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The Legion of Young Polish Women

Packages for Allied POWs, 1942 001.jpg

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 the last 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.

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Practical Work: Chicago Woman’s Club Reformers, Criminal Women, and Delinquent Children, 1876-1920

1871 Chicago Fire

As a powerful organization of women committed to reform, education, and philanthropy, the Chicago Woman’s Club (CWC) played a critical role in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Chicago.  The pages below explore how the Club emerged during a period of high hope and intense anxiety in Chicago.  They then investigate the women of the CWC and how they went about the “practical work” of reform.  In particular, this exhibit explores how and why clubwomen worked with criminal women and delinquent children.  Ultimately, “Practical Work” considers the ways in which clubwomen shaped ideas about crime and proper womanhood at the turn of the twentieth century. 

“Practical Work” draws heavily from the collection of CWC annual announcements and images at the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago, in addition to utilizing Club minutes housed at the Chicago History Museum. 

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