massive relief program on a national scale. Therefore, they claimed that the efforts of the committee should be focused on specific projects, such as helping to deal only with extreme emergency situations in Poland and providing assistance to Polish refugees seeking passage to America.
The American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee did just that, coordinating a highly successful sponsorship program in which Polish-Americans could raise much-needed funds in order to assist individual refugees and/or entire refugee families. Many of these displaced persons eventually immigrated to the United States, often finding food, clothing, shelter, and employment within those same sponsoring communities.
Czaplicki, Hilary S., ed. The Millenium of the Polish People: 1000 Years of Christianity. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Committee for the Observance of the Millenium of Poland's Christianity, 1966.
Golab, Caroline. "Philadelphia's Polonia." In Invisible Philadelphia: Community Through Voluntary Organizations. Jean Barth Toll and Mildred S. Gilliam, eds. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Atwater Kent Museum, 1995.
Osinski, Henry J. American Relief for Poland: Report of Mission in Poland, December 1945-January 1947. Chicago, Illinois: Print "Everybody's" Publishing Co., 1948.
The Work of American Relief for Poland. Chicago, Illinois: American Relief for Poland, 194?.
The records of the Associated Polish Home, 1922; 1949-1951, were received as a gift in 1974 from the Associated Polish Home to the Balch Institute. Access to the materials is unrestricted.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The materials obtained from the Associated Polish Home in this collection can be broadly characterized into two groups. Three volumes, each written entirely in Polish, are journals recorded by the American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee between the years 1948-1951. Among the information contained within these books are lists of both the names of sponsors and the names of the displaced persons being funded. A much smaller volume, dated 25 December 1922, is also included in the collection. It is a library catalog also written entirely in Polish, formerly belonging to the Nicetown Sokol.
Volume One and Folder One: The first of the volumes is a large bound book stamped with the address of the American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee at 211 Fairmount Avenue (the address of the Associated Polish Home). The book is divided alphabetically according to the last names of the sponsors. Each page is divided into several columns listing the following information: date sent to Washington and date received, name of sponsor, name of displaced person, and the address at which the displaced person had been living. There are also several inserts found within the volume. Among these are notes and letters in both Polish and English concerning sponsorship and the committee. These can be found in Folder One.
Volume Two and Folder Two: The second volume in the collection is a smaller bound book that bears no identification regarding the American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee. However, it is quite similar to the first volume in the collection, indexed and organized alphabetically according to the last name of the sponsor (either an individual or organization). Alongside the names of the sponsors are listed the names and ages of the displaced persons. The type of assistance being given is also specified (this includes fares for passage from various locations such as New York and lodging costs) along with the amount of money pledged by the sponsor. There are a number of inserts in this volume, including notes and letters written in both Polish and English concerning matters of sponsorship and the committee. Several of these are addressed to the American Relief for Poland Immigration Committee. They can be found in Folder Two.
Volume Three and Folder Three: The third volume of the collection is a small bound book that also bears no identification. However, it is strikingly similar in content to the other two volumes. The journal is indexed and organized alphabetically according to the last names of the sponsors (either an individual or organization). The names and ages of the displaced persons are given (though at times this information is unspecified) along with their places of origin (among them Belgium, France, Germany, and Holland). Occasionally the kinds of assistance to be provided have been noted. There are several inserts in this volume, including notes and letters written in both Polish and English concerning matters of sponsorship. These are placed in Folder Three.
Volume Four: The fourth and final volume within this collection is a very small bound book that identifies itself as the Nicetown Sokol Library Catalog. The first page in the journal provides this information, along with the name "M. Dabrowski" and date 25 December 1922. A "sokol" refers to a group founded not only to better the body through sports such as basketball, swimming, and volleyball, but also to improve the mind. The Nicetown Sokol Library Catalog, therefore, is a list written entirely in Polish regarding the books contained within with Nicetown Sokol Library. The catalog is organized alphabetically according to the name of the author followed by the title of the work. All entries are numbered.
The box list of the Register of the Records of the Associated Polish Home of
Philadelphia is two pages long.