THE POLISH NATIONAL
A Brief History
The Polish National Alliance of the United States of North America,
popularly known today as the PNA or the Alliance, is the largest of all
ethnically-based fraternal insurance benefit societies in this country. On
December 31, 1996 the PNA counted 230,359 life insurance and 6,873 annuity
holders in its ranks. Its members held a total of $721,660,990 of
insurance with the PNA. The PNA was licensed to do business in 36 states
and the District of Columbia. The total assets of the Polish National
Alliance were $304,805,343.
According to data collected by the National Fraternal. Congress of its
105 member organizations, the PNA was the 8th largest of all fraternals in
membership, the 13th largest in assets, and the 18th largest in the total
amount of insurance it provided its members. By far the largest of all
fraternal insurance benefit societies created by Americans of Polish
origins, the P. N A. has members in every state of the Union and possesses
916 local lodge groups that help it carry out its mission.
The Polish National Alliance offers a full range of life insurance
products to its members, including permanent and term insurance, single
premium insurance, and universal life insurance. The PNA also offers
excellent annuity plans. At the same time, the Alliance provides its
members with a wide range of valuable fraternal benefits.
The PNA was formed in 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chicago,
Illinois by emitter patriots, whose aim was to unite the members of the
Polish immigrant community in America of that time behind the twin causes
of Poland's independence and their own advancement into the mainstreams of
American society. In 1881, the PNA set up its own newspaper, Zgoda [Harmony] to promote its objectives to the larger
community. In 1885, it established an insurance program for the material
benefit of all who wished to join the Alliance. And from the early 1890s
onward, it created a variety of programs aimed at enlightening the members
of the Polish population in the United States about their heritage and
their citizen rights and obligations as Americans. To further advance
these aims, the PNA established its own daily newspaper in Chicago, Dziennik
Zwiazkowy, known today as The Polish Daily News.
Early on, the PNA granted student loans and scholarships to deserving
members so they might advance their educational pursuits. In 1912 it
founded its very own educational institution, Alliance College, in
Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. Through its 75 years of operation,
Alliance College received approximately $20 million of assistance from the
PNA and graduated more than five thousand students.
Since the closing of the school, the PNA's commitment to education has
remained strong, for example, in the past ten years alone, the Alliance
has distributed more than $1.2 million in scholarships to meritorious
college and post graduate students who belong to the PNA, in order to help
them achieve their academic goals.
In 1900, the PNA granted full membership rights to women interested in
belonging to the Alliance. This action took place fully twenty years
before the passage of the 20th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting
women the right to vote and hold public office.
Throughout its history, the Polish National Alliance has taken an
active part in the civic life of the United States, by working on behalf
of the well-being and advancement of the Polish immigrants to America,
their offspring and descendants, by encouraging that they become U.S.
citizens, vote, and take active roles in this country's public affairs. It
has encouraged Polish people to build their social institutions, including
parishes and schools, and to active support their further development.
Most of the monuments that celebrate the lives and achievements of the
great American Revolutionary War patriots from Poland, Thaddeus Kosciuszko
and Casimir Pulaski, exist thanks to the leadership and support of the PNA
and its members.
Throughout its history, the Polish National Alliance has been a staunch
promoter of Poland's independence, lost from 1795 to 1918. In World War I
(1914-1918), the PNA worked closely with many other organizations to
achieve this goal, which was realized at the very end of that conflict. In
World War II (1939-1945), the PNA again worked actively for Poland's
independence. When this goal was not fully realized, due to the country's
occupation by the Soviet Union against its people's will, the PNA and its
members worked hard to persuade the leaders of the United States
government of the justice of Poland's restoration to freedom.
In 1944, the PNA had played a key role in forming the Polish American
Congress, a nationwide ethnic federation, to advance the cause of Poland's
freedom. After the War and all through the next fifty years and more, the
PNA has remained a central force in the work of the Polish American
Congress, a fact well recognized by the leaders of the democratic Polish
state, which was established in 1989 following the collapse of the
From the World War I era to the present, the Polish National Alliance
and its members, together with the entire Polish American community, have
given generously to help meet the material and medical needs of Poland's
people. This aid has been estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of
dollars. In addition, the PNA helped thousands of refugees from World War
II devastated Poland in resettling here to build new lives for themselves
and their children.
Today, the Polish National Alliance is proud of its record of serving
the insurance needs of the more than two million men, women and children
who have been in its ranks since 1880. It is proud of its work on behalf
of all Americans, Polish and non-Polish alike, in promoting citizenship
participation in the life of the United States. It is proud to promote the
enlightenment of its members and their fellow Americans about the heritage
of Poland--through its biweekly publication, Zgoda, its daily
newspaper, Dziennik Zwiazkowy, its radio station in Chicago, WPNA,
its two banks, its website, its involvement in the Polish American Congress, the National Fraternal
Congress and other organizations, and the benevolent and charitable
activities of its members throughout the country.
Clearly, the motto of the PNA, "In Unity there is Strength,"
fittingly characterizes the nearly 122-year-long heritage that is the
Polish National Alliance.
[Last updated May, 2003.]
* For more information see Donald E. Pienkos, "P.N.A.: A
Centennial History of The Polish National Alliance of The United States of
North America" (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).
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