The UNION OF POLES IN AMERICA is a fraternal insurance organization created in 1939 by the merger of 2 local Polish Roman Catholic unions. The oldest organization to form the UPA, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, founded in 1894 and affiliated with the schismatic parish of the IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY, was established by Rev. ANTON KOLASZEWSKI to unite Poles, Lithuanians, and other Slavic groups into one Roman Catholic organization, to perpetuate the faith, and to provide death benefits to members. In 1915 it was chartered to operate as an insuring agency. By 1933 it had 6,000 members; only 4,000 in 1935, with assets of $261,000, a school to teach gymnastics and physical culture to young people, and its own newspaper, Zjednoczeniec.

The Polish Roman Catholic Union of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the other merger partner, was formed in 1898 with similar purposes. By 1938 it had 100 branches in the Cleveland area and assets of $500,000. When it merged with the Union of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin on 20 Apr. 1939, its newspaper, the Kuryer, became the new organization's official paper. In 1940 the UPA had 12,000 members and built its headquarters at 6501 Lansing. By 1974 its 167 lodges had 25,000 members, 15,000 living in Ohio, 55% of whom were women. By 1978 the union's assets were more than $5 million. In addition to insurance, the union offered home loans and provided social and cultural activities for its adult and juvenile members. By 1995 the union's assets exceeded $5.5 million, while its membership stood around 10,000.

Grabowski, John, et al. Polish Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland (1976).

U.S. Works Project Admin., "Poles of Cleveland" (1941), WRHS.

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