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, August 26, 2023

"Inclusion of your Website in the Library of Congress Web Archives"

Last week I was surprised with this fascinating email from the Library of Congress:

To Whom It May Concern:

The United States Library of Congress has selected your website for inclusion in the Voices: Eastern and Central European Americans Web Archive, which is part of a larger collection of historically and culturally significant websites that have been designated for preservation. The following URL has been selected:

The Library of Congress or its agent will engage in the collection of content from your website at regular intervals over time. In order to properly archive the above URL, we may archive other portions of the website and public content that your page links to on third party sites such as social media platforms. In addition to the aforementioned collection, archived content from your website may be added to other relevant collections in the future. This content will be available to researchers at Library facilities and by special arrangement. It may also become more broadly available through hosting on the Library’s public website, which would be done no sooner than one year after it was collected. For more information on the web archiving process, please read our frequently asked questions.

The Library hopes that you share its vision of preserving digital content and making it available to current and future generations of researchers. As the internet has become an increasingly important and influential part of our lives, we believe the historical record would be incomplete if websites like yours are not preserved and made a part of it. We encourage you to learn more about the Library’s Web Archiving program and explore our collections to see examples of how we archive websites. [...]

Thank you.

Library of Congress Web Archiving Team

Well, for starters, I'm honored! I didn't even know such an entity as "Voices: Eastern and Central European Americans Web Archive" existed, which I'll have to dig into and see what else is there.

Also, here's a related LOC blog post from August 23, 2023:
Finding and Sharing Eastern European Voices

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

Saturday, August 5, 2023

A Mid-Year Review

Not the mid-year review that strikes dread into many a supervised employee the world over (or is that just me?)… just a long-overdue update on a few items of note from the past few months.

The good:

In late September I will be returning to the Pennsylvania State Archives, as a Scholar in Residence!

After visiting the Archives several times last year I learned of its Scholars in Residence Program and decided to apply. 

The Scholars in Residence Program supports short-term, full-time research and study in collections maintained by the Pennsylvania State Archives.

The Scholars in Residence Program has a four-fold purpose:

  • to promote the interpretation of Pennsylvania history;
  • to encourage research that draws upon the Pennsylvania State Archives' collections;
  • to promote the dissemination of research findings to both the professional community of scholars and the public; and
  • to develop collegial relationships between scholars and Archives' staff.

Proposals that address the State Archives’ interest in public policy, as well as those that focus on social history, the history of people underrepresented in the state’s historical record, including but not limited to minorities and women, are encouraged.

The Pennsylvania State Archives Scholars in Residence Program is made possible by the generous financial support of The Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation ( and the Pennsylvania Historical Association (

I applied for the grant in February. My project is titled:

Building Community and Identity in Pennsylvania’s Carpatho-Rusyn Immigrant Communities

and my application, which gave the background to my research and especially the value of naturalization documents and civil incorporation documents of churches, fraternal lodges, clubs, etc., included the following statement of work:

Sunday, January 15, 2023

C-RRC Summer Seminar 2022 on “Flavors of Rus- Identity” Among American Carpatho-Rusyns

After doing the kind of research I first undertook three decades ago, which had not been seriously undertaken as a comprehensive look at Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants as a whole rather than only at one particular church jurisdiction/confession or in the context of a neighboring group with whom they sometimes identified, naturally I would start to get invitations to speak at genealogy conferences, Carpatho-Rusyn educational seminars, and churches. Eventually my work was being noticed by some prestigious entities and I was able to participate in scholarly conferences and some similarly notable venues. As I described in my previous post, in 2022 I was given the opportunity to create and deliver two papers/presentations, to two different audiences but both being prestigious in their own way.

The first I gave on August 30, as part of the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center Summer Seminars series that continued the successful series of 2020 and 2021. The lineup was a mix of established professional scholars and Europe-based doctoral candidates; I suppose I fell somewhere in between, though the “independent” in “independent scholar” always suggested to me the idea of “lone wolf”!

  • Unlikely Brothers: Carpathian Mountain Brigands and American Superheroes
    Dr. Patricia Krafcik, Professor Emerita of The Evergreen State College
  • The Art of the Coal Region Renaissance: The Painter Anthony Kubek
    Dr. Nicholas Kupensky, Associate Professor at the United States Air Force Academy
  • Lemko Art as an Artifact of Memory
    Michał Szymko, Doctoral Candidate at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University
  • The Lemko Language as a Cure
    Anna Maślana, Doctoral Candidate at Jagiellonian University

These were all great and we eagerly await their availability on YouTube. (I’ll update this post with the links when they are available.)

My presentation, ‘We’re Russian, But Not High Russian’: Flavors of Identity Among American Carpatho-Rusyns, was based on my paper from the 2021 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) national convention in New Orleans. Freed from the strict 15-/20-minute constraints of reading a paper on a panel with 2 or even 3 other scholars, I was able to dig in a little more deeply and restore some of the passages I’d had to cut from the original paper.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Year 2022 in Review

The adage “time flies” gets more and more evident with each passing year. It’s already been more than a year since I last updated this blog. Which isn’t to say that year has been uneventful. I directed much of my online energy to posting to my Facebook and Instagram pages – I hope you’re also following those. If you are, some of what follows in this post will sound familiar.
On Memorial Day weekend, I spent some time in northeastern Pennsylvania. This would be my only “research trip” per se of 2022.  It was a research trip along the lines of those trips in the pre-pandemic years. However, having already finished most of the intensive research to be done in the region, I concentrated on polishing—taking fresh and hopefully much better photos of church interiors I originally photographed >20 years ago (with different tech and decidedly mixed results).
Some thoughts: in 2022 the number of Rusyn-founded church buildings from the immigrant era is still quite large, but those with what resembles their original interior are rather few. Icon screens have been replaced (or added, where there had never been one), stained glass windows that probably had very interesting donor inscriptions not in English have been replaced, and even original cornerstones have been removed or replaced.
Church interiors I photographed that weekend include:

  • St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, Luzerne Co.;
  • St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church, Scranton, Lackawanna Co.;
  • St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton;
  • St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton;
  • St. Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Scranton;
  • All Saints Orthodox Church, Olyphant, Lackawanna Co.

St. John's Byz. Cath. Church, Scranton
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Scranton
All Saints Orthodox Church, Olyphant

Clearly the primary stamp left on this region by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants and their descendants is these churches, and they are lovely and inspiring, even if today it appears that many of these congregations must struggle to maintain them.

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Year of Return to “Normal”

You might also call this blog “A Quiet Place.”

It’s been almost a year of no posts, a year of hope and loss, isolation and longing, procrastination and frustration, a year of figuring out how life can return to a normal we can work with.

Certainly much has been happening on the “Carpatho-Rusyns of PA” front, but I haven’t found the time or, unfortunately, motivation to write about it. Fortunately I’ve managed to keep my Facebook page alive with items of interest and even post occasionally to my still-new(ish) Instagram page.

Here are some worthwhile things that happened or are coming up soon. I do hope to do longer posts about them when time and life allow.

  • Early in the year I was contacted by a gentleman who is a media personality of some renown, who was looking for assistance exploring and documenting his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage. He hired me to produce a written narrative about his Lemko Rusyn immigrant great-grandparents and their “life and times” in northeastern Pennsylvania. As a follow-on to that, in mid-September I led him on a heritage tour of sorts through the towns and Rusyn communities in northern Schuylkill County in which the family lived, worked, and worshipped.

  • On August 24, 2021, we lost a dear friend when Professor John Kelnock of Marion Heights, Northumberland County, departed this world. Without his inspiration and unflagging help that began years and years ago, I doubt I would have done any of the things written about in this blog. John will be the subject of a much-deserved tribute in an upcoming post. May his memory be eternal – vičnaja jemu pamjat’!

  • After a year and a half of essentially no field work, no site or archive visits, I did make a research trip of a few very productive days over the Labor Day weekend. The highlights centered around places like Conemaugh, Lyndora, Curtisville, McKees Rocks, and Central City, plus I was very happy to attend the (this year abbreviated) Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mount Saint Macrina in Uniontown after a year's hiatus due to...well, you know. A good bit of that trip is worth a post.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Author Gives Presentation on Carpatho-Rusyn Fraternals to CGSI

On October 24, 2020, I was a presenter for the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International's (CGSI) Virtual Symposium. The theme was Czech and Slovak Fraternal Organizations, but I spoke on the related topic of Carpatho-Rusyn fraternals.

The full title of my talk was "Carpatho-Rusyn American Fraternal Organizations: Record Sources for Your Family History."

The talk was recorded and is available to CGSI members, but I'm happy to share a selection of my slides (click to enlarge).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Follow Us on Instagram!

Have you seen our Instagram account? We're @carpatho_rusyns_of_pa.

Take a peek, and follow us for new content, favorite content repackaged in an interesting way, and an eye on some of the visually striking aspects of Carpatho-Rusyn history in Pennsylvania.

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