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Register of the Papers of



2.5 ft.

MSS 136


Laura A. Szumanski

April 1997


Joseph L. Zazyczny was born in 1935 in Philadelphia, the son of John and Mary Zazyczny.  He would spend both his childhood and much of his adult life in the city, coming to fulfill a variety of diverse leadership positions.  One common thread, however, seemed to link all of his endeavors.  Zazyczny's concern for his fellow citizens, particularly Polish Americans, would propel him forward into both neighborhood cultural and social organizations and city politics as well.  At a testimonial tribute to Zazyczny held by the Polish Eagle Sports Club on 10 November 1987, friend and former city employee Theodore S. Dydak claimed that "his [Zazyczny's] leadership qualities were visible early in his life when at the age of fifteen he received the cherished Rev. Bronislaus Rutt Award for organizing and administrating the sports program at St. Laurentius Parish" (Dydak 1).  This event, occurring so early in Zazyczny's life, merely hinted at what would become a most distinguished career of community service.

A student of both Catholic elementary and secondary schools, Zazyczny helped to reorganize the St. Laurentius Holy Name Society.  This allowed membership to increase dramatically from, as Dydak recalled, one hundred members to five hundred members (Dydak 1).  Zazyczny, a man who continually emphasized the importance of higher education, attended Alliance College, the University of Colorado, and Temple University.  He later joined the United States Army where he served as a specialist in regimental communications.  Following his discharge, Zazyczny remained extensively involved in local community life, organizing a Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.) at his parish church.

In 1967, Joseph Zazyczny was elected to the Philadelphia City Council.  His district, the 6th, was made up of a large number of Polish American citizens.  While on the council, Zazyczny was named Chairman of the Committee on Public Property and Public Works.  He also served on the Appropriations, Recreation, and Public Safety Committees during his tenure, as well as a number of others.  He is distinctly remembered for having helped attain several major successes, such as the development of the Tioga Marine Terminal and Center City Commuter Tunnel.  Both of these projects were of tremendous importance to members of his district in lower Northeast Philadelphia.

In the years to come, Zazyczny would cultivate the friendships of many of his constituents, getting to know them not only as their Councilman, but as a fellow Polish American as well.  Before, during, and after his City Council terms (which lasted a total of twelve years), Zazyczny was both Founder and President of the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia, a group dedicated to promoting Polish culture through art, language, and music programs (namely the annual Chopin Concert and Polonaise Ball).  He also served as President of the Polish Intercollegiate Club, an organization comprised of local Polish American college graduates that encouraged local Poles to pursue their college educations.  Zazyczny headed two other major clubs, the Polish American Citizens League of Philadelphia and the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs.  The former was a society that sought to ensure political representation and non-discriminatory hiring procedures for Polish Americans within the city and just beyond its limits.  The latter was a more broad, nationally based organization that sought to help unify and coordinate the activities of various Polish American groups throughout the city, state, and country at large.  In addition, Zazyczny was also the Vice-President of the Polish American Congress' Eastern Pennsylvania District.  Moreover, while Councilman, he headed the Polish American Bicentennial Committee in coordination with the Philadelphia '76 city-wide Bicentennial Committee.

Zazyczny's membership within and leadership of such Polish American organizations helped to foster several major achievements in the city honoring Philadelphia's Polonia.  Among these were the re-building of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko house on 3rd and Pine Streets during the late 1960's and the subsequent creation of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial on that same site.  Zazyczny was also key in the formation of a Friends of Kosciuszko Society in the ensuing years, a group made up of dedicated Polish Americans who wished to volunteer as clerks/tour guides at the Kosciuszko Home.  In 1973, Zazyczny worked to ensure that the 500th anniversary of the birth of Polish astronomer Mikolaj Kopernik was remembered and honored in grand style.  A monument to Copernicus was erected just a few feet away from the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City Philadelphia.  At the dedication ceremony in August of 1973, Julie Eisenhower Nixon was in attendance, representing President Richard M. Nixon.  She was presented with a miniature replica of the Kopernik monument for her family.

In 1976, Zazyczny assisted in bringing about Philadelphia's Operation Sail '76 program in which three European vessels, among them the Polish "Dar Pomorza, " docked at Penn's Landing following a trans-Atlantic race to the U.S. honoring the nation's Bicentennial.  The Polish captains and crew of the "Dar Pomorza" were hosted by a number of Polish American families, given tours of the city, and greeted with luncheons and banquets held in their honor.  Also during the bicentennial year, Philadelphia and the city of Torun in Poland (Copernicus's birthplace) launched their "sister city" relationship agreement by which an area of the land between Race Street and the Parkway in Philadelphia was designated as "Torun Triangle."  Torun's President Marion Rissman visited the city in February of 1977 and Zazyczny took part in hosting him and the Vice-President of the Torun City Council, Felicia Pokornicka.  As a reciprocal gesture, the street along the Wisla (Vistula) River was named "Philadelphia Boulevard."  Although Mayor Frank Rizzo was invited to visit Torun, he declined due to prior commitments he had made in Philadelphia.

July of 1979 saw the dedication of a new monument celebrating Philadelphia's Polonia.  A statue of Polish/American patriot Thaddeus Kosciuszko was donated by the people of Poland to the people of Philadelphia.  Shortly after the statue was installed, Zazyczny helped negotiate an agreement with the I.N.A. Corporation which was seeking to build a new luxury hotel/office complex close to the site where the monument stood.  The monument had to be removed and eventually was, but by July of 1983, it was placed back about fifty feet to the southwest of its original location beside the new One Logan Square complex.

In addition to his community activism, Joseph Zazyczny has enjoyed a rich family life.  He married Martha Irene ("Marty") Stronski of Port Richmond on 20 October 1962 at St. Adalbert's Church.  She too was a member and leading official within many of the Polish American groups to which her husband belonged.  The couple went on to have six children: Jacqueline, Joel, Jocelyn, Jayda Lynn, Jason, and Justin.  Following his tenure on the Philadelphia City Council, Zazyczny served as the Corporate Secretary for the Philadelphia Port Corporation and then went on to work in the Pennsylvania state government under Governor Robert Casey as Department Secretary for Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  Zazyczny also received numerous honors from political, educational, and social groups throughout his lifetime, including the prestigious City of Philadelphia Human Relations Award.  In this regard, many view "Joe Z" as a model leader and friend, a man who has succeeded in involving his "total self" in service to the Philadelphia Polish American community (Dydak 4).


Dydak, Theodore S.  "Testimonial Tribute to Joseph L. Zazyczny," 10 October 1987.

Polish Eagle Sports Club.  Polish Eagle Sports Club Ceremony in Honor of Polonia's Man of-the-Year Hon. Joseph L. Zazyczny Banquet Program, 10 October 1987.


The papers of Joseph L. Zazyczny were received as a gift in 1990 as part of the Balch Institute's Delaware Valley Regional Ethnic Archives Project.  Access to the materials is unrestricted.


The materials of the Joseph L. Zazyczny collection roughly span the years 1955-1990 and can be analyzed as follows:

Series 1:  Political Papers:  Folders 1, 2, and 3 of Box 1 contain the political papers of Joseph L. Zazyczny.  Broadly speaking, they encompass the years that Zazyczny served as Councilman of the 6th District of the City of Philadelphia (1967-1979).  Folder 1 contains correspondence dating from November, 1968 until December, 1975.  Folder 2 contains papers from the year 1976.  Folder 3 is comprised of materials from January, 1977 until October, 1978.

Most of the papers in these folders are letters written to and from Zazyczny as Councilman or as President of the Polish American Citizens League of Philadelphia.  They are primarily political in nature, detailing Democratic campaign/election matters (particularly the 1976 Carter/Mondale bid for the Presidency), the endorsement of various political candidates on the local level, patronage documentation (job descriptions and resumes of prospective employees), and an assortment of meeting/convention information of a generally political nature.

Included in each of the folders are photocopied newspaper articles from such major city papers as The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Evening Bulletin, and The Philadelphia Daily News, as well as neighborhood papers such as The Bridesburg Bulletin and Gwiazda.  These articles are largely about political campaigning, election predictions, and election results.

Folder 4 is made up solely of papers dealing with Maine Senator Edmund Muskie's attempt to win the Democratic nomination for President in election year 1972.  They range from August, 1971 through September, 1972.  Materials included here are lists of supporters and papers dealing with the Muskie platform as well as letters detailing Zazyczny's attempts to solicit support for Muskie within Philadelphia's Polish American community.  There are several pertinent photocopied newspaper articles here from such papers as Zgod and Gwiazda, in addition to The Evening Bulletin and The Philadelphia Daily News.

Series 2:  Kosciuszko/"Dar Pomorza" Papers:  Box 2 of the Zazyczny collection contains information regarding the restoration and dedication of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko Home, the two visits of the "Dar Pomorza" to Philadelphia, and the dedication of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko Monument.

Folder 1 is centered about the Kosciuszko Home and ranges from September, 1967 through February, 1987.  The earliest papers detail the decrepit condition of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko house on 3rd and Pine Streets in Philadelphia and city-wide efforts (particularly those of Zazyczny and his Polish Heritage Society) to raise enough money to save the structure from demolition.  This includes correspondence between Zazyczny and members of City Council, the National Park Service, and city historians.  The house was designated a National Historic Site and was formally dedicated on 4 February 1976.  After this date and until 1987, much of the material pertains to general maintenance concerns for the house, such as opening/closing procedures and the upkeep of facilities.  In 1983, Zazyczny and the Polish Heritage Society helped form the Friends of the Kosciuszko Society and several of their letters are in this folder as well.  This society was primarily concerned with the recruitment of volunteers to help run the Home each day.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles on these matters are included.

Folder 2 dates from July, 1976 until September, 1976 and contains papers regarding Philadelphia Operation Sail '76 and the first visit of the Polish ship "Dar Pomorza" to Penn's Landing.  These events were held in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial, so many of the letters are written to and from the Polish American Bicentennial Committee (which Council Zazyczny headed).  These papers document the attempts of the Polish American community to host cadets, give tours, and create special programs for the visiting sailors.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 3 contains correspondence in regard to the initial dedication of the Kosciuszko Monument which coincided with the second visit of "Dar Pomorza" to the U.S. in July, 1979.  The dates are from October, 1977 until October, 1979.  Initially, Zazyczny writes as City Councilman.  However, his twelve year tenure ended in 1979.  After this date, he writes as Corporate Secretary of the Philadelphia Port Corporation, Coordinator for the Kosciuszko Monument.  The papers of the first dedication ceremony contain press releases, invitations to the ceremony, and other more logistical information concerning how the statue arrived in Philadelphia.  The very latest papers in this folder briefly hint at the removal of the statue which would take place in November of that same year.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 4 documents the moving and rededication of the Kosciuszko Monument, beginning in December, 1979 and ending in June, 1986 in preparation for the construction of the One Logan Square hotel/office complex.  Here again Zazyczny writes on behalf of the Philadelphia port Corporation as well as from his position as President of the Polish Heritage Society.  Much of the correspondence is to or from the One Logan Square developers and contractors.  In July, 1983 the statue was brought back to 18th Street and the Parkway, and on 18 September 1983, it was rededicated.  The latest papers detail the annual commemorative wreath-layings that took place, honoring the birth/death of Kosciuszko.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 5 contains the drawings/design/blueprints for the Kosciuszko Monument.  They are not dated.

Series 3:  Kopernik Monument/Torun "Sister City" /Bicentennial Commemorative Information:   Box 3, Folder 1 dates from September, 1969 to August, 1984.  Zazyczny appears in the correspondence primarily as City Councilman.  On 18 August 1973, the year of the 500th Anniversary of the birth of Polish Astronomer Mikolaj Kopernik, the Polish Heritage Society dedicated the Kopernik Monument.  Prior to this date, the Polish Heritage Society had formed a special Kopernik Monument fund Committee in order to raise the necessary money needed to construct the sculpture.  The Polish American community raised the entire amount needed by itself.  The paperwork within this folder details the fund-raising efforts of the committee and the P.H.S. as a whole, invitations to the dedication, and plans for the ceremony itself.  Materials dated in the 1980s have largely to do with maintenance issues such as faulty lighting.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 2 houses materials on Torun, Philadelphia's "sister city."  Torun, birthplace of Copernicus, was named Philadelphia's "sister city" in 1976.  To solidify the arrangement, in June of 1976, the area between the curbs of the crosswalks between Race Street and the Parkway was designated as "Torun Triangle."  Marion Rissman, President of Torun, visited the city in February, 1977.  The papers in this folder encompass the dates between February, 1975 and July, 1983.  Included are program plans, invitations, and itineraries regarding both the dedication ceremony and President Rissman's itinerary while in Philadelphia.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 3 contains materials written to/from the Polish American Bicentennial Committee between September, 1969 and June, 1976.  Folder 5 picks up from July, 1976 until November, 1977.  Both folders contain papers written on behalf of Zazyczny or directed to him as Councilman.  They included lists of expenses, fund-raising efforts, and the activities sponsored by the exhibit committees.  In Folder 5, there is information on Philadelphia '76 Inc.'s Ethnic Heritage/Nationalities Program by which the city gave grants to ethnic organizations so that ethnic projects commemorating the Bicentennial could be funded.  Grant agreements and contracts are located within Folder 5.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 4 is dedicated to the 41st Eucharistic Congress which took place in Philadelphia in conjunction with the efforts of the Polish American Bicentennial Committee in July, 1976.  The convention of Catholic priests focused on social issues, so much of the materials in this folder discusses problems such as hunger, schedules of events.

Series 4:  Polish Heritage Society and Pulaski Commemorative Materials:  Folder 1 of Box 4 contains the constitution, by-laws, amendments, and articles of incorporation of the Polish Heritage Society, as well as some membership information, officer lists, and tax forms.  The dates range form 1970 to 1984.

Folder 2 contains miscellaneous articles having to do with the Polish Heritage Society.  In general, they pertain to cultural, educational, and spiritual matters such as concerts, art exhibits, masses, Biesiada dinners, and the activities of other Polish American organizations.  The dates range from October, 1965 to January, 1988.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 3 possesses some information regarding the annual Chopin Concert sponsored by the Polish Heritage Society.  The dates range from October, 1965 to October, 1981 and included invitations, programs, musician biographies, expense lists, and fund-raising efforts.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Folder 4 has materials that are related to the annual Polonaise Ball sponsored by P.H.S.  The dates of the information run from 1983 to 1985.  The papers include invitations, programs, biographies of performers, expense lists, and fund-raising efforts.

Folder 5 houses correspondence from a variety of sources such as the Polish Heritage Society and the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs.  All relate to the annual October Pulaski Day Parade.  The dates of these materials span September, 1968 until September, 1986.  Assorted parade information is given, including schedules of events and special papers in regard to the 200th Anniversary of Pulaski's death at Savannah.  Pertinent photocopied newspaper articles are included.

Series 5:  Miscellaneous Information/Organizations:  Box 5 contains eight individual folders each centered about a particular organization or event.  They are as follows:

Folder 1 contains papers from/to the Polish American Congress (of which Zazyczny was member and officer).  They date from October, 1962 to May, 1988 and include the constitution and by-laws, officer election information, and position papers.

Folder 2 contains papers from/to the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs (of which Zazyczny was a member and was elected President in 1986).  They date from 1963 to September, 1983 and included various correspondence from/to Zazyczny and other officer election information.

Folder 3 contains papers from/to the Polish Air Force Association.  They date from January, 1968 to March, 1977 and include club histories, activities, and special ceremonies information.  Zazyczny's name appears in the correspondence as City Councilman and President of the Polish American Citizens League of Philadelphia.

Folder 4 contains papers from/to the Polish Army Veterans Association, Post 12.  They date from October, 1968 to August, 1975 and include club histories, activities, and special correspondence as City Councilman.

Folder 5 contains papers from/to the Royal Order of Piast, a Polish Nobility Society whose members wanted to induct Councilman Zazyczny into their ranks.  They date from May, 1974 to December, 1975 and include the history/purposes of the organization.

Folder 6 contains papers regarding the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN).  They date from 1975 and are largely concerned with the centennial of the order and celebrating its history.

Folder 7 contains several letter and many photocopied newspaper articles regarding John Cardinal Krol's visit to Poland in October, 1972.  The papers include The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Evening Bulletin, and The Catholic Standard and Times.

Folder 8 contains papers regarding the Asian American Political Coalition, a group of Asian American religious and business leaders that endorsed various political candidates.  They date from November, 1976 to January, 1977 and include statements of purpose, strategy, and activities.

Miscellaneous Articles Separated from the Collection:  Nearly four hundred fifty printed items, including various leaflets, brochures, programs, and newsletters generated by a number of political and ethnic groups, were separated from the manuscript collection for cataloging in the library's special print collection.  In addition, over one hundred photographs and negatives were removed from the Zazyczny manuscript collection and are now part of Photo Group 362 (currently unprocessed).