Fraternals

The first nation-wide Slovak American fraternal organization, the National Slovak Society (now NSS Life), was founded in Pittsburgh on 15 Feb. 1890. 109 years later, its head office moved from Carson Street on the South Side to Washington County, PA.

It was soon followed by the First Catholic Slovak Union - Jednota (now FCSU Life) founded in Cleveland on 6 Sept. 1890 and still headquartered there.

A Pittsburgh talk-show caller comments on the city's past and present Slovak connections, click to listen (37"):

Pittsburgh Agreement

The Agreement between Slovak and Czech fraternals signed in Pittsburgh on 31 May 1918 was a key factor in President Woodrow Wilson's plan to support the establishment of Czecho-Slovakia on the ruins of the Habsburg monarchy after its defeat later that year.

 

Modern immigrants

Little research has been done into the experiences of modern immigrants from Slovakia. An isolated exception is the book Au Pair by British anthropologist Daniel Miller and Slovak ethnologist Zuzana Búriková, who surveyed mostly Slovak au pairs employed by 86 families in England.

Sociologist Laurie Taylor from BBC Radio 4 speaks with the authors, click to listen (14'):

Nannies' take?

The Slovak nannies "constantly refer to the slowness of English women. One said it took as much time for her host mother to prepare carrots as it does for her to clean the whole house."

Behind the scenes?

According to Au Pair, the mostly young Slovaks do not take the jobs because they see childcare as their vocation, but because it is a rite of passage for many – an escape from their families, because they broke up with their boyfriend, since they could not find another job. The new arrangement largely suits them as a mere springboard to what they assume will be, as one put it, "greener pastures."

Slovak-Americans

Q: Where are the descendants of the old Slovak immigrants?

The last usable census for this information is the one from 1990. It contained questions about people's heritage that everyone answered and the data were collected before communism collapsed in Europe and a fresh wave of Slovak immigrants started to arrive.

Pittsburgh

Of all the counties in the United States, the highest percentage of people who reported full or partial Slovak heritage in 1990 was in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, PA.

Slovak Pittsburgh

The Slovak-Americans were the 5th largest group there after the Germans, Italians, Irishmen, and Poles. Hazelwood, North Braddock, West Mifflin, and Duquesne had 24% – 54% residents with Slovak ancestry in 1990. Other boroughs that ranked above the county’s average were (from higher to lower) Clairton, McKeesport, Versailles, Swissvale, Braddock Hills, McKees Rocks, Springdale, and Tarentum.

It reflects the numbers from the time when most modern Slovak-Americans' ancestors arrived. In 1919, for instance, the Slovaks were the largest immigrant group in Homestead by far – about 4 times as large as the next group, the Rusyns, and five times as large as the Hungarians, Irishmen, or Poles.

S-W PA, N-E OH, N-E PA

Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) and nine nearby south-western Pennsylvania counties created the contiguous area of 10 of the top 15 U.S. counties with the highest density of Slovak-Americans – Westmoreland, Washington, Armstrong, Indiana, Clearfield, Cambria, Greene, Fayette, Somerset.

PA, OH Slovaks

The three U.S. areas with the highest density of Slovak-Americans in 1990 were south-western Pennsylvania, north-eastern Ohio, and north-eastern Pennsylvania

The Slovaks' most common places of employment there before World War I were the steel-mills and mines. The areas were also important centers of Slovak journalism and fraternal life.

Many other U.S. areas had high absolute numbers of Slovak immigrants, but their ratio among the rest of the population was lower. Pennsylvania and Ohio were followed by Illinois and Connecticut in relative numbers at the state level. Next in line were (alphabetical order) Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New York.