The Piast Institute inducted the second set of selectees into the Polish Women’s Hall of Fame on September 1, 2017. Women were selected in all six categories featured in the Hall of Fame. This cycle’s selectees are:
Science and Education: Stephanie Louise Kwolek (1923-2014), inventor of Kevlar. After finishing a Bachelor of Science at the Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University in 1946, Kwolek accepted a position at DuPont where she became involved in polymer research. She is the only woman to have been awarded DuPont’s Lavoisier Medal for her achievements. She has also been recognized by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the American Institute of Chemists, the American Chemical Society, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK.
Arts and Humanities: Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017), artist. While Abakanowicz began her career as a painter in Poland in the 1950s, she is best known as a sculptor. Her most famous works are headless human forms made from sacking stiffened with glue and resin, which are fitted over steel frames. Her work has been displayed all over the world, and her most famous installation in the United States is Agora, a set of 106 iron figures on display in Grant Park in Chicago.
Religion: Bl. Mary Angela Truszkowska (1825-1898), founder of the Felician Sisters. Interested since childhood in serving people in need, Truszkowska became a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as a young woman, where she worked among the poor and aided with the religious education of abandoned children. In 1855 she dedicated herself and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice—the Felician Sisters. The order grew, both under her direction and after her retirement, sending its first five Sisters to America in 1874. She was beatified in 1993.
Public Life and Service: Antonina Żabińska (1908-1971), subject of The Zookeeper’s Wife, who helped shelter many Jews in the Warsaw Zoo during the Nazi occupation of Poland by offering food and temporary quarters. Żabińska continued her humanitarian work by aiding survivors who remained in Warsaw’s ruins after the Warsaw Uprising, despite the deportation of her husband as a prisoner of war. She was also the author of several children’s books written from the perspective of animals. She, along with her husband, has been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Sports: Jenny Romatowski (1927-2014). Romatowski played on several teams of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. In addition to her four years—and 1954 championship—with the Kalamazoo Lassies, she also played with the South Bend Blue Sox, the Rockford Peaches, the Chicago Colleens, the Racine Belles, and the Peoria Redwings. She was a member of the All-Star Teams of 1952 and 1953. She was also a member of the U.S. national team of the 1959 World Field Hockey Tournament, and vice president of the U.S. Field Hockey Association. She has been honored by the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, the Eastern Michigan University Hall of Fame, and the Michigan Amateur Sports Hall of Fame.
Philanthropy: Valeria Lipczynska (1846-1930), a cornerstone of the Polish community in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lipczynska and her husband arrived in Grand Rapids in 1869, and helped at least forty other Polish families settle in the area. She was instrumental in the organization and establishment of a variety of Polish American organizations in the Grand Rapids area, helped recent immigrants establish themselves and find employment, supported the arts, and served as a correspondent for Polish newspapers in the Midwest. She was the first woman to serve on the board of directors of the Polish National Alliance. She received the Polish Golden Service Cross for her work with recent immigrants in 1927.
The first selectees were inducted in March 2017, when the project was officially launched. The Polish Women’s Hall of Fame is a virtual exhibit hosted at www.FamousPolishWomen.com. The project seeks to raise awareness of women’s contributions to the culture and history of Poland and the world by offering biographical profiles of notable women and historical information, as well as to honor the impact that less famous women have had on countless individual lives through the A Woman to Remember page.
The Polish Women’s Hall of Fame has two selection cycles each year, with new selectees announced in March and September. Nominations are accepted from the public through January 1 for the March selection cycle and through July 1 for the September selection cycle. Members of the public are encouraged to submit nominations using the forms available, in English and in Polish, on the project website. Completed forms may be submitted online, by email, or by mail.
The A Woman to Remember page accepts nominations on a rolling basis, and is intended to honor the contributions of women—mothers, sisters, friends, teachers, and so many more—to the life of the nominator. These stories are not subject to review by the Selection Committee, and are not formally inducted into the Hall of Fame—instead, stories are posted when they are received and are intended to reflect a range of personal accomplishments and experiences.
For more information on the project, please visit the website or contact the Piast Institute at: firstname.lastname@example.org