Maria Wyslouch

* 1857 (Udrejniki) 03.20.1905 (Lviv) Poland
Fields of activity: politics, people's movement, women's movement, education, journalism
Author: Grażyna Matulewicz

Maria Wyslouch

»among the people and for the people! »  (D.WawrzykowskaWierciochowa: Wysłouchowa)

Why I consider this woman to be an important person?

Maria Wysłouch was primarily a warm, wonderful woman, whose passion was social activity towards the representatives of the lowest condition - or the peasantry, especially rural women.


Maria Wysłouch – maiden name- Bouffał was born in 1858 in Udrejniki as a the daughter of Sophia and Hippolytus Bouffał. After the January Uprising, her father lost his position of district judge, his entire property was confiscated, he got imprisoned and died soon after. Maria’s family moved to Vitebsk and afterwards to Pskov, where in 1876 Maria graduated from high school and attended a teaching course for graduates who wanted to become teachers. In Pskov Maria got in touch with the so-called „Populist movement- Narodnicy” and their slogan „Go to the nation” in order to educate and to enlighten rural population.  This fondness for peasants accompanied Maria to the end of her life. In 1878 she moved to St. Petersburg and attended the newly established Scientific Higher Courses for Women, which she graduated in 1882 and afterwards moved to Warsaw. Maria became famous and fascinating orator who knew how to speak both to common people as well as to intellectualists.

The years 1880-1900 were a period of exceptional organizational mobility of Polish women in all three partitions. Women wanted to be educated, to have access to libraries. In Warsaw in the period of 1879-1880 two reading rooms for women were opened. The founder of one of them was Kasylda Kulikowska, a person who had a profound impact on Maria and her prosocial attitude. At one of the meetings in the reading room a secret society was formed under the name of People's Education Women's Circle. The main goal of this society was to spread the education among the rural population through the spoken word, supplying spelling-books and other school-books. Maria was very much involved in the activities of The Circle. In the end of 1884, Maria married Boleslaw Wysłouch - political and folk activist and they settled in Lviv. In 1886 they began to publish „Social review”, the socio-political monthly magazine and afterwards in 1889 „Friend of the People”- biweekly journal. Formally, Boleslaw was as the initiator and editor of the magazine, because Maria, as a woman could not legally hold this position. However, she was the actual inspirer of many actions and a real co-editor of journal. She wrote many articles for the „Friend of the People” and later she published in „Przodownica” and„ Zorza” (Aurora) - magazines devoted to women's affairs. She was the initiator and organizer of Science Reading room for Women, which was founded in Lviv in 1886, as well as the Economical Association of Women.

In 1890, as an initiative of the Wysłouch couple the Society of Friends of Education (SFE) was created. During the first year of existence, SFE provided 20 reading rooms in rural areas and distributed more than 20,000 books and booklets. The first booklet, which was published by SFE, was a popular story for common people „About the life and writings of Adam Mickiewicz” by Maria Wysłouchowa.

Last years of the nineteenth century was a very hard period for Maria. In 1894 she participated in the celebration of the Kosciuszko Uprising’s century, she took part in the Public National Exhibition, at which she organized the Polish Pavilion of Women's Work. During The Pedagogical Congress Maria spoke in favor of extension of the secondary education for girls and a creation of an equal opportunity for higher education at the universities of Krakow and Lviv. She took part in the Congress of Journalists and Writers, Meeting for the Peasants, Congress of Galician Association of Teachers. The hardship and enormity of work had very bad influence on Maria’s health. She began to have serious heart problems.

In 1888 Maria together with a group of women activists from Galicia gave an idea to organize a congress of women from three partitions in order to present the situation of women in rural areas. Polish Women's Congress was held in Zakopane in 1899. Maria gave a lecture „About good and bad side of rural women’s situation”- enthusiastically accepted.
Following years very harsh for Maria. She worked very hard and her heart gave more problems. She passed away on March 20th 1905. She was buried in the Łyczakowski Cemetery in Lviv.

Maria Wysłouch was not a woman of the first pages. Her life and her work showed how to achieve a gender equality .She was a good diplomat. Calmly, slowly and steadily she overcame bastions of ignorance and backwardness.

She wrote in a letter to her friend „ I chose rocky wasteland overgrown with weeds and thorns; a work among the peasants.”


  • D. Wawrzykowska - Wierciochowa: Wysłouchowa, Warsaw 1975
  • D. Wawrzykowska - Wierciochowa: The history of rural women, Sketches of History, Warsaw 1961
  • Outline of the history of Polish peasant movement, collective work, Warsaw 1963
  • Source: Wikipedia : http://pl.wikipedia.orh/wiki/Maria_Wys%C%82 ouchowa

Picture Source:

Description: Maria Wysłołuchowa

Date: before 1939

Author: unknown

Source: Wincenty Witos “ Moje wspomnienia” Warszawa 1988

ISBN-83-205-3497-6; ISBN -83-205-3498-4

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