Summary Information
Title: Polish Nationality Room Committee Collection
Collection Number: UA.40.17
Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Polish Nationality Room Committee..

Collection Dates: 1926-1981
Extent: 2.5 linear feet (4 boxes and 3 volumes)

Language: English

The Polish Nationality Room Committee Collection details the planning, funding, construction, and dedication of the Polish Nationality Room. The majority of the documents range from 1926 to after the room’s dedication in 1940. The collection contains correspondence, both between the committee members and with the Polish architect, as well as a running memo, newspaper clippings, photographs of the room and committee, finical statements, and other documents pertaining to the establishment of the Polish Nationality Room. A digital reproduction of a photo album is online.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

October 2015

Finding aid prepared by Alexandra Hebda.

Though the idea of building a Polish Nationality Room first came up in 1925, it was only discussed in earnest in the late 1920s. Planning began in 1930 and the committee for the erection of the Polish Hall in the Cathedral of Learning was organized February 5, 1931. Fundraising for the room occurred until the German invasion of Poland in late 1939, when the Polish community focused instead on creation the Polish Emergency Relief Committee. The University of Pittsburgh provided the remaining funds for the construction of the Polish Nationality Room, which was dedicated on February 16, 1940, before a group of both American and Polish representatives.

The first chairman of the committee was Colonel Theophilus A. Starzynski, who served in that capacity until 1939. After him, Dr. Chester S. Sierakowski was appointed chairman and held that position until the end of World War II. The committee worked closely with both the Polish Women’s League and Ruth Crawford Mitchell, who was the Advisor to the Nationality Rooms. The Polish Falcons of America and the Polish National Alliance of North America were also involved with providing publicity and funds for the establishment of the room. Professor A. Szyszko-Bohusz, a famous Cracow-based architect, provided the design for the Polish Nationality Room.

The room is designed in the style of the 1500s Polish Renaissance and was based on Wawel Castle, which overlooks the city of Cracow. The entrance door was carved out of oak by a Lwow craftsman and was gifted to the room by the Polish Women’s Alliance. The cornerstone, presented by the faculty of the University of Cracow, is a fragment from the oldest university building in Poland, the Jagiellonian Library. Behind the professor’s chair hangs an oil painting of the Polish astronomer Copernicus, a copy of a famous work by Anna Szyszko-Bohusz. Also in the room is the Jagiellonian Globe, a reproduction of a 16th century object that also serves as a clock and a calendar.

The Polish Room still provides a scholarship for students studying abroad in Poland, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Donald Mushalko.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Polish Nationality Room Committee Collection details the planning, funding, construction, and dedication of the Polish Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning. The majority of these records range from 1926, when Chancellor John H. Bowman first approached the Pittsburgh Polish Community on the building of the Polish Nationality Room, to the dedication of the room in 1940. The collection contains general correspondence, much of which is between the Polish Committee and Ruth Crawford Mitchell, as well as the room's architect. Also included are photographs of the room and committee, newspaper clippings, memorial letters, dedication papers, a running memo, publicity materials, finical statements, committee minutes, and other documents related to the room and the Polish community in Pittsburgh. The materials are primarily in English, but some of the newspaper clippings are in Polish.


This collection has been arranged into two series:

Series I. Room Construction and Dedication

Series II. Committee Administration

Subject Terms

  • Classrooms -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Polish Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

Corporate Names
  • Nationality Rooms (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Polish Nationality Room Committee..
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.

Personal Names
  • Mitchell, Ruth Crawford, 1890-
  • Starzynski, Theophilus A.

  • Architectural drawings (Visual works)
  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Minutes
  • Photographs

  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Transferred to the University Archives by the Nationality Rooms Program on August 3, 2014.

Alternate Format:

A digital reproduction of a photo album is available online.

Preferred Citation:

Polish Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1926-1981, UA.40.17, University of Pittsburgh Archives

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Alexandra Hebda in October 2015.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Room Construction and Dedication, 1926-1952

Scope and Content Notes:

This series primarily consists of correspondence, publicity and memos documenting the efforts of the Polish Nationality Room Committee as they worked to fund, design and build the room in the Cathedral of Learning. Also included are some records pertaining to events hosted in the room after it was dedicated in 1940 which were stored with the earlier documents in elaborate enclosures that were to be kept in the Polish Room.

Box 1
Folder 1 Deed of Gift for the Polish Room in the Cathedral of Learning, June 4, 1931
Folder 2 Photographs
Folder 3 Newspaper Clippings,
Folder 4 The Polish Classroom Booklet, 1941
Folder 5 Colonel T.A. Starzynski Memorial Letter, 1952
Folder 6 Draft of Speech for the Presentation of Three Volumes of "Manru"
Folder 7 Reception For Professor Halecki, November 14, 1938
Folder 8 Reception for Professor Swietoslawski, Apri 19, 1940
Folder 9 Christmas Supper Program
Folder 10 Cornerstone Laying Ceremonies of the Polish Room, June 26, 1938
Folder 11 Presentation of the Portrait of Paderewski and Correspondence with Paderewski, 1937-1940
Folder 12 Dedication Ceremony Papers, February 16, 1940
Folder 13 General Correspondence, 1927-1930
Folder 14 General Correspondence, 1931-1932
Folder 15 General Correspondence, 1933-1934
Folder 16 General Correspondence, 1935-1936
Folder 17 General Correspondence, 1937-1938
Folder 18 General Correspondence, 1939
Folder 19 General Correspondence, 1940
Folder 20 General Correspondence, 1941
Folder 21 Digest of Running Memo, 1926-1939

Box 2
Folder 1 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1931
Folder 2 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1932
Folder 3 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1933
Folder 4 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1934
Folder 5 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1935
Folder 6 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1936
Folder 7 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1937
Folder 8 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1938
Folder 9 Foreign and Architectural Correspondence, 1939
Folder 10 The Jagellonian Globe Correspondence, 1931-1941
Folder 11 Life History of Henry Waldyn
Folder 12 Lists of Polish Coats of Arms and Seals
Volume 1 Running Memo, 1927-1941
Volume 2 Clippings and Publicity, 1933-1964
Volume 3 Photographs

Series II. Committee Administration, 1932-1981

Scope and Content Notes:

This series includes committee correspondence and newsletters documenting their activities to maintain the Polish Nationality Room and provide programming after it was dedicated. Also included are histories that explore how the room came to fruition and files on the room's design that were not stored with the majority of the earlier records.

Box 3
Folder 1 Polish Room Publicity
Folder 2 Polish Room Newsletter, 1977-1981
Folder 3 Polish Room History
Folder 4 Description of Room
Folder 5 Memos on Design, 1932-1937
Folder 6 Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences
Folder 7 Committee Meeting Minutes, 1942-1970
Folder 8 Copernicus Quadricentennial, 1943
Folder 9 Running Memo, 1942-1948
Folder 10 Colonel T.A. Starzynski, 1948-1949
Folder 11 Polish Room Maintenance, 1947-1955
Folder 12 Cabinet Dedication, 1954
Folder 13 Correspondence with Nationality Rooms Director, 1954-1956
Folder 14 Polish Books, 1956-1960
Folder 15 Polish Room Committee Members and Officers, 1960-1969
Folder 16 General Correspondence, 1956-1959
Folder 17 General Correspondence, 1960
Folder 18 General Correspondence, 1961-1964

Box 4
Folder 1 General Correspondence, 1965-1968
Folder 2 General Correspondence, 1969-1971
Folder 3 General Correspondence, 1972-1973
Folder 4 General Correspondence, 1974-1981
Folder 5 Polish Arts League, 1964-1966
Folder 6 Choir Reception, 1965
Folder 7 Polish Room Committee Guest Lists
Folder 8 Slavic Cultural Variety Program, 1969
Folder 9 Polish Studies Seminar, 1970
Folder 10 Polish Studies Workshops, 1971-1972
Folder 11 Piotr Janowski Concert, 1972
Folder 12 First Secretary Edward Gierek's Visit, 1974