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Immigration History Research Center

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IHRC News Online May - June 2005

Collection Development
Friends of IHRC

Events and announcements between issues of this newsletter and items of general interest are publicized in the "Community Events & Announcements" section of the Friends of IHRC pages.

Conference May 12-14, 2005 at Andersen Library

Immigration History conference and banquet stimulates and satisfies participants

A conference on the history and current direction of immigration studies and celebrating the career of Rudolph J. Vecoli, IHRC director and professor of history (who retires at the end of July after 38 years as director) was held May 12-14, 2005, cosponsored; by the Department of History and the IHRC. The conference drew both academics (including many of Vecoli's former students), and ethnic community members to learn about current research and ideas for the future.

Conference sessions, held at Andersen Library, explored the research of a mix of established scholars and graduate students. It was evident from the ethnic groups studied that current immigrants from Asia, Africa, and South America are now vying for the researcher's attention with the "old" immigrants from Europe. Films shown Thursday and Friday evenings were also chosen to reflect the "new" and "old" immigrant groups. The planners deliberately showcased historical and contemporary experiences as well as academic and public perspectives.

Jon Gjerde, professor of history at UC-Berkeley, who received his PhD in history at the U of MN in 1982, was the opening keynote speaker Thursday evening, May 12 (photo at right). He spoke about the place of the study of immigration, ethnicity, and race in the historical profession: "My argument is rather simple," he said. "I believe that the image of the immigrant is a powerful symbol in American life, particularly in recent decades."

The evening began with a reception and also included a poetry reading by Ibé Kaba (originally from Guinea and Sierra Leone and now residing in Eagan, MN), and a mini-art exhibition of paintings by Koffi Mbairamadji (an artist from Chad who now lives in the Twin Cities area).

For more about the conference program, including speakers and films, see its section.

Retirement Banquet

A gala banquet held in the atrium of the Hubert H. Humphrey Center Saturday evening, sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, honored Professor Vecoli's career as well as the many individuals and organizations that have supported the IHRC through its first 40 years. Entertainment included readings from memoirs in the archives by members of the Board of Directors of Friends of the IHRC, researched and compiled by playwright and actress Celeste Raspanti. Readers besides Celeste were Don and Jeanette Pafko, Kathy and Gary Gruett, and Chris Skjervold. A "this is your life"-type slide show of Vecoli's activities over the years, both professional and personal, gathered from home by his daughter Lisa, and from the IHRC's photograph collection by IHRC staffers Judy Rosenblatt and Joel Wurl, was shown during the opening reception. A set of note cards bearing photographs from the collections was a take-home souvenir at each diner's place. (Sets of these cards are for sale from the IHRC. Contact the office for more information (

Representatives of several ethnic organizations that have given collections and monetary support to the Center provided testimonial letters and awards to Vecoli. Roving MC Joel Wurl brought the microphone to Michael Giga of; the American Latvian Association, Agnes and Laszlo Fulop of the Minnesota Hungarians, and others to express their appreciation. The formal program of speakers included College of Liberal Arts Dean Steven Rosenstone; History Department Chair M. J. Maynes; IHRC Curator and Asst. Director Joel Wurl; Vecoli's daughter, Lisa Vecoli; one of Vecoli's early PhD students, June Granatir Alexander; and Rudy's friend and fellow historian Joseph Amato. Photo at right: Enda-Mai Michelson-Holland, director of the Estonian Archives in the U.S., Inc., and Juhan Simonson, former head of the Estonian American National Council, Inc., presented a plaque to Rudy Vecoli on behalf of the Estonian American community. The IHRC holds the very large Estonian American collection donated by the Archives and administers the Must Graduate Fellowship in Estonian American Studies, funded by contributions of the community to the Center's Endowment Campaign.

An album of snapshots taken at the conference and banquet is posted.

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Collection Development

Victor Greene collection. 10 lin. ft.
Greene, an emeritus professor of history at the U of WI-Milwaukee specializing in American immigration, was also president of the Immigration (and Ethnic) History Society, 1985-1988. He is author of For God and Country: The Rise of Polish and Lithuanian Ethnic Consciousness in America, 1860-1910, and A Passion for Polka: Old-time Ethnic Music in America.

Collection (contributed in both 2004 and 2005) includes monographs on immigration history (largely Polish and Czech), jubilee albums of East European American parishes, ethnic community periodicals, research files, and numerous sound recordings (78- and 45-rpm records) of immigrant and ethnic bands. Also includes files pertaining to his service as president of the Immigration (and Ethnic) History Society.

Herbert Michelson papers, 4 lin. ft. (supplement to 11 lin. ft.)
Michelson was a leading figure in the Estonian American scouting movement during the mid-late 20th century, as well as a journalist, author, and activist in the Estonian American community.

Records pertain chiefly to his service as director at the Breyer Scout Training Area in Elkins Park, PA, which attracted participants from throughout the United States and other countries. Included are correspondence, organizational meeting materials, articles, and clippings.

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Announcements & Events

The Nelson Brothers: Finnish-American Radicals from the Mendocino Coast available from IHRC
The IHRC is pleased to announce that The Nelson Brothers: Finnish-American Radicals from the Mendocino Coast, by Allan Nelson, has been published and is now available from the Center. Download the information flyer / order form.

The book is "an important and engaging work," according to one of the reviewers, Dr. Alexis Pogorelskin, professor of history at the U of MN-Duluth, who adds that it is an "important contribution to the unique history of Finnish Americans." One of the rare and fascinating things about this story is that both sides of an exchange of letters were available to the author, because his father, Arvid, copied the letters he sent to his brother Enoch in Soviet Karelia and kept the copies along with the replies. The IHRC holds Arvid Nelson's papers, donated by Allan. Publishers are the Mendocino County Historical Society and Mendocino County Museum in association with the IHRC. Editors of the book are Russell and Sylvia Bartley, who also provide an Introduction and Afterword that help to put this history in context.

Sponsors of new guide to microfilmed Ukrainian and Carpatho-Rusin publications recognized. On the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, members of the Ukrainian community in the Twin Cities gathered at the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center hall of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN, to meet with and recognize John Hynansky (president and CEO of Winner Automotive Group) for his financial sponsorship of Phase II of the Ukrainian Microfilming Project and to acknowledge Prof. Leonid Rudnytsky (president of the Shevchenko Scientific Society - World Council, recognized in absentia) for the society's sponsorship of the resulting soon-to-be-published book, A Research Guide to Ukrainian and Carpatho-Rusyn American Newspapers, Periodicals, and Calendars-Almanacs on Microfilm, 1886-1976. This event also was a forum to inform the Ukrainian community about the Ukrainian Microfilming Project and the two institutions under whose auspices it was conducted, the Shevchenko Scientific Society-World Council and the IHRC. A prototype of the new publication was on display.

In the above photo taken at the event are (from left to right) Mary Lushnycky (assistant on the project), Alexander Lushnycky (co-compiler of the guide), John Hynansky, Halyna Myroniuk (IHRC senior assistant curator and co-compiler of the guide), Prof. Rudolph J. Vecoli (IHRC director), and Joel Wurl (IHRC curator and assistant director). Photo courtesy of Oleh Gregoret.

Oleh Gregoret, president of the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center, welcomed the guests and then introduced Walter Anastas as the MC. Anastas, longtime supporter of the IHRC, represents the Ukrainian Community Center (Minneapolis) on the board of directors of the Friends of the IHRC. Other attendees, who came from Chicago for the U of MN conference / banquet described above and for this event, were Dr. Myron Kuropas (scholar of Ukrainian American history) and his wife, Lesya, and Julian Kulas (president, Heritage Foundation).

The first edition of this guide, a booklet that covered early Ukrainian American newspapers and periodicals only, compiled by the same editors, was published in 1998. The new, vastly expanded second edition has been in the making for six years. Newspapers, periodicals, and calendars-almanacs were identified and borrowed for microfilming from many institutions around the country. The new guide will be a very valuable resource for researchers of Ukrainian American and Carpatho-Rusin history, for example leading them to the new microfilm of publications that would have been inaccessible and/or too fragile to handle for research.

FEEFHS conference logoFEEFHS Conference 2005: "Dare to Discover: Exploring Central and Eastern European Ancestry" to be held in St. Paul Aug. 19–21

The Immigration History Research Center is a supporter of a conference for genealogists to be held Aug. 19–21, 2005, at the Four Points by Sheraton St. Paul-Capitol, 400 N. Hamline Ave., with over 90 presentations covering a wide variety of ethnic topics and 20 different ethnic groups. The sponsor, FEEFHS (Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies), is a major international genealogical federation. Participating societies represent 25 different ethnic, religious, and regional interest groups. For more information, see the website of cosponsor The Society for Germanic Genealogy in Eastern Europe, at Early registration at a discount is available until July 16.

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IHRC Endowment Campaign: "Stories Worth Remembering"

College of Liberal Arts and IHRC thank Latvian government for contribution to ALA fellowship fund. On May 31, the College of Liberal Arts hosted a garden party reception at Eastcliff, the U of MN president's residence, to honor the contribution of $81,000+ by the Latvian government, completing funding of the American Latvian Association (ALA) Graduate Fellowship in Latvian American Studies. Members of theLatvian American community, Friends of IHRC Board of Directors, and CLA and IHRC staffs joined Ainars Latkovskis, Minister for Special Assignments, Social Integration Affairs, Government of Latvia, and Maris Selga, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Latvia, at the event.

The IHRC, represented by Director Rudolph Vecoli and Curator and Asst. Director Joel Wurl, presented certificates of appreciation to representatives of the ALA, which contributed much of the rest of the $150,000 that funds the fellowship, and the Latvian government representatives. From left in photo: Janis Kukainis (president of the World Federation of Free Latvians), CLA Dean Steven Rosenstone, Minister Latkovskis, Deputy Chief Selga, Sarma Liepins (head of cultural activities for the American Latvian Association), Joel Wurl, and Rudolph Vecoli. An album of photographs taken at the event has been posted.

Daughters of Penelope chapters contribute to IHRC endowment. At the May meeting of the Friends of IHRC board of directors, Tessie Bourdamis, representative of the Minneapolis area chapter of the Daughters of Penelope on the board, presented Dir. Rudy Vecoli with checks totalling another $775 for the Greek American Studies Fund of the IHRC endowment (totaling $1,075 so far). The funds were collected from DOP chapters around the country in connection with the Greek American women's current project to collect information about each of the chapters for a permanent book, a copy of which will be donated to the IHRC archives. Bourdamis is national archives chair for the organization.

The IHRC welcomes contributions to any of its fellowship funds (see fellowships and scholarships) or endowment funds for specific ethnic group studies. Get more information about the different funds at the endowment page at this section. Matching funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities are available for contributions or pledges to the IHRC's endowment campaign fulfilled by July 2006.

If you or your organization would like to endow a named fund, fellowship, scholarship, or internship, please contact the IHRC for information. If you would like a speaker and/or the IHRC's videotape about its mission for a group meeting, contact the office. Email: Phone: 612-625-4800. To purchase the videotape, see the Publications Catalog.

See below for how you can help with research for a fund raising project of the Friends of IHRC.

Make a contribution

If you appreciate the IHRC's work, make a contribution to the Annual Appeal (to help fund general day-to-day expenses) and/or to the endowment (for investment in the long-term future of the Center). Have you considered adding a bequest to the IHRC in your will? Your help is urgently needed and greatly appreciated. Contact the office for more information.

Make a pledge or one-time contribution for the endowment. Follow the directions in ways you can help the campaign. Thank you for supporting the documentation, preservation, and promotion of the history of our nation's immigrant experience.

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Researchers and Visitors

Some recent researchers:

Maria Iliou, from Greece, spent several days investigating immigration of the Greeks in America for a film.

Gwen Schagrin, a staff member at the U of MN's Wilson Library, researched Esther Swirk Brown, a civil rights activist, for a journal article.

For a scholarly journal article, Minneapolis resident Verena Mund researched information on Mahogany, a 1975 US movie, directed by Berry Gordy and starring Diana Ross as a ghetto woman who dreams of becoming a top fashion designer.

Benjamin Alexander, a new PhD from New York, did exploratory research on International Institutes and in related materials, for possible future in-depth research leading to publications.

June Alexander, history professor at the U of Cincinnati, visiting to participate in the May 12–14 conference and banquet honoring her one-time PhD adviser, did research on the history of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society for the Journal of American Ethnic History.

Kathryn Tull, a Master's degree student at Northern Illinois U, did research for her thesis on Finnish cooperatives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

William Samonides and Regine Johnson of Canton, OH, researched the history of the Canton chapter of the Greek American fraternal organization AHEPA for a book.

Linda Rasmussen, a Minneapolis resident, spent several days doing research for a book, the authorized biography of Zinka Milanov, a Croatian singer.

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Vecoli and IHRC archives featured in alumni magazine. The May-June Issue of Minnesota, the U of MN Alumni Association magazine, features "Immigration Authority," a profile of retiring IHRC director Rudy Vecoli and his passion for "rescuing treasures of immigrant history-and securing a safe haven for them." The piece (pp. 22-26) is illustrated with a wonderful photograph of Rudy with his arms outstretched showing off the boxes of documents in the underground archives storage cavern. The IHRC has a limited number of the magazines; contact the Center if you would like a copy (or a copy of the article). The Alumni Association' s Web address is (the article is not available electronically, unfortunately, but you can join the association and receive a copy).

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Friends of the IHRC

Link here to the Friends section of the website for more information about the organization, including how to join this nonprofit support group for the IHRC (or use the drop-down navigation box at the top of this newsletter).

Friends work on fund raising for the IHRC endowment

The Friends have begun a project to contact ethnic organizations around the country with information about the IHRC Endowment Campaign for their newsletters and a request for contributions from the organizations and individual members. Friends board and members are currently engaged in research to identify additional organizations to solicit. If you would like to help with this research, contact Judy Rosenblatt, 612-624-5774 or (must have access to the Internet and/or libraries). Letters are expected to be sent in late summer or early fall. To receive funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities Matching Grant, donations must be received at the IHRC by July 2006.

2004 Annual Meeting Report. See the Friends Web page.

Book sale to benefit Karni Scholarship Fund

Quantities are limited! Finnish American scholarship and literature offered at half price, with proceeds benefitting scholars' visits to the Center. Download the catalog/order form to print out.

Find out more about or to contribute to the Karni Scholarship Fund.

Friends sell discounted Historical Atlas of Central Europe - Lots of information for history buffs and genealogists! Many new maps. Info in Announcements or link to order form to print out (PDF).

State History Day

The theme for 2005 National History Day (NHD) is Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. Minnesota's State History Day took place in Coffman Memorial Union, U of MN Minneapolis Campus, on Sunday, May 1, 2005. For the 13th year, the Friends have participated, as topical award presenters. Usually two prizes are given, to the outstanding junior and senior high school projects relating to immigration history (when the judges find worthy projects). Participating students are invited to contact the Center and to visit the IHRC to use its resources for their projects, which can be a written paper, a display, a performance, or a video—individual or group.

National History Day has been a highly successful effort to engage young students in history research. On June 6, NHD, a nonprofit education organization, celebrated its 25th birthday. This year, 40,000 teachers have encouraged 700,000 students nationwide to participate. The 2004–2005 NHD national contest will be held June 12–16 at the University of Maryland.

Volunteer judge for the Friends this year was Marko Kirn, representative of the Croatian Cultural Society of MN on the Friends Board of Directors. He awarded one prize, on the junior high school level. (He found no senior project worthy of the award.) He reports on his choice:

I awarded the prize ($50) to Maggie Nolting (Breck School, Golden Valley; teacher: Carrie Lennox) for her Individual Performance project "Hmong Culture Clash: Communication or Confrontation?" in which she described the Hmong cultural history in the United States, the difficulties the Hmong had adapting to the new culture and new style of life once they emigrated from Vietnam and Thailand. Her performance was excellent; she wore Hmong clothes and spoke a few sentences in the Hmong language.

When asked by the judges why she chose that subject, she said that she was upset by the negative impact the hunting incident in Wisconsin had on the Hmong minority and all the adverse comments and reaction after that. Her research was very extensive: she used the Web, books, and articles; she went to the Hmong Cultural and Resource Center in St. Paul; and she spoke to State Senator Mee Moua and three other Hmong, Ms. Vang Ka, Ms. Ling Gao-Shang (who is Ka Vang's sister), and Vern Xiong.

Not to diminish Maggie's efforts and commitment, I was torn between this project and another to assign the junior prize. Anne Walli and Allie Ray did a performance called "The Internment of a Young Girl—Stories of Survivors." Anne and Allie decided to work on such a project, about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, because both of them had relatives involved with the internment directly or indirectly. They described what it looked like to live in an internment camp, how those camps were set up by the US Government, and the stories of the people who ended up in those camps. What I really liked about this project, besides the performance and research, was the passion the two young pupils showed and their desire to fight discrimination in the future. As they said it, "We agree that discrimination is unfair to all who must endure it."

Ultimately I awarded the junior prize to Maggie just because she did an individual project and did all the hard work by herself.

The IHRC has copies of the introductions/bibliographies for both junior performance projects, acquired by Marko from the performers. They may be read at the Center. Congratulations to Maggie Nolting for her award-winning performance.

Announcements of ethnic events. Click on "Friends" in the navigation box at the top of the page and then click on "Community Events & Announcements" in the index on the right. The announcement list is updated frequently, so check it often. You may also click here.

Board Meeting: The Board of Directors meets next on Saturday, July 16, 2005. Members of the organization are welcome to attend board meetings. email Pres. Don Pafko, <>, for more information or phone 952-831-1440.

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About the IHRC

Find out more about the IHRC from the About section . Click on "Visiting the IHRC" and then "virtual tour," an excellent, detailed introduction to the building, the IHRC offices and collections, and how to conduct research at the Center.

The IHRC welcomes volunteers to help with both curatorial and administrative tasks. Find the opportunities at the Volunteer section.

To be notified by email when each issue has been published, please contact the IHRC to sign up.

Note: Originally Headline News, IHRC News Online is the IHRC's primary communications vehicle. The News Online is posted once a month, generally at mid-month. Please send any comments or news relating to the IHRC to Editor Judy Rosenblatt.

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