This collection contains correspondence, photographs, and ephemera of
Polish actress Helena Modjeska (1840-1909) and members of the family of Ludwik Opid (1865-1948), whom Modjeska considered
to be a nephew, dating from 1869-1982. The bulk of the materials
consists of correspondence, in Polish, between members of the Opid family in Poland and Ludwik Opid in Los Angeles, California,
Polish-American stage actress Helena Modjeska (1840-1909) was born in Kraków, Poland, on October 12, 1840.
Her mother, Józefa (Misel) Benda (1803-October 21, 1887), was the widow of merchant Szymon Benda (1770-1835), and Modjeska
was born as Jadwiga Benda but later baptized as Helena Opid, with the surname of her godfather, music teacher Michael Opid.
Modjeska's first theatrical appearance occurred in 1861 in Poland, and she first traveled to the United States to perform
In 1861, Modjeska had a son with Gustave Sinnmayer Modrzejewski (1825-1901), Rudolf (1861-1940) (later known as Ralph Modjeski),
who became a civil engineer in the United States, and a daughter who
died as a baby. In 1868 Modjeska married Karol Chłapowski (1832-1916),
known as Count Bozenta. Modjeska built a house, named "Arden," near Santa Ana, California,
and lived there from 1888 until 1906; after the property was sold, they lived in Tustin, California,
and then later at a beach house on Bay Island, Newport Beach, California, where Modjeska died on April 8, 1909.
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