In Search of Clara Swieczkowska (1892-1986)
Detroit Social Worker and Community Activist

By John J. Bukowczyk

Because research in the Polish American women's history remains in its infancy, still little is known about the lives of Polish immigrant and second generation women and these women's issues. This gap in our knowledge extends into the area of basic biography. Whereas names like Kolasinski, Moczygemba, Smulski, Kruszka, Dabrowski, Krzycki, and those of perhaps several dozen other male Polish immigrants are at least passingly known among scholars throughout the field of immigration and ethnic history, not so the case for those equally prominent, efficacious, and outspoken immigrant and second generation women who co-built Polish American community life.

One woman whose activities have earned her a place in Polish American history is Clara Swieczkowska, former editor of Detroit's Rekord Codzienny [Polish Daily Record] and longtime Catholic social worker. Born in Detroit on September 1, 1892,1 of immigrant parents from Pomorze,2 Swieczkowska grew up on the city's old east side and became active in immigrant social life as she reached maturity.


This Polish American heroine served the Polish community for sixty years.


Swieczkowska reportedly started her career of service by raising funds for Detroit's Dom Polski [Polish Home], and for relief of the 1914 Polish flood victims.3 During World War I, Swieczkowska aided in the recruitment of Haller's Polish American troops4 and between 1914 and 1923 served as a secretary of the Polish American Ladies Relief Committee,5 the women"s division of the Polish Relief Committee,6 for which work she was decorated twice by the Polish Army.7

After the war, at the behest of Detroit's International Institute, some members of the committee escorted and assisted Polish war brides and "picture brides" [mail order brides, Ed.] upon their arrival in the city. Thereafter, rather than disbanding, they turned to a more general and ongoing social service activity.8 Whereas we do not know if Swieczkowska herself participated in the former, in the early 1920s9 she was instrumental in founding the Polish Activities League in the USA, serving as its general secretary (1923-25) and first president (1925-35).10 During her years of service with the League, the organization spawned two social work facilities, St. Ann"s Community House (1921) at 2441 Andrus Street in Hamtramck, Michigan, on the city"s east side, and St. Elizabeth Community House (1923) at 5251 Tarnow Street in the Delray section on the city's west side.11 The furnishings of the houses were improvised, with League members themselves donating linens, curtains, tablecloths, and dishes. Resourceful organizers meanwhile persuaded the Detroit police department to turn over to them two wagon-loads of furniture seized in raids on illegal saloons during this Prohibition era.12 But the community houses nonetheless operated along modern, professional lines. By policy, St. Elizabeth's, for example, recruited for its first staff only "trained social workers," specifically, members of the Polish Gray Samaritans, a group of young Polish American female volunteers trained by the YWCA who had performed relief work in Poland after the First World War under the auspices of the American Relief Administration, directed by Herbert Hoover.13

Yet however clear their actual operation, sources consulted for this preliminary biography do not immediately yield a distinct picture of their organizational relationship with each other. One internal source reported that St. Elizabeth Community was organized independently under the League of Catholic Women, independent from the Polish Activities League;14 another described a tripartite division of social work among Polish Catholic girls in Detroit during the mid-1920s, with St. Ann's administered by the League of Catholic Women taking charge of Hamtramck and North Detroit; a Polish Aid Society given rights to Detroit's east side; and St. Elizabeth's taking the west side and specific referrals made by priests or by the League of Catholic Women.15

In 1926, through Swieczkowska's efforts the Polish League on its own part did establish a camp for Polish youth at Wanda Park near Utica, Michigan, which moved to Memphis, Michigan, in 1941 when the former property was converted for use for a Polish veterans home.16 During these years, Swieczkowska also edited the League's bilingual Polska Kobieta [The Polish Woman]17 and in 1931 became president of the Polish National Welfare Association, which she also had helped found.18 From these various accomplishments and activities, clearly Swieczkowska had achieved enough prominence and respect to be honored, in the early 1920s, with the first "woman of the year" award bestowed by the recently revived Sodality of the Immaculate Conception at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan.19

Polonia"s professional and amateur historians need to compile biographies of immigrant and second generation activists like Clara Swieczkowska, those who aptly have been called "the last of the first." This is especially true for Polish American women, about whose lives we know the least, yet whose role in the making of the ethnic group deserves attention.

Swieczkowska continued to minister to her fellow Poles into the 1930s, as the Depression descended. Tied in with the Advisory Council of the Detroit Community Union, a citywide private umbrella organization, in early 1932 St. Elizabeth Community House helped set up a local Scotten [area] District Relief Council to serve, "in the spirit of small town neighborliness," as "a clearing house for all persons needing aid of one kind or another."20 During this time, St. Elizabeth Community House, together with St. Ann"s, reportedly fed as many as eight hundred persons a day, and Swieczkowska herself handled casework for between forty and fifty families.21 For her steady charitable service, in 1934 Swieczkowska received a Papal medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, from Pope Pius XI "for work done for the Church and God," the only Polish American woman ever so honored. 22


In 1937, Swieczkowska served on a citizens" committee that investigated conditions surrounding the 1937 cigarmakers" strike on the east side, a labor dispute that involved large numbers of female Polish immigrant and second generation workers.


Despite this signal recognition, Swieczkowska faced a mounting pile of work, her activities stood chronically short of funds, while problems mounted owing to the continuing Depression. Under these already difficult circumstances, in 1936 Swieczkowska stalled an attempt by the League of Catholic Women to abrogate a ten-year-old agreement, made at the request of the Bishop, and assume the responsibility for "protective work" among Detroit Polish girls that had been assigned to Swieczkowska. She, in turn, sought to consolidate the two Polish community houses, St. Elizabeth"s and St. Ann's, with the Polish Aid Society, not under the authority of the League of Catholic Women but rather of a "joint Polish Board" that, Swieczkowska argued, thereby would eliminate "intra-group and intra-church disputes."23 Apparently, in large measure she succeeded in pressing her case. On November 15, 1940, her Polish Activities League took over the administration of St. Ann's Community House from the League of Catholic Women, presumably by decision of the Detroit Archdiocese and the tacit approval of the United Community Fund.24

While Swieczkowska campaigned to retain Polish control over Polish Catholic relief work, her involvement in dealing with the effects of poverty propelled her into other civic arenas. In 1935, for example, she organized and chaired a westside committee to address delinquency among Polish youth.25 But her interests, position, and Catholic social activism also brought her to the problems of Polish working women. In 1937, Swieczkowska served on a citizens" committee that investigated conditions surrounding the 1937 cigarmakers" strike on the east side, a labor dispute that involved large numbers of female Polish immigrant and second generation workers.26 Swieczkowska became one of four persons, the others all male, to sit on the permanent fact finding committee subsequently convened to probe conditions in the industry.27

During World War II, Swieczkowska resumed her relief work in aid of Poland, helping to organize the Polish American Relief Committee, the Catholic League,28 the Blue Star Mothers, Wives and Sisters Organization,29 and the Polish Goodfellows.30 After the war, she aided the "Polish Lapins,"31 or Polish victims who had survived the medical experiments at the Ravensbrck concentration camp, when they visited Detroit in the late 1950s.32 But the efforts of the Polish American Relief Committee, to train social workers for postwar Poland, foundered as a result of the war"s outcome, about which Swieczkowska remarked, "the Communists took over and we never did get a chance to go to Poland."33 Her work on behalf of the Church also saw her serve as secretary to the chairman responsible for organizing the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.34 She was also the first woman elected a vice president of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the large Polish American fraternal.35

While engaged in these various social work activities, Swieczkowska also became involved in Detroit and Michigan politics. In 1937, she became the first Polish American woman appointed by the governor to the Detroit Recorders Court Jury Commission,36 and reportedly was the only Polish woman then serving in such a capacity anywhere in the United States.37 While her Polish League sponsors expressed some concern about her assumption of a second paid position, inquiring about her duties and hours,38 she apparently retained the support of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and had consulted the Bishop"s secretary (and her friend and confidant), Monsignor Stephen Wonicki, before accepting the Jury Commission assignment.39 This political tack now taken, the next year she put herself forward as a candidate for a position as delegate to the Democratic Convention. Endorsing "the principles of our Democratic party and President Roosevelt's New Deal program" and endorsing "our liberal and progressive" candidate, Michigan Governor Frank Murphy, Swieczkowska argued,
. . . I feel that I can give the people better representation than anyone else. I was born and raised in this district, therefore am familiar with the needs and problems of the people and I know that I can render them the service that they are rightfully entitled to.40

After her mother's death in 1939, Swieczkowska seems to have become even more active in politics. Murphy later named her to a board that held responsibility for writing social security laws in the state, and in 1960 Republican Governor G. Mennen Williams placed her on the Michigan Welfare Commission.41

Through her various Catholic and Polish relief activities, Clara Swieczkowska, like some of her Polish American coethnics, became a loyal soldier in the Cold War era "Poland lobby." But unlike some of her impossibilist (and revanchist) contemporaries, "Miss Clara,"as she was known throughout her life,42 did not forswear all contact with her ancestral homeland until the Iron Curtain lifted. In March 1957, League president Anna Rychlicka and League secretary Genevieve Winiewska, both Swieczkowska associates, wrote a stiff letter to Senator Knowland denouncing his position on barring aid to Soviet-occupied Poland:
As a free person in a free country, you are entitled to your opinion, but as a Senator and a member of the Senate, you should consider the reasons and circumstances that made Poland politically what it is today. During this holy lenten season, it would be a good idea for all Americans to make a political examination of conscience, to see whether the United States itself had not surrendered Poland, its best and proven ally, to Communism. The Polish people had no choice. We, the Americans, decided the issue for them. In the light of the examination, Mr. Senator, don't you think the United States owes Poland all the help and support it can give? If it does this, it will save the Polish people from a blood bath such as occurred in Hungary.

In the name of 2,000 American women of Polish descent [members of the League, Ed.] we urge you to change your view and agree to give aid to the Polish people in the name of humanity and justice.43

Presumably Swieczkowska agreed with the League's stated position. By her actions, she seems to have endorsed a strategy for liberating Poland by using greater humanitarian contact in order to draw this satellite out of Soviet orbit. In early April 1957, Swieczkowska joined a group of sixty-two Polish Women's Alliance members on a tour of Poland; the twenty-four Detroiters who made the trip, according to the Detroit News, constituted "the first touring delegation of Detroiters to Poland since the Iron Curtain began cracking."44 In Poland, the delegation toured sixteen cities and was received by Poland"s primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszyaski, who had been released from prison the previous fall.45 Her communiqu&eacutes from her trip, which were published in Dziennik Polski, seemed to show much more retrospective interest in the record of Nazi atrocities perpetrated in her homeland than in the travails of Soviet hegemony there.

An inventory of Swieczkowska materials at Orchard Lake needs to be undertaken. Swieczkowska lived out most of her life on the city's old east side, remaining committed to civic causes. In her newspaper columns, she pressed upon her fellow Polonians the duty to send their children to religious instruction.46 Upon her return from Poland, she led a drive to collect toys to send to blind Polish orphans.47 Meanwhile, she continued work on behalf of the Polish Activities League, organizing what the newspapers termed a "United Nations-type" dinner at the eastside Polish Home, for example, in order to raise funds for a swimming pool at the League's summer camp near Memphis.48 Nonetheless, by the late 1950s Swieczkowska&'s neighborhood was changing steadily in its demographic and racial composition. By this time, the combination of an influx of African-Americans and the dying off and outmigration of the Polish population was transforming the latter into the decided minority.

While, Swieczkowska remarked in 1959, "I've never done anything but work for the Polish cause and there is still much to be done," as her surroundings changed, the focus of her activities shifted to the immediate vicinity.49 The previous year, Swieczkowska had helped organize the Federated East Side Improvement Association, an organization of property owners headquartered at the Polish Home.50 In the next few years, Swieczkowska and Rev. Boguslaus Poznaski, pastor at the east side Polish Roman Catholic parish, Sweetest Heart of Mary, attempted to secure housing for the elderly in the neighborhood, but reportedly "no Poles got in" to the Forest Park Senior Citizens Homes built across the street from the church.51 All the while, Swieczkowska herself remained fiercely rooted to her neighborhood; when asked why she did not move out, she replied, "I don"t want to live anywhere else. This is my place.52 In the early 1970s Swieczkowska could only comment ruefully about the less than cordial race relations between the area"s African American newcomers and the east side"s remaining Poles and about the impact of "white flight" on the neighborhood.53 In progressively faltering health, Swieczkowska reportedly left the east side in the early 1980s, spending the remainder of her life in elderly care.54 In August 1986, Clara Swieczkowska died, apparently leaving no close relatives.55 Of this Polish American heroine, one friend of hers commented:
She was the outstanding Polish woman of her generation in metropolitan Detroit .... For sixty years, she had been in the forefront in serving the Polish community. Indeed, her loyalty to Polish culture and language was only surpassed by her devotion to Catholicism.56

Clara Swieczkowska possessed enough interest in Polish American history that in 1945, the year after the establishment of the Polish American Historical Commission (later Polish American Historical Association), she joined that organization.57 The bulk of Clara Swieczkowska's own personal papers and historical documents reportedly were acquired by the archives at St. Mary"s College in Orchard Lake, Michigan, but as of recently, remained unprocessed and inaccessible to researchers.58 What has come to light, however, is that a small stash of correspondence, miscellanea, and artifacts remained in Swieczkowska"s modest East Forest Street home when she moved out.59 As of recently, these documents still were in the possession of the current owner of that property on Forest and DuBois, Mr. Jerry Cooper, a collector and longtime African American resident of the city's east side.

In 1991 Dr. Peter D. Slavcheff, then Assistant Professor of History at Northern Michigan University, and I visited Mr. Cooper in order to examine his Swieczkowska holdings.60 In the event that the Swieczkowska papers in Mr. Cooper's possession never find their way into a public archive, it seems important for the historical record to describe this small but unique holding.

The Swieczkowska materials in Mr. Cooper's hands comprise about 2-3 linear feet in volume. Though preserved in cellophane sleeves, much of the collection was in fairly brittle condition and badly in need of de-acidification. The ink used in a few letters from the early 1910s, meanwhile, had faded to near illegibility, owing to the baneful effects of sunlight. By way of overview, nearly all of the correspondence consists of letters written to Clara Swieczkowska rather than by her. Nuns and priests make up most of Swieczkowska's correspondents in this collection of letters; most of their letters consist of ordinary conversational subjects, viz., health, mutual acquaintances, travel, the weather. Many of these appear to express gratitude for financial contributions made by Swieczkowska to charitable purposes; indeed, in addition to these personal letters, the collection contains a considerable number of what can only be called "form letters" acknowledging Swieczkowska's benevolence. Meanwhile, perhaps as much as twenty percent of the collection (the figure is admittedly a guess) consists of letters, most fairly formulaic, and items (wake register, memorial and mass cards) pertaining to the death in 1939 of Swieczkowska's mother. Finally, it should be noted that the great majority of the letters held by Mr. Cooper were written in Polish.

The conditions under which we inspected the collection allowed only a cursory examination of its contents, but this did reveal a number of items possessing greater historical interest and hence deserving more extensive commentary. Of the letters, several allow a better reconstruction of the public life of Clara Swieczkowska than can be gleaned from the sparse archival record I have consulted thus far. One from 1937 briefly makes reference to her service on the citizens" committee investigating the cigarmakers" strike. A copy of a letter from the 1950s urges her appointment to the state"s Displaced Persons Commission. Drafts or carbon copies of three or four letters written in the late 1960s and addressed to various city officials, virtually the only substantive documents in the collection authored by Swieczkowska herself, bluntly complain about the collapse of municipal services in Swieczkowska's neighborhood. These probably carry most historical value because they impart a sense of Swieczkowska's public voice.

Our superficial survey of this collection suggests that, save for underscoring her charity and religiosity, the letters reveal relatively little standard biographical fare, little about her personal life. One 1939 letter does comment about the deep sense of loss she apparently had reported feeling at the death of her mother, who seems to have been the central person in her life. One letter cites her friendship with a Cecilia Kanka, but leaves the latter otherwise unidentified; this ellipsis not surprisingly characterizes much of the incoming correspondence. The documents show that Swieczkowska owned an automobile (one on which, during the late 1940s, she spent the considerable sum of over three hundred dollars to operate during the course of a single year).61 The collection contains a receipt for an "RCA," presumably a television set, and also about twenty years of cancelled checks, presently bundled, which I did not examine. Of largely antiquarian note, the collection also holds three personal letters from her old friend, by the auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, Stephen Wonicki, largely conversational in content.

Given the nature of the correspondence, it is the artifacts included in the collection that hold the greater fascination if still only little historical information. Perhaps a dozen newspaper clippings from 1934 (one featuring a photograph of Swieczkowska, several unidentified as to place and date of publication) chronicle Swieczkowska"s receipt of the Papal medal that year. Also preserved are about twenty signed, one-page compositions on this important community event, all in Polish and of fairly uniform content, that were written by school children, presumably from one of the local Polish parochial schools. The collection contains a couple of Swieczkowska's dues cards denoting her membership in good standing in a local group of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the large, Chicago-based Roman Catholic insurance fraternal. Also held by Mr. Cooper is the personal prayer card (embroidered, with religious medals attached, about 3" x 7" in dimension) depicting a representation of Jesus and a brief personal prayer. The collection contains a few photographs, not well identified, and a dozen or so pieces of original sheet music written by Clara Swieczkowska, seemingly religious hymns which might be of special interest.

In addition to the Swieczkowska papers that found their way to Orchard Lake,62 Mr. Cooper himself earlier had donated a few letters from the collection to The Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library. These letters, written to Swieczkowska to congratulate her on her appointment to the Detroit Recorders Court Jury Commission, also remain unprocessed. The Detroit Public Library already holds a box of material that bears on Swieczkowska"s work in the Polish Activities League, including a folder of clippings of pieces she wrote for Dziennik Polski in the late 1950s.63 The Bentley Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, meanwhile, possesses one archival box of photographs (largely unidentified) taken at the Polish Activities League's summer camp and of other League events.64 A casual search conducted at Madonna College in Livonia, Michigan, has turned up no other Swieczkowska materials. By contrast, the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit possesses Polish Activities League documents and records from both the St. Elizabeth and St. Ann's community houses in the United Community Services Central File Collection.

From the foregoing description of Mr. Cooper's slim collection of Swieczkowska materials, to which public access might never be achieved, and from the materials available now, and in the future, in archival repositories, perhaps we now can glean more about the life and work of this middle class Detroit Polish American than we have come to know, through similar detective work (and some measure of serendipity), about her working class Detroit counterpart and contemporary, the 1930s labor organizer, consumer activist and, later, Hamtramck City Council member, Mary uk.65

To be sure, Clara Swieczkowska deserves a longer biography than can be accomplished in one essay, and certainly more than the cursory examination of her life that I have assayed here. But, if this brief sketch holds any lesson, it is that Polonia's professional and amateur historians need to compile biographies of immigrant and second-generation activists like Clara Swieczkowska, those immigrant survivors who, their numbers now severely diminished, aptly have been called "the last of the first." This is especially true for Polish and Polish American women, about whose lives we know the least, yet whose role in the making of the ethnic group deserves far greater examination.

But an antecedent and more urgent task demands our attention. In order to write such histories and biographies, we all must encourage the preservation of the records, personal papers, artifacts, photographs, and oral histories of Polonia's anonymous pioneers, veritable treasures often lost in closets, cellars, garages, attics, and basements. Only by such acts of rescue and writing will we someday achieve a richer and more complete history of Polish America, of our history.

John J. Bukowczyk is Professor of History at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.


I would like to thank Benedict Markowski of the Detroit Public Library"s Burton Historical Collection and Margaret Raucher of Wayne State University"s Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs for help in locating Swieczkowska materials. I also wish to thank Peter Slavcheff for his consultation on the Cooper holdings, David R. Smith for general research assistance and, especially, Nora Faires for her incisive comments on the manuscript.

1 Another source reported her birthdate as September 25. "From the desk of Clara Swieczkowska:" an unsigned and undated note in the collection of Mr. Jerry Cooper, Detroit, MI.

2 Her parents" native town was Sianowa, located about three miles from Gdansk [called Danzig at that time]. It is possible her parents were Kashubs. When she visited there in 1957, she remarked: ". . . one of the main things I want to do in Poland is to investigate the conditions of the Kashubs, living along the Baltic Sea . . . . I want to make sure the Polish government is giving them the proper recognition. The Kashubs were the first Poles to come to Detroit." See "Vacation in Poland," undated (March 1958?); and James K. Anderson, "24 Detroiters Depart Detroit for Tour of Poland," Detroit News (?), (c. April 8, 1957?), clippings in "Polish Activities League [hereafter PAL]: Clippings: Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Anne Wosachlo Rychlicki Papers, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, Detroit, Michigan [hereafter cited as Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL]. Her father, Jzef wieczkowski, reportedly was an immigrant journalist. I have not been able to substantiate this information, which came from a conversation with Burton Collection archivist Benedict Markowski.

3 James K. Anderson, "Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans" (Detroit News, November 20, 1959), Burton, DPL. 4 Ibid.

5 "Madam Chairman and members of the Federation of Women"s Clubs," typewritten manuscript in United Community Services Central File Collection, Box 53, Folder 20, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, hereafter cited as UCSCFC.

6 Ibid.

7 "Miss Clara Swieczkowska - Woman of Achievement," undated clipping, Hamtramck Biography - S folder, Clipping File, Hamtramck Public Library, Hamtramck, Mich., hereafter cited as HPLCF.

8 "Madam Chairman," UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 20.

9 The actual organization of the Polish Activities League therefore took place considerably earlier than previously thought; cf. The Poles in America, 1608-1972: A Chronology & Fact Book, ed. Frank Renkiewicz, (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1973), 25.

10 She later served as executive secretary and staff social worker; 1937 is listed as the year of her election as president at the group"s Pittsburgh convention in: Rev. Francis Bolek, ed., Who"s Who in Polish America, 3rd ed. (New York: Harbinger House 1943), 441. See also "Madam Chairman," op.cit; Wytrwal, Polish Experience in Detroit (Detroit: Endurance Press 1992), 193; J.K. Anderson, "`Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans," op.cit; The League, if might be noted, received financial support in the 1930s from the Detroit Community Union. See George M. Morrison to Clara Swieczkowska, August 26, 1931, in UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 20.

11 "Vacation in Poland," undated (March 1958?) clipping in PAL: Clippings: Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL; (Rev. Joseph Swastek), A Quarter Century of Social Service (Detroit: Conventual Press, 1948), 20-21, in Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL. For a description of the latter, see "St. Elizabeth"s Community House," mimeograph in UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 20.

12 "Madam Chairman," in UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 20.

13 Ibid. On the activities of the Polish Gray Samaritans in Poland, see Robert Szymczak, "An Act of Devotion: The Polish Gray Samaritans and the American Relief Effort in Poland, 1919-1921," Polish American Studies 43, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 13-36, hereafter cited as PAS.

14I have not yet been able to clarify this apparent discrepancy. See "Madam Chairman," op.cit.

15 Memorandum from Irene Murphy to Mr. [Percival] Dodge, November 5, 1936, UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 21.

16 "Miss Clara Swieczkowska - Woman of Achievement," op.cit. The land at Wanda Park, located on the Clinton River, had been donated by State Senator Cass Jankowski. The Memphis site was purchased from the St. Vincent de Paul Society. See "Madam Chairman," op.cit; 30th Anniversary Banquet of St. Mary's Camp, in PAL: St. Mary"s Camp folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

17 (Swastek), Quarter Century of Social Service, 23.

18 "Madam Chairman," op. cit; Joseph A. Wytrwal, The Polish Experience in Detroit (Detroit: Endurance Press, 1992), 193.

19 Frank Renkiewicz, For God, Country, and Polonia: One Hundred Years of the Orchard Lake Schools (Orchard Lake, MI: Center for Polish Studies and Culture, Orchard Lake Schools, 1985), 75.

20 "First District Relief Formed," Detroit News, January 19, 1932, clipping furnished by Benedict Markowski, Burton, DPL.

21 Memorandum from Irene Murphy to Mr. Dodge, op. cit.

22 The medal (a depiction of which apeared on the invitation) was conferred by Detroit"s Bishop Michael J. Gallagher at a banquet held in her honor on November 11, 1934. See "Miss Clara Swieczkowska - Woman of Achievement," op. cit; copy of banquet invitation furnished by Benedict Markowski, Burton, DPL.

23 Memorandum from Irene Murphy to Mr. Dodge, op. cit.

24 Rev. James J. O"Mara, Archdiocesan Secretary for Charities, to Mr. Percival Dodge, Detroit Community Fund, November 7, 1940, in UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 21.

25 "Prevention of Delinquency Meeting held at St. Elizabeth"s Community Home [sic], Monday, January 20, 1935," typewritten text, in UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 20.

26 Sources list an Anna Swiezkowska [sic] as one of the strike leaders; I do not know whether she might have been related to Clara. See Patricia A. Cooper, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 261.

27 Margaret Collingwood Nowak, Two Who Were There: A Biography of Stanley Nowak (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1989), 37, 40.

28 "Miss Clara Swieczkowska: Woman of Achievement," op. cit.

29 Organized in 1942, the Blue Star Mothers, Wives and Sisters Organization, according to writer Joseph A. Wytrwal, aimed "to serve and honor World War Two servicemen... by sending packages to those in hospitals and prison camps" and presenting twenty-five-dollar bonds to returning veterans. See Wytrwal, Polish Experience in Detroit, 335.

30 Joseph Wytrwal, "Notes and Comments," PAS 17, nos. 3-4 (July-December 1960): 122.

31 Literally, "rabbits." Presumably, if the origins of the name may be inferred from the use to which they were put, in English this would be rendered Polish "guinea pigs."

32 Wytrwal, "Notes and Comments," 122.

33Anderson, "`Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans," op.cit.

34 "Miss Clara Swieczkowska - Woman of Achievement," op. cit.

35 Anderson, "`Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans."

36 Mrs. Irene Murphy to Mr. James Fitzgerald, St. Vincent de Paul Society, June 16, 1937, in UCSCFC, Box 53, folder 21; "Miss Clara Swieczkowska - Woman of Achievement," op.cit.

37 Bolek, Who"s Who, 441.

38 Mrs. Irene Murphy to Mr. James Fitzgerald, June 16, 1937, UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 21.

39 James Fitzgerald to Irene Murphy, June 19, 1937, UCSCFC, Box 53, Folder 21.

40 Campaign form letter from Clara Swieczkowska, September 7, 1938, in private collection of Mr. Jerry Cooper, Detroit, Mich.

41 Joseph A. Wytrwal, "Personalia," Polish American Historical Association Bulletin, no. 187 (March 1960): 1; Wytrwal, Polish Experience in Detroit, 193.

42 Anderson, "`Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans."

43 "Protestacyjny Telegram Ligi Spraw Polskich Do Sen. Knowlanda," unidentified clipping, March 14, 1957, in "PAL: Clippings, Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

44 Swieczkowska reportedly was "one of the few making the trip who was born in the United States." See James K. Anderson, "24 Detroiters Depart Detroit for Tour of Poland," Detroit News (?), (c. April 8, 1957?), in "PAL: Clippings Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

45 Ibid.

46 Klara Swieczkowska, "Tygodniowe Wiadomoci Ligi Spraw Polskich," January 22, 1957, in "PAL: Clippings, Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

47 James K. Anderson, "Precious Toys Will Cheer Blind Orphans in Poland," Detroit News, June 8, 1958, in "PAL: Clippings, Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

48 Anderson, "`Miss Clara" Aids Polish Americans."

49 Ibid.

50 "Wydatna Praca Federated East Side Improvement Association," Dziennik Polski, January 13, 1959, in "PAL: Clippings, Clara Swieczkowska" folder, Box 4, Rychlicki Papers, Burton, DPL.

51 Marco Trbovich, "Poletown: Its Joys, Its Sorrows, Its Fate," Detroit Free Press, March 23, 1973, 4C.

52 Marco Trbovich, "Polish Life," Detroit Free Press (1971?), in "Clippings (Mounted and Undated)" folder, Box 4, Poletown History Project Papers, Burton, DPL.

53 About the African American newcomers, in 1971 she remarked: "Our people couldn"t stand them." See Marco Trbovich, "Polish Life," Detroit Free Press [1971?], in Clippings (Mounted and Undated) Folder, Box 4, Poletown History Project Papers, Burton, DPL.

54 I have not yet been able to establish the facts surrounding her last years.

55 See Doug Bradford, "Clara Swieczkowski, once honored by Pope Pius XI," Detroit News, 20 August 1986, 7B; Stanisaw Krajewski, "Klara Swieczkowska zmara w wieku lat 96," Dziennik Polski (Detroit), 22 August 1986, 5; also see Richard Willing, "Miss Clara, 85: Grande dame of Detroit's Polish Politics," Detroit News, 5 September 1977, 1.

56 Antoinette Staniszewski, quoted in Wytrwal, Polish Experience in Detroit, 193.

57 See "Membership List of The Polish American Historical Association as of November, 1945," PAS 2, nos. 3-4 (July-December 1945): 127.

58 See Roman Nir, "The Central Archives of Polonia," PAS 51, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 72.

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