The Slovenia Times

Book about mass emigration from Slovenia launched in US

The Slovenian Church of St. Cyril in New York. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Nearly one-third of the population emigrated out of Slovenia in the final decades of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. A monograph telling the stories of people that left their home in search of a better life has now come out in English.

Written by Aleksej Kalc, Mirjam Milharčič Hladnik and Janja Žitnik Serafin, Daring Dreams of the Future: Slovenian Mass Migrations 1870-1945 was promoted at a road-show in the US for the past two weeks that wrapped up at the Slovenian Church of St. Cyril in New York on 5 May.

The study was initially brought out in Slovenian a few years ago by the Slovenian Migration Institute, part of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU).

The 460-page book provides insight into the Slovenian segment of the major migration waves that started in Central Europe in the mid-19th century, taking people to the US, Brazil, Egypt as well as other countries.

By WWII, some 440,000 people had left what is now Slovenia, a major demographic blow for a territory with a population of 1.5 million at the time, according to the book, which was presented in the US by Milharčič Hladnik.

Many were travelling back and forth, searching for work to ensure the survival of the family members left behind at home and the prosperity for the families and communities they were creating abroad.

The book provides the main outlines of the phenomenon along with the organisational and cultural-artistic achievements of Slovenian migrants in their new homelands.

"It tells the stories of these people, of their 'daring dreams of the future', as the Slovenian poet Oton Župančič - whose words open the book - so beautifully put it," the book's description on the SAZU website says.

"The people who left took recipes for their foods, accordions for their music, and love for their culture and language, which was, and has remained, a linguistic island between Vienna and Venice. In their new communities, they built homes, churches, and cultural institutions that have survived until today," the description adds.


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