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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Genealogy Conference Presentation: "Uncovering and Publishing the History of Pennsylvania’s Carpatho-Rusyns"

The Carpatho-Rusyn Society Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter's second annual Rusyn Genealogy Conference: From Eastern Europe to America's Coal Regions was held Saturday, November 1, 2014 at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Speakers included:
  • Jim Kaminski (President of C-RS),
  • Tom Peters (genealogist),
  • Rich Custer (historian),
  • Dr. Peter Yasenchak (Director of research at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County), and
  • Jerry Jumba (Carpatho-Rusyn music, dance and culture specialist).
Yours truly gave a presentation, "Uncovering and Publishing the History of Pennsylvania’s Carpatho-Rusyns." I'm pleased to share information about the presentation, my handout for conference participants, and some of the slides.

This presentation will discuss the preparation of a history, in words and in pictures, of the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant communities in the state of Pennsylvania. Through the collection and research of chain migration data, parish histories, church and civil records, immigrant newspapers, photographs, oral histories, and memoirs, the author has amassed a collection of source material that he is assembling into the most comprehensive look at the history of Carpatho-Rusyn communities anywhere in the world.

Special focus will be given to the influence the pioneer Rusyn immigrant settlements in the anthracite region had on the development of Carpatho-Rusyn religious and cultural institutions statewide and nationwide, and the audience will hear powerful first-person accounts of the earliest days of Rusyn community life in the coal mining towns of the region.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

“No Such Thing as Greek Catholic Slovaks:” The GCU's Polemic

In my post "The Question of Slovaks and Magyars/Hungarians in the Story of Rusyn Pennsylvania" I included a passage from the 1902 almanac of the Greek Catholic Union of Russian Brotherhoods (today known simply as GCU). This passage, in the Eastern Slovak dialect of the "Slavonian" version of the almanac, presents arguments of history, and basic logic, against the existence in the then-Hungarian Kingdom (Austria-Hungary) of so-called "Greek Catholic Slovaks." For further interest, here is the entire portion of the article that deals with this topic, in the original language and in English translation. (Note: where the original text used an adjectival form of Rusyn with two s's, e.g., russky, one could translate it as Russian, Rusyn, or perhaps Ruthenian. However, since the forms rusky and rus'kyj -- the latter of which should only be translated as Rusyn or Ruthenian -- were not used at the time by the Greek Catholic Union, nor by most other Rusyn organizations in the U.S., and the text speaks about Rusini (Rusyns) and not Rossijane/Russkie (Russians) we have translated russky here as Rusyn. Furthermore, in this text itself, the author translated "lingua ruthenica" as jazyk russky. Also, the term slovacky applied to language here is translated as Slovak, while slovensky is rendered as Slavonic.)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Question of Slovaks and Magyars/Hungarians in the Story of Rusyn Pennsylvania

In describing my book, I state that it will be a comprehensive history of all the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant communities in Pennsylvania. Even though Carpatho-Rusyns – eastern Slavs from a defined territory, as discussed in an earlier post – had various names to describe themselves, or felt themselves part of neighboring peoples rather than a distinct Carpatho-Rusyn group, identifying them is straightforward enough… that is, until we reach the edges of the territory where they were clearly the dominant group.

At some edges, there are Slovaks, or people who spoke an eastern dialect of Slovak, yet were Greek Catholics (some who would later become Orthodox) and were generally integrated in one community with their East Slav, Rusyn-speaking, neighbors and fellow parishioners.

It is no secret that there are some communities in Pennsylvania and other states where the majority of a “Ruthenian” Greek Catholic parish originated in a today Eastern Slovak-speaking village or district (for example, the large number of settlers to Trenton and Roebling, N.J. from Trebišov, Zemplyn County). There is evidence that some of these people considered themselves Rusyns/Rusnaks, others “Slovjaks” (a more or less distinct group from Slovaks), or just Slovaks of the Greek Catholic faith. However, when considering the geographical origin of Russian Orthodox parishes’ members, very few from Slovak-speaking villages transitioned to Orthodoxy in this setting. It was only during the 1930s establishment of new Carpatho-Russian Orthodox parishes that a large number of people from these districts became Orthodox. Nevertheless, at a Slovak folk festival in Pittsburgh some years ago I overheard this exchange between two elderly ladies:
“Mary, I thought you were Carpatho-Russian.”
“No, Helen, I’m Slovak. Just my religion is Carpatho-Russian!”