Plans and Results of Research on Slovene Emigration until 1941 – With Special Emphasis on Emigration to America before the First World War
The author outlines his thoughts on the plans and results of research on the emigration of Slovenes to America up until the First World War. He presents an overview of contemporary published are rare professional analyses on emigration until 1914, and includes journalistic an increasingly scientific analyses from the period 1919 to 1941, referring to the mass emigration of Slovenes. The author establishes the diversity and share number of such publications and invites for the collection of historical material (archival, newspaper, statistical and other). At the same time, he arrives at the conclusion that although the plans were great (for example the founding of emigration archives in Ljubljana, the publication of a scientific monograph on American Slovenes etc.), only a few were realised.
The mass emigration of Slovenes, which historians place in the period between the 1880s and the First World War and which was primarily directed towards North America, was echoed in domestic newspapers (as well as Slovene ones in the USA) in Slovene literature (for example in the Works of Ivan Cankar, Jakob Alesovec, Ivan Tavčar, Zofka Kvedrova, Louis Adamič and others) as well as in journalistic, professional and scientific discussions and independent books. These studies are the subject of the authors interest in the time up to the outbreak of the Second World War, emphasizing the study of the emigration of Slovenes as part of the European Wave of emigration up to 1914 and the measures taken by the USA to limit migration in the years following the First World War. The discussion is part of the introduction to the authors doctoral dissertation, bearing the title Emigration from the Wider Ljubljana Area, 1890-1914& which the author successfully defended in September 1993 at the University of Ljubljana.
From the period of mass emigration om, newspaper articles and books were published that leaned towards a wider historical description of Slovene emigration, although the intentions of the authors were primarily of an informative and educational nature, Their focal point was discussion of emigration to America (the USA) and the life of Slovenes in the new environment, but they also made use of the opportunity to present overviews of the history of the USA and the situation on the American continent during the mass emigration. The most important contributions included an article by a Slovene priest in the USA, the journalist and organizer France Šušteršič, entitled Slovenci v Ameriki (»Slovenes in America, « Mohorjev Calendar, Ljubljana 1894) the book by the priest Jurij Trunk Amerika in Amerikanci (“America and the Americans”, Klagenfurt, 1912) and the book by the Slovene socialist in the USA Jože Zavertnik Ameriški Slovenci (“American Slovenes”, Chicago 1925). All three authors had contact with the immigrant country and used American professional literature, particularly the oral and written reports of the emigrants themselves. Numerous articles were published on emigration, although few among them carried great Weight and represented contributions based on archive material and professional literature. I shall mention only Ivan Mulaček’s study Naše izseljevanje v številkah (“Our Emigration in Figures”) which was published in the scientific journal Čas (»Time«, Ljubljana 1913). The author, who had lived for some time in the USA, sent the article from London. Certain authors were later to view it as the first scientific discussion of the issue of Slovene emigration. Characteristic of this and many other works of the period is the consideration by the author of archive and statistical material and rare professional work (for example the book by Emily Green Balch Our Slavic Fellow Citizens, 1910, translated into German under the title Slavische Einwanderung in den Vereinigten Staaten, Vienna 1912) and in particular the written reports of emigrants and observations by Slovenes themselves on their life and work in the USA.
Following the First World War the American »Golden Gate” swung half-closed and with it the mass influx into the promised land subsided however, interest in studying the history of American Slovenes did not die. Emphasis was laid in particular on the collecting of historical material for a future book on American Slovenes; to this day such a book has remained an unfulfilled wish. Worthy of mention is the initiative by Frank Kerže in the New York Glas naroda (»Voice of the Nation,« 1936) and Etbin Kristan in the Cleveland Cankarjev glasnik (»Cankar Herald« 1937), while in Ljubljana a man well acquainted with the conditions of emigration to the USA, Father Kazimir Zakrajšek, was exceptionally active in his calls for the collection of historical material - unfortunately with little success. The Slovene National Museum, headed enthusiastically by Erazem Gorše, operated within the Slovene Narodni dom in Cleveland from 1939 to 1949. In the years up to the Second World War the geographer Slava Lipoglavšek gathered statistical material on Slovenes throughout the world, which she published in part only after the war (1950) although many writers used her material prior to 1941.
In the last years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War an increase in interest in the emigration issue could be detected on the scientific level. The efforts of Dr. Ivan Tomšič, professor of international law and diplomatic history at the Law Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, deserve mention. In 1937 he established the Institute for International Public Law, within which minority and emigration departments operated. He even conceived the establishment of a multidisciplinary institute to study all aspects of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs abroad, collect professional literature, statistical data and all other material, publish scientific monographs on the issue of emigration in Slovene and foreign languages, and engage in other activities. Unfortunately, the war interrupted these plans.
Until the outbreak of the Second World War we can note interest in studying emigration (particularly during the time of the mass exodus to the USA) and the life and work of Slovenes in the new environment. Greatest attention was directed towards American Slovenes. Of Written work the most numerous was of a journalistic nature (independent publications, articles in newspapers and professional journals, etc.), while after 1919 (the year in which the University of Ljubljana was founded) the number of scientific analyses penned by geographers, jurists, historians, ethnologists and others increased. However, the great desire for a study in monograph form of the history of American Slovenes remained unfulfilled an idea awoken at the beginning of the 1960s and yet to be realized today.