Teresa Kulczyńska 1894 - 1992

Born on September 27th, 1894 in Cracow, daughter of Prof. Leon Kulczyński from the Jagiellonian University, and also director of the St. Anna College (today: Nowodworski Secondary School). Relative of the Estreichers via her mother. She graduated primary school in Cracow (in German language), the college for teachers, passed her final exams in 1913. IN 1914 she finished the Academy of Commerce course for the graduates. After the WWI outbreak, in July 1914, she volunteered to work in Polish formations within an Austrian army hospital. After a year of work in a military hospital in Cracow she left with Prof. Maksymilian Rutkowski Group.

At the end of 1916 she came back home and worked in an office. In spring 1919, in an independent Poland, she enrolled to the only one in Poland Professional Nurses School of the Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Cracow. As a grant holder of the American Red Cross in the years 1921-1923, she graduated the Nursing School in Boston and the postgraduate course at the Columbia University in New York.

After returning to Poland she worked in the years 1923-1925 as a manager and teacher in a theoretical education unit, and a deputy director in the Warsaw Nursing School.

She received another grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1923, and graduated a year course of community nursing at the Toronto University, Canada. She was an excellent student.  Then she took an instructive journey to get knowledge about public health and community nursing in southern states of the US and in northern part of Canada. On her way back she could learn about nursing education in the Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital in London, and about methods of fighting against tuberculosis in Paris.

In the years 1926-1939 she worked in the Unviersity School for Nurses and Hygienists in Cracow, first as a community nursing teacher, then as a nursing theory teacher and a deputy director. She cooperated with Anna Rydlówna all the time.

She received her third grant in 1934 – and learned about teaching methods and work organization in nursing schools and dietetics units in Budapest, Wien, Lyon, Paris, Brussels, Oslo, and Helsinki.

During the World War II, when the Jagiellonian University and the University School of Nursing were closed, she run a dormitory for nurses in the school building, together with Anna Rydlówna. When the building was taken over by the Germans in 1941, she shortly worked as a senior nurse in “The Infirmary” of the Central Welfare Council, opened for the displaced at Loretańska street, and then as a senior nurse in Public Health Insurance in Cracow.

In November 1941 she accepted the director post of the Midwives School at Karowa street in Warsaw, offered by the Hospital Department in Warsaw. In spring 1943, when German authorities ordered gradual liquidation of this school, the first conspiratorial nursing and midwifery school in Poland was organized, officially as a branch of the Nursing School at the Transfiguration Hospital in Warsaw. Kulczyńska became a director of this school, and was a tutor for midwifery students. Her work was stopped by the Warsaw Rising outbreak.

After Cracow liberation, together with director Rydlówna and a group of teachers, she started reactivation of the University School of Nursing. She could not engaged full time because of a serious illness of her mother, she was a sole carer of her. She returned to work after mothers’ death in the mid of 1946, as a deputy director and chief of theoretic education unit

She left the school when the Ministry of Health took over all the schools. She started in April 1950 in the Institute for Tuberculosis in Cracow, regional branch, responsible also for medical library there. She had been working in the Institute until she retired in 1963.

Kulczyńska was an active member of the Polish Association of Professional Nurses – several times worked as vice-president, secretary, member of the Educational Commission.

Very active in the Cracow Branch of the Polish Nurses’ Association from its beginnings, member of the Branch Management Board and the Historical Committee. Thanks to her extraordinary memory, logic and exact way of thinking, she was an invaluable source of information about the beginnings and development of nursing in Poland. Regardless her late age, she had contacts with the profession and nurses.

She elaborated many notes about individual nurses, activity of the Polish Association of Professional Nurses, and schools she worked in. She also prepared many articles in the “Pielęgniarka i Położna” monthly journal, both before and after the WWII (1948-1958). The first manual “Zabiegi pielęgniarskie” (ang. Nursing interventions) was published in the interwar period, edited by T. Kulczyńska i H. Chrzanowska.

After the WW II the following titles written or edited by T. Kulczyńska were published:

  • Podręcznik pielęgniarstwa ogólnego. Warsaw: PZWL (6 editions in the years 1951-1965), translated also into Russian on the WHO commission for medical schools in the People’s Republic of Mongolia),
  • Jak pielęgnować chorego na gruźlicę w domu. Warsaw: PZWL (the Institute of Tuberculosis commission; 3 editions 1953-1956),
  • Pielęgniarstwo specjalistyczne. Ed. by T. Kulczyńska. Warsaw: PZWL, 1956.


  • The Order of Polonia Restituta – the Knight’s Cross (1957),
  • The Model Work in Health Care Distinction (1954),
  • The Medal of 10th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of Poland (1955),
  • The Polish Nurses’ Association Honorary Badge (1974),
  • The Medal of the National Education Commission (1978).

Source: J. Kaniewska-Iżycka, Rozwój pielęgniarstwa w Polsce do roku 1950. Part 3 pp. 69-72.
The Methodical Centre for Teachers of Medical Junior High Schools Education, Warsaw 1988.