Hungarian Americans

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by Steven Béla Várdy and Thomas Szendrey


Hungary is a small landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe. It is about the size of Indiana (35,919 square miles, or 93,030 square kilometers) with twice the latter's population. It is bounded by Slovakia in the north, Ukraine in the northeast, Romania in the east, the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia) in the south, and Austria in the west.

Hungary is inhabited almost exclusively by Hungarians (Magyars), who constitute 96.1 percent of its population. The remaining 3.9 percent is made up of Germans, Slovaks, South Slavs, Gypsies, and Romanians. Since the dismemberment of Greater Hungary after World War IIcomplemented by several waves of overseas emigration about one-third of all Hungarians live abroad. The majority of them live in parts of former Greater Hungary in such newly created or enlarged neighboring states as Romania (more than two million), Slovakia (700,000), the former Yugoslavia (500,000), Ukraine (200,000), and Austria (50,000). Another two million reside in Western Europe, the Americas, and Australiathe majority of them in the United States.

According to statistics compiled in 1992, 67.8 percent of Hungarians are Catholic, 20.9 percent Calvinist (Reformed), and 4.2 percent Lutheran (Evangelical). The three religious groups together make up 92.9 percent of the population. Of the remaining portion, 2.3 percent belong to several minor denominations (Greek or Byzantine Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Baptist, Adventist), while 4.8 percent claim no religious affiliation. Jews, who in 1941 constituted 4.3 percent of Hungary's population, do not show up in these statistics. This is in part because the Holocaust or subsequent emigration to Israel decimated their ranks and in part because of the reluctance of some to identify themselves as Jews. Learned estimates, however, put their numbers close to 100,000 (about one percent of the country's population), which still makes them the largest Jewish community in East Central Europe. As the result of half a century of communist rule, relatively few people practice their religion in Hungary. The religious revival following the collapse of communism, however which includes the return of organized religious educationis in the process of changing this lack of attention to religion.


Medieval Hungarian traditions count even the fifth-century Huns among the Magyars' ancestors, but their immediate forebears arrived in the Carpathian Basin as late as the seventh century. Known as the "late Avars," they established the center of their empire in the region that is part of modern Hungary. The last of several Magyar migratory waves took place in the late ninth century, when under the leadership of Prince Árpád, they conquered this region, gradually extending their rule over the entire Carpathian Basin.

In a.d. 1000, one of Árpád's successors, Stephen I (king of Hungary 997-1038; canonized 1083) Christianized his people and made Hungary part of the Western Christian world. During the next four centuries, the Hungarians continued to expand beyond the Carpathian Basin, especially into the northern Balkans. At the end of the eleventh century they conquered and annexed Croatia as an autonomous kingdom, while in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries they extended their influence over Bosnia, Dalmatia, and northern Serbialargely at the expense of the declining Byzantine Empire. Moreover, in the fourteenth century, under the Angevin rulers Charles Robert (who ruled from 1308 until 1342) and Louis the Great (who ruled from 1342 to 1382), they expanded their control over the newly formed Vlach (Romanian) principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia and for a brief period (1370-1382) even over Poland. With the expansion of the Ottoman Turkish Empire into the Balkans in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Hungarian influence over the northern Balkans declined and was replaced by that of the Turks. Even so, Hungary still experienced moments of greatness, particularly under Regent John Hunyadi (who ruled from 1444 to 1456) and his son King Matthias Corvinus (who ruled from 1458 to 1490). Matthias even conquered Moravia and eastern Austria (including Vienna) and also established a brilliant Renaissance royal court at Buda (now part of Budapest).

Medieval Hungary's greatness ended with its defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Turkish conquest was followed by the country's trisection, which lasted for nearly two centuries. Western and northwestern Hungary ("Royal Hungary") became part of the Habsburg Empire ruled from Vienna; central Hungary was integrated into the Ottoman Turkish Empire; and eastern Hungary evolved into the autonomous principality of Transylvania, whose semi-independence under Turkish suzerainty ended with the country's reconquest and reunification by the Habsburgs of Vienna in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Although dominated by Vienna throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hungary retained considerable autonomy within the Habsburg Empire. In the mid-nineteenth century the Habsburgs and the Hungarians clashed in the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence (1848-1849), and two decades later they united in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. This compromiseengineered by Francis Deák (1803-1876) and Emperor Franz Joseph (who ruled from 1848 to 1916)resulted in the dual state of Austria-Hungary, which played a significant role in European power-politics until nationality problems and involvement in World War I on the German side resulted in its dissolution in 1918-1919.

The demise of Austria-Hungary was accompanied by the dismemberment of historic Hungary, codified in the Peace Treaty of Trianon in 1920. This treaty turned Hungary into a small truncated country, with only 28.5 percent of its former territory (35,900 square miles versus 125,600 square miles) and 36.5 percent of its former population (7.6 million versus 20.9 million). Trianon Hungary became "a kingdom without a king" under the regency of Admiral Nicholas Horthy (who ruled from 1920 to 1944), who devoted most of the country's energies to the effort to regain at least some of Hungary's territorial losses. These efforts did result in temporary territorial gains in 1938-1941, but as these gains were achieved with German and Italian help, they landed Hungary in the unfortunate German alliance during World War II.

After the war Hungary again was reduced in size and became one of the communist-dominated Soviet satellite states under the leadership of the Stalinist dictator, Mátyás Rákosi (who ruled from 1945 to 1956). Communist excesses and the relaxation that followed Stalin's death in 1953 led to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the most significant anti-Soviet uprising of the postwar period. Put down by Soviet military intervention, it was followed by a brief period of retribution and then by a new communist regime under János Kádár (who ruled from 1956 to 1988), who initiated a policy of political liberalization (1962) and economic reform (known as the New Economic Mechanism of 1968). By the 1970s these reformssupported by generous Western loansmade Hungary and its system of "goulash communism" the envy of the

"W hen we were getting off of Ellis Island, we had all sorts of tags on us. Now that I think of it, we must have looked like marked-down merchandise in Gimbel's basement store or something."

Anna Vida in 1921, cited in Ellis Island: An Illustrated History of the Immigrant Experience, edited by Ivan Chermayeff et al. (New York: Macmillan, 1991).

communist world. In the 1980s, however, the system began to flounder, and economic problems resurfaced. These problems, together with Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union, undermined the Kádár regime. Kádár was ousted in 1988, and in 1989 Hungary came under the control of reform communists, who, unable to control the situation, relinquished power in 1990. They were replaced by a new multiparty government under the leadership of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (HDF), headed by József Antall (who ruled from 1990 to 1993). The HDF regime immediately began to transform Hungary from a communist to a democratic state, but the economic and social problems it encounteredrapid social polarization, the collapse of the protective social welfare system, and pauperization of a large segment of the societyproved to be too much. The HDF government was also plagued by amateurism in leadership. Voted out of office in May 1994, it was replaced in July of the same year by a coalition of the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Federation of Free Democrats. The new prime minister is the ex-Communist Gyula Horn (1932 ), who had served as Hungary's foreign minister during the peaceful transition from communism to democracy in 1989-1990.


According to Hungarian tradition, the first Hungarian to reach the shores of America was a certain Tyrker who had arrived with the Viking chief Eric the Red around a.d. 1000. This is alleged to have happened concurrently with Stephen I's transformation of Hungary into a Christian kingdom. If the Tyrker story is discounted, the first documented Hungarian to land in America was the learned scholar Stephen Parmenius of Buda (c. 1555-1583), who participated in Sir Humphrey Gilbert's expedition in 1583 and later drowned off the coast of Newfoundland.

The next two and one-half centuries belonged to the explorers, missionaries, and adventurers who came to North America in increasing numbers during the colonial and early national periods. The most noted among the latter was Colonel Michael de Kováts (1724-1779), a member of the Pulaski Legion during the Revolutionary War, who is generally credited with being one of the founders of the American cavalry. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth century also saw the arrival of the first sporadic settlers, most of whom came from the middle and upper classes, were motivated by personal reasons to immigrate, and usually settled in such coastal cities as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and New Orleans. In the 1830s and 1840s came a number of learned travelers, including Sándor Bölöni-Farkas (1795-1842) and Ágoston Haraszthy (1812-1869), both of whom wrote influential books about their experiences in the New World under the identical title Journey to North America (published in 1834 and 1844, respectively). In 1844 Haraszthy returned permanently with his family and became the founder of California viti-culture. The two decades prior to the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 also saw the initial scholarly contacts between the Hungarian Academy of Science and the American Philosophical Society.

The long period of individual migration was replaced in 1849-1850 by the first Hungarian group immigration to America. These were the so-called "Forty-niners," who emigrated to escape retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Several thousand strong, the numbers included only educated men, many of them from the gentry class (middle nobility), who found it difficult to adjust to America's frontier society. A large number of them joined the Union armies during the Civil War, and a few of them returned to Hungary during the 1860s and 1870s, but most of them became a part of American society. Many of the latter rose to important positions, usually in fields other than their original calling.

The next wave was the turn-of-the-century "Great Economic Immigration" that landed about 1.7 million Hungarian citizens, among them 650,000-700,000 real Hungarians (Magyars), on American shores. These immigrants came almost solely for economic reasons, and they represented the lowest and poorest segment of the population.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 halted mass migration, while the exclusionary U.S. immigration laws of 1921 and 1924 pushed the Hungarian quota down to under 1,000 per year. This situation did not change until the new Immigration Law, the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, ended the quota system. Yet, during the intervening four decades, there were a number of nonquota admissions, which brought completely different types of Hungarian immigrants to American shores. These included the refugee intellectuals (2,000 to 3,000) of the 1930s, who were fleeing the spread of Nazism; the post-World War II political immigrants or the so-called displaced persons or DPs (17,000), who came under the Displaced Persons Acts of 1948 and 1950; and the "Fifty-sixers" or Freedom Fighters (38,000), who left Hungary after the failed Revolution of 1956. Although the combined numbers of these last three groups (60,000) were less than 10 percent of that of the turn-of-the-century economic immigrants, their impact on American society was much more significant.


Although the turn-of-the-century economic immigrants were from rural areas, almost all of them settled in the industrial cities and mining regions of the northeastern United States. According to one set of statistics, of all the Hungarians (Magyars) in the United States in 1920, fewer than 0.2 percent were engaged in agriculture. Virtually all of them worked in mining and industrymost of them in the unskilled or semiskilled category. This was primarily because the majority of them came to America not as immigrants but as migrant workers who intended to repatriate to Hungary. Their goal was to return with enough accumulated capital to be able to buy land and thus become prosperous farmers. To do this, however, they had to work in industry, where work was readily available, because during the Gilded Age the rapidly expanding American industrial establishment was in grave need of cheap immigrant labor.

Most of the immigrants were never able to fulfill their original goal of repatriation, although perhaps as many as 25 percent did return permanently. Factors contributing to this included their inability to accumulate the capital to buy enough land; the difficulties they encountered in readjusting to Hungary's class-conscious society; the influence of their American-born children who viewed Hungary as an alien land; and most important, Hungary's post-World War I dismemberment, which transferred the immediate homelands of most of the immigrants to such newly created states as Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia or to the much-enlarged Romania. They did not wish to join the ranks of Hungarians who had been forcibly transferred to these states, two of which had gone out of existence twice since their creation (Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia) and one of which had become the home base of postwar Europe's most oppressive and chauvinistic communist regime (Romania).

According to the 1920 U.S. Census, 945,801 persons in the United States either had been born in Hungary or had Hungarian-born parents, slightly over half of whom (495,845 or 52.9 percent) were Magyars. In 1922 the Hungarian-born Magyars numbered 474,000, of whom 427,500 (90 percent) were concentrated in 10 northeastern states: New York (95,400), Ohio (88,000), Pennsylvania (86,000), New Jersey (47,300), Illinois (40,000), Michigan (26,200), Connecticut (14,800), Wisconsin (11,600), Indiana (10,900), and West Virginia (7,300). They congregated in this region because of the coal mines of Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, and southeastern Ohio, as well as because of the steel mills, textile mills, and machine factories of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Youngstown, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Greater New York area.

This settlement pattern remained unchanged until the 1960s whenpartially because of the coming of the more mobile political immigrants, and partially because of the general population shift in previous decadesmany Hungarians began to move to the West and to the South. The younger and more daring souls flooded to California and Texas, while the retirees favored Florida. Thus, by 1980 the Hungarian population of these states rose, respectively, to 165,000, 28,000, and 90,000.


The relationship of the Hungarians to Anglo-American society varied with the diverse waves of immigrants. The Forty-niners, also known as the "Kossuth immigrants" (after the leader of the revolution, Lajos Kossuth), had been received with awe and respect. Because of their gentry-based background and education, they established the image of the Hungarians as a "nation of nobles." This image was undermined by the turn-of-the-century economic immigrants, the majority of whom were poor and uneducated. They were the ones who unwittingly created the negative "Hunky" image of Hungarians, which then was transferred to all of the East and Southeast European immigrants. This image survived well into the post-World War II period, even though by that time the intellectual immigrants of the 1930s and the political immigrants of the 1950s began to diversify the immigrants' social composition. Although far fewer in number, these newer immigrants were the ones who gave birth to the revised Hungarian image that Laura Fermi, the author of the highly praised study Illustrious Immigrants (1968), defined as the "mystery of the Hungarian talent." This was a natural by-product of the fact that many of these intellectual and political immigrants made impressive achievements that had a measurable impact on American society.


Cultural survival and relationship to Hungary are prominent issues for some Hungarian Americans. The third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation descendants of the economic immigrants have already melted into American society. Most of them have lost their ability to speak Hungarian and no longer have a true identity of themselves as Hungarians. Most have only a minimal acquaintance with modern Hungary and know very little about Hungarian traditions. This is somewhat true of the post-World War II immigrants as well, even though a sizable percentage of their American-born offspring does speak Hungarian and has some knowledge of Hungarian culture. Moreover, in light of the collapse of communism in 1989-1990, a significant number of them have found their way back to the land of their ancestors. This was and is being done largely in the form of employment with some of the major American or Western European corporations that have established branches in Hungary. This temporary return does create a set of new ties, but because of the radical transformation of Hungarian society during the four decades of communist rule, the experience is not always positive.

Despite renewed contacts with the homeland, Hungarian Americans are losing their struggle to survive as a separate ethnic group in America. This is evident both in their declining numbers, as well as in the decreasing number of their ethnic institutions, churches, cultural organizations, and fraternal organizations. This phenomenon is best seen when comparing the census statistics of 1980 with those of 1990. The number of those who claimed to be fully or primarily Hungarian during those two census years has declined by nearly 11 percent (from 1,776,902 to 1,582,302), while the number of those who speak primarily Hungarian in their families has dropped by almost 18 percent (from 180,000 to 147,902). During the same period Greater Pittsburgh alone lost about half a dozen Hungarian churches; the remaining ones are struggling for survival. The same fate befell Hungarian cultural and social organizations of western Pennsylvania, few of which are active today. This trend appears to be equally true for the entire Northeast, embracing the above-mentioned 10 states. It should be noted here, however, that this decline is not as evident in California and Florida, which experienced a rapid growth of Hungarians from the 1960s through the 1990s. More recently, however, even California experienced a 3.5 percent decline in its Hungarian population (from 164,903 to 159,121), and Florida gained 11.4 percent only because of its extreme popularity with retirees (from 89,587 to 99,822).

Acculturation and Assimilation

Notwithstanding earlier immigrations, the Hungarian presence in the United States was established by the large mass of rural immigrants in the three decades before World War I. These immigrants fostered their Hungarian identity and a sense of community because of their social, cultural, and psychological needs and also because of Anglo-American society's unwillingness to accept them. The same cannot be said of their American-born children, who tended to assimilate at a rapid pace. They were driven by the socioeconomic drawing power of American society, as well as by their own conscious desire to separate themselves from the world of their simple immigrant parents. Most of them managed to move up a notch or two in social status, but perhaps for this very reason many of them also left the ethnic communities founded by their parents. Their efforts to assimilate, however, were not fully successful, for although native born, they were still viewed as outsiders by the Anglo-American majority.

The situation changed significantly with the second native-born generation, whose rise to adulthood coincided with the birth of the "ethnic revolution" of the 1960s. Their embracing of this revolution led to the rediscovery of their ethnic roots. It was impeded, however, by their inability to speak Hungarian and by the gradual disintegration of viable Hungarian ethnic communities, a disintegration that began precisely at the start of this ethnic revolution. At present, most self-contained Hungarian American communities are in the process of final dissolution. A few of their cultural and religious institutions still exist, but they serve only the needs of the older generation, and very briefly those of some of the new arrivals. This dying-out process is best demonstrated in the institutional life of the oldest and largest Hungarian Catholic church and parish in the United States, St. Elizabeth of Cleveland (founded in 1892), where the ratio of burials to baptisms is nearly 20 to one.

The early twentieth century immigrants and their descendants provided the foundations of Hungarian American life, but their role and influence were much more limited than those of the later waves, who brought with them a high level of learning and a strong sense of historical and national consciousness. The latter were less prone to buckle under assimilative social pressures. Moreover, if they assimilated, they did so consciously. Most of them, however, retained a large degree of dual identity, which they also passed on to their second- and third-generation descendants. The latter usually moved rapidly into American professional and business circles andwith the exception of those in the vicinity of greater New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and Los Angeleswere forced to live outside the influence of their ethnic communities. Thus, they experienced their Hungarian identity in isolation. This sense of isolation has permeated the lives of most upward-moving professionals, especially since the 1960s. Consequently, their success or lack thereof in passing their traditions on to their offspring depended and still largely depends on their dedication to the idea of dual identity. But because relatively few had the time to deal with this issue, the next generation is rapidly losing its facility to speak Hungarian and along with it its true Hungarian identity.

American-born offspring of the various immigrant waves still practice some of their folk traditions, partially during social events held at their churches and social clubs, but mostly during major folk festivals and "Hungarian Days" that are still celebrated in such large centers of Hungarian life as New Brunswick, New Jersey; Pittsburgh; and Cleveland. Although declining in numbers, the quality of these major performances has actually improved in recent years because of closer contact with Hungary and Hungarian professionals.

Misconceptions about Hungary and the Hungarians abound in the United States, although this is much less true today than in the early part of the century when they were often misidentified as Mongols or Gypsies. This was due in part to American society's minimum knowledge about Central and Eastern Europe and in part to conscious distortions by politically motivated propagandists. Today, the situation has improved significantly because of the impact of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and because of the enhanced number and quality of publications about Hungary, produced mostly by the American-educated offspring of the political immigrants. This improvement, however, is more noticeable among the educated classes than among the general public.


Hungarian Americans generally celebrate three major national holidays: March 15 (Revolution of 1848), August 20 (Saint Stephen's Day), and October 23 (Revolution of 1956). These celebrations may combine patriotic and religious elements. There is no such thing as a specifically Hungarian American holiday, perhaps because the attention of most unassimilated Hungarian Americans is focused on the mother country.


Hungary has the highest suicide rate in the world (45-48 per 100,000). The factors connected with this suicide rate, however, appear to be limited to Hungarian society, and Hungarian Americans are no more prone to mental health problems than are other ethnic groups in the United States.

The Hungarian medical profession is of high quality, even though it does not have access to much of the modern equipment available in the United States. This does not prevent Hungarian physicians from being among the best educated, as is demonstrated by, among other things, the virtually nonexistent failure rate of Hungarian medical students on American medical examinations. This holds true both for Hungarians who have emigrated after their medical training in Hungary and Hungarian Americans who attend Hungarian medical schools and then return to take their examinations in the United States.


Hungarian is classified as a Finno-Ugric language and is part of the larger Ural-Altaic linguistic family. The most distinctive characteristic of these languages is that they are agglutinativethat is, words are extended into complex expressions through the use of prefixes and suffixes. One example will conveniently serve to illustrate. The meaning of a single word, szent (saint), can be changed by adding numerous prefixes and suffixes as follows (hyphens indicate the additions): szent-ség (sanctity), szentség-ed (your sanctity), szent-ség-ed-del (with your sanctity), szent-ség-eid-del (with your sanctities), meg-szent-ségel-és-ed (your sanctification), megszent-ség-telenít-hetetlen-ség-ed-del (with your ability to withstand desanctification).

The closest linguistic relatives of the Hungarians are the Finns and the Estonians, but the Hungarians are also distantly related to the Turkic peoples. This is due both to their common roots and to the renewal of contacts through the mixing of Finno-Ugric and Turkic tribes during the first nine centuries of the Christian Era.

Before the conquest of Hungary, the Hungarians had their own runic script. After their conversion to Christianity, they borrowed the Latin liturgical language and alphabet and adapted this alphabet to the phonetic properties of the Hungarian language. This was done by doubling up letters to represent a single sound: "cs" ("ch"), "gy" ("dy"), "ly" ("y"), "ny" (soft "n"), "sz" ("s"), "ty" (soft "t"), "zs" ("zh"), "dzs" ("dzh"); or by adding diacritical marks ("á," "é," "í," "ö," "õ," "ü," "ű"). In many instances the accent marks not only signify the pronunciation but also alter the meaning of the wordfor example: sor (row), sör (beer); bor (wine), bör (skin); sas (eagle), sás (sedge); szar (excrement), szár (stem). The meaning of a single word can be changed several times simply by adding or subtracting a diacritical markfor example: kerek (round), kerék (wheel), kérek (I am requesting), kérék (I have requested).

The English language has had an impact on how Hungarian Americans speak Hungarian. This was particularly true for the less educated immigrants, who readily mixed their simple Hungarian with working-class English. Thus, they rapidly developed a language of their own known as "Hunglish" (Hungarian English), which introduced English words into the Hungarian, but transformed them to fit Hungarian pronunciation and orthography: trén (train), plész (place), szalon (saloon), bedróm (bedroom), atrec (address), tájm (time), szendsztón (sandstone), gud báj (good-bye), foriner (foreigner), fandri (foundry), fanesz (furnace), bakszi (box), burdos (boarder), burdosház (boarding house), görl (girl), groszeri (grocery).

There was also a reverse version of Hunglish that may be called "Engarian" (English Hungarian), which adjusted the primitive English to the ears of the immigrants. The result was two hodgepodge languages that were barely comprehensible to Hungarians or Americans who did not speak both languagesfor example: Szé, miszter, gimi order, maj hen trók brók ! (Say, Mister, give me the order. My hand truck broke.). Such usage is no longer common, largely because the Americanized offspring of the turn-of-the-century immigrants have switched to English but also because the more educated post-World War II immigrants never really acquired it.


Common greetings are as follows (all words are pronounced with the accent on the first syllable): Jó reggelt ("yo reggelt")Good morning; Jó napot ("yo nahpote")Good day; Jó estét ("yo eshtayt") Good evening; Jó éjszakát ("yo aysahkaht")Good night; Kezitcsókolom ("kezeet choakholohm")I kiss your hand; Szervusz or Szerbusz ("servoos, serboos")Hello, Hi; Szia ("seeyah")Hi, Hello; Viszontlátásra ("veesoant-lahtahshrah")Good-bye, See you again; Isten áldjon meg ("eeshten ahldyoan meg")God bless you. Other popular expressions include: Boldog újévet ("bohldogh ooy-ayveth") Happy New Year; Kellemes húsvétot ("kellehmesh hooshvaytoth")Happy Easter; Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket ("kellehmesh karahchoanyi ünnepeketh") Merry Christmas; Boldog ünnepeket ("bohldogh ünnepeketh")Happy Holidays; Egészségedre ("eggayshaygedreh")To your health (spoken when toasting).

Family and Community Dynamics

After the early and predominantly male phases of economic immigration abated, Hungarian American immigrant communities assumed a traditional and stable family structure. By the 1920s, most immigrants had resolved to stay permanently in the United States. They established families, had American-born children, and became intimately involved in the social lives of their churches, fraternal societies, and cultural institutions that in the past served as their extended families. The structure survived almost intact into the 1960s, although with only limited participation by the political immigrants of the interwar and postwar periods. Unable to agree on a common platform with the earlier economic immigrants, the latter usually founded their own organizations and pursued their familial and social activities within these more politically oriented groups.

With the exception of the relatively few immigrants who came during the 1960s through the 1980smany of them from the Hungarian-inhabited regions surrounding Hungaryvery few Hungarians have ever received public assistance. Traditionally, accepting handouts has been perceived in Hungarian society as an admission of failure. This view was much less prevalent among the more recent immigrants, who had become accustomed to state assistance under the communist social system.

Immigrant life and ethnic experience in America transformed basic traditional patterns of family life, resulting in a hybrid set of customs. In terms of everyday existence, Hungarian family life conforms to American patterns, but with a greater emphasis on education. The role of women has been enhanced compared with the still male-dominated Hungarian model. Adjustment to American custom is also evident in the area of dating, marriage, and divorce. Until a generation ago, dating practices were very strict and circumscribed. More recently, they have loosened, as has the commitment to a lasting marriage. Thus, whereas a generation ago divorce among Hungarian immigrants was rare, today it is almost as common as it is for American society as a whole.

Philanthropic activities among Hungarian Americans tend to be aimed at specific groups of Hungarians. During the past three decades, these were oriented almost exclusively toward the Hungarian minorities in the areas surrounding Hungary. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, but these exceptions are usually connected with the philanthropic activities of the few super-rich, the best-known of whom is the billionaire investor George Soros.


Hungary has been a Roman Catholic country since its conversion to Christianity in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. This religious uniformity was shattered only in the sixteenth century, when Protestantism entered the country and spread, especially in its Calvinist form. After a century of intense struggle, Catholicism remained strong in the country's western and central regions, while Calvinism came to dominate its eastern regions. This Catholic-Calvinist rivalry was complicated somewhat by the presence of a significant minority of Lutherans (Evangelicals), Jews, Greek/Byzantine Catholics, and Unitarians, as well as by a few other small Christian sects. Yet, in spite of its losses to rival faiths, Roman Catholicism retained its dominant position as Hungary's only official "state religion" until the communist takeover in 1948.

The religious divisions in Hungary also came to be reflected in Hungarian American society. The Calvinists were the first to establish their pioneer congregations in 1891 in Cleveland and in Pittsburgh, to be followed in 1892 by the Roman Catholics (St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Cleveland) and in 1907 by the Lutherans (Cleveland). These early congregations soon sprouted scores of other Hungarian churches throughout the Northeast. As a result, by the 1930s Hungarian Americans had nearly 140 Calvinist, more than 60 Roman Catholic, and about ten Lutheran churches, as well as perhaps two dozen other prayer houses. Although the Calvinists had the greatest number of churches, their congregations were small, and as such they represented only one-third as many faithful as did the Roman Catholics.

Roman Catholics, Calvinists, and Lutherans together constituted slightly over 90 percent of all religious affiliations of Hungarian Americans. The other eight to ten percent was made up of smaller denominations including the Byzantine Catholics, Jews, Baptists, and Adventists. Because of their small numbers, however, none of the latter had more than a limited and passing influence on Hungarian American life.

The religious practices of Hungarian Roman Catholics and Protestants in the United States are basically identical to those of their coreligionists in Hungary and are also similar to the practices of their American counterparts. Although religious practices did not change after emigration, the social significance of the congregations and the position and the role of the parish priests and pastors under-went significant changes. In Hungary the religious congregations and their priests or ministers were supported by their respective mother churches through an obligatory religious tax. As a result these congregations were centrally controlled, with little or no input from the members of the congregations. This was particularly true of the Roman Catholic Church, which had retained its monarchical structure from the Middle Ages. Although Calvinist and Lutheran congregations did elect their pastors even in Hungary, the powers of the presbytery (church council) were much more limited than in the United States. This was true not only because of the somewhat authoritarian nature of traditional Hungarian society but also because the pastors did not depend on the financial support of their parishioners. In Hungary, therefore, it was the priests and the ministers who controlled the congregation, and not vice versa.

After emigration, this relationship changed significantly. Much of the control over church affairs slipped into the hands of the members of the church council. This change in the power relationship was due both to the lack of state support for religion and to the fact that now the members of the congregations were paying for the upkeep of their churches and their pastors.

Just as the role of the church leaders had changed, the function of the church had also changed. Traditionally, American churches have always combined religious and social functionsa phenomenon that was largely unknown in Europe. This American tradition was accepted by the immigrant churches, which consequently ceased to function solely as houses of prayer. They now also assumed the role of social clubs, where members of the congregation combined their search for spiritual salvation with an ongoing attempt to fulfill their earthly social needs. As such, immigrant churches lost some of the sanctity of their Old World counterparts.

The climax of Hungarian religious life in America was reached in the period between the 1920s and 1960s. By the 1970s, however, a process of slow decay had set in, which during the 1980s had accelerated to the point where several Hungarian ethnic churches were closing their doors every year.

During the past 100 years of Hungarian religious life in the United States, all denominations have been plagued by dissension, but none more so that the Hungarian Calvinist (Reformed) Church. Within the first quarter century after having taken root in America, this dissension has led to the establishment of several competing Calvinist denominationsa process that resulted in a new subdenomination as late as 1982. While some of these conflicts and fragmentations were of an ideological and administrative nature (e.g., their relationship to the mother church in Hungary), most of them were really the result of personal animosity among the clergy. American social practices make it easy for anyone to establish a new church, while personality conflicts and group squabbles often result in institutional divorces. At the moment Hungarian Calvinists are still divided into a half dozen rival and competing churches that are held together only by the awareness of their common roots and by their membership in the Hungarian Reformed Federation (HRF). Founded in 1898 as a fraternal association, the HRF also serves as a force of unity among Hungarian Calvinists.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Hungarian immigrants have been involved in all facets of American economic life, with the level of their employment depending for the most part on their social background. Those who came before the mid-nineteenth century were individual adventurers who were well prepared for all eventualities in the New World. Although few in numbers, most of those who stayed proved to be successful. Some of them became well-known merchants in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans, while others became well-respected professors at American universities. Whatever they did, they did it well, for they could rely on a good education and on the self-assurance common to well-born individuals.

To a large degree this was also true for the 3,000 to 4,000 Forty-niners who immigrated after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Belonging mostly to the gentry, they had no intention of becoming dirt farmers or laborers in America. They spread Hungary's image as the land of a valiant "noble nation," but only a minority were able to adjust to America's pioneer society. This was true even though a few of them also became involved in the establishment of Hungarian colonies in the West, such as László Újházy (1795-1870), a high-ranking official of the revolutionary government, who founded New Buda in Iowa in 1852. After trying their hands at many things, a thousand of the Forty-niners joined the Union armies in the Civil War, after which a good number of them went into diplomatic service or into various major business ventures in the West.

The next wave of immigrants came during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the intention of repatriating after four or five years with enough capital to make themselves into prosperous farmers. Few of them achieved this goal, and virtually all of them became unskilled or semiskilled workers in America's bustling industries. They were the peons of America's Gilded Age, who contributed their brawn to American coal mines and steel smelters, and who produced the mythical Hungarian American hero, Joe Magarac, who could bend steel bars with his bare hands.

Each of the next four immigration waves contributed to the abatement of this stereotype. These waves comprised the interwar "intellectual immigrants"; the post-World War II "political immigrants"; the Fifty-sixers; and finally the political-economic immigrants of the past four decades. Given their achievements in Europe, the intellectual immigrants moved immediately into the highest American intellectual and scientific circles and almost overnight created the myth of the uniqueness of Hungarian talent.

The political immigrants, or DPs, represented the military-legal-administrative leadership of interwar Hungary and had few transferable skills; thus, many of them were forced to engage in physical labor. Yet, their learning, cultural background, and personal bearing immediately revealed to their fellow American workers that they were of a different caliber. Many of them eventually did manage to transfer to white-collar work, although it was largely their American-educated children who moved up rapidly into the professions.

The Fifty-sixers differed from the DPs in their relative youth, orientation toward transferable technical and practical skills, and diminished cultural backgroundthe product of a decade of communist restructuring of Hungarian society. Yet they and the American-educated children of the DPs produced a class of professionals that penetrated all aspects of American scientific, scholarly, artistic, literary, and business life.

The final immigration wave began during the 1960s and is still going on today. It is characterized by a slow but gradual influx of professionals and professionally oriented individuals. During the 1960s through the 1980s, political persecution was the ostensible motive for their immigration. Since the collapse of communism, they have come as needed professionals.

According to a recent survey by the New York Times, Hungarians are not among the most highly regarded ethnic groups in America, but they are certainly among the most successful. They have also managed to eradicate the Hunky stereotype that was unwittingly transmitted by their less fortunate predecessors.

Politics and Government

The political activism of the Hungarians in America reaches back to the mid-nineteenth century, when Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894) visited the United States (1851-1852) and in a highly celebrated tour of the country urged Americans to intervene on behalf of defeated Hungary by supporting Hungary's struggle against Austria. Although the Hungarian statesman's presence created a veritable "Kossuth craze" in America, the results were disappointing. Despite its outward expression of sympathy, the U.S. government was unwilling to budge from its policy of isolationism. Although unsuccessful in its political aims, Kossuth's presence did create a positive image of Hungary, as well as stir up pro-Hungarian sentiment among the American public. The image and sentiment survived until the turn of the century. The final blow to the Kossuth-inspired image came during World War I, when Austria-Hungary sided with imperial Germany.

Although the Austro-Hungarian Empire disappeared and historic Hungary was dismembered after the war, anti-Hungarian sentiment resurfaced after Hungary's forced alliance with Italy and Germany during World War II. Following the war, Hungary came to be regarded as a Soviet satellite. The daring anti-Soviet uprising of 1956 once again stirred pro-Hungarian sentiment. The American image of Hungary has been improving ever since, both because Hungary was among the first of the Soviet-dominated nations to liberalize economically and politically during the 1960s and because of the increasingly sophisticated political activism of Hungarian American lobby groups.

Hungarians established several mutual aid societies in the second half of the nineteenth century, but not until 1906 did they create the first successful political organization, the American-Hungarian Federation (AHF), which is still in existence. The twin goals of the AHF were to protect the interests of the Hungarian immigrants and to promote the cause of Hungary in the United States. During the first decade of its existence, the AHF worked toward these goals in close cooperation with Hungary. During World War I, particularly after the United States entered the war on the opposite side, this task became impossible. Following the war the AHF proved unsuccessful in its efforts to influence American foreign policy on postwar treaties. Yet, during the interwar periodin conjunction with the largest Hungarian fraternal organizations (i.e., Verhovay, Rákóczi, Bridgeport, the Reformed Federation)it conducted a steady propaganda campaign to revise the unfair terms of the Treaty of Trianon (1920). This task became increasingly difficult during the late 1930s, when Hungary began to regain some of its former territory with the help of Germany and Italy.

The darkest and most difficult period in Hungarian political activism came during World War II, when the AHF and the major fraternal organizations were forced to defend Hungary's territorial gains while maintaining their support for the American war effort. To prove their loyalty to the United States, more than 50,000 Hungarians served in the U.S. armed forces, and all Hungarian American organizations bought U.S. defense bonds and made repeated declarations of allegiance. Toward the end of the war, they organized the American-Hungarian Relief Committee, whose members undertook a major effort to send aid to their devastated homeland, as well as to hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who had been trapped in German and Austrian refugee camps. Moreover, in 1948 and 1950, the AHF and the major Hungarian fraternal societies supported the passage of the two Displaced Persons Acts that brought almost 18,000 Hungarian political refugees to the United States.

The appearance of the post-World War II political immigrantsthe DPs during the early 1950s and the Fifty-sixers after the Revolution of 1956created a completely new situation. Much better educated and more involved politically than most of their predecessors, the newcomers created their own organizations. Some of the most vocal and active of these associations included the American branch of the Fraternal Association of Hungarian Veterans (1947), the Cleveland-based Committee for Liberation (1951), and the Hungarian National Committee (1948)the last of which was viewed by the U.S. government as a virtual government in exile.

The appearance of the Fifty-sixers added a new color to this political spectrum. Although a number of them joined existing DP organizations, many of them also founded their own associations. The most important of these was the Hungarian Freedom Fighter's Federation (1957), although very soon it was joined by others with nearly identical names. During the 1970s several minority-oriented organizations were created specifically to help the cause of the increasingly oppressed Hungarian minorities in the neighboring states. These included the Committee for Human Rights in Romania, the Transylvania World Federation, the Transylvanian Committee, and the Hungarian Human Rights Committee, all of which were especially concerned with the plight of the Hungarian minorities under the oppressive rule of the communist Ceauºescu regime in Romania.

From the late 1950s through the early 1980s, most of the nonminority-oriented organizations were concerned primarily with the liberation of Hungary and then with soliciting U.S. government help to undermine the communist regime. Throughout this period the politically active new immigrants had little concern for American domestic politics; their attention was turned to Hungary. Thus, after becoming citizens, they usually voted with the Republican Party, which they perceived to be tougher on communism. As opposed to them, the turn-of-the-century economic immigrants and their American-born descendants paid only lip service to Hungary. They were much more concerned with domestic politics, and with bread-and-butter issues, than with the problems of communism. Thus, they voted mostly Democratic.

The rise of a new generation among the political immigrants during the 1970s and 1980s also produced some changes. On the one hand, the American-born or American-educated members of the younger generations became involved in U.S. domestic politics in both political parties. On the other hand, they began to assume a much more realistic approach toward Hungary and its "goulash communism." Some of them assumed the leadership of the AHF and carried their pragmatism into its politics. While understandable, this act split the AHF and brought about the foundation of the National Federation of Hungarian Americans (NFHA) in 1984, and subsequently several rival organizations, including the very active and influential Hungarian American Coalition (HAC) in 1992.

The collapse of communism and the rise of a nationalist government under the Hungarian Democratic Forum (1989-90) produced a general euphoria among Hungarian Americans, and also an upsurge in their desire to help their homeland. The euphoria coincided with Hungary's unheard of popularity in the world for its role in undermining communism. This euphoria and popularity, however, did not last. The country's social and economic problems produced a general disillusionment that was also felt by Hungarian Americans, many of whose hopes also remained unrealized.

At present, most Hungarian Americans have become American citizens and are heavily involved in the political life of both U.S. political parties. At the same time they still display considerable interest in Hungary. Even though somewhat disillusioned with the way things are going in Hungary, they continue to pursue pro-Hungarian lobbying efforts through several umbrella organizations (AHF, NFHA, HAC), as well as through their presence in the U.S. Congress. The most visible and active among the Hungarian congressional representatives is the Fifty-sixer Tom Lantos (1928 ) from California (1980 ), who in recent years has become increasingly involved in Hungarian-related political activities.


Relative to their size as an ethnic group, more Hungarian Americans served in the Civil War than any other nationality. Of the approximately 4,000 Hungarians in the United States (including women and children) at the outbreak of the war in 1861, more than 800at least three-fourths of the adult male populationserved in the Union armies. Among them were two major generals, five brigadier generals, 15 colonels and lieutenant colonels, 13 majors, 12 captains, about four dozen first and second lieutenants, and scores of noncommissioned officers.

The most prominent of the officers was Major General Julius H. Stahel (1825-1912)known in Hungary before his emigration as Gyula Számvald. General Stahel became a close confidant of President Lincoln and the first Hungarian recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Among the nearly 1,000 Hungarians in the Union army was the young Joseph Pulitzer (1817-1911), who subsequently became the king of American journalism and the founder of the famous literary prize that bears his name.

Individual and Group Contributions

Following Hungary's dismemberment after World War I, many educated Hungariansengineers, physicians, sociologists, educators, and lawyers came to the United States to pursue their livelihood. In the 1930s their numbers were increased by those fleeing the spread of fascism in Central Europe. In this category were numerous internationally known scientists, social scientists, musicologists, artists, filmmakers, and other persons of unusual talent.


From the late nineteenth century, Hungarians have made important contributions to U.S. industry and finance. Two of the earliest entrepreneurs were the Black (Schwartz) and Kundtz families. The Black family founded a series of garment factories and department stores, while Tivador Kundtz (1852-1937) established the White Machine factory. These two families employed and aided thousands of fellow immigrant Hungarians.

Modern entrepreneurs include the billionaire financier George Soros (1930 ), who has played a significant role in the transformation of the former Soviet world through philanthropic efforts such as the establishment of the Budapest- and Prague-based Central European University; and Andrew Grove (born András Gróf; 1936 ), who as the founder and president of Intel Corporation created the world's largest manufacturer of computer chips.


Two Hungarians were influential in the development of the Hollywood film industry: Adolph Zukor (1873-1976), the founder of Paramount Pictures; and William Fox (1879-1952), the founder of Twentieth Century-Fox. Zukor and Fox transformed the stylish Biedermeier culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into the glamorous society portrayed in Hollywood film.

Other pioneers in the film industry included directors/producers Michael Curtiz (born Kertész; 1888-1962), Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956), George Cukor (1899-1983), and Joseph Pasternak (1901 ), as well as film stars Leslie Howard (born Árpád Steiner; 1893-1943), Bela Lugosi (1883-1956) of Dracula fame, Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; 1925 ), and the Gabor sisters, Zsa-Zsa, Eva, and Magda. In this category also belong the magician Harry Houdini (born Erich Weisz; 1874-1926) and comedian/television actor Freddie Prinze (born Freddie Preutzel; 1954-1977).


By the time the internationally known composers Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and Ernõ Dohnányi (1877-1960) emigrated in the 1940s, the American cultural scene was already peopled by such Hungarian composers as Fritz Reiner (1888-1963), George Szell (1897-1970), Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985), Antal Dorati (1906-1988), and Sir Georg Solti (1912 ). Hungarians were also present on Broadway in popular American musicals. The best-loved of them was Sigmund Romberg (1887-1951), who was perhaps the most successful transplanter of the Viennese and the Budapest operetta. Also significant was the contribution of Miklós Rózsa (1907 ), who worked with Sir Alexander Korda and wrote the music to some of the great American films.


Three Hungarians assisted Enrico Fermi with the breakthroughs in atomic fission that resulted in the development of the atomic bomb: Leo Szilard (1898-1964), Eugene Wigner (1902-1995), and Edward Teller (1908 ). Other major contributors are Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963), father of the heat and quantum theory; mathematician and father of the computer Johann von Neumann (1903-1957); and Zoltán Bay (1900-1992), the pioneer in radar astronomy.

George Pólya (1887-1985) and Gábor Szegõ (1895-1985) were responsible for making Stanford University one of the world's premier centers of mathematics. A much younger exponent of finite mathematics and its application, John George Kemény (1926 ) later became the president of Dartmouth College.

Other leading Hungarian scientists included the Nobel laureates Georg Karl Hevesy (1855-1966), Albert Szent-Györgyi (1893-1986), Georg von Békésy (1899-1972), and Dennis Gabor (1900-1979). The list also includes several members of the Polányi family: the social philosopher Karl Polányi (1886-1964), the physicist-philosopher Michael Polányi (1891-1976), as well as the latter's son, John Charles Polányi (1926 ), who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1986.



Amerikai-Kanadai Magyar Élet ( American-Canadian Hungarian Life ). Founded in 1959 as Amerikai Magyar Élet, this weekly has been under the control of Bishop Tibor Dömötör of the Free Hungarian Reformed Church since 1986.

Contact: Elizabeth Schmidt, Managing Editor.

Address: 2637 Copley Road, Akron, Ohio 44321.

Telephone: (216) 666-2637.

Fax: (216) 666-4746.

Amerikai Magyar Szó ( American Hungarian Word ).

Founded in 1952 as a successor to several earlier socialist newspapers, this is a leftist Hungarian weekly.

Contact: N. Petervary, Editor

Address: 130 East 16th Street, New York, New York 10003.

Telephone: (212) 254-0397.

Fax: (212) 254-1584

Californiai Magyarság ( California Hungarians ).

Founded in 1924 as a middle-of-the-road regional newspaper, it is now a national paper that has retained its moderate stance.

Contact: Mária Fényes, Editor and Publisher.

Address: 207 South Western Avenue, Suite 201, Los Angeles, California 90004.

Telephone: (213) 463-3473.

Fax: (213) 384-7642.

Hungarian Insights.

A quarterly publication that provides news and information on Hungarian culture, history, and business.

Contact: Lel Somogyi, Editor.

Address: 6020 Pearl Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44130.

Telephone: (216) 842-4651.

Hungarian Studies Newsletter.

Quarterly publication of the American Hungarian Foundation; publishes news of the Foundation as well as information for English-speaking scholars concerned with Hungarian studies.

Contact: August J. Molnar, Editor.

Address: American Hungarian Foundation, P.O. Box 1084, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903.

Telephone: (201) 846-5777.

Magyar Elet ( Hungarian Life ).

An independent weekly newspaper published in Hungarian and circulated throughout Canada and the United States.

Contact: Laszlo Schnee, Editor.

Address: 21 Vaughan Road, Suite 201, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 2N2.

Telephone: (416) 652-6370.

Fax: (416) 652-6370.

Magyarok Vasárnapja ( Hungarians' Sunday ).

Founded in Cleveland in 1894, for its first hundred years this paper was called Katolikus Magyarok Vasárnapja (Catholic Hungarians' Sunday ). Since the change in ownership in 1993, it has lost its religious character and has become the voice of populist nationalism.

Contact: Loránt Szász, Editor and Publisher.

Address: P.O. Box 4442, Thousand Oaks, California 91359.

Telephone: (818) 707-1548.

Fax: (818) 597-9867.

Szabadság ( Liberty ).

Published for the East Coast readership under the title Amerikai Magyar Népszava (American Hungarian People's Voice ), the two papers, which were founded in 1891 and 1899 respectively, were once rivals, but after the owner-editor of Szabadságbought its rival in 1949, they were gradually merged into a single paper under two different titles.

Contact: Eva Nadai, Editor; or, Judith Fliegler, English Editor.

Address: 8140 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44026-2441.

Telephone: (216) 729-7200.

Fax: (216) 729-7250.

Új Világ ( New World ).

Founded in 1971, this paper was a neutral middle-of-the-road weekly until the early 1990s, when it became the voice of the right wing.

Contact: Viktor K. Molnár, Editor and Publisher.

Address: 15005 South Vermont Avenue, Gardena, California 90247.

Telephone: (310) 719-1078.

Fax: (310) 719-8918.

William Penn Life.

Founded in 1965 to replace an earlier Hungarian-language version, Vehovayak Lapj (Verhovay News ), it is a small English-language monthly geared toward the William Penn Association, the largest Hungarian fraternal organization in America. Its influence is limited to its membership, which is made up largely of third- and fourth-generation descendants of the turn-of-the-century economic immigrants.

Contact: Elmer E. Vargo, Editor.

Address: William Penn Association, 709 Brighton Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233-1821.

Telephone: (412) 231-2979.

Fax: (412) 231-8535.


The Nationality Broadcasting Network

Located in Cleveland, this network broadcasts Hungarian programs everyday via satellite throughout North America.

Contact: Miklós Kossányi, President.

Address: 11906 Madison Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.

Telephone: (216) 221-0330.

Fax: (216) 221-3638.

Organizations and Associations

American Hungarian Federation (AHF) (Amerikai Magyar Szövetség [AMSZ]).

Founded in Cleveland in 1906, the AHF is the oldest umbrella organization of Hungarian Americans. After being based in Washington, D.C. from the 1940s to the 1970s, in the early 1980s it transferred its office to Akron. Following an internal controversy that resulted in the formation of the rival National Federation of American Hungarians in 1984, the AHF is now the second-largest Hungarian American umbrella organization, with about 55 member organizations. Like its rival organizations, it conducts lobbying activities on behalf of Hungarian causes.

Contact: Rev. Tibor Dömötör, President.

Address: 2631 Copley Road, Akron, Ohio 44321.

Telephone: (330) 666-1313.

Fax: (330) 666-2637.

American Hungarian Folklore Centrum (AHFC).

Supports and promotes Hungarian studies and folk culture within the scholarly and public life of America.

Contact: Kalman Magyar, Director.

Address: P.O. Box 262, Bogota, New Jersey 07603.

Telephone: (201) 836-4869.

Fax: (201) 836-1590.

E-mail: [email protected].


American Hungarian Reformed Federation (AHRF) (Amerikai Magyar Református Egyesület [AMRE]).

Founded in 1898, the AHRF is the second-largest and only religiously based Hungarian fraternal association in existence. It has about 20,000 members, and although it is now primarily an insurance company, it continues to support Hungarian cultural activities and also engages in some lobbying efforts on behalf of Hungarian causes.

Contact: George Dózsa, President.

Address: 2001 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20036-1011.

Telephone: (202) 328-2630.

Fax: (202) 228-7984.

Hungarian American Coalition (HAC) (Magyar-Amerikai Koalíció [MAK]).

Founded in 1992, the HAC is the most recent of the Hungarian umbrella organizations. Politically, it has a moderate-centrist, pragmatic orientation. It attempts to carry out an effective lobbying effort on behalf of Hungarian causes in Washington, D.C.

Contact: Edith Lauer, President.

Address: Suite 850, 818 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20006.

Hungarian Association of Cleveland (Clevelandi Magyar Társaság).

Founded in 1958 in Austria and transferred to Cleveland in 1952, the Hungarian Association has been the most influential organization of the post-World War II immigrants, or DPs. Since 1961 it has organized annual congresses (the proceedings of which are published in its yearbook Krónika ). In 1965 it sponsored the foundation of the Árpád Academy (Árpád Akadémi a) to recognize the scholarly, scientific, and artistic achievements of Hungarians throughout the world. In 1990 it was responsible for the establishment of one of the rival umbrella organizations of the American Hungarian Federation, the National Federation of Hungarian Americans (NFHA) (Magyar Amerikaiak Országos Szövetsége [MAOSZ]). The Hungarian Association of Cleveland and its member organizations are ideologically conservative, representing essentially the views of interwar Hungary. The HAC functions and publishes primarily in Hungarian.

Contact: Gyula Nádas, President.

Address: 1450 Grace Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44107.

Telephone: (216) 226-4089.

Hungarian Cultural Foundation (HCF).

Interested in preserving Hungarian cultural heritage in the United States and elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

Contact: Joseph Ertavy-Barath, President.

Address: P.O. Box 364, Stone Mountain, Georgia 30086.

Telephone: (404) 377-2600.

Hungarian Scout Association in Exile (HSAE) (Külföldi Magyar Cserkészszövetség).

Founded in 1947 in Germany and transferred to the United States in 1951, the HSAE is a worldwide organization, with well over a hundred scout troops, whose goal is to uphold the traditions of Hungarian scouting in the Hungarian language.

Contact: Gábor Bodnár, President.

Address: Post Office Box 68, Garfield, New Jersey 07026.

Telephone: (973) 772-8810.

Fax: (973) 772-5145.

National Federation of Hungarian Americans (NFAH) (Amerikai Magyarok Országos Szövetség).

Founded in 1984, as a splinter group of the much older American-Hungarian Federation, the NFAH has since grown into the largest umbrella organization of Hungarian Americans, with more than one hundred institutional members. Its primary function is to serve as a lobby group for Hungarian and Hungarian American causes in Washington, D.C., and to aid Hungary's transformation toward democracy.

Contact: László Pásztor, National President.

Address: 717 Second Street, N.E., Washington, D.C., 20002.

Telephone: (202) 546-3003.

Fax: (202) 543-8425; or, (202) 547-0392.

William Penn Association (WPA).

Founded in 1886, as the Verhovay Aid Association, the WPA is the largest Hungarian fraternal association in North America. It assumed its present name in 1955, when it absorbed its largest rival, the Rákóczi Federation of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Although primarily an insurance company, the WPA still sponsors certain Hungarian cultural functions. Recently, the WPA has transferred much of its archives and library to the Hungarian Heritage Center of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Contact: Elmer E. Vargo, National President.

Address: 709 Brighton Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233-1821.

Telephone: (412) 231-2979.

Fax: (412) 231-8538.

Museums and Research Centers

American-Hungarian Foundation (AHF), Hungarian Heritage Center.

Founded in 1955, the AHF has grown into a major Hungarian cultural foundation that operates the Hungarian Heritage Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In addition to its museum and visitors' center, the Hungarian Heritage Center possesses one of the largest collections of archival materials relating to Hungarian Americans, as well as one of the largest Hungarica libraries in the United States (40,000 volumes). The library is by far the best source of material on the Hungarian American past.

Contact: August J. Molnar, President.

Address: 300 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903-1084.

Telephone: (908) 846-5777.

Fax: (908) 249-7033.

Hungarian Chair, Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies, Indiana University.

Founded in 1979 within the confines of an internationally known Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies that developed during the 1950s, the Hungarian Chair is in charge of the only Ph.D.oriented Hungarian Studies program in North America. It draws heavily on the expertise of the other members of the department, as well as on Indiana University's multidisciplinary Russian and East European Institute and its strong library collection in Hungarian (25,000 volumes) and Russian and East European (200,000 volumes) material. It is in charge of organizing several conferences every year, as well as publishing books and periodicals in the field of Hungarian studies. The only other Hungarian chair in North America is at the University of Toronto and publishes the Hungarian Studies Review.

Contact: Hungarian Chair Professor.

Address: Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-2401.

Telephone: (812) 855-2223.

Fax: (812) 855-7500.

Hungarian Institute, Rutgers University.

Founded in 1992 with the financial support of the Hungarian government, the Hungarian Institute is in an early stage of development and at the moment is involved only in undergraduate education. It draws heavily on the intellectual and library resources of Rutgers University (Hungarica, 2,000 volumes), as well as on the library of the nearby American-Hungarian Foundation (Hungarica, 40,000 volumes).

Address: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903-5049.

Telephone: (908) 932-1367.

Fax: (908) 932-6723.

Institute of Hungarian Studies.

Integral unit of Indiana University Bloomington. Hungarian society and civilization, including contemporary economic and cultural affairs.

Address: Goodbody 233, Bloomington, Indiana 47405.

Contact: Gustav Bayerle, Director.

Telephone: (812) 855-2233.


Hungarian Reformed Federation Library and Archives, Bethlen Home.

The Bethlen Home is the center of American Hungarian Calvinism. Located about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, it houses an Old Age Home and the Archives of the Hungarian Reformed Church, including the papers of all dissolved congregations. The Bethlen Home also has a significant library of Hungarian American materials. The annual meetings of the Hungarian Reformed Federation (founded in 1898 and based in Washington, D.C.) also take place there, with the representatives of all Reformed congregations, irrespective of their current affiliations, in attendance.

Contact: The Reverend Paul Kovács, Director.

Address: P.O. Box 657, Ligonier, Pennsylvania 15658.

Telephone: (412) 238-6711.

Fax: (412) 238-3175.

Several North American libraries have strong Hungarica collections, the most noteworthy of which are: the Library of Congress (60,000 volumes); Columbia University (50,000 volumes); Indiana University (25,000 volumes); University of Chicago (25,000 volumes, including the newly acquired Szathmáry Library and Archives); Harvard University (20,000 volumes); Stanford University and the Hoover Institution (20,000 volumes); New York Public Library (20,000 volumes); University of Illinois (15,000 volumes); University of Toronto (10,000 volumes); Yale University (10,000 volumes); and at least another half dozen libraries with collections of between 5,000 and 10,000 volumes (Berkeley, Cornell, Duke, Notre Dame, UCLA, University of Washington).

Sources for Additional Study

Lengyel, Emil. Americans from Hungary. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1948; reprinted, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1974.

McGuire, James Patrick. The Hungarian Texans. San Antonio: University of Texas, Institute of Texan Culture, 1993.

Papp, Susan M. Hungarian Americans and Their Communities in Cleveland. Cleveland: Cleveland Ethnic Heritage Studies, Cleveland State University, 1981.

Puskás, Julianna. From Hungary to the United States, 1880-1914. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982.

Tezla, Albert. The Hazardous Quest: Hungarian Immigrants in the United States, 1895-1920. Budapest: Corvina, 1993.

Várdy, Steven Béla. Clio's Art in Hungary and in Hungarian-America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

. The Hungarian-Americans. Boston: Twayne, 1985.

. The Hungarian Americans: The Hungarian Experience in North America. New York and Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1990.

Várdy, Steven Béla, and Agnes Huszár Várdy. The Austro-Hungarian Mind: At Home and Abroad. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.