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Tatra Production Company records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: IHRC2585


The Tatra Production Company, New York, was created to produce a film based on the life of Ignacy Paderewski. Records (1919-1920) consist of correspondence, minutes, and stock certificates. Also included are a photograph of Rose G. Szewc and a manuscript entitled "Reflections on Friendship" and signed "Rozanski".

This collection contains material solely from April to October, 1919. The one exception to this is the contract signed between Peter Weir and Ignace Paderewski in September, 1918. The collection consists of three series: minutes, correspondence and financial records. Because of the deterioration of some of the material in this collection, a few of the pages were photocopied. The originals are kept in an envelope in the back of the box. Information pertaining to two of the key individuals associated with the Tatra Production company can be found in the papers of Rose Szewc and Clement Rozanski, also housed at the IHRCA.


  • 1919-1920


Language of Materials

English and Polish


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.


Tatra Production Company, located in New York City, was founded in the spring of 1919 and probably remained in business through the following October. The orginal goal of the company was to produce a film entitled the ”Paderewski the Liberator,” depicting scenes from the newly independent Poland, including some of Premeir Ignace Paderewski. Frank O. Johnson served as president of the company for the first five months. Other board members included A.W. Rusin; Henry Sieminski, Vice-President; Dr. A.V. Pikorski, Treasurer; and Rose Szewc, Secretary. Samuel H Kaurman and C.F. Rozanski both served as attorneys for the company.

The organization began as a result of a contract entered between Peter Weir and Ignace Paderewski, signed in September, 1918. This contract called for the production of a film about Paderewski’s life, featuring clips of the Premier himself. Soon after Paderewski left New York, first for California, and then on to Poland. Having no money, Weir attempted to promote the film to various companies. One such attempt was directed at E.F. Efrus, who was at the time in posession of a film entitled The Fall of Danzig. He wanted to include with it shots portraying more recent events of Poland. Frank O. Johnson, a friend or relative of Weir’s, then returned to the U.S. from France. Johnson agreed to put up money for the Paderewski film, and a partnership resulted between Johnson, Weir and Efrus.

Johnson and Weir decided they would prefer working without Efrus, and offered to buy out his share, to which Efrus consented. Johnson was in charge of the production of the picture, while Weir held the contract with Paderewski and would do the promotion. Johnson, with the help of Szewc as secretary, organized the company, recieving money from various investors. On 4 April 1919, the Board of Directors met for the first time, and produced the by-laws for the company.

The board members continued to meet bi-monthly or monthly. In late April, Johnson left for Europe to begin actual filming. He was accompanied by Joseph Seiden, director and photogrpher. Originally, a separate photographer, Isadore Gold, was to accompany them. However something occured between Gold and the company, culminating in Tatra Productions paying her in an out of court settlement.

According to later testimony, Johnson reported false use of company money, claiming more expenses than he actually used on the film. Seiden also stated that Johnson acted irresponsibly and spent too much time drinking. Paderewski, they learned after a few weeks in Paris, would not consent to be filmed, feeling it was beneath his dignity as a head of state. As a substitute, Johnson and Seiden photographed shots of the work of the American Relief Administration and other scenes from around Europe.

Meanwhile, the board of members, including Rozanski and Kaufman, continued to meet to discuss events at home. Weir attended a meeting, to discuss plans for publicity of the Paderewski film. His idea was to use the Fall of Dantzig clip for publicity, touring the country to various theatres, gaining attention and recognition which would be useful for the future success of the main film. The other board members were not at all pleased with that suggestion, disiring that the clip be used in the Paderewski film. They refused to allow Weir to use the Dantzig clip ahead of time, and stated that they would have a restraining order put out on its use if he tried. When Johnson returned, without the Paderewski clip, the board decided to try to sell most of the footage of film they had, and Johnson wrote to various potential buyers in an attempt to interest them.

In the end, Johnson himself did not close any deals with other film agencies. He eventually disappeared in early September, and no record of him exists in later papers. He was replaced as President by Sieminski. The board did sell about 4000 feet of film to a Lithuanian organization, and approximately 200 feet to the International Film Services. The last board meeting discussed plans for the completion of the Polish film, to be finished with the help of Mr. W. Wusza. No records follow this meeting, and it would appear that the company folded soon after.


5 linear inches

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was acquired from Frank Newton in November, 1976.


Related collections at the IHRC Archives are: Papers of Rose G. Szewc and Papers of Clement F. Rozanski
Inventory of the Tatra Production Company records.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area