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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)


Mark Stolarik

Between 1870 and 2010 over half a million Slovaks migrated to the USA and Canada. As other ethnic groups from East Central Europe, they headed principally to the industrial triangle of the USA and to central Canada’s cities in search of work. Finding themselves in strange surroundings, they quickly established institutions that helped them to survive in a capitalist economy and to also preserve their religion, language and culture. As for many other ethnic groups, the border between the USA and Canada was to them irrelevant. Slovaks crossed it according to economic need and stayed in touch with each other. Meanwhile, they also remained in touch with their families in Europe and helped their people to survive Magyarization in Austria-Hungary, to achieve self-determination in the new Republic of Czechoslovakia and, finally, independence.
For the first time ever, the author has told the epic story of Slovak immigration to North America. Based upon forty years of archival and library research, supplemented by the life histories of over two dozen families scattered across the USA and Canada, and lavishly illustrated, this book will satisfy both academics and the general public who have long been waiting for a comprehensive history of this significant member of the family of Slavic nations.


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Introduction xv


Introduction When I began my training as a professional historian some forty years ago, I was taught to leave aside my own experiences and prejudices. The goal of an historian, I learned, was to try to recon- struct the past as faithfully and objectively as possible.1 For four decades I followed these directives and published eight books and over sixty articles on aspects of immigrant history, particularly as it affected the Slovaks.2 In the spring of 2001 my good friend and colleague William Galush asked me to present a paper at the January 2002 meeting of the American Historical Association. Since I had been consider- ing writing a book on the Slovak immigrant experience for some time, I agreed to his request, reasoning that this would be a good opportunity to offer one of my proposed chapters to the scrutiny of fellow historians. 1 My first history professor was Julian Gwyn at the University of Ottawa in 1961. In a graduate seminar on historical methods he introduced me to Jacques Barzun’s The Modern Researcher (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1957), which then became my “Bible.” At the University of Minne- sota my dissertation advisor Timothy L. Smith turned me into a social his- torian while Robert F. Berkhofer steered me to the methodology of the so- cial sciences through his proseminar and his monograph A Behavioral Approach to Historical Analysis (New York: The Free Press, 1969). Berkhofer took his arguments to their logical conclusion in his subsequent book Be- yond...

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