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558 SZELĄGOWSKA, Anna (1880–1962) Polish feminist; member of several national and international women’s organizations; labor and education activist; publicist; member of the Polish Senate (1938–1939). Anna Szelągowska (nee Paradowska) was born in Warsaw on 20 July 1880, into a prosperous family. After graduating from a private school in 1895, she enrolled —against her parents’ wishes—in the first private high school to accept women as students: Izabella Smolikowska’s Commercial High School, from which she graduated in 1898. A few months later, her father’s death forced her to take a job in order to be able to support her mother and brothers. From 1900, she worked as an office clerk while studying philosophy and social sciences at the so-called ‘Flying University,’ an underground university for women (Russian universities did not then admit women). She first learned of the women’s liberation movement through the Czytelnia dla kobiet (Reading Room for Women) led by Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmit, and soon became Secretary of the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Równouprawnienia Kobiet (Polish Women’s Rights Association). In addition to her feminist activities, Szelągowska was also involved in the labor movement, as was her first husband Aleksander Hertz (1879–1928), a socialist bank clerk and future founder and Executive Director of the illustrious Polish film production company Sfinks. Even though Szelągowska never officially belonged to the Polska Partia Socjalistyczna (PPS, Polish Socialist Party), she worked for the PPS and acquired the nickname ‘comrade Nina.’ The Hertzs’ Warsaw apartment witnessed many PPS meetings and in 1905, the couple founded the Związek Zawodowy Pracowników Prywatnych Instytucji Bankowych Królestwa Polskiego (Labor Union for Employees of Private Banking Institutions of the Kingdom of Poland), the first trade organization of bank clerks on the Polish territories. A year later, Szelągowska became a member of the Labor Union’s Executive Board. She was among the founders of the Towarzystwo Zawodowego Kształcenia Kobiet (Women’s Professional Education Society) and taught bookkeeping at the society’s supplementary classes for shopkeepers. In 1913, she joined the Labor Union of Bookkeepers. In 1915, a year after she had been dismissed from her post as bookkeeper (depression had severely hit 559 the banking sector), she was made an Honorable Member of the Labor Union for Employees of Private Banking Institutions. The title was a token of respect for the first and only woman on the Board. Szelągowska spent the World War I years in Warsaw. From 1919 to 1920, she was a member of the Koło Opieki nad Ochotniczą Ligą Kobiet (Support Society for the Women’s Voluntary Legion), the first independent command of women soldiers in the Polish territories. From 1920 to 1926 (i.e. after Poland’s independence in 1918), Szelągowska worked for the Bank of the United Polish Territories. In 1927, she became a member of the Executive Board of the Cooperative Bank of Entrepreneurs and Merchants. Up until 1925, she had also belonged to the Scientific Committee of the Labor Union of Accountants; in 1932, she became a member of the Auditing Commission of this Union. Two years later, in 1934, the Ministry of Internal Affairs appointed her to the Auditing Commission of Warsaw City Hall, where she dealt with finances, accounting and the city budget. In 1936, Warsaw City Hall appointed her to the Auditing Commission of the Municipal Savings Bank. In the same year, she became an accounting expert for the Warsaw District Court. For her achievements, she was decorated with the Golden Cross of Merit by the Polish President on 10 November 1931. In spite of her numerous professional duties, Szelągowska was an active participant in the Polish feminist movement. In 1919, she joined the Klub Polityczny Kobiet Postępowych (Progressive Women’s Political Club) and during the parliamentary election of 1927, became a member of the Demokratyczny Komitet Wyborczy Kobiet Polskich (Executive Council of the Democratic Electoral Committee of Polish Women). In 1928, along with Zofia Moraczewska, she co-founded the Związek Pracy Obywatelskiej Kobiet (Women’s Association for Civil Labor) and was a long-standing member of the Association’s Board of Directors. In 1929, the delegates of all Polish women’s organizations elected Szelągowska Chair of the Komitet Wystawy Pracy Kobiet (Interunion Committee of the Women’s Labor Exhibition) at the Polish National Exhibition in Poznan. Szelągowska also chaired the Polskie Zjednoczenie Kobiet Pracujących Zawodowo (Polish Union of Professional Women), was a member of...


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