From its founding in 1939 to today, the Legion of Young Polish Women (Legion Młodych Polek) has remained an enduring non-profit organization within Chicago’s large Polish-American community. For over 75 years, the Legion has worked to support the people of Poland, Polish immigrants, and Polish-Americans through funding charitable organizations, supporting cultural events, and promoting Polish heritage.
This exhibit traces the history of the Legion of Young Polish Women from its founding at the beginning of the Second World War (WWII) to the present. The exhibit is divided into four sections; the first three sections are arranged thematically, exploring the Legion’s founding and early years (1939-1950), the organization’s activities and causes, and its iconic events. The final section of the exhibit explores how the Legion of Young Polish Women has continued to remain a vital part of Chicago’s Polish-American community and what it means to its members.
The exhibit was created utilizing materials from the Legion of Young Polish Women Records at the Women and Leadership Archives. Sources included newspapers, correspondence, photographs, administrative and financial documents, programs, and audio-visual material found in the collection. Additional contemporary interviews for this exhibit were conducted with members and supporters of the Legion of Young Polish Women and have since become part of the archival collection.
The Legion of Young Polish Women exhibit was created by Laura Pearce on behalf of the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) and the Legion of Young Polish Women in commemoration of the Legion’s 75th Anniversary in 2014. Special thanks go to Mary Anselmo, Lucie Bucki, and Shirley Dudzinski for their role as advisors and liaisons during the creation and planning of this exhibit. Additional thanks to Kahlee Leingang, WLA Archives Assistant, and Nancy Freeman, WLA Director, for support and assistance. Funding for the exhibit was provided by the Legion of Young Polish Women and the University Libraries, Loyola University Chicago. In 2019, the exhibit was translated into Polish by Agunia Sarrafian and Justine Tobiasz, and updates were made by Nathan Ellstrand.