Helena Paderewska with the nurses of The Polish White Cross, 1918
Large monetary contributions were needed to support the workings of the PWC. Helena Paderewska’s dedication and ingenuity helped mobilize efforts such as charity events (including Ignacy Paderewski’s piano concerts) and the sale of Polish dolls at events in several cities. The tale of “Paderewska’s Dolls” began in 1915 when Paderewska visited the Polish Art Gallery of Stefania Lazarska in Paris. The gallery was full of the work of Polish artists: dolls representing regional Polish dress and intricate local history. Impressed by their beauty and connection to the culture she held so dear, Helena ordered 1000 of them to be sent to New York. The most popular dolls in the United States were called Jas and Halka. Some of the dolls donned the dress of Polish White Cross nurses to propagate the idea of the new organization. Priced at two to three hundred dollars each, the dolls helped PWC efforts to support Polish troops. Today the historic and beautiful “Paderewska Dolls” can be seen in the Polish Museum in Chicago.
Nashville, Tennessee, United States (Winter 2018)