The ASSOCIATION OF POLISH WOMEN IN THE U.S.A. was a benefit society begun by local Polish women who preferred to have the dues they paid to the Polish Women's Alliance remain in the Cleveland area. Discussions leading to its formation began in 1911, the first general meeting was on December 12, 1912, and the first association convention met on February 12, 1913. The association, incorporated in 1917, had 146 charter members. The Association bought the site for its headquarters (7526 Broadway) in 1927 and established a weekly newspaper, Jednosc Polek.
Demonstrating that Polish women could be good citizens and involved in the community, the Association established their own insurance fund and undertook charitable projects, including offering classes teaching the Polish language and heritage to young people and the awarding of scholarships to students attending parochial schools, colleges, and universities.
By 1935 it had nearly 9,000 members in forty-nine Cleveland chapters and one in Erie, Pennsylvania, paid out $75,000 in benefits, and had assets of more than $250,000. In 1940 Frances Tesny, who would guide the Association for the next forty years, was elected president. By 1952, the group had 3,000 members and opened a new $250,000 meeting hall.
On November 9, 1952 members voted to allow men to join. The Association established choirs for adults and for children, and formed bowlers' clubs for both women and men. By 1973 the Association of Polish Women had forty-two lodges in Cleveland, with about 2,000 members. A decade later, the Association's assets were $855,282.
In 1992 the Association's lodges and membership were incorporated into the Polish National Alliance (PNA). As of 2006, the Association's lodges continued to function under the auspices of the PNA.
Assn. of Polish Women in the U.S.A. 60 Years Diamond Jubilee Banquet (Cleveland, 1971), Vertical File, WRHS.