17 / 2003
Irena Milanič

Slovene American Women Writers and Poets in the 1930s: Between Literature and Social Engagement

The 1930s were one of the most difficult decades in US history, but these were also the years of the cultural renaissance of the Slovene immigrant community in America. This paper presents the cultural activity of three women Katka Zupancic, Anna Pracek Krasna and Mary Jugg and it exposes their concern with the younger generation in a time when youth involvement was becoming more and more crucial to the continuity and future existence of the immigrant organizations established at the beginning of the century. These women were the main contributors to the Slovene-American youth magazine Mladinski list-Juvenile, issued by the Slovenska narodna podporna jednota (Slovene National Benefit Society) or SNPJ, one of the major Slovene mutual-aid societies in the United States. They were also active as public lecturers, teachers of the Slovene language, managers of local youth clubs, choral conductors and directors of dramatic performances. The article further analyzes the different views of these women concerning women's role inside the community. The first generation women - the original immigrants - did not dare to challenge the woman's traditional role in society and they accepted her role as a mother and wife rather than as an independent wage worker. The second generation - the immigrant women' daughters - would eventually challenge these assumptions held not only by the immigrant community but also by the larger American society.

Irena Milanič, B. A., junior researcher, Scientific Institute, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana.