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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UKRAINIANS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UKRAINIANS. The first large groups of Ukrainians arrived in America in the 1870s from the Lemko, Carpatho-Ruthenia, and Galitsian (Halycchyna) regions. Their numbers are difficult to determine, because they were counted as Austrians, HUNGARIANS, POLES, or RUSSIANS, the groups that at one time or another occupied Ukraine. Most were known as Ruthenians after the name of their former state, Rus-Ukraine. They mainly emigrated for economic reasons, planning to work, get wealthy, return home, and buy land. World War I, however, caused them to settle as permanent residents. The first Ukrainians arrived in the Cleveland area in the mid-1880s, settling mainly on the west side in the TREMONT area. Subsequent waves of immigrants arrived between World War I and World War II and consisted of former fighters for Ukrainian independence. They, like those who came after World War II, were mainly political emigres and gave the older immigrant community a new ideological direction, providing a motivated leadership geared to definite political and economic goals. After the Helsinki accords of 1975, a small number of Ukrainians came from the Ukrainian SSR and Poland. In 1986 the local community numbered over 35,000 and served as the nerve center for 34 other Ukrainian communities in Ohio, with the center of the local Ukrainian settlement in PARMA and its adjacent communities. This number further increased with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the arrival of religious dissidents, and reunion of members of separated families.

Ukrainians are Greek or, more recently, Ukrainian-Byzantine Catholics. In 1902 they began their first local church in a Tremont-area trolley garage. By 1910 they had constructed the mother church of SS. Peter & Paul in Tremont, from which sprang the parishes of St. Mary (1952), now in Salem; and St. Josaphat (1959), St. Andrew (1972), and St. Pokrova (1973), all in Parma. St. Josaphat Church, located in the largest Ukrainian settlement area in Parma, became first the deanery for all Ukrainian Catholic churches in Ohio, and in Feb. 1984 the seat of the Parma Eparchy with its first bishop, R. Moskal. The Parma Eparchy is the center of religious life for much of the central U.S. and extends south to Florida. It is under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan of Philadelphia, who in turn is under the control of the cardinal and patriarch of Ukraine, M. Liubachivsky, formerly a Cleveland resident. The Ukrainian Catholic church in Cleveland established an orphanage (1902), which moved to Philadelphia in 1923; it operates a school in Parma (1947) and has its own picnic grounds, cemetery, an old age home, and other properties. The Ukrainian Orthodox church had its beginnings in Cleveland with St. Volodymyr Church (1926), which later moved to Parma. Other Orthodox churches, St. Nicholas of Lakewood (1916), Holy Trinity in N. Royalton (1952), and St. Andrew in Cleveland, were, organized and, with the exception of St. Nicholas and St. Andrew, fall under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan. The churches operate a Saturday school (1952), where the Ukrainian language, culture, and catechism are taught. Also active in religious life are 2 small Ukrainian Baptist and Pentacostalist communities that have parishes on the near west side and Parma.

Early Ukrainian settlers in Ohio were mostly apolitical. Politics became important after World War I. The end of the war saw the influx and growth of adherents of Ukrainian Hetmanate (royalist), progressive, and nationalist causes. Competition, sometimes hostile, left the pro-nationalist forces in control. The royalists declined with the death of their leader, while the progressives (socialists) fell into disrepute when post-World War II emigres told about the horrors of Stalin's man-made famine of 1932-33, concentration camps, and the Communist domination of Ukraine. That, and the struggle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army against both the Nazis and Russians, unified the Ukrainian community and placed in disrepute groups sympathetic to hostile ideologies. Structural unification of the community in the Cleveland area began in 1928 with the creation of the UNITED UKRAINIAN ORGANIZATIONS (UZO), which in 1940 became a member of the newly formed Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which in turn affiliated with the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, created in 1967. In 1986 the UZO represented over 50 member organizations, coordinating many political, cultural, and social activities, including the creation of a Ukrainian garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens; erection of the monument of T. Shevchenko, Ukraine's bard, in Washington, DC; commemoration of Stalin's famine, which destroyed 10 million Ukrainians; the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986; and the yearly celebration of Ukrainian independence of 22 Jan. 1918, 30 June 1941, and 24 Aug. 1991. Its affiliates (religious, humanitarian, political, women's, and youth organizations) had independent projects that resulted in the building of the Lesia Ukrainka monument in the Cultural Gardens, the memorial to World War II Ukrainian-American veterans, and a monument to Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighters. Two affiliates, the Committee Against the Use of Soviet Evidence in American Courts and Americans for Human Rights in Ukraine, promoted activities defending Ukrainians and dissidents in the Soviet Union. The Organization for the Rebirth of the Ukraine (1931) and the Organization for Defense of the Four Freedoms of Ukraine (1947) engaged in similar activities. The Ukrainian Gold Cross (1935), the Social Service Committee of UZO, and the United Ukrainian-American Relief Organization actively aided Ukrainians abroad. American-Ukrainians have been active in local politics, serving as mayors of Parma and Middleburg, councilmen, solicitors, law directors, governor's aides, federal and local judges, as well as in other capacities. Those Ukrainians whose parents went through, the Depression have a tendency to support the Democratic party, while children of those who came after World War II tend to be Republicans. Events in Ukraine, its independence on 24 Aug. and referendum on 2 Dec. 1991, were greeted by area Ukrainian Americans with great enthusiasm. Elated by the over 90% vote for independence, young Ukrainians offered their services to the new country as economists, computer specialists, political advisors and monitors, jurists, scholars, and technicians. Funds were raised to help build the first Ukrainian embassy. Cleveland representatives were invited to attend receptions held by presidents George Bush and William Clinton for Ukrainian presidents L. Kravchuk and later L. Kuchma.

Initially, Cleveland Ukrainian community life revolved around the church and fraternal organizations. The latter evolved out of the need to insure workers and to finance their projects, businesses, churches, national homes, etc. The largest fraternal organization is the Ukrainian Natl. Assn., which began in 1902, held its 100th convention here, and presently has 14 branches. Others include the Ukrainian Natl. Aid Assn. with 5 branches, the Ukrainian Workingmen's Assn. with 7 branches, and the Providence Assn. with 5 branches. Banking began with the organization of the Ukrainian Bank in 1915 on the west side, later with branches in Parma and N. Royalton. Two credit unions, the Cleveland Self-Reliance Union, with its branches, and the "Osnova," were organized in the 1950s. Businesses were also numerous. In 1934 there were 71 Ukrainian businesses, one employing over 40 people. The number of businesses has remained steady over the years. One of these, "Dnistrova Khvylia," produces Ukrainian records, which are distributed nationwide. Before World War II, small business dominated the Cleveland Ukrainian-American Businessmen's Assn.; today professionals are in the majority in this organization. Besides traveling to Ukraine for conventions, the professionals and businessmen seek to promote closer Cleveland and Ohio business ventures and sister city programs. Besides newly organized travel agencies and export companies, the Cleveland Ukrainian community now enjoys 3 radio programs and 3 newspapers, Raiduha, a business publication in English, Visti Z Ukrainy, republished in Cleveland, and Visnyk. The Cleveland community now also enjoys a "Scola" TV program from Ukraine and is planning another "contact" from Toronto.

Cultural education has remained a focal point of community life, with the churches providing much of the leadership. Priests and deacons originally ran Saturday schools for the young. In the 1980s Saturday schools still existed, but under the name RIDNA SHKOLA (Native School, 1950), with professional lay teachers and a program prepared by the Educational Council of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, centered in New York. The local Ridna Shkola received accreditation from the Parma Board of Education. In addition to teaching the, Ukrainian language, history, geography, and culture, the school organizes debutante balls and other events that financially support the program. Ukrainian professors at local and state universities have contributed to the creation of large Ukrainian collections in the local and university libraries (Kent State Univ., JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY, Youngstown State Univ., Ohio State Univ., and the Univ. of Dayton). The UKRAINIAN MUSEUM-ARCHIVES, INC., located on Kenilworth Ave., was organized in 1952. It exists thanks to contributions and grants and has attracted scholars from all over the world. The Ukrainian Chair at Harvard was the brainchild of the 3rd Congress of the Ukrainian Students' Assn. of America, meeting in Cleveland. This student organization, with branches throughout the U.S. and its "Harvard Project," captured the imagination of the older generation of Cleveland, which by the 1980s had contributed close to $1 million. The local student organizations of Adam Kotsko, TUSM (the Ukrainian Student Organization), and Zarevo worked on the project. Also locally active in academe is the Shevchenko Scientific Society (1956) branch, with its center in New York. Three local Ukrainian printing presses published area authors and newspapers. Other local organizations are dedicated to preserving Ukrainian culture. Youth organizations such as the Ukrainian Youth Assn. (1950) and "Plast" (Ukrainian Scout Organization, 1949) own property outside of Cleveland and sponsor summer camps where Ukrainian arts as well as sports are emphasized. All youth organizations, including the Organization of Democratic Ukrainian Youth (1951), have had dancing ensembles. In the 1990s the KASHTAN (1979) dancing ensemble and school was one of the most active in the area. Church choirs and later the Homin (1949), Shevchenko (1960), and DNIPRO CHORUS (1955) choirs have dominated musical activities. Also active were the Ukrainian Musical Institute (1951) and the School of Bandura (a national instrument) (1968). Percussion bands, mandolin ensembles, and private orchestras have been active since the founding of the community. Versatility in activities include the funding of the "Olympian Movement," which supports such Olympic champions as O. Baiul who performed in Cleveland. The community has its own SOCCER club "LVIV," skiing club "Karpathy," wine tasting, gourmet, and stock clubs. Local Ukrainians view construction and dedication of the Ukrainian Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in 1939 as one of the community's major achievements, commissioning A. Archiperko, a founder of cubism, to prepare the bronze busts of T. Shevchenko, I. Franko, and St. Volodymyr. The statue of L. Ukrainka, a Ukrainian poet, was created by M. Chereshniovsky, commissioned by the Ukrainian Women's Assn. (Soiuz Ukrainok) (1930) and its 6 branches, and dedicated in 1969, remaining a symbol of the community's commitment to art and heritage. Since, the re-establishment of Ukrainian independence, cultural exchanges have been very frequent. The Bandurist Choir, partially made up of Clevelanders and directed by Clevelander H. Kytasty (d. 1991) traveled to Ukraine in 1990. The Ohio Boys Choir, directed by Ukrainian Clevelander A. Musichuk, traveled to Ukraine on 3 occasions (1987, 1989, and 1991). "Macbeth"
in Ukrainian, directed by Cleveland-born I. Ciszkewycz was presented by "Nove Pokolinnia" Theater locally and in Ukraine. Clevelander T. Kuchar now directs the National Symphony Orchestra in Kiev. Artists of the Ukrainian community range from ballet dancers to painters, who differ in style from iconography to avant-garde. Their works are displayed in the local Trypillia Art Gallery.

A fund to aid Ukraine exists in the Cleveland Self Reliance Credit Union, whose objective is to aid Ukraine's transition to democracy and from a command economy to a market economy. The "Mria" airlift project under the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund included sending of hospital and medical equipment, supplies, and expertise to those suffering from the nuclear disaster of 1986. The American Ukrainian Veterans Br. 24, who hosted their national 44th convention in Cleveland, has sent over $100,000 of medical journals and books to the Kiev Military Hospital. Local Ukrainian Americans have thus shared their good fortune as American citizens by helping their former countrymen build a democracy and found a new, happier life.

George P. Kulchytsky

Youngstown State Univ.

Bachynsky, Leonid. Ukrainski drukovani Vydannia v Klivlendi, 1915-1958 (1958).

K., V. "Istoria 8-ho Viddilu UZKh u Klivlendi, Ohio," in 50 Littia Ukrainskoho Zolotaho Khresta v ZSA, 1931-1981 (1981).

Kulchycky (Kulchytsky), George P. "Ukrainians in Greater Cleveland," in Ukrainian Festival of Songs and Dances (1976).

Wynnytsky, Z. The Clevelanders of Ukrainian Descent, Cleveland: The Ukrainian United Organization (1961).

Last Modified: 23 Jul 1997 09:33:31 AM

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