University of Minnesota

Splivalo, Joseph, Papers

Finding Aid

IHRC Archives

Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota

Descriptive summary

Creator: Splivalo, Joseph
Dates: 1922-1987
Abstract: Papers (1922-1988) of Joseph Splivalo (1900- ) include translations of Yugoslav poetry; articles about his family; and articles about Dalmatian seamen. Also included is a typescript of his autobiography,"Bread with Seven Crusts," photographs of Dalmatia and family members; correspondence, a copy of "Land Grants to Landmarks", and information on yachting.
Quantity: 1.5 linear ft.
Language: In Croatian, English, and Italian.
Collection ID: IHRC2487


Collection donated to the IHRC by Joseph Splivalo of California in 1983-1987.


Joseph Splivalo lived in Viganj, Dalmatia (part of Croatia in Austria-Hungary). His mother was born in Egypt. His father had lived in Egypt. He had spent time in America and become a citizen. In 1912 at the age of twelve he worked on the steamer "San Marco". He later worked as a waiter on the "Maria-B". His third job was waiter and cabin boy on the ship "Maria Immaculata". He returned to his village and helped his father fish and design and cut sails. On the "Knez", he worked as a cook. In 1916, he had to leave after he and other seamen asked for more wage and threatened a strike. In 1917 he became a helmsman on the "Juraj Subic". He later left when draft inductions of young boys started. He went on the ship "Petar Zrinjski" as a waiter. In 1919 he started work on the "Nad". He later returned to the "Juraj Subic" as a waiter. He had a boat built and spent time sailing and fishing. He then took a job on the "Monte Grappa" which paid for his passage to Australia. Splivalo left Europe to avoid the draft. He also felt he didn't have opportunity in Europe so his brother advised him to leave. He decided to go to Australia in 1921 where his two brothers lived. No mention is made of his immigration to the U.S. he settled in San Francisco, California. Splivalo wrote of how difficult it was to leave his parents and sister when he first left for the sea. The family was a very close one. While on ship his mother wrote to him in Italian mixed with Croatian words. He also had close ties with his godparents.

Leaving his village for Australia, he thought he would never see his parents again. The father was the main source of discipline in the family. Young men would stand in back of the church where they could watch their girlfriends. They would try to get their girlfriends' attention but were certain not to let the parents see. Custom prevented widows of seamen from marrying for many years. In some cases the sailors came home after they had been thought dead. Splivalo had a childhood sweetheart who broke off the friendship. When a couple broke off a friendship, hay was hung on the door of the person who had been left. Some jobs on certain shiplines were reserved for Italians. Splivalo felt he was slighted by people because of his lack of education. When Splivalo's brother deserted the Austrian army during World War I, the family feared reprisals. His mother burned her husband's American citizenship papers.

In Australia Splivalo's brother advised him not to act foreign, since Australians did not like foreigners. War veterans especially hated Europeans. Splivalo wrote about life in his coastal village and the various nationalities that lived in the village. He described the various locations he visited. He also wrote about the poor working conditions on some ships and his solo efforts to change these conditions. Widows of seamen were given no compensation. He also wrote about the beginning of World War I and the ship "Veribus Unitis" which carried the bodies of Prince Ferdinand and his wife. He discussed his brother's activities during World War I and the different views of World War I by the older and younger generations. After World War I, Italy invaded Dalmatia. Splivalo wrote constantly about his frustration concerning his lack of education and his efforts to get an education. He traveled on the Orient Express to go to school but found he didn't have enough educational requirements. Splivalo was employed on the "Monte Grappa" which would take him to Australia. On the "Monte Grappa" he heard about a seaman's organization which helped better the working conditions of seamen. Splivalo described his impressions of Australia.

(These biographical notes are from the published Guide to "American Immigrant Autobiographies, Part I: Manuscript Autobiographies from the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota", project coordinator Mary Moscato, guide compiled by Nanette Dobrosky, general editor Rudolph Vecoli, collections microfilmed and guide published by the University Publications of America, Bethesda, Maryland, 1988, Library of Congress Call No. E184.A1, ISBN: 1556550529 (microfilm) : LCCN: 90-12990)



The Splivalo, Joseph collection is available for public research.


The Splivalo, Joseph collection is the physical property of the Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRC Archives.


The Splivalo, Joseph Papers, Croatian American Collection, IHRC Archives, University of Minnesota

Index Terms

Yugoslav poetry

Description of Series

This section briefly describes each series in the collection. A more detailed description of the contents of each series may be found in the following section.

SERIES 1. Bread with Seven Crusts

Typescripts and drafts of the English translation of Splivalo's book "Bread with Seven Crusts"

SERIES 2. Correspondence

SERIES 3. Writings

This series contains typescripts of various writings by Splivalo, regarding particularly his family history and sailing.

SERIES 4. Miscellaneous

Detailed Description of the Collection

SERIES 1. Bread with Seven Crusts

Typescripts and drafts of the English translation of Splivalo's book "Bread with Seven Crusts"
BOX 1.
FOLDER 1. Chapters 1-5
FOLDER 2. Chapters 6-9, Epilogue
FOLDER 3. Draft of Forward, pp. 1-154
FOLDER 4. Draft pp. 155-347
FOLDER 5. Draft pp. 348-462

SERIES 2. Correspondence

BOX 2.
FOLDER 1. Correspondence and misc. enclosures
Correspondence includes exchanges with Prof. Vecoli of the U of MN, and photographs.
FOLDER 2. Correspondence, clippings
FOLDER 3. Miscellaneous correspondence

SERIES 3. Writings

This series contains typescripts of various wrintings by Splivalo, regarding particularly his family history and sailing.
BOX 2.
FOLDER 4. Writings (1)
FOLDER 5. Writings (2)

SERIES 4. Miscellaneous

BOX 3. Splivalo - Misc.
Folders 1-5 contain additional copies of Splivalo's articles and book chapters, included is also (Folder 4) a copy of "Land grants to landmarks" by Frances Fox (San Jose: 1978) which contains chapter on the Splivalo Family.

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