PROGRESSIVE SLOVENE WOMEN OF AMERICA (Progresivne Slovenke Amerike), was formed in 1934 to assist Cleveland Slovenian families afflicted by the Depression. Early activities included hosting speakers from welfare agencies and home-nursing classes by the AMERICAN RED CROSS. PSWA also promoted Louis Adamic's book, The Native's Return, an account of his trip to Slovenia. Funds were raised with monthly dues, bake sales, and handicrafts. PSWA incorporated in 1938, and circles were established outside the state.
As hard times eased, PSWA introduced cultural activities and also extended support to groups such as CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY and the American Red Cross. It ran blood-donor and defense-bond drives during the war and was involved with the Yugoslav Relief Committee and SLOVENIAN AMERICAN NATL. COUNCIL. In 1944 it purchased 2 jeeps and medical supplies for Slovenian partisans, and collected clothing and $38,000 for food and medicine. After the war, the women aided hospitals and clinics in Ljubljana. A book campaign benefited Slovenian schools and libraries. A 1950 conference proposed creation of a Ljubljana-based information bureau to act as liaison between Slovenian emigrants and their homeland, establishing Slovenska Izseljenska Matica. In 1952 it sponsored the first annual Emigrants Picnic, attracting Slovenians from around the world. A cookbook and cooking classes enhanced fundraising in the later 1950s and 1960s, especially for the SLOVENE HOME FOR THE AGED. Membership peaked in the mid-1950s with 1,500 women in 18 circles, 7 in northeastern Ohio. In 1978 PSWA received the Order of the Silver Wreath from the Yugoslav government for their relief assistance and for promoting mutual understanding between the two countries.
In the 1990s PSWA was headquartered at the Slovene Workmen's Home at 15335 Waterloo Rd. Membership totaled 550 members nationwide, with around 425 of these from PSWA's 4 circles in northeast Ohio. Florence Unetich served as director in 1995.
Candon, Vera A., et al. Progressive Slovene Women of America 50th Anniversary (1984).