Carpatho-Rusyns are one of the major ethnic groups of Pennsylvania. From the time they settled the state’s small towns and cities in the late 1870s until the present time, Carpatho-Rusyns have left an indelible mark on the state, and their story should be told. This blog is about a project that will do just that. Read more

Monday, June 16, 2014

Research Sources

While the sources of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant history are many, the most significant holdings are concentrated in just a few institutions. Some other institutions have much smaller but no less important collections. The archives and major libraries I have visited in the course of this project include the following:
(A number of valuable materials in these institutions are classified not as Carpatho-Rusyn or Ruthenian, but Ukrainian or Russian.)

I am indebted to the staff and curators of these institutions and to those who collected and deposited the materials over many decades, and who welcomed me in some cases as many as on seven different occasions.

Additional valuable sources include the following.
  • Naturalization documents:
    • County courthouses (Cambria, Carbon, Clearfield, Indiana, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill)
  • Census records -,, etc.
  • Immigration records (ship manifests) -
  • Incorporations/charters of churches, ethnic clubs, and fraternal lodges - mainly in county courthouses
pyrohÅ·-making in Jessup, mid-1900s
Many pastors of the various parishes have been very helpful in allowing me to go through parish archives of photographs and books, and of course granting me access to metrical records (which I will write about in a separate post).

And I am grateful to those individuals who made their own substantial – and unique – holdings of relevant materials available to me:
  • Joel Brady
  • David Felix
  • +Joseph Krawczeniuk
  • Paul R. Magocsi
  • John Schweich
  • Anthony X. Sutherland
  • John Uram
  • and others.
Thanks is due to many other folks who have helped me through the years by hosting me in their homes, donating or loaning materials, contributing research, and in innumerable other ways.

Original material is © by the author, Richard D. Custer; all rights reserved.


  1. Hi Rich, looks like a great project. Please don't forget Windber PA and the Berwind White Coal Company. Many Rusyns immigrated to this wonderful little town, including my gps. The coal museum is now closed but the Windber Historical Society Museum has a good bit of information. I've also always wondered about my childhood church, Sts Cyril & Methodius Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, Scott Ave, Jeannette, PA. I always wondered why it had both "types" of church listed in its name. Best wishes, Mary Kay Radnich

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Mary Kay. Absolutely Windber and Jeannette have wonderful stories to tell and will receive detailed treatment.

      As to "Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic," there are several explanations about that. One is that this term fully expressed what the Russian Orthodox Church saw itself to be -- also Catholic (not Roman Catholic sense), and also Greek (but not ethnically Greek). The Russian Orthodox Church in America, experiencing explosive growth in the late-19th/early-20th century due to Greek Catholics (mainly Carpatho-Rusyns) joining/converting, added "Greek Catholic" to its official name in 1900 probably to indicate that it saw itself as the proper home for "Greek Catholics," that in conversion these people were not abandoning that identity, but "fulfilling" that, as the case may have been. It could also have been a response to the few court cases that had already played out in a few communities contesting the ownership of parishes chartered as "Greek Catholic" but which transferred (or tried to) over to the Russian Orthodox Church. As to whether a given parish chartered itself as "Russian Orthodox" or "Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic," neither was more than the other a sign of a parish being of Rusyn origin. It was more whichever name better corresponded to the prevailing usage of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S. at the time.

  2. Hi Rich. I caught the second half of your lecture this afternoon in Hermitage, PA. My paternal grandmother worshiped at the SS Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox and Greek Catholic Church in Goodtown, PA in Somerset County. She lived at the top of the hill across from the Popovich farm. I was wondering if you had any info on the members of that congregation. My dad and all his siblings are gone now and all I have are a few articles written by David Hay when he interviewed my uncle Frank Drabish, along with stories passed on to me. I also have some photos of the interior of that church when I visited it in 2003. Before that, I had only been in the church in 1970 for my grandmother's (Mary Drabish's) funeral, and then in 2015 for the Sunday liturgy when I attended my cousin John Drabish's labor day weekend reunion. Will any info on this church be included in your project? Thanks so much for all your work. Debbie (Drabish) Romesberg, Akron, OH

    1. Hi Debbie, that's great! I will absolutely be writing a chapter on Goodtown / Pine Hill and the community around Ss. Peter & Paul Church and would love to see what materials you have. When I went there the first time back in the 1990s a Mr. Popovich let me into the church to take photos. I returned in 2015 to photograph the parish cemetery and take some fresh pix of the church amidst its picturesque surroundings.

    2. While I have yet to study the metrical records of the parish (that's pending, whenever I find a good weekend to go back to that part of PA), I have much earlier data on the Rusyn settlers of Goodtown/PH from the records of St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church in Windber, whether the priest from there traveled to Goodtown to baptize/marry folks or they actually made the journey to Windber.
      If I recall correctly (away from my data at the moment) most of them came from the village Stuposiany and vicinity in far SE Poland.
      Stuposiany area on Google Maps


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