Hilda Satt Polacheck papers

 An inventory of the collection at UIC

Summary Information

Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives
Polacheck, Hilda Satt, 1882-1967
Hilda Satt Polacheck papers
Date [inclusive]
4.5 Linear feet
Part of the Jane Addams Memorial Collection. Writer and activist, Hilda Satt Polacheck (1882-1967) emigrated from Poland to Chicago's Near West Side in 1892. As a child, Hilda Satt benefited from the programs and classes at Hull-House. As an adult, she continued her association with the settlement, teaching classes and giving tours. She is the author of I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl, the only published description of Hull-House written by a woman from the neighborhood. Hilda Satt Polachek was also involved in several social and political causes including civil rights, woman suffrage and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The collection consists primarily of drafts of I Came a Stranger and research notes used in the preparation of the book. It also contains correspondence, photographs, and clippings pertaining to Hull-House, Hull-House Theatre, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Polachek family.

Preferred Citation

Hilda Satt Polacheck papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago

Return to Table of Contents »

Biography of Hilda Satt Polacheck

Hilda Polacheck was born Hinda Satt in Wloclawek, Poland, a community located in the Pale Settlement on October 12, 1882. She was the eighth of twelve children of Dena Miriam (Faltz) Satt, a housewife and Louis Satt, a tombstone carver. Her family immigrated to the United States to avoid conscription of their three sons into the Russian army.

The family settled in the Jewish immigrant neighborhood near Hull-House on Chicago's Near West side. Hinda and her siblings enrolled in the Jewish Training School where the school clerk Americanized Hinda's name to Hilda.

Hilda Satt's father died suddenly on March 4, 1894. Satt, who had just started the fifth grade, and her older sister Rose, left school to work in a knitting factory. Hilda was first introduced to Hull-House when she attended a Christmas party as a teenager, but she did not become aware of Hull-House's programs until she was eighteen years old. Jane Addams introduced Satt to the newly established Hull-House Labor Museum where Satt learned to spin and weave cloth and demonstrate these tasks to Hull-House visitors.

Jane Addams also encouraged Satt to enroll in a Hull-House English composition class. Her teacher was so impressed with her writing skills that she arranged for a scholarship at the University of Chicago. Satt attended the University of Chicago for one quarter. A Hull-House benefactor provided her family with the funds Satt would have earned by working.

Satt continued to volunteer at Hull-House leading tours and teaching English, as well as acting in Hull-House plays. In 1909 a friend, Sidney Teller, superintendent of the boy's club, edited a small magazine, The Butterfly to which Satt contributed articles in 1909. In 1911, Satt published two articles in the Jewish Sentinel. That same year Satt wrote two one-act plays that were performed by the Chicago Hebrew Institute.

In the spring of 1911, Jane Addams proposed that Satt dramatize a novel, The Walking Delegate, by Hull-House resident Leroy Scott. Upon Addams' suggestion, Satt took a summer job waiting tables at the Forward Movement Park, a camp in Saugatuck, Michigan, while she wrote her play. During her stay in Saugatuck, Satt became engaged to young Milwaukee businessman and socialist William Polacheck, whom she met through her friend Sidney Teller. Satt's play was performed by the Hull-House Players, April 10 - 27, 1912. Satt and Polacheck were married April 17, 1912, attending the play that evening. Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Polacheck was also active in social reform, participating in the suffrage movement, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Abraham Lincoln House, a Milwaukee settlement modeled on Hull-House. Although she supported the goals of the Women's Peace Party, organized by Jane Addams and others in 1915, Polacheck was not active in that organization due to public animosity toward pacifists during World War I and out of concern for the safety of her children. William and Hilda Polacheck had four children: Charles Lessing, Dena Julia, Demerest Lloyd, and Jessie. In the 1920s, Polacheck joined a local peace society, which later became the Wisconsin branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

William Polacheck died in 1927 leaving Hilda with four children to support. Polacheck's attempt to operate her husband's business ended in bankruptcy whereupon she returned to Chicago with her children and managed a number of apartment buildings to support her family. From 1938 until the early 1940s, Polacheck found work as a writer for the Illinois Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. Her unpublished writings included pieces on Hull-House, immigrant life and folktales. Polacheck also wrote a number of one-act plays.

At the age of 63, with the support of her children, Polacheck was able to retire from work at the end of World War II. She remained an active member of WILPF and participated in local political campaigns. About 1953, she wrote her autobiography, which remained unpublished due to a lack of publishing interest. Polacheck died at the age of 85 in Chicago on May 18, 1967. Her daughter, Dena J. Polacheck Epstein edited her manuscript, which was published in 1989, I Came A Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents

Various version's of Hilda Polacheck's I Came A Stranger, make up the bulk of this collection. Other materials include correspondence with Jane Addams and William Polacheck, copies of the journal The Butterfly, a copy of the play The Walking Delegate, Polacheck's unpublished writings, and family photographs. This collection also contains Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) materials (c. 1950s-1960s) including proceedings from WILPF International Congresses, WILPF (US Section) Annual Meetings, and National and International WILPF publications. It also contains several documents for the Chicago South Side branch of WILPF (c. 1960). Books were removed from this collection and cataloged.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives 2003-10-21

801 S. Morgan Street
Chicago, Illinois, 60607

Restrictions on Access


Restrictions on Use


Acquisition Information

Materials in this collection were donated to the University of Illinois at Chicago, Main Library, Special Collections, in two accessions by Dena J. Polacheck Epstein, and Michael Young (Hilda Polacheck's grandson)

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.).

Personal Name(s)

  • Polacheck, Hilda Satt, 1882-1967 -- Archives


  • Hull-House and Settlement House History.
  • Midwest Women's History.

Return to Table of Contents »


Polacheck Epstein, Dena J.,"Hilda Satt Polacheck," in Women Building Chicago: 1790-1990, Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Series I: Hilda Satt Polacheck Papers 

Box Folder

Correspondence, Jane Addams to Hilda, undated , 1914 , 1928 

1 1

Letters to The Butterfly, undated 

1 2

Polacheck photographs, undated 

1 3

"Hilda: A Character Study", undated 

1 4

The Butterfly, 1907, 1909 

1 5

"The Walking Delegate," program, 1912 

1 6

"Jane Addams," WILPF Chicago Branch, ca. 1935 

1 7

"The Walking Delegate," typescript, undated 

1 8

I Came A Stranger newspaper clippings, 1989, 1990 

1 9

I Came A Stranger notes by Jessie Sheridan, typescript, Chapters 1-3, undated 

2 10

I Came A Stranger typescript, Chapters 4-8, undated 

2 11

I Came A Stranger typescript, Chapters 9-11, undated 

2 12

I Came A Stranger typescript, Chapters 12-14, undated 

2 13

I Came A Stranger typescript, Chapters 15-22, undated 

2 14

"I Came A Stranger: An Appreciation," typescript, undated 

2 15

I Came A Stranger, [Original manuscript, photocopy and original], undated 

3 16

Handwritten manuscript related to I Came A Stranger, and Chapter 1, typescript, undated 

3 17

I Came A Stranger [Another version of the beginning], undated 

3 18

I Came A Stranger typescript, undated 

3 19

I Came A Stranger typescript, selected pages, undated 

3 20

I Came A Stranger typescript, selected pages, undated 

3 21

I Came A Stranger typescript, selected pages, undated 

3 22

I Came A Stranger excerpts not integrated into the book, undated 

3 23

HSP's University of Chicago enrollment: transcripts, course descriptions, article, 1977 

3 24

HSP's biography of Jane Addams, undated 

3 25

Photocopy of HSP original manuscript, undated 

4 26

Chapter One, "Memories of Poland" [carbon of original], undated 

4 27

Chapter Two, "Transplanted", undated 

4 28

Chapter Three, "South Halsted Street", undated 

4 29

Chapter Four, "My Father", undated 

4 30

Chapter Five, "Mother", undated 

4 31

Chapter Six, "I Discover Hull-House", undated 

4 32

Chapter Seven, "My First Job", undated 

4 33

Chapter Eight, "Growing Up", undated 

4 34

Chapter Nine, "The West Side Turner Hall", undated 

4 35

Chapter Ten, "Hull-House", undated 

4 36

Chapter Eleven, "Jane Addams", undated 

4 37

Chapter Twelve, "New Horizons", undated 

4 38

Chapter Thirteen, "The Forward Movement", undated 

4 39

Chapter Fourteen, "The Walking Delegate", undated 

4 40

Chapter Fifteen, "Milwaukee", undated 

4 41

Chapter Sixteen, "War", undated 

4 42

Chapter Seventeen, "Peace", undated 

4 43

Chapter Eighteen, "Woman's Suffrage", undated 

4 44

Chapter Nineteen, "Women's International League for Peace and Freedom", undated 

4 45

Chapter Twenty, "December 27", undated 

4 46

Chapter Twenty-One, "Going Back to Chicago", undated 

4 47

Chapter Twenty-Two, "1935", undated 

4 48

First Edited Version of Epstein's Manuscript, Beginning to Chapter 5, undated 

4 49

First edited Epstein manuscript, Chapters 6 to 12, undated 

5 50

First edited Epstein manuscript, Chapters 13 to the end, undated 

5 51

Editor's notes and correspondence, undated 

5 52

Second edited version, Beginning to Chapter 8, undated 

5 53

Second edited version, Chapter 9 to 18, undated 

5 54

Second edited version, Chapter 19 to the end, undated 

5 55

Final Version sent to press, Beginning to Chapter 2, undated 

5 56

Final Version sent to press, Chapter 3 to 11, undated 

5 57

Final Version sent to press, Chapter 12 to 18, undated 

5 58

Final Version sent to press, Chapter 19 to 25, undated 

5 59

Final Version, afterward, appendix, notes, end, undated 

6 60

Indexed copy of Epstein manuscript with index, Beginning to Chapter 5, undated 

6 61

Indexed copy of Epstein manuscript, Chapter 6 to14, undated 

6 62

Indexed copy of Epstein manuscript, Chapter 15 to 21, undated 

6 63

Indexed copy of Epstein manuscript, Chapter 22 to appendix B, undated 

6 64

Final Version, afterward, appendix, notes, end, undated 

5 65

Indexed copy of Epstein manuscript, Notes to end, undated 

6 66

Final Copy, edited version, Chapter 4 to 11, undated 

6 67

Final Copy, edited version, Chapter 12 to 18, undated 

6 68

Final Copy, edited version, Chapter 19 to appendix B, undated 

6 69

Final Copy, edited version, Notes to end, undated 

6 70

HSP Theater reviews, undated 

7 71

Sidney Teller's documentation, undated 

7 72

"Hilda" character sketch, correspondence excerpts, undated 

7 73

"The Walking Delegate" documentation, 1911-1912 

7 74

WPA Writer's Project documentation, undated 

7 75

Ghost-written stories for Anna Hildman, undated 

7 76

Introductory Statement written during Hull-House demolition, ca. 1963 

7 77

I Came A Stranger another version, Beginning to Chapter 4, undated 

7 78

I Came A Stranger another version, Chapter 5 to 10, undated 

7 79

I Came A Stranger another version, Chapter 11 to 16, undated 

7 80

I Came A Stranger another version, Chapter 17 to end, undated 

7 81

Editorial comments by Dena Epstein, included in end notes, undated 

7 82

Hull-House, notes, programs, newspaper clippings, undated 

7 83

HSP's life, miscellaneous research materials, undated 

7 84

Correspondence related to I Came A Stranger, 1980-1990 

7 85

Programs on I Came A Stranger, 1985-1991 

8 86

Hull-House Centennial, undated 

8 87

Historical Source Material, newsletters, Jewish Genealogy, undated 

8 88

"The Ghetto Market," HSP's first writing, 1905 

8 89

Works Projects Administration, Writer's Project Writings: "The Seder," "A Week at Grandma's," "Housing and the Typhoid Fever Epidemic," "Good Dishes Make Good Neighbors," "A Guinea Pig Evaluates WPA.", undated 

8 90

Halderman- Julius, Marcet, Jane Addams as I Knew Her, Gerard, Kansas: Halderman-Julius Publications, [lacks cover], 1936 

8 91

I Came A Stranger early table of contents, undated 

8 92

Jane Addams memorial issue, Pax International, 1935 

8 93

HSP family genealogy, prepared by HSP's cousin, Jacques Feldmark, undated 

8 94

Six plays by HSP located in the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield: "Ordering Breakfast," "Therapy," "Mushroom," "The Gold Fish," "The Facts of Life," "George Washington", undated 

8 95

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Report of the Seventh Congress, Grenoble, 1932 

8 96

WILPF, Extract of Report of Co-Chairmen to the International Congress, Luxembourg, 1946 

8 97

WILPF, Consultative Status with the United Nations: ECSOC, FAO, UNESCO, Paris, 1953 

8 98

WILPF, National Budget report, 1954 

8 99

WILPF, Annual Meeting, 40th Anniversary, Mills College, Oakland, CA, July 10-15, 1955 

8 100

WILPF, leaflets, "Jane Addams on Peace and War," 1860-1960, "Women Around the World Working for Peace; J.A. postcard, undated 

8 101

WILPF, 15th International Congress, Asilomar, California, (July 8-13, 1962); Women's International Democratoc Federation, World Gathering of Women for Disarmament, Vienna, (March 23-25, 1962); Art for World Friendship," (April 1962); , E.Z. Circular Letter, (no. 5/1962), 1962 

8 102

WILPF, Annual Meeting, Estes Park, CO ; "Political Action Handbook", 1963 

8 103

WILPF, 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, WILPF Record, Jane Addams, 1965 

9 104

WILPF publications [Pax Et Libertas, 24:1:1960; 26:3:1961; 27:1:1962; 28:14:1963; 29:4:1964; 31:1:1966; Peace and Freedom, 45:6-7:1985], 1960-1985 

9 105

Legal Documents: disposition of estate of Rose Satt, Hilda Polacheck's sister; HSP's Social Security card; Medicare information and insurance documents; Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, January 15, 1938 receipt; unemployment benefit card, 1942, undated 

9 106

Polacheck, Hilda, "A Pack on the Back," 1939 (p. 51-54) in Banks, Ann, "Making it Through Hard Times," Atlantic Monthly, 246:1:1980:40-57., undated 

9 107

Illustrations, caption titles, and related correspondence and photographs, I Came A Stranger with correspondence (prototype); book jacket; leaflet announcing sale w/ order blank, undated 

9 108

Haymarket - correspondence, documentation from Labadie Collection - "Protokoll" (German); Haymarket Centennial memorabilia, (1986), 1985-1986 

9 109

Publications, International Relations, 1954-1964, 1988 

9 110

Epstein's Research notes to I Came A Stranger, 1988 

9 111

Photocopies of manuscripts - 16 stories, 2 plays - in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, undated 

10 112

[Prototype] of final printed copy for Epstein's I Came A Stranger, undated 

10 113

"Christmas at Hull-House," Hilda Satt Polacheck, Chicago Tribune Magazine, December 20, 1992 

10 114

Chicago Area Women's History Conference (CAWHC) and the Historical Encyclopedia of Chicago Women, 1993-1999 

11 115

CAWHC and Women Building Chicago, 2001-2002 

11 116

Hull-House related speeches, 1989-1992 

11 117

Correspondence re: Hilda Polacheck, 1990-1998 

11 118

Correspondence re: Hilda Polacheck, 1985-1991 

11 119

Book contract and information, 1988 

11 120

Book reviews, 1989-2002 

11 121

Return to Table of Contents »