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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ALLIANCE OF POLES OF AMERICA - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The ALLIANCE OF POLES OF AMERICA was established in Cleveland on 22 Sept. 1895 by 68 dissatisfied members of Group 143 of the Polish National Alliance (PNA), who disagreed with the PNA's decision to admit as members POLES who were not Catholic (see CATHOLICS, ROMAN). Thomas Zolnowski was elected chair of the new organization, Teofil Golembiewski vice-chair, Thomas Rutkowski secretary, and Joseph Deranek treasurer. The new group, named the Alliance of Poles of Ohio, held its first convention in St. Stanislaus's Parish Hall on 2 Jan. 1897. Its treasury then held $1,918. By its 1903 convention in Toledo, OH, the Alliance had expanded to other cities and the treasury had surpassed $20,000.

By July 1917, a number of Poles living outside of Ohio had joined the Alliance and its name changed to the Alliance of Poles of America. In 1925 the Alliance, with 17,000 members, began construction of its $180,000 national headquarters at Broadway and Forman avenues, which opened on 7 Feb. 1926. Membership fell to 13,000 in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in 1935; 8,000 of these belonged to the Alliance's 66 Cleveland branches. Yet the Alliance expanded its activities, beginning a newspaper, Zwiazkowiec (the Alliancer), and contributing to charitable and educational efforts to benefit Poles both in the homeland and in the U.S.

Assets continued to grow, reaching $4 million in 1960. By 1973 the Alliance continued as both an insurance and a social organization with 15,000 members in 60 lodges in the Cleveland area. In addition to insurance, it offered to its members mortgage loans, maintained a welfare fund for sick or disabled members, awarded college scholarships, sponsored sports, a drama club, a scouting program, and showings of Polish films. Later on the drama club evolved into the Polish theater, and a library and the Polish School have been added. The current trend of the Alliance is to assume an increasingly larger role as a cultural organization. In 1988 the Alliance of Poles of America proposed to build a Polish Village in NORTH ROYALTON. With headquarters at 6966-68 Broadway Ave., by 1990 it had 23,000 members, and by 1994, assets of more than $8.7 million.

Alliance of Poles of America Records, WRHS.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 10:10:26 AM

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