by Marianne P. Fedunkiw
Ukraine is officially named Ukrayina, which means "borderland." After Russia, it is the second-largest country in Europe in area. It is comparable, both in population (about 52 million) and size (233,089 square miles) to France. It is bordered by the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, Moldova, and Romania to the south; Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west; Belarus to the north; and Russia to the north and northeast.
Of its population, 73 percent are of Ukrainian ethnic origin. The country's official language, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, is Ukrainian. The capital city is Kiev, and the national flag has two broad horizontal bands of blue and yellow, the blue on top representing the sky and the yellow representing fields of wheat.
Although most of western Ukraine is agricultural—it is a country that has served as the "bread-basket of Europe"—there are large petroleum and natural gas fields as well. Major industrial products include refined sugar, iron, steel, tractors, cement, glass, paper, and fertilizer.
The earliest evidence of human settlement in Ukraine dates back 150,000 years. Early inhabitants of the territory included the Balkans, the Cimmerians (the first nomadic horsemen to appear in Ukraine in about 1500 to 1000 b.c.), the Scythians (early seventh century b.c.), and colonies set up by the Greek Empire (by the fourth century b.c.).
The direct ancestors of Ukraine's population today were the Slavs. The Slavs made their way into the Balkans in the early seventh century A.D. By the middle of the ninth century, however, what was to become known as Kievan Rus was still relatively underdeveloped. Much of the ensuing progress is attributed to the Varangians (or Vikings or Normans) who visited Rus in the mid-ninth century.
Following the reign of Oleh, Prince Ihor, and then his wife Olha ruled. Olha took over leadership when her husband, Ihor, was killed and their son Sviatoslav was still too young to rule. Her influence was especially apparent years later when her grandson Volodymyr became prince. Olha had converted from paganism to Christianity in 955 and, with Volodymyr, is credited with bringing Christianity to a pagan land in 988.
The reign of Jaroslav the Wise (1036-1054) is often seen as the pinnacle in the history of Kievan Rus. Among his contributions were more than 400 churches in Kiev alone, and the establishment of Ruska pravda (Rus' Justice), the basic legal code of the country. Jaroslav's reign was followed by a period of relative decline, beginning with feuds among his sons and grandsons. Jaroslav divided his kingdom among his sons with the idea that the eldest hold a position of seniority in maintaining unity, but Kiev declined as the political and economic center of Ukraine as each principality lived almost autonomously. Eventually Kiev fell to the Mongols in 1240, under Ogodei Khan and Batu, the latter being the grandson of Genghis.
From the latter half of the thirteenth century until the sixteenth century, Ukraine fell under the rule of first Lithuania (Grand Prince Algirdas moved in to occupy Kiev in 1362) and then Poland, led by Casimir the Great (1310-1370). Ukrainians, or Ruthenians (from Rus', as they called themselves during this period), preferred to be ruled by the Lithuanians, who treated them as equals. In 1385, to consolidate power against a growing Muscovy, an alliance between Lithuania and Poland was struck. Thus, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were years of struggle to keep Ukrainian lands from Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania, as well as free of the boyars or noblemen who tried to take control. At the heart of many of these battles was religion—since Poland was overwhelmingly Catholic and even Lithuania converted to Catholicism in 1385, the Orthodox Ukrainians were effectively shut out.
The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were periods of recolonization in Ukraine, particularly in the provinces of Kiev and Bratslav. In 1569 the regions of Kiev, Volhynia, and Bratslav (Podillia) were annexed to the Kingdom of Poland. Another part of this development included a new society which grew out of the plains of the Dnieper River—the Cossacks. These men were free, as opposed to the serfs of the sixteenth century, and organized to fend off marauding Tatars. They ruled for decades, freeing Ukraine from Polish rule and helping to defend the country from Turkish, Tatar, and other invaders. One of the most notable of the Cossack leaders (hetmans) was Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who ruled from 1648 to 1657. During this time he led an uprising and mass peasant revolt against the ruling Poles. This led to a new ruling state with the hetman as leader and a tumultuous relationship with Russia in order to fight Poland. There was also a treaty signed with Muscovy in 1654 to help protect against invaders. After Khmelnytsky died in 1657, Ukraine's position weakened and it was eventually betrayed by its ally, Russia, who entered into an agreement with Poland which divided Ukraine between Russia and Poland.
Ukraine often tried to loosen the grip of Russia and Poland. In 1708-1709 Hetman Ivan Mazepa led the Cossacks to fight alongside Sweden's King Charles XII in the Swedish king's war with Russia's Peter I. But the Swedes and Cossacks lost, and Peter destroyed the hetman's capital and the hetmanate itself. By the late seventeenth century, in any case, not much was left of the hetmanate—only about one-third of that which Khmelnytsky controlled in his heyday as leader.
In the late eighteenth century, Russia annexed much of eastern Ukraine, taking the provinces of Kiev, Volhynia, and Podillia away from Poland, and taking the Crimea from the Turks. This transfer meant not only that the Orthodox religion could be practiced (it had been persecuted under Polish rule), but that by 1831 Russian became the official language, replacing Polish. This remained basically unchanged until 1918.
Austria gained possession of much of western Ukraine, including the province of Ruthenia and what had been Galicia, also in the late eighteenth century, and it remained Austrian land until the end of World War I. The bid for a free Ukraine was a never-ending one. A major figure was the nationalistic poet and painter Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). This influential figure, born a serf, established the Ukrainian language as a language of literature, and his work tells the story of the glories and sufferings of the nation—all of this during a time when Ukrainian was banned from schools, books, and the performing arts.
World War I saw the Ukraine caught between the Austrians and Russia, each as potential allies against the other. By 1915-1916, little of Ukraine was left in Russian control. When the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czar and later the provisional government in 1917, Ukraine was poised for freedom. On January 22, 1918, Ukraine declared itself to be independent of Russia and used the help of German and Austrian troops to clear Russians from Ukraine. But the tenuous alliance with Germany and Austria quickly broke down, and freedom was short-lived. By April 1918 a new government, acceptable to the Germans, was set up. Galicia, which had freed itself of Austrian rule, found itself independent in 1918—but that was brief too, and it soon fell to Poland. Four years of war followed, and the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) reconquered Ukraine in 1922 and made it one of the original republics. Aside from being lost and rewon during the Second World War, Ukraine remained part of the USSR until the USSR was dissolved in 1991.
THE FIRST WAVE OF UKRAINIAN IMMIGRATION TO AMERICA
Although individual Ukrainians had come to the United States earlier, the first mass wave immigrated in the late nineteenth century, coinciding with the period of American industrialization. This group, numbering more than 350,000, began to arrive in 1877 as strikebreakers to work the Pennsylvania mines. Most of them came from western Ukraine, particularly the Lemko and Transcarpathian regions. In search of prosperity, they read advertisements which promised earnings ten to 20 times greater than they could hope for in the Ukraine. So they left their families, traveled to the ports of Bremen, Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Antwerp, and were packed into steerage on ships for the long journey to America.
When they reached the immigration check at Ellis Island, they waited in fear since a good number each trip were sent back. Those who made it through concentrated in the factories, steel mills, and foundries in Cleveland, Akron, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Chicago, and Detroit, as well as in Pennsylvania cities. Before World War I, 98 percent of Ukrainians settled in the northeastern states, with 70 percent in Pennsylvania. Men who had left wives and children in Ukraine first worked and then, when they could support them, brought their families over. They settled in urban villages near other Slavs, Poles, Jews, and Slovaks, seeking a sense of community to replace the one they had left. Their lives centered on the neighborhood church, saloon, general store, and boarding houses.
Unlike the Ukrainian Canadians, few of the early Ukrainian Americans farmed. By the time the first wave crossed the ocean, most of the free land had been distributed already and these new immigrants had no money to buy land. There were, however, isolated groups such as the Stundists (Baptist Evangelicals) who did farm, first in Virginia then in North Dakota. There were also small groups who chose to follow Orthodox priest Ahapii Honcharenko (1832-1916)—often considered the first nationality-conscious Ukrainian—to Alaska in the 1860s and Dr. Nicholas Sudzilovsky-Russel to Hawaii in 1895. Sudzilovsky-Russel was elected to the Hawaiian Senate in 1901 and, in this position, greatly aided more than 375 Ukrainians who were lured to Hawaii by dishonest agents and forced to work as slaves on plantations until they paid the costs of their four-month sea voyages. Eventually they were released from their contracts, and most returned to North America.
THE SECOND WAVE: BETWEEN THE WORLD WARS
This wave of immigrants, covering the period between the two world wars, was considerably smaller than the first, numbering only about 15,000. It was also different in that these were immigrants who were aware of and vocal about their nationalism and politicized to the point of infighting. Until that time, Ukrainian Americans tended to be polarized along religious lines; now there were socialists and conservatives on either end of the political spectrum. Furthermore, assimilation had gained momentum by the time of the second wave, and adjustments to clothing and language came more quickly than to the first immigrants.
THE THIRD WAVE: DISPLACEMENT AFTER WORLD WAR II
The final major wave was one of refugees following the Second World War. These often well-educated Ukrainians (including 2,000 university students, 1,200 teachers and scholars, 400 engineers, 350 lawyers, and 300 physicians) had fled their homes during the war and had little interest in returning while the Soviet government was in place. They saw both the United States and Canada as temporary homes, although most would never return to live in the Ukraine.
Most of these immigrants had spent time in the postwar refugee camps in Austria and Germany. Eight of these DP (displaced person) camps housed two-thirds of the Ukrainian refugees, with the rest in private accommodation. Between 1947 and 1951, these DPs were resettled, with the greatest number (80,000) going to the United States (30,000 went to Canada, 20,000 to Australia, and the same number to Great Britain, 13,000 to Brazil and Argentina, and 10,000 each to Belgium and France).
The DPs concentrated in large cities, particularly New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Cleveland. They gravitated to neighborhoods where Ukrainian Americans already lived, where churches and a community infrastructure had been set up by previous immigrants. This newest group enjoyed the benefits of often being better educated, and of social assistance systems, schools, and immigrant aid societies already in place. Although educated, professionals may have had to work in menial jobs until they grasped the language and had enough money to set up as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Some found the adjustment difficult and never returned to their professions and instead took jobs administering Ukrainian institutions and organizations, many of which were brought from Ukraine by the immigrants.
Before World War II, 98 percent of Ukrainian Americans settled in the northeastern United States with almost three-quarters in Pennsylvania. Between the wars, the numbers in Pennsylvania dropped, while the Ukrainian American populations of New York and New Jersey grew (especially that of New York City) and sizable communities sprang up in Ohio and Illinois.
The 1990 Census of Population states that 740,803 individuals reported their ancestry as Ukrainian, or 0.3 percent of the total. Of those who said they were Ukrainian Americans, just over two-thirds listed it as "first ancestry." It is interesting to note that the census also gave, as ethnicity choices, Carpath Rusyn, Central European, Russian and Slavic; when many of the first Ukrainians arrived in America, they were identified with labels other than Ukrainian, including some of these choices.
The majority of Ukrainian Americans, the census notes, settled in the Northeast. The state with the greatest number is Pennsylvania (129,753 reported in 1990), followed by New York (121,113), and New Jersey (73,935). Although regionally, the fewest number of Ukrainians are to be found in the American West, California is the fourth-ranked state with 56,211 reported in 1990.
INTERACTIONS WITH SETTLED AMERICANS
Because the first wave of Ukrainians came as strikebreakers, there was tension between them and the established English, Irish, and Welsh miners in the area. Ukrainians were also the first large group of non-English-speaking immigrants, and so they stood out as "different"—they spoke a foreign language, ate different food, and, at least upon arrival, wore different clothes. They also tended to group together, further isolating themselves from the Americans. This, however, changed quickly with the generation of children who grew up in America. It was not unusual for these children, who played in the streets with other non-Ukrainian children, to pick up the language and customs quickly and assimilate thoroughly.
Discrimination, though, was part of life at the start. Ukrainians were called "Hunkies" (having come from the Hungarian part of the Austrian empire) or "Bohunks" (a derivative of Bohemians) by those who reviled these immigrants, who were often illiterate, dirty with miner's dust, and willing to do work no one else would to get a foothold toward a better life. In fact, in his Ukrainians in North America: An Illustrated History, Orest Subtelny notes that this so-called "scum of Europe" were thought to be contaminating once civilized towns in Pennsylvania by forcing out those who had given stability to the area: the English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish. In fact, in 1897 a discriminatory measure passed the state of Pennsylvania, which required that nonnaturalized American miners and workers pay an additional tax.
The most striking issue is the state of the free Ukraine since it gained its independence in 1991, with the breakup of the USSR. The country must deal with new governments and democracy as well as with the transition to economic and social independence. Much of the infrastructure of business and government has been redesigned entirely, and Ukrainian Americans are eagerly monitoring the progress of change.
Another concern is the continuing effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in eastern Ukraine in the 1980s. Considerable aid, both financial and material, has been coordinated to aid victims, particularly the orphans, of the disaster.
There has always been great interest in events "in the old country." Ukrainian American organizations based in the United States have, for decades, been formed to make political pleas on behalf of those in the occupied homeland and to send material and financial aid. This included marches on the White House protesting the Polish Occupation of Eastern Galicia in 1922 and a 1933 march by Detroit Ukrainian Americans to protest the Soviet man-made famine that year.
Acculturation and Assimilation
Because the United States has modeled itself as a "melting pot" for newly arrived immigrants, Ukrainian Americans have become assimilated more thoroughly and more quickly than their neighbors to the north, the Ukrainian Canadians. This is in part because the first immigrants moved to heavily populated urban centers where they tended to get "lost" more readily among other immigrants and American citizens. As the decades have passed, too, the number of new immigrants has dropped. Couple this with the thoroughness of assimilation—in 1980, less than 17 percent of people of Ukrainian descent said Ukrainian was their primary language—and the future of the Ukrainian American community can seem uncertain.
This does not, however, mean that all is bleak. Through church, cultural, and political-business organizations, Ukrainian Americans and their children and grandchildren have places to go to celebrate their heritage. This is aided by the fact that traditionally Ukrainian Americans have not moved far from their original settlement sites in the northeastern states of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Some of the strongest organizations, too, are those which were established early in the history of immigration. The most forward-thinking have changed with the times and deemphasized nationalist concerns in favor of drawing members with cultural, business, and social activities. Credit unions, youth organizations, and professional and business clubs are strong in the communities they serve.
MISCONCEPTIONS AND STEREOTYPES
One of the most common misconceptions about Ukrainian Americans is that they were Russians, Poles, Hungarians, or Austrians. This was the case because depending on when they arrived, Ukraine was occupied by Russia or the USSR, Poland, or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS, AND BELIEFS
Before Ukraine adopted Christianity in 988, the inhabitants believed in pagan gods who ruled over the sun, stars, and moon. Folk beliefs are still connected to the sun, stars, and moon, as well as to dreams, the seasons, and agriculture. In fact, many of the pagan customs blended, over time, with Christian beliefs. These centered on the family (e.g., birth, marriage, and funeral customs), the community, and seasonal agricultural rites.
Songs and folk tales play a significant role in these ancient customs. There are specific songs for harvest festivals, New Year's celebrations, and Christmas and Easter, all celebrating both pagan beliefs and Christian traditions. Songs and music have always been important to the Ukrainian Americans; the earliest settlers, who had little money, often spent their rare free hours gathered together playing and singing. This has continued, not only in established choirs and ensembles, but as part of Ukrainian youth groups, camps, and Saturday language classes. The language classes are also a place where children of immigrants have been taught about their country's history, geography, and culture.
Examples of ancient customs still practiced today include the spring rites and songs (vesnianky ) and the traditions associated with the harvest or Kupalo festival in which young maidens make wreaths of wildflowers, and set them afloat in a nearby stream; their fortune is determined by the young man who retrieves the wreath while facing the spirits of the night. Often these are still practiced by Ukrainian American youth at summer camps or through youth organizations and cultural festivals.
Proverbs are a rich part of the Ukrainian culture and are handed down from generation to generation: A smart man seeks all from himself, a fool looks for everything in others; Fear God—and you will not fear any person; He who thinks rarely always has time to talk; Snow falls upon a pursuit that is put off; A wise man does not always say what he knows, but a fool does not always know what he says; Life is the road to death; It is difficult to learn to thank God if we cannot thank people; The rich man is not he who has great riches but he who squanders little money; A good heart does not know pridefulness; Brotherhood is greater than riches; A black dog or a white dog is still a dog.
Ukrainian cooking is a robust mix of meat, vegetable, and grain dishes. It is similar to, and has been influenced by, the cuisine of Poland, Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Although the selection and availability of food is more varied for Ukrainian Americans than it is for Ukrainians, many of the traditional foods survive in the United States.
Breads figure prominently in both immigrant and Ukrainian households—Ukraine is, after all, known as the "breadbasket of Europe"—and particular breads such as paska for Easter are featured during the holidays and at weddings, often decorated with braids or birds of dough. Bread is featured as a ceremonial ingredient in all special occasions, whether to bring divine blessing to the start of a farm task, to welcome guests to a celebration, or to symbolically part with the dead at the tryzna, or wake.
The dishes most readily associated with Ukrainians are likely borscht (a soup of red beets), holubtsi (cabbage rolls), pyrohy or varenyky (dough dumplings filled with potatoes and cheeses, sauerkraut, or various fruits such as cherries), and kielbassa (smoked sausage). The potato is the most readily used vegetable in traditional Ukrainian cooking, although garlic, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets are also staples. Mushrooms are also a common ingredient, used to spice up a meal and often included in stuffings.
The best showcase for traditional Ukrainian cuisine is the Christmas Eve meatless meal prepared for January 6 (under the Julian calendar for traditionalists). This meal features 12 courses, symbolic of the 12 apostles present at the Last Supper. The meal begins with kutya (cooked wheat, ground poppy seed, and honey) and then moves on to pickled herring or pickled mushrooms, borscht, one or more preparations of fish, holubtsi with buckwheat or rice, varenyky with sauerkraut or potatoes, beans with prunes, sauerkraut with peas, baked beets, mushroom sauce, and ends with a dessert of pastries—makivnyk (poppy seed cake), khrusty (fried bands of dough cookies sprinkled with icing sugar), pampushky (doughnuts), medivnyk (honey cake) or compote (stewed dried fruit).
There is a religious context to Ukrainian festive dinners. At Christmas, a place is set at the table to welcome the spirits of dead relatives. And at Easter, the food that makes up the ceremonial meal is taken to church in a basket decorated with the finest embroidered linens to be blessed.
Although today Ukrainians dress in clothes basically indistinguishable from the rest of modern Europe, there are traditional costumes of Ukraine, which vary from region to region. In Kuvijovyc and Struk's Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Ukrainian folk dress is divided into five different regional forms: the Middle Dnieper region, Polisia, Podillia, central Galicia and Volhynia, and Subcarpathia and the Carpathian Mountain region.
The first region around the Dnieper River is characterized by women wearing a plakhta (a wrap-around skirt), a kersetka (a blouse with wide sleeves and a bodice), and an ochipok (a headdress), while the men wore cut shirts. These clothes date back to the time of the ruling hetmanate.
In Polisia the clothes date back even further, to the princely era. It is here that the well-known Ukrainian embroidered blouse ablaze with red and a colorful woven skirt is worn by the women. Men dress in a shirt worn outside their trousers and a grey woolen cap (maherka ) or a tall felt hat (iolomok ).
The third region, Podillia, is recognized by the women's multicolored, embroidered blouses and the men's mantle. In central Galicia and Volhynia, linen is a popular fabric, and women wear corsets and head wraps which resemble turbans. The men don caftans, felt overcoats, or jackets. Finally, one of the most recognizable and colorful costumes comes from the Carpathian Mountain region, or Lemkivschyna. Women's skirts are decorated with folds and pleats, while men wear tunics and leibyks —the Lemko felt vests.
The greatest showcase for native folk dress for Ukrainian Americans is at dance festivals. The swirling ribbons of color and flashes of billowing satin pants tucked into red boots mix with the linen shirts, laced leather slippers, and felt hats as dancers representing different regions of Ukraine share the stage.
DANCES AND SONGS
There is a rich history of Ukrainian music. Some of the oldest traditions survive to this day through Christmas carols, originally sung in pagan times to celebrate the first long day of the season, and the Easter songs, or hayivky, also known as songs of spring. There were also songs to herald the arrival of summer and the harvest.
During the era of Cossack rule, other forms of music arose. The lyrico-epic "dumas" told of the struggles of the Cossacks. Music flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—there were even organized singing guilds. Notable composers include Semen Artemovsky, author of the opera Zaporozhian Beyond the Danube (written in 1863), and Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), who collected thousands of folk songs in addition to composing original songs and operas. In the United States, the first Ukrainian American choir was organized in 1887 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
Traditional instruments include the bandura or kobza, whose strings are plucked to make music; the free-reed wind instrument (sopilka ); the stringed percussion dulcimer, or tsymbaly, played by hitting the strings with small hammers; and the violin.
Ukrainian folk dance differs in style and costume, depending on the region being represented and the occasion being celebrated. While dancers from central Ukraine wear bright pants, embroidered shirts, and swirling skirts and aprons, Hutsul dancers from the Carpathian mountain region wear linen trousers tucked into leather slippers and felt hats, and brandish long wooden axes over which the men leap or on which they balance the women. Dance themes deal with relations between men and women as well as particular occupations such as the dances of reapers, cobblers, coopers, and smiths.
Among the most popular dances, though, are the hopak and kozachok. The hopak was first danced by the Cossack of the Zaporhizian Sich in the sixteenth century and spread to the rest of Ukraine. Today it is predominantly associated with the Kiev region and incorporates both male and female dances. It is a fast-tempoed, improvised dance with complex acrobatic movements with the men leaping over one another and high into the air, while the women spin and step around them.
The kozachok also originated during the Cossack period in the sixteenth century. It is a folk dance with male and female roles, and often begins with a slow, melodic introduction before breaking into a quick tempo. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was performed, not only in Ukraine, but also in the royal courts of Russia, France, Hungary, and Poland. Both the hopak and kozachok are standards of Ukrainian folk dance today.
The 1920s and 1930s were decades of growth in Ukrainian dance, theater and music in the United States. A number of theaters and music halls, beginning with the first in New York City in 1924, were opened. Ukrainian American singers and dancers performed in a concert commemorating the bicentennial of George Washington's birth in 1932, and the New York Association of Friends of Ukrainian Music was created in 1934. Another highlight of the period was a performance by more than 300 Ukrainian American dancers from Vasile Avramenko's dance school at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in 1931.
Ukrainian Americans all celebrate the same holidays but at different times, depending on which calendar they use. The major holidays are religious. According to the "old" or Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated January 7, with the ritual dinner the night before. Easter cycles and falls on a different weekend each year. For those who adhere to a more modern model, Christmas and Easter would still be celebrated in a Ukrainian church, in the respective rite, but on December 25 and whatever weekend "English Easter" falls on.
One occasion Ukrainians do not traditionally celebrate is birthdays. More important are the "name days," days during the year which are named for certain saints. For example, friends would gather to help celebrate the name day of any Stephens or Stepany on January 9 by the Julian calendar, St. Stephen's Day.
The other major holiday is on January 22, commemorating the establishment of a free Ukraine on that date in 1917.
There are no known afflictions specific to ethnic Ukrainians, although the most recent immigrants from the Chernobyl area are wary of the radiation exposure they received during the reactor meltdown of the late 1980s.
To some degree, folk medicine retains its place in the community in both attitude and practice. The mentally challenged were often considered to be "God's people." Physical diseases were often driven out by squeezing or sucking or were "frightened away" by shouting or beating. Diseases could also be "charmed away" by using magic incantations and prayers or treated with medicinal plants or, more "traditionally," using baths, bleeding (using leeches or cupping), or massages. These methods tended to fall out of favor as Ukrainians were assimilated into the American mode of health care.
Ukrainians have readily joined the American medical establishment. In addition to the health-care professionals who emigrated to the United States, Ukrainian Americans are well represented in the medical fields, including dentistry and chiropractic. In fact, regional associations of physicians were quick to spring up in the major northeastern centers of Ukrainian American concentration.
Ukrainian belongs to the Slavic group of Indo-European languages. It is the second most widely spoken language of the 12 surviving members of this group. Historically, there used to exist a literary language called Old Church Slavonic which was common to all of Ukraine, in addition to the dialects of the regions. Unlike other languages such as German or English, the three main dialect groups—northern, southeastern and southwestern—are not particularly different from each other. The alphabet is made up of 33 Cyrillic characters, the last of which is a character which does not stand alone but follows various consonants to soften the sound. Each letter has a particular sound so reading is relatively simple, words being pronounced phonetically.
Ukrainian was the primary language of almost all first-generation Ukrainian Americans. Because of the political situation which they left at home, many also spoke Polish, Russian, or German. In 1980 less than 17 percent listed their primary language as Ukrainian. The Ukrainian language is taught in several universities and colleges, including Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Kent State University. Ukrainian language collections can be found in many public libraries including those in Denver, New York, Brooklyn, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.
GREETINGS AND OTHER POPULAR EXPRESSIONS
Common Ukrainian greetings based upon the time of day include: Dobredeyn —Good day; Dobrey ranok —Good morning; and Dobra nych—Good night. Other often used expressions include: Diakoyu —Thank you; proshu (used both for "please" and "you're welcome"), and dopobachynya (literally, "until we see each other again", although more commonly translated as "goodbye"). For festive occasions the phrase mnohaya lita is used, which means "many happy years"; a corresponding song entitled "Mnohaya lita" is the standard birthday song as well as being used for toasts for any happy occasion such as an anniversary or wedding.
There are standard, specific greetings and replies for Christmas and Easter. During the Christmas season, a visitor would enter a home saying, Christos rodevsia —Christ is born, and the host's reply would be Slavim yoho —Let us praise him. At Easter the greeting changes to Christos voskrys —Christ has risen, and the reply changes to Voistenu voskrys —He is risen indeed.
Family and Community Dynamics
Particularly during the early waves of immigration, men came to America, settled, and then brought over their wives and children. Those who were single, after getting a job and a place to live, often sought to start a family and tended to seek a woman who was of the same ethnic background, if only for ease of communication. With each passing generation there has been a greater tolerance and incidence of marriage outside the Ukrainian culture. Similarly, divorce was and is still relatively rare; it made little economic sense in the beginning and was forbidden in the Catholic faith to which the majority of immigrants subscribed.
Because of geography and time, finding a wife or husband was not always easy. Dating, for early immigrants, was a quick practice centered on Ukrainian community social events—these new Americans worked long hours and had relatively little free time. The couple might attend a dance in a church hall or a concert. Even today, zabavas (dances) are prime meetings places for young people.
Around the turn of the century, Passaic, New Jersey, had a high concentration of single Ukrainian women. Most women were employed as domestics, often far from the foundry towns in large coastal cities. Some men left a wife behind in Ukraine and married again in America. A newspaper story published in 1896 told of such a case one step more unusual—the immigrant from Galicia left a wife there and married once in New Jersey and again in Michigan. After being arrested and then returning to his wife in Ukraine, he discovered his two children had grown to number four.
Like many other European immigrants, as the first generation of Ukrainian Americans aged, they often lived with one of their children to serve as babysitters for grandchildren, thereby freeing the parents to work. This also helped to continue the culture and language, and many children went to school speaking only Ukrainian.
Although the duties may have differed, both boys and girls were expected to help with household chores, especially in households where part of the income came from taking in boarders. Considerable responsibility fell on the older siblings to take care of those younger, and much was expected of them so that they could become successful and productive American citizens.
Weddings are a major celebration beginning with the negotiations for the bride's hand in marriage. The groom's family appoints a starosty (negotiator), who serves as an intermediary between the families of the prospective bride and groom. Originally, this figure did much of the work, even to haggling over the dowry of the bride. Today, if couples wish to include a starosty, it is more a symbolic role for a close relative or family friend and often translates into serving as master or mistress of ceremonies.
Before the wedding, a shower or divych vechir (maidens' evening) is hosted by the close friends and relatives of the bride. These are often large gatherings of women held in community banquet halls, although today they may be smaller, more intimate affairs hosted in homes. The groom and bride attend and sit beneath a wreath, after a full meal, opening the gifts which guests have brought.
One wedding day custom that is often retained is a blessing, at the home of the bride's parents, that precedes the church wedding ceremony. The bride, groom, and members of the immediate family join a priest to bless the impending union. Then everyone moves on to the church where a ceremony, which may include a full mass, takes place. During the ceremony there are certain customs, which are still kept up, such as placing crowns or wreaths of myrrh on the heads of the pair or binding the bride's and groom's hands with a long embroidered linen called a rushnychok and then having the priest lead them about the altar three times. The bride may also say a prayer at the altar and give a gift of flowers to the Virgin Mary, in hopes that she will bless the bride as both wife and mother.
Ukrainian wedding celebrations are large—it is not unusual to have more than 300 guests filling a church hall or banquet room—alive with song and dance, and lots of food. At the beginning of the reception, the bride and groom are greeted with bread and salt by their godparents. The bread represents the wish that they should never know hunger and the salt that they should never know bitterness. After the greeting, the newlyweds and their attendants sit at the head table and dinner begins.
A wedding dinner today reflects the tastes of the couple and their families and can include favorite Ukrainian and American dishes—perogies and roast beef. Although many couples have some sort of wedding cake, they may also have a traditional kolach ; this is a bread with decorative flour, stalks of wheat and braids of dough adorning the top. The name is derived from the word kolo which means a circle, a symbol of eternity.
After dinner the dancing starts. Dancing is an integral part of any Ukrainian wedding, and there are a number of traditions built around the dancing segment. At one point in the evening, the bride's veil is removed and replaced with a kerchief, symbolizing her change from maiden to married woman. As the guests watch, encircling the bride and groom, the veil is then placed by the bridesmaids on the heads of single women in the circle who dance with their boyfriends, their fiancés, or groomsmen. Some couples also choose to incorporate throwing the bouquet and garter into the festivities.
Within the first year of a baby's birth, the child is christened. Close family friends or relatives are chosen as godparents and participate in the religious ceremony. This is a festive occasion which is often followed by a banquet hosted by the new parents. The link between godparent and child is maintained throughout the child's life and often the godparents are simply referred to as chresna (godmother) and chresny (godfather) for years after.
Ukrainians are ritualistic and religious in their funeral rites as well. The actual religious ceremony and burial are preceded by one or two panachydy. These brief evening ceremonies are held in the funeral home, and friends and family of the deceased join for a memorial service. The ceremony is conducted by a priest and ends with the singing of the funeral song, "Vichnaya Pam'yat" (Ever Remembered).
The funeral itself is a religious occasion and can include a funeral mass in a church. Family and friends then accompany the casket to the gravesite (few people are cremated) and then repair to a church or community hall or family member's home for a tryzna (funeral remembrance luncheon).
One of the most significant features of a Ukrainian funeral is that the memorial service is repeated 40 days after the person dies, and then again annually. There is also a festival, originally associated with the pagan cult of the dead, called Zeleni sviata or Rosalia, which is dedicated to visiting and celebrating the dead. It is held 50 days after Easter, and today people meet at the cemetery to have a special mass said in honor of the dead.
Education for the initial immigrants was a luxury few could afford. With each new wave, Ukrainians came to the United States with more and more education. Many of the artists and professionals who arrived between the wars had been educated in Europe and, as soon as they learned English, were able to pursue their work in the United States. There was also a growing number who studied at American schools and whose children were encouraged to do the same, both boys and girls. Wherever possible, children were educated in parochial schools because religion played a large role in their lives. Those who went on to post-secondary education tended to concentrate in the professions: medicine, law, engineering, graduate studies, and the arts.
Ukrainian American students decided to establish a network based on their common ethnic background soon after the third major wave of immigration. For example, the Federation of Ukrainian Students Organization of America, based in New York City, held its first congress April 10-12, 1953. This included 22 regional and university associations of students across America.
In addition to supporting religion, Ukrainian Americans also support political causes, the arts, sports, and education. The Shevchenko Scientific Society, which was founded in the United States in 1947 and included Albert Einstein among its members in the 1950s, supports science and research activities; the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Inc., founded in 1940, coordinates legal and material support for Ukrainians in Europe while raising the profile of Ukraine in America; and the Ukrainian National Association of America, originally established in 1894 as a fraternal benefit society to provide insurance to Ukrainian immigrants, supports the social education and welfare of Ukrainian immigrants while providing aid to the "old country."
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
As well as raising their families, women played a large role by adding to the family income, working as domestics, taking in boarders, working in kitchens or factories, or contributing to the family business. This was hard work; for example, working as a domestic meant seven-day work weeks, almost 13 hours each day, with just Sunday evenings free.
Women were also responsible for maintaining the language and culture, specifically through festive occasions such as Christmas and Easter. The wife and mother would spend hours baking and cooking the multicourse celebratory dinners, participating in the religious life of her family and community, and serving on various women's nationalistic committees.
Many women joined the organizations whose purpose was to promote Ukrainian interests in the diaspora. In addition to joining those groups which accepted men, women also formed their own associations such as the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, Inc. (a national nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization founded in 1925), whose purpose is to unite women of Ukrainian birth and descent living in the United States to promote their common philanthropic, educational, civic, and artistic interests in addition to assisting Ukrainians in Europe, the Ukrainian Women's Alliance, and the United Ukrainian Women's Organizations of America. The first congress of Ukrainian Women in America was held in New York in 1932. Women's organizations managed to combine Ukrainian and American interests (celebrating the birthdays of female poet Lesia Ukrainka along with those of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in February) and tended to be less insular than men's organizations.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS
Even in their early settlement patterns, new Ukrainian immigrants tended to settle near other immigrants, particularly others from Eastern and Central Europe such as Polish, Russian, and Jewish immigrants. Because of the similarities in language (and the fact that many Ukrainians emigrated while their country was under the occupation of Russia, Poland, or Austro-Hungary), Ukrainians, Poles, and Russians could communicate easily even before they learned English. It also gave them the sense of community which they had left behind when they crossed the ocean to America.
Most Ukrainian Americans belong to one of two faiths, Catholic (Eastern, or Byzantine, Rite) and Eastern Orthodox. The Catholics are greater in number, almost twice as numerous as the Orthodox group. The first Ukrainian Catholic church in the United States, St. Michael the Archangel, was built in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, in 1885 under the direction of the Reverend Ivan Volansky, an immigrant priest who had arrived the year before.
In the late nineteenth century there was a struggle within the Church and in 1899 the Reverend Volansky was called back to Lviv by his superiors, who had buckled under pressure from Vatican authorities who said that Volansky was an Eastern Rite Catholic and that the Latin Rite American Catholic bishops opposed the organization of separate Ukrainian Catholic parishes. This led some Ukrainians to switch to the Russian Orthodox faith. Finally, in 1913 the Vatican acceded to the demands of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States and established an exarchate which made all Ukrainian Catholic parishes, which numbered more than 200 at the time, a separate administrative unit which reported only to the Pope.
The Ukrainian Orthodox church in America was set up in 1928 by ex-Catholic Ukrainians. In addition, thousands of Catholic Ukrainians converted to the Russian Orthodox church after the consecrated priest of a Minneapolis parish, Alexis Toth, who was a widower, was not accepted by the Roman Catholic archbishop (because he had been married). Toth broke away to join the Orthodoxy; his 365 parishioners followed him, and tens of thousands of immigrants from Galicia, Lemkivschyna, and Transcarpathia filled out the ranks.
Ultimately, there were many battles among the dominant religious groups, which included Byzantine Rite Catholic Ruthenians/Ruthyns as they called themselves, Ukrainian Catholics, and Orthodox "Russians." Today the Ukrainian Catholic church (Byzantine Rite) and Orthodoxy remain strong in the United States.
There are also Ukrainian Protestants, including the Stundinst sect, a Baptist denomination which settled in the United States in 1890. This group settled first in Virginia and then went west to North Dakota, where they established a settlement called Kiev, named after the city in which they had lived in Ukraine.
In 1905 Ukrainian Protestants founded the Ukrainian Evangelical Alliance of North America. In 1922, the Union of Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Churches was established to consolidate the Ukrainian Protestant parishes.
Employment and Economic Traditions
Most of the early immigrants of the late nineteenth century worked in the steel mills and foundries of the northeastern states. Within the ethnic urban communities where they lived, other entrepreneurial Ukrainian Americans opened grocery or general stores, butcher shops, and taverns. Women contributed to the family income by taking in boarders and doing their laundry and cooking. Overall, it was characteristic of this first generation of settlers to remain in the job, or at least the industry, with which they began.
Although their pay was not substantial, Ukrainian Americans as a group rarely took advantage of government assistance (where available) or unemployment benefits. They were also among the most law-abiding immigrants—in his Ukrainians in North America: An Illustrated History, Orest Subtelny notes that between 1904 and 1908, only 0.02 percent were accused of breaking any law.
By the time of the second immigration wave between the world wars, there was a shift in employment trends. Second-generation Ukrainian Americans had greater opportunity for higher education, and the second influx of immigrants tended to be better educated themselves. From that point forward, the university graduation rate grew, with medicine, law, engineering, and teaching being the principal professions. This is reflected in the growth of Ukrainian American professional and business clubs across the United States. For example, membership in the Society of Ukrainian Engineers in America grew from 82 members at the end of 1949 to 363 just five years later.
Politics and Government
Ukrainian Americans were involved in local, state, and national politics from the earliest years of mass immigration. Dr. Nicholas Sudzilovsky-Russel was elected to and became presiding officer of the Hawaiian senate on February 10, 1901.
In 1925, George Chylak began a five-year term as mayor of Oliphant, Pennsylvania. Mary Beck (Mariia Bek), born in 1908 in Ford City, Pennsylvania, was the first woman elected to the Detroit Common Council. She served as the council's president from 1952 to 1962 and was the acting mayor of Detroit from 1958 to 1962.
In state politics, the lawyer O. Malena took a seat in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1932, the lawyer S. Jarema won a seat in the New York legislature in 1935, and Judge John S. Gonas (born 1907) took a seat in the Indiana legislature in 1936. Gonas was also a senator from 1940-1948 and a Democratic candidate for vice president in 1960.
Ukrainian Americans also garnered the attention of government rather quickly. On March 16, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed April 21 a day "upon which the people of the United States may make such contributions as they feel disposed to aid the stricken Ruthenians (Ukrainians) in the belligerent countries," following discussion in Congress on the Ukrainian cause. And it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who unveiled a stature of poet and nationalist Taras Shevchenko in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the poet's birth.
Ukrainians, although some belonged to Communist organizations such as the Haidamaky (established in 1907 in New York), tend to be conservative in their politics and, therefore, tend to support the Republican party. But in 1910, the Ukrainian National Association of America (UNA) actually encouraged people to vote for the socialists since neither Republicans nor Democrats were addressing the concerns of the workers. Leftist factions included the Ukrainian Workers Association which broke away from the UNA in 1918 and the Ukrainian Federation of Socialist Parties in America. The other choice for Ukrainian Americans in the 1920s was the conservative-monarchist Sich movement.
Ukrainian Americans are also involved in supporting political change in Ukraine itself. Demonstrations were frequent in the 1920s and 1930s and included the participation of thousands of men, women, and children: the White House was picketed in 1922 on the issues of Polish occupation of Eastern Galicia; about 20,000 Ukrainian Americans marched in Philadelphia in 1930 to protest this same Polish occupation of Western Ukraine; and a 1933 march in Detroit was held to protest the Soviet-induced famine in Ukraine.
Early records reveal that Ukrainian Americans served in George Washington's army during the American Revolution. Mykola Bizun, Ivan Lator, Petro Polyn, and Stephen Zubley are just some of the Ukrainian names that are listed in Washington's register. There was also a group that fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Officers Joseph Krynicky, Ivan Mara, and Andrey Ripka served, and the Union dead included Ukrainian Americans Julius Koblansky, Petro Semen, and I. H. Yarosh. All of this, however, was relatively limited involvement since the major waves of immigration were to follow.
Most significant for the Ukrainian Americans during the years of World War I was the concurrent bid for a free Ukraine. World War I was heralded as an opportunity to defeat Austria or Russia, both of which ruled parts of Ukraine at the time. The Federation of Ukrainians in America was formed in 1915 to inform the American public about Ukrainian goals. In 1917—the same year that President Woodrow Wilson declared April 21 as "Ukrainian Day"—dreams were realized and the Ukrainian Peoples Republic was established. But Wilson supported the Russian empire, and not long after, the free Ukraine fell. In addition, many Ukrainians, particularly in Canada, were deemed to be Austrian citizens and, hence, on the wrong side; thousands were incarcerated as enemy aliens.
During World War II thousands of Ukrainian Americans served in the armed forces. Nicholas Minue of Carteret, New Jersey, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his single-handed destruction of a German machine gun position. Nestor Chylak, Jr., who went on to be an American League baseball umpire, received the Purple Heart and Silver Star and was almost blinded during the Battle of the Bulge. And Lt. Colonel Theodore Kalakula was awarded the Silver Star and two oak leaf clusters for saving medical supplies during a Japanese air raid and for his attack against the Japanese after the company commander had been wounded. Kalakula was also the first Ukrainian American graduate of West Point.
Individual and Group Contributions
Ukrainian Americans, in all areas of endeavor, have made lasting contributions to American life. Some of these individuals and their accomplishments follow.
George Kistiakovsky (1900-1982), a research chemist, immigrated in 1925 to the United States, where he became a research fellow at Princeton University, after which he joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1930. He was the author of more than 200 articles on chemical kinetic gas-phase reactions, molecular spectroscopy, and thermo-chemistry of organic compounds. He received many awards including the U.S. President's Medal of Merit in 1946, the Exceptional Service Award of the U.S. Air Force in 1957, and the National Medal of Sciences from the president in 1965. He also served as a consultant to the Manhattan Project, the initiative to develop the atomic bomb in the early 1940s and was appointed head of the explosives division of the Los Alamos Laboratory. In 1959 he was named Special Assistant for Science and Technology by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kistiakovsky's daughter, Vera (born in 1928 in Princeton, New Jersey) is an accomplished academic in her own right. She completed her Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1952 and became a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963.
Other Ukrainian American academics include George Vernadsky, (1897-1972) a historian at Yale University from 1946-1956 and author of a five-volume history of Russian and a biography of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky; Stephen Timoshenko (1878-1972), a specialist in theoretical and applied mechanics, vibration, and elasticity who taught at the University of Michigan and Stanford University from 1927 to 1960; Lew Dobriansky, (born 1918 in New York City), economist and author of Decisions for a Better America, published in 1960; and Myron Kuropas (born 1932 in Chicago), professor of educational foundations at Northern Illinois University and special assistant for ethnic affairs to President Gerald Ford in 1976-1977. Kuropas has written several books on Ukrainians in North America including To Preserve a Heritage: The Story of the Ukrainian Immigration in the United States, published in 1984.
FILM, TELEVISION, AND THEATER
Ukrainian Americans who found their way to Hollywood include director Edward Dmytryk (1908– ) and Academy Award winner Jack Palance. Dmytryk directed a number of Hollywood films including Murder My Sweet, Crossfire, and The Caine Mutiny.
Jack Palance, born Walter Palahniuk on February 12, 1920, in Lattimer, Pennsylvania, made his first film, Panic in the Streets, in 1950. He began his career as a professional boxer in the 1940s after he returned from a tour of duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He made his stage debut on Broadway in Silver Tassel in 1949, and also appeared in stage productions of Julius Caesar, The Tempest and A Streetcar Named Desire. Among his more than 50 films are Shane, Batman, and City Slickers, for which he won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in 1991. He had his own television series, "Bronk," in 1975, and appeared on various programs over more than four decades.
One of the most versatile individuals in Ukrainian dance and film was Wasyl Avramenko. Born in 1895 in Stebliv, Ukraine, he founded the First School of Ukrainian National Dances in Kalisz, Poland, in 1921. After he immigrated to the United States he directed performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, the White House in 1935, and took dance tours to Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and Israel throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He established his own dance studio in New York in 1952. Avramenko also did work in film; in 1936, he organized a Ukrainian film company and produced two movies using the texts of two Ukrainian classic plays, Zaporozhetz Za Dunaem (The Cossack from Beyond the Danube ) and Natalka Poltavka (Natalka from Poltava).
William Tytla (1904-1968) made his mark in Hollywood animation. He was born in Yonkers, New York, and worked at Walt Disney Studios as an animator, creating Dumbo and the Seven Dwarfs before moving to Paramount, Famous Studios, and Twentieth Century-Fox, where he was director of a cartoon series including Popeye, Little Audrey, and Little Lulu.
Among others in this area of the arts were: Nick Adams, born Adamschock (1931-1968); Anna Sten, born Stenski-Sujakevich (1908-1993), star of The Brothers Karamazov and Nana ; and 1940s Hollywood leading man, John Hodiak (1914-1955) who was married to actress Anne Baxter and starred in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat with Tallulah Bankhead and The Harvey Girls opposite Judy Garland.
There are many Ukrainian Americans who have contributed to a rich heritage of Ukrainian-language journalism in the United States. Reverend Ivan Volansky (1857-1926) published Ameryka, the first Ukrainian newspaper in the United States in 1886.
Because of the rapid growth of the Ukrainian press in the United States, there are hundreds of women and men who could be listed here. A partial list includes: Cecelia Gardetska (born 1898), who worked on journals in Ukraine and America including Nashe Zhitia (Our Life ) in Philadelphia and served as the head of the Department of Journalists for the Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations in the United States; Bohdan Krawciw (born 1904), who in addition to editing more than 15 journals and newspapers was general editor of Volume 2 of Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopedia, published in 1971; and Volodymyr Nestorovych (born 1893), also an editor of a number of Ukrainian-language newspapers in the United States, although he was an engineer and economist by occupation.
Tania Kroitor Bishop, born Shevchuk, published An Overture to Future Days in 1954. This volume of poetry was written in both English and Ukrainian. Bishop also translated other works from Ukrainian into English.
A circle of young poets who called themselves the New York Group of Poets, among them Bohdan Boychuk (1927– ), Patricia Kylyna (P. Warren), Yurii (George) Tarnavsky (1934– ), and B. Pevny (1931– ), published its first volume of modern poetry in 1959. Boychuk became a U.S. citizen in 1955 and worked as an engineer in addition to publishing plays and poetry.
Professor Alexander Koshetz (1875-1944) directed the first concert of Ukrainian church music to an American audience at Carnegie Hall, New York City, in 1936. Hryhorii Kytastyi (1907-1984), musical director, composer and bandurist, is the author of more than 30 melodies of Ukrainian songs for solo and choir with bandura (a traditional stringed instrument) or piano accompaniment. He directed the Bandurists Ensemble in numerous concerts throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada.
Other notables in music include: Nicholas Malko, director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1945 to 1957; Mykhailo Haivoronsky (1892-1949), composer and founder of the United Ukrainian Chorus in the United States in 1930; Paul Pecheniha-Ouglitzky (Uhlytsky) (1892-1948), double-bass player, composer, and conductor, who lived and worked in New York and was orchestrator for NBC radio; and Virko Baley (1938– ), pianist, composer, champion of Ukrainian modern music and chamber music, and conductor of the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Aeronautical engineer Igor Sikorsky, born in Kiev in 1889 (d. 1972), immigrated to the United States and formed the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company in 1923. This company built the S-29, the first twin-engine plane made in the United States. Sikorsky is also credited with designing the first helicopter (the VS-300, first flown in 1939) and the S-40 (the first large American four-engine clipper, built in 1931).
Michael Yarymovich (1933– ) served as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force and assistant director to the Apollo Flight Systems in the 1960s. In 1975, he was appointed Assistant Administrator for Laboratory and Field Coordination of the Energy Research and Development Adminstration.
Many Ukrainian Americans became successful in the National Hockey League (NHL). Terry Sawchuk (1929-1970) was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971 with 103 career shutouts as a goalie having played 21 seasons with Detroit and Toronto. Bill Moisenko (d. 1994), a right wing for the Chicago Black Hawks, was selected for the all-star team in 1947 and scored a record three goals in 21 seconds in one 1952 game. New York Ranger teammates Walter Tkaczuk and Dave Balon were two-thirds of the NHL's highest scoring line during the 1969-1970 season. And in 1971, Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk, and Bronko Horvath formed the famous "Uke" line in the all-star game. More recently, Ukrainian American hockey players have included Mike Bossy, Dale Hawerchuk, and Mike Krushelyski.
In baseball, there was umpire Nestor Chylak, Jr. (1922-1982). Chylak was born in Peckville, Pennsylvania and studied engineering at Rutgers University before going to war from 1942 to 1946. He was nearly blinded at the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. His major league officiating career spanned three decades, from 1954 to 1978, when he retired as an umpire in the American League.
Football was another sport in which Ukrainian Americans excelled. Bronko (Bronislav) Nagurski (1908-1990) was a famous tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s and 1940s. He helped lift the Bears from ninth to third place in the league and was an all-league player for three consecutive years. Nagurski was elected to the National Football Hall of Fame in 1951. He also made a career as a professional wrestler and won the world heavyweight title in 1937 and 1939. Charles Bednarick, center for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 until 1962, was elected to the National Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
Ukrainian American boxers included Steve Halaiko, a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic team and Golden Gloves champion; and John Jadick, junior heavyweight champion in the 1930s. Wrestler Mike Mazurki (1909-1990) (born Michael Mazurski) went on to a career in films in the 1940s. In the 1960s there were golfers Mike Souchak and Steve Melnik, and soccer star Zenon Snylyk, a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic soccer team and World Cup team.
Two of the best-known Ukrainian American artists celebrated their birthdays one day apart. Edward Kozak was born January 26, 1902, in Hirne, Ukraine. Having studied at the Art Academy in Lviv he immigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1956. In addition to participating in exhibitions across the United States, Canada, and Europe, he has illustrated a number of books and from 1951-1954 was a performer on WWJ-TV in Detroit. He established his own painting studios in Detroit and Warren, Michigan, in 1950 and for his efforts in educational films was twice awarded first prize by the American Teachers' Association. Fellow artist Jacques Hnizdovsky, born January 27, 1915, in Pylypcze, Ukraine, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Zagreb before settling in New York City in 1949. His career has included a number of one-man shows in North America and Europe. He is best known for his woodcuts, and his work is featured in collections in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the White House, and the Museum of Modern Arts, Spain.
Another influential figure in the arts community was sculptor Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), who settled in the United States in 1923. He opened his own art school in New York City in 1939 and served as sculptor in residence at a number of American universities. At the time of his death, he had just completed his 199th one-man exhibition.
Ukrainian American artists established their own association in 1952. More than 100 painters, graphic artists, and sculptors were part of the original group, which included Kozak, Hnizdovsky, Michael Moroz, Michael Chereshnovsky (1911– ), and Nicholas Mukhyn.
Yaroslava Surmach-Mills is another well-known artist. Born in New York City in 1925, she graduated from the Cooper Union Art School and has worked as an art instructor, as art editor for Humpty Dumpty Magazine, and as an illustrator for numerous children's books. Her work, "Carol Singers," was chosen as a UNICEF Christmas card design in 1965.
Published by the Providence Association, an insurance company, it is a weekly tabloid with separate issues in Ukrainian and English, with a circulation of about 6,000. First printed in 1912, this Catholic paper covers politics, sports, and news about Ukraine and the United States.
Contact: Osip Roshka, Editor.
Address: 817 North Franklin Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123. Telephone: (215) 627-0233.
Published by the Ukrainian Fraternal Association (UFA). First printed in 1911, this weekly publication has a circulation of about 3,000. There are two editors, one for the Ukrainian pages and another for The Ukrainian Herald —the English-language section. The paper includes a literary section, news from Ukraine and the United States as it concerns Ukrainian Americans, and updates on the life of the Association. The UFA also publishes an English-language quarterly called Forum on the arts and history of Ukraine.
Contact: Nicholas Duplak, Ukrainian Editor; or Serge Kowalchuk, Jr., English Editor.
Address: 440 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18503.
Telephone: (717) 342-8897.
New Star Ukrainian Catholic Newspaper.
The organ of the St. Nicholas Diocese in Chicago, this bulletin of church news has a circulation of 3,500 and is published in both Ukrainian and English every three weeks.
Contact: Ivana Gorchynsky, Editor.
Address: 2208 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622.
Telephone: (312) 772-1919.
A daily Ukrainian-language newspaper with a circulation of 14,000, it includes local and Ukrainian news stories and advertisements. A weekly English-language newspaper, Ukrainian Weekly, is published out of the same location.
Contact: Zenon Snylyk, Editor of Svoboda; or Roma Hadzewych, Editor of Ukrainian Weekly.
Address: 2200 Route 10, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054
Telephone: (201) 434-0237.
Originally published in Germany in 1944, this Detroit-based paper has an international circulation. It is published weekly by the Bahriany Foundation (a foundation of writers named for Ukrainian writer and political leader Ivan Bahriany). The content includes news as well as literary articles.
Contact: Serhiy Kozak, Editor.
Address: 19411 West Warren Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48228.
Telephone: (313) 336-8291.
WCEV and WVVX.
"Ukrainian Variety Hour," hosted by Maria Chychula from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. daily on FM 103.1, and on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, 7:00 to 8:00 pm on AM 1450. She has been hosting these cultural radio programs since the late 1960s.
Contact: Maria Chychula.
Address: 2224 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622.
Telephone: (312) 278-1836.
"Sharvan's Ukrainian Radio Program," hosted by Wasyl Sharvan for more than 45 years, is a weekly program that airs from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and includes includes commentary, news, and music.
Contact: Wasyl Sharvan.
Address: 701 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14212.
Telephone: (716) 895-0700.
"Song of Ukraine," "Slovo," and "Ukrainian Catholic Hour" comprise three hours of Ukrainian programming weekly for the more than 100,000 Ukrainian Americans in the metro Detroit area. "Song of Ukraine" is a commentary program, airing Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m.; "Slovo," airing Fridays at 8:00 p.m., is a program hosted by and for new immigrants; and "Ukrainian Catholic Hour," airing on Saturdays at noon, combines information, sermons, and music for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite.
Contact: Jerry Tertzakian.
Address: 1837 Torquay, Royal Oak, Michigan 48073.
Telephone: (810) 557-3500.
Organizations and Associations
Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States. Founded in 1950, it was established to organize and sponsor scholars pursuing Ukrainian studies. The facilities include a museum and library which has material on the history of Ukrainian immigration to the United States and books on Ukrainian history and literature. It also publishes a scholarly journal, Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Contact: Prof. William Omelchenko, Vice-President.
Address: 206 West 100th Street, New York, New York 10025-5018.
Telephone: (212) 222-1866.
Fax: (212) 864-3977.
Ukrainian American Youth Association.
Operates summer camps and offers various cultural and recreational activities.
Contact: Stefa Hryckowian, President.
Address: 136 Second Avenue, New York, New York 10003.
Telephone: (212) 477-3084.
Ukrainian Catholic Church.
First parish in the United States, established in 1885 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
Contact: Archbishop Metropolitan Stephen Sulyk.
Address: Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 827 North Franklin Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123.
Telephone: (215) 627-0143.
Ukrainian National Women's League of America.
A non-partisan, non-sectarian organization that sponsors educational scholarships and cultural events.
Contact: Anna Krawczuk, President.
Address: 108 Second Avenue, New York, New York 10003.
Telephone: (212) 533-4646.
Fax: (212) 254-2672.
E-mail: [email protected]
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America.
Founded in 1928 by Ukrainians who emigrated from Russia, Bukovina, Galicia, and Poland.
Contact: Father F. Istochyn, Secretary to the Archbishop.
Address: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Vladimir, 6729 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19126.
Telephone: (212) 927-2287.
Museums and Research Centers
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
Established January 22, 1968, with financial and moral support from large numbers of Ukrainian Americans, Ukrainian Studies at Harvard began in 1957.
Contact: Prof. Roman Szporluk, Director.
Address: Harvard University, 1583 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.
Telephone: (617) 495-4053.
Fax: (617) 495-8097.
E-mail: [email protected]
Shevchenko Scientific Society.
Founded in 1947 in New York City to support research and to assist immigrant Ukrainian scholars in adjusting to life in the United States, it was named for the famous nineteenth-century Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko. The society organizes scientific sessions, lectures, and conferences as well as maintaining archives and a library.
Contact: Leonid Rudnytzky, President.
Address: 63 Fourth Avenue, New York, New York 10003.
Telephone: (212) 254-5130.
Ukrainian Center for Social Research
Independent, nonprofit research center. Examines history, problems, and present status of people of Ukrainian origin, focusing on demographic, social, cultural, economic, and related issues.
Contact: Eugene Fedorenko, Director.
Address: 203 2nd Ave. New York, New York 10003.
Telephone: (212) 477-1200.
Fax: (212) 777-7201.
Ukrainian Institute of America.
Founded in 1948, the Institute maintains a permanent exhibition of Ukrainian folk arts, sponsors lectures, concerts and conferences, and houses a Ukrainian historical gallery. It was established with funds from Volodymyr Dzus, a wealthy Ukrainian industrialist.
Contact: Volodymyr Barenecki, President.
Address: 2 East 79th Street, New York, New York 10021.
Telephone: (212) 772-8489.
Ukrainian Museum-Archives Inc.
Established in 1952, the archives emphasize the period of the Ukrainian Revolution and Ukrainian immigration to the United States after World War II. The archives include about 20,000 volumes in addition to archival materials.
Contact: Stepan Malanczuk, Director.
Address: 1202 Kenilworth Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113.
Telephone: (216) 781-4329.
Ukrainian National Museum.
Established in 1958 through the merger of the Ukrainian Archive-Museum in Chicago and the Ukrainian National Museum and Library of Ontario, Canada.
Address: 2453 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Telephone: (312) 276-6565.
Sources for Additional Study
Encyclopedia of Ukraine, five volumes, edited by Volodymyr Kubijovyc and Danylo Husar Struk. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984-1993.
Kuropas, Myron B. The Ukrainian Americans: Roots and Aspirations 1884-1954. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.
Subtelny, Orest. Ukrainians in North America: An Illustrated History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.
Ukraine and Ukrainians Throughout the World: A Demographic and Sociological Guide to the Homeland and Its Diaspora, edited by Ann Lencyk Pawliczko. Toronto: University of Toronto Press for the Shevchenko Scientific Society, Inc., 1994.
Ukrainians in North America, edited by Dmytro M. Shtohryn. Champaign, Illinois: Association for the Advancement of Ukrainian Studies, 1975.
Werstman, Vladimir. The Ukrainians in America 1608-1975. New York: Oceana Publications, 1976.
"Ukrainian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ukrainian-americans
"Ukrainian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. . Retrieved April 22, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ukrainian-americans
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