Chicago - 2018 February 6 - Lecture "The century of Polish White Cross. The idea of medical help for Polish soldiers created in America" by Dr. Magdalena Grassmann

The Kosciuszko Foundation Lecture


The century of Polish White Cross. 

The idea of medical help for Polish soldiers created in America


Magdalena Grassmann, MD PhD 

Museum of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy, 

Medical University of Bialystok, Poland 

February 6, 2018

 4:30 pm

Northeastern Illinois University in the Language Lab

4th floor NEIU Library

Northeastern Illinois University


Free admission

The event is sponsored by NEIU Department of World Languages and Cultures and PEACER (Polish and European Academic Center for Exchange and Research).



Polish medical heritage in the United States has a long history. Physicians have been supplying American hospitals since the 18th century, organizing their own doctor's offices, and conducting research at local universities. The activities for medical and social assistance for wounded Polish soldiers during the First World War in Europe were very significant. One of the important organizations established in the United States to achieve this goal was the Polish White Cross. He was appointed in February 1918, originally in New York and then in Chicago. The initiator, creator of the organization's concept and its first president was Helena Paderewska, wife of the world-famous pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski. The activity of the Polish White Cross consisted in taking care of wounded soldiers staying in the camps and on the battlefield, handing out gifts as well as educational and cultural activities. They were organizing courses for nurses, sending medicines as well as clothes and food to needy soldiers. Field hospital was organized at Niagara-on the-Lake in Canada. The Polish White Cross had a huge role in raising patriotism and national awareness among soldiers and the American Polonia. The organization was mainly based on cash and gifts provided by Poles living in the United States and Canada. One of the symbols of the Polish White Cross were hand-sewn dolls, often in sanitary attire. They were sold during Ignacy's Paderewski's charity concerts, and the proceeds were spent on the organization's activities. Today, on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Polish White Cross in America, it is worth recalling this forgotten history.



Magdalena Grassmann, MD PhD

Museum of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medical University of Bialystok, Poland

Magdalena Grassmann, MD PhD is a assistant professor of history of medicine and the head of Independent Department of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy in Medical University of Bialystok in Poland. Since 2011 she's a director of Museum of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy in Medical University of Bialystok. Her research focuses on medical heritage and its role in society and culture and also the role of medical collections and museums and the history of medicine.

She participated in numerous internships in medical and universities museums in Italy, Copenhagen, London and Paris. She is a member of International Council of Museums, UMAC (International Committee for Universities Museums and Collections) and Polish Association of Social Medicine and Public Health. She currently serves as vice-president on Association of University Museums in Poland and Polish Museum Association.

Dr. Grassmann is the member of Committee of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy Teaching in University in Ministry of Health in Poland and the member of Committee for the History of Science and Technology Polish Academy of Sciences. She organized many scientific conferences from the history of medicine and academic heritage fields.

Magdalena Grassmann is the author of 61 scientific publications (books, articles) and 353 short science publications. She serves as a reviewer in scientific journals: "Progress in Health Sciences", "Museum Almanac", "Opuscula Musealia" and "Polish Archive of Internal Medicine". She organized more than 25 exhibitions about history of medicine, medical heritage and history of Art.

In 2017 she was a member of the scientific committee of the international exhibition  "The Fabric of the Bodies. From anatomy to the robotics" organized by University of Parma in Italy.

Her current area of interest focus on medical heritage in the United States, particularly in Chicago.

Medical University of Bialystok

Medical University of Bialystok

Medical University of Bialystok is a renowned, dynamically expanding institution of higher education, distinguished among Polish academic centers. 

The University staff members offer high standard of teaching and are an opinion- forming milieu in the region. Among all 784 academic teachers, there are 119 professors and 147 habilitated doctors. This ratio is one of the highest among all Polish universities.

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