By George A. Miziuk
While Ukrainian immigration to the United States did not start until the latter part of the 19th century, American historical records indicate that people with Ukrainian names were on the North American continent as early as the 17th century. Perhaps the first Ukrainian to arrive in the New World was Levrenty Bohun (also referred to as Ivan Bohdan), according to legend, a doctor who accompanied Captain John Smith to Jamestown, Virginia in 1608.
Records from the American War of Independence list names of Ukrainian volunteers who served in the Continental Army, but little is known about them. The same is true of early Ukrainian settlers on the West Coast. These include Ukrainian kozaks (exiled to Siberia and Alaska by the Russian Czars), who helped to settle a colony near San Francisco called Fort Russ (today known as Fort Ross).
Reverend Ahapius Honcharenko, a native of Kyiv, settled in San Francisco where he published the Alaskan Herald, a bi-weekly newspaper.
Doctor Nikolai Sudzilovsky (later changed to Rusel) practiced medicine in San Francisco in the 1880's, moving to Hawaii in 1895. There, he helped to organize the Hawaiian Medical Society. In 1901 he was elected to the Hawaiian Senate and later became its presiding officer.
Despite these pioneers, there was no association among the Ukrainians in the United States until the immigration of the 1870's.
First Major Immigration: 1870-1899
Large scale immigration from Ukraine to the United States can be divided into four periods, the first from 1870 to 1899, representing the beginning of mass immigration. During this period the United States immigration records noted only the country of origin, and not the nationality of the immigrants.
Consequently, since the territory of Ukraine was divided between the empires of Austria-Hungary and Russia at the time, Ukrainian immigrants were listed as Russians, Austrians, or Hungarians, according to citizenship. This hinders an accurate count of the actual number of Ukrainian immigrants. Estimates of Ukrainian immigrants during this time period vary from 240,000 to 500,000 persons.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire abolished slavery in 1848, while the Russian Empire abolished slavery in 1861. The vast majority of Ukrainians at this time were former slaves that remained one of the poorest classes of farm laborers within these two empires. The promise of jobs in the New World was a great enticement to immigrate to America.
Thus, most of the first wave immigrants were the economic working class seeking jobs. They settled in the anthracite coal mining towns of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and in the farmlands of Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.
The early immigrants had to resist the influence of pro-Russian and pro-Hungarian organizations that desired to draw the Ukrainians into their own sphere of influence.
Ukrainian churches and social groups began to be organized in the U.S., with the goal of unifying and helping the community. The community leadership role of Ukrainian Catholic priests, such as Father Ivan Voliansky and Father Gregory Hrushka were crucial for the early immigrants.
One of the prominent Ukrainian early immigrants was Agapius Honcharenko, kowas an outstanding educator, truth-teller, human rights activist, patriot of Ukraine. He was a defender of the common people, openly maintained the overthrow of serfdom in Russia, against the use of serfs in the church, for which he suffered much persecution and abuse by the Russian tsarist power, attempted assaults on his life, organized by the tsarist power. On January 6, 1865 he conducted the first service of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States (New York). Later he moved to Alaska and founded the first Russian-Ukrainian-language printing house in the United States, published a newspaper „The Alaska Herald-Svoboda”. The last years of his life Agapius Honcharenko spent in San Francisco, from 1869 to 1873 he was a member of the San Francisco Academy of Sciences. On November 14, 1997, the burial place of Father Agapius and the territory of the settlement "Ukraine" created by him were included in the list of historical monuments protected by the State of California.
The earliest Ukrainian American organization established in 1894, in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, was the Ukrainian National Association, which still exists today, headquartered in New Jersey.
Second Major Immigration: 1900-1914
The second period of Ukrainian immigration began after 1900 and ended with the outbreak of World War I. Immigration during this period increased annually by thousands until it reached its peak in 1914 with a total of 42,413 Ukrainian immigrants. During this second period, approximately 250,000 persons arrived in the United States from Ukraine.
Ukrainian immigrants during this second period settled mainly in the large industrial cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago. They sought employment in these cities with major industries, such as iron and steel, glass, rubber, shoe, furniture, automobile, rail car factories, flour mills, and sugar refining plants. This was a change from the previous immigration which mainly sought jobs in the agrarian area.
In 1907, Bishop Soter Ortynsky was assigned charge of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the U.S. His arrival as the first such Bishop was hailed as a breakthrough by the Ukrainian American community. Unfortunately, the Bishop's influence created antagonism between the Ukrainian Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodox believers.
The community was fractured in 1910, when the Ukrainian National Association Convention was met with a proposal by the Bishop's followers to change the format and character of the membership to reflect a Catholic society. Two new fraternals were created as a result of withdrawal by disenfranchised members, and later another by the Bishop and his followers. With the death of Bishop Ortynsky in 1916, the healing process began among the different camps within the community.
Third Major Immigration: 1920-1939
During the period between the World Wars, immigration as a whole was restricted by the ''Red Scare,'' isolationism, and largely by the quota system. An estimated figure of between 20,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians arrived in the U.S. during the interwar time. Some historians claim that by 1930, there were some 568,000 Ukrainians in the U.S.A. The matrix of Ukrainian American organizations grew stronger as a result.
The class and character of Ukrainian immigrants shifted from economic to political as well.
The old Empires of east-central Europe collapsed in World War I. During the Russian Revolution, Ukraine declared independence on January 22, 1918. The rise of Communism within Russia - Soviet Union eventually led to the defeat of Ukrainian Armies and independence was lost in 1922.
Many Ukrainian families sought refuge abroad. Due to immigration restrictions by the U.S., many Ukrainians chose to immigrate to Western Europe, Canada, South America, and Australia.
In this time period, the Artificial Terror-Famine in Ukraine of 1932-33 took place, which was the work of dictator Josef Stalin and his Soviet henchmen, especially his NKVD (secret police) General Lazar Kaganovich. From 7 to 10 million native Ukrainians were deliberately exterminated during this genocidal act. Ukrainians in the U.S. sent aid to their countrymen, but it was refused by the Soviet Government. Another wave of executions in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union was carried out in 1937-38 by Stalin.
Fourth Major Immigration: Post World War II
In World War II, native Ukrainians found themselves caught between two evil Empires: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Ukraine briefly declared independence on June 30, 1941 in the City of L’viv, but the Ukrainian leaders were arrested shortly afterward by invading Nazis. Later, the Ukrainians formed an independent militia (The Ukrainian Insurgent Army) which fought a two-front war.
A unique aspect of World War II was that many thousands of the previous Ukrainian immigrants eventually volunteered for service in the Armed Forces of the Allied country to which they immigrated, or in many cases, were already born a first or second generation citizen.
At the end of World War II, there were about 4 million Ukrainian displaced persons in Europe. Some were ex-prisoners of War from the Soviet Army, some were actual survivors of Nazi Concentration Camps, but the vast majority was those forcibly taken from their homeland to Austria and Germany as laborers during the War, the victims of Hitler's theory of all Slavs being ''sub-humans.''
When the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 was enacted, some 85,000 Ukrainians found their way to America, peaking in the years 1949 and 1950. Many others immigrated to Western Europe, South America and Australia. The existing Ukrainian American organizations helped to integrate the new immigrants into American society by teaching them English and finding jobs for them.
Ukrainian Americans Today
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were about 893,000 Americans of Ukrainian descent. However, there were some problems with the methodology of the census, and individuals who used historical or geographic terms to identify themselves were counted with other groups. Many individuals identified their country of origin (such as Russia, Poland, or Austria) rather than their ethnic background. As a result, some demographers estimate that there are actually between 1.5 and 2.0 million Americans of Ukrainian background.
According to the research Center for Demographic and Socio-economic Research of Ukrainians in the United States, which operates under the Scientific Society of Taras Shevchenko in New York, now in America are living 930 434 persons of Ukrainian origin (0.3% of the total population).
In the hundred years since the first major wave of Ukrainian immigration to the United States, Ukrainians have established a vibrant and dynamic community. As in most ethnic communities, the Church is the center of focus for most Ukrainians. The majority of Ukrainian Americans belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. A number of Ukrainians also belong to the Byzantine Greek Catholic Church.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., headquartered in South Bound Brook, N.J. Ukrainian Baptists belong to the All-Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Fellowship, based in Chicago.
Two Ukrainian American central organizations exist to synchronize activities of the community at large: the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council.
Milestones in Ukrainian American History
In 1910, representatives of the Ukrainian American community met with President William Howard Taft to discuss their concerns about U.S. Census policy towards Ukrainians that year. Since then, community leaders have met with virtually every U.S. President, both Republican and Democratic.
At the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, the Ukrainian Pavilion received wide acclaim for its design and content. It was the only Fair building in the nationalities group that was not sponsored by a national government. Soon afterwards, the community established a Ukrainian section in the Cultural Gardens in Cleveland, which included the work of sculptor Alexander Archipenko, who had exhibited in the Ukrainian Pavilion.
On June 27, 1964, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower unveiled a statue of Ukraine's poet Taras Shevchenko in Washington, D.C. The event was witnessed by a crowd of over 100,000 Ukrainian Americans.
In 1968, a Ukrainian Studies Center was created at Harvard University in Boston. This milestone at such a prestigious institution included three separate Departments: History, Language, and Literature. Ukrainian Study Centers and Departments of Eastern European Studies have since been established at other colleges and universities.
Ukrainian Contributions to American Life
Ukraine's history is rich with stories of military warriors, from ancient Scythian horsemen, knights of medieval Kyivan Rus', to the Zaporizhan Ukrainian kozaks who fought against invading forces of the Ottoman Empire. Many Ukrainian Americans also chose the military as their career. Some of the more illustrious are: Gen. Steve Melnik, who led Strategic Air Command in the 1960's; Gen. Samuel Jaskilka, former Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1970's; and Army Major Gen. Nicholas Krawciw, who led the 3rd Infantry (tank) Division in West Germany in the 1980's. The service of Ukrainian Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces is represented by the Ukrainian American Military Association, and the Ukrainian American Veterans order.
With American emphasis on sports, many young Ukrainian Americans have excelled in hockey, football, baseball, and soccer. For their play in American Football, three Ukrainians have been enshrined in the NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio: Bronko (Bronislaw) Nagurski, Church Bednarik, and Mike Ditka.
In the later 1950's, the Boston Bruins hockey club had a famed ''Ukie'' line consisting of Vic Stasiuk, Bronco Horvath, and Johnny Bucyk. Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks still holds the record for a ''hat trick'' in 21 seconds. In 1995, the New Jersey Devils captured the Stanley Cup Championship for the first time with the help of Ukrainian teammates Ken Daneyko and Petro (Peter) Sidorkevich.
In the world of stage and screen, one finds numerous Ukrainian Americans, among them being John Hodiak (Lifeboat, The Harvey Girls, A Bell for Adano), Nick Adams (Rebel Without a Cause, No Time for Sergeants, The Rebel), Mike Mazurki (It's a Mad Mad Mad World, Nightmare Alley, Donovan's Reef), George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter, No Way Out, The Butcher's Wife, Law and Order). Also famous is Oscar winning Jack Palance (Requiem for a Heavyweight, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Shane, Che, City Slickers), as well as his daughter Holly Palance (Ripley's Believe It or Not!). Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy and Concentration, is also of Ukrainian heritage.
In the music world, Melanie achieved success with popular adult music, while Joy Brittan graced the stages of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Paul Plishka and Andrij Dobriansky both performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Classic pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky also plays the concert halls in New York City.
Ukrainian women have participated in American beauty contests. The best known are Melisa Metrinko (former Miss USA), Analise Ilchenko (former Miss USA-World), and Kaye Lani Rae Rafko (Miss America 1988).
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America
Mailing address: 203 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 228-6840
Fax: (212) 254-4721
Andriy Futey, President
Ukrainian American Coordinating Council
Mailing address: 142 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 505-1765
Fax: (212) 475-6181
Ihor Gawdiak, President
Ukrainian National Women’s League of America
Mailing address: 203 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel.: (212) 533-4646
Fax: (212) 533-5237
Marianna Zajac, President
Mailing address: 660 L Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 524-6555
Fax: (202) 280-1989
Nadia K. McConnell, President
Ukrainian Federation of America
700 N Cedar Rd.Jenkintown, PA 19046
Теl: (215) 782-1075
Fax: (215) 782-1076
Zenia Chernyk, President
United Ukrainian American Relief Committee
1206 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111
Phone: (215) 728-1630
Fax: (215) 728-1631
Larysa Kyj, President
The Washington Group
Mailing address: P.O. Box 11248
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (301) 8732035
Andrew Bihun, President
Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America
Mailing address: 2 East 79 Street
New York, NY 10021
Tel./fax: (630) 839 – 6014
Askold Boretsky, President
Ukrainian Medical Association of North America
Mailing address: 2247 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago Illinois, 60622
Fax: (773) 792-8966
Andriy Melnyk, President
Ukrainian American Bar Association
Mailing address: 216 Sorrel Dr., Wilmington, DE 19802
Tel: (302) 897-7182
George Pazuniak, President
Ukrainian-American Youth Association
Mailing address: 136 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 477-3084
Fax: (212) 505-2577
Andriy Bihun, President
Plast, Ukrainian Scouting Organization
Mailing address: 144 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003-8305
Tel: (212) 475-6960
Fax: (212) 533-8991
Petro Stavnychyi, President
Ukrainian National Association
Mailing address: 2200 Route 10 West,
P.O.Box 280 Parsippany, NJ 07054
Tel: (973) 292-9800
Fax: (973) 292-0900
Stefan Kaczaraj, President
Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation
Mailing address: 2249 West Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60612
Tel: (847) 699-9484
Fax: (847) 813-7813
Nicholas Mischenko, President
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Mailing address: P.O.Box 495, South Bound Brook, NJ 08880
Tel: (732) 356-0090
Fax: (732) 356-5556
Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia
Mailing address: 827 North Franklin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Tel: (1-215) 627-0143
Fax: (1-215) 627-0377
Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka
Ukrainian Association of North Carolina
Mailing address: 935 White Cross Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Tel: (919) 993-6428
Vasyl Shymonyak, President
New Ukrainian Wave
Mailing address: 14 Peveril Rd.
Stamford, CT 06902
Tel.: (347) 420-7678
Myroslava Rozdolska, President
Four Freedoms for Ukraine
Mailing address: P.O.Box 304, Cooper Station, New York NY 10276
Tel.: (212) 982-1170,
Fax: (212) 473-0188
Michael Koziupa, President
Ukrainian American Veterans
Mailing address: P.O. Box 791 Osprey, Fl 34229-0791
Tel: 941 966 2845
Fax: 941 925 2946
Ihor W.Hron, National Commander
Mailing address: 2246 West Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL, 60622
Tel: (312) 880-9283
Yuriy Soroka, President
Mailing Address: 140 2nd Avenue, Suite 304, New York, NY 10003
Lyuba Shipovich, President
Ukrainian American Coordinating Council - California Branch (UACC)
Mailing address: 345 7th Street San Francisco, CA, 94015
Tel.: (415) 225-2582
Vitalii Vizir, President
Mailing address: 6543 Auburn Blvd, Citrus Heights, CA 95621
Tel.: (916) 201-0101
Stepan Scots, President
Mailing address: 125 University Ave, suite 230, Palo Alto, CA 94301 USA
Tel: (408) 203 4323
Fax: (484) 204 4323
Mykola Bilogorskiy, President
Ukrainian Cultural Club of Dallas
Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences
Mailing address: 206 West 100th Street
New York, NY 10025
Теl: (212) 222-1866
Fax: (212) 864-3977
Albert Kipa, President
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
Serhii Plokhii, Director
Shevchenko Scientific Society
Mailing address: 63 Fourth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 254-5130
Fax: (212) 254-5239
George Grabowicz, President
Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America
P.O. Box 46009, Chicago, IL 60646
Tel.: (773) 490-9797
Fax: (773) 305-8900
Marta Farion, President
Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation
2247 West Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Alexander Kuzma, Director
Ukrainian Institute of America
Mailing address: 2 East 79th Street,
New York, NY 10021
Tel: (212) 288-8660
Fax: (212) 288-2918
Daniel Swistel, President
Ukrainian National Home
Mailing address: 140 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (1-212) 254-8717
Fax: (1-212) 254-4005
Andrew Lastowecky, President
Ukrainian Museum in New York City
Mailing address: 222 East 6th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 228-0110
Fax: (212) 228-1947
Renata Holod, President
Ukrainian National Museum
2249 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL, 60612
Lydia Tkaczuk, President
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
2320 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60622
Tel.: 773 227-5522
Orysia Cardoso, President
1202 Kenilworth Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
Andrew Fedynsky, Director
Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford
161 Glenbrook Road, Stamford , CT 06902
Tel.: (203) 323-8866 and (203) 324-0488
Fax: (203) 357-7681
Paul Chomnycky, President
Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center
700 Cedar Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Tel: (1-215) 663-11-66
Fax: (1-215) 663-8572
Sophia Koropeckyj, President
Ukrainian Heritage Club of Northern California
1415 Lorimer Drive Roseville, CA 95747
Tel. (916) 771-2402
Fax (916) 482-4706
President - Lubow Jowa
Ukrainian Cultural Center
26601 Ryan Road, Warren, Michigan 48091
Tel.: (586) 757-8130
Fax: (586) 757-1022
Bohdan Fedorak, Director
Yara Arts Group
Mailing address: 306 East 11th St.
New York, NY 10003 USA
Tel: (212) 475-6474
Virlana Tkacz, Artistic Director
Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
Mailing address: 700 Cedar Road
Jenkintown, PA 19046
Tel: (1-215) 663-0294
Fax: (1-215) 763-8503
Taras Lewyckyi, Artistic Director
Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
Mailing address: 109 Major Dr.
North Wales, PA 19454
Tel: (610) 416-6088, (917) 495-0020
Ania Bohachevsky Lonkevych, Executive Director
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus
Mailing address: 15356 Ellen Drive
Livonia, MI 48154-2318
Tel: (734) 953-0305
Anatoli Murha, President
Ukrainian American Sport Center «TRYZUB»
Mailing address: P.O. Box 346б Lower State and County Line Roads
Horsham, PA 19044
Tel: (215) 343-5412
Dan Nysh, President
Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union
Mailing address: 108 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003-8392
Tel: (1-212) 473-7310
Fax: (1-212) 473-3251
Bohdan Kurchak, President
SUMA Yonkers Federal Credit Union
Mailing address: 125 Corporate Blvd,
Yonkers, NY 10701
Tel: (914) 220-4900
Fax: (914) 220-4090
Walter Kozicky, President
Ukrainian-American Federal Credit Union «Selfreliance»
Mailing address: 2332 West Chicago Ave. Chicago IL 60622
Tel: (773) 328-7500
Fax: (773) 328-7544
Bohdan Watral, President
Power of Spirit Society Corporation
P.M. Box 344, 8001 Castor Ave.
Roman Loun, President
Brama Press and UkraiNEWStand
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Chas i Podiyi
Ukrainian Language News in Chicago
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Chychula - Radio/TV
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Pavlo Lymarenko, Editor
Narodna Volya / Ukrainian Herald
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Scranton PA 18504
Roman Luzetski, Editor
National Tribune - Natsional'na Trybuna - Shlach Peremohy (Weekly)
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New York NY 10003
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Our Life (Nashe Zhyttia)
publ. by UNWLA
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Our Voice - "Nash Holos"
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Olha Kuzmovycz, Editor-in-Chief
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Peace to You (Mir Vam) Christian magazine
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Vasil Shur, Executive Editor
Tel: (206) 932-3306
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Leon A. Mosko, Editor in Chief
Svoboda Ukrainian Weekly
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The Ukrainian Weekly
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