On August 4, 2015, Erin Frey ’17 presented her poster “The Slavs of the Coal Region: Migration, Perception, Representation” on Mahanoy City’s Slavs at the 5th Annual Susquehanna Valley Undergraduate Research Symposium at Bucknell University. In her abstract, she writes:
When Slavs from the Austro-Hungarian Empire immigrated to America en masse in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many settled in Central Pennsylvania where job opportunities for unskilled laborers in coal mines were plentiful. This first wave of Slavic migration saw Eastern Europeans working in the most dangerous and lowest-paying jobs and residing in communities often hostile toward “Hunkies” and “Slavishness.” Texts written about Slavs in the Coal Region contain themes of violence, drunkenness, spousal abuse, and foreign religion, which reflect the community disaffection for the recent immigrants. Our discourse analysis of Mt. Carmel newspapers, organized into word clouds, illuminates the public perception of Slavs as “laborers,” “strikers,” “murderers,” and above all “foreigners.” However, texts written by Slavs of the Coal Region, such as the poetry and prose of Carpatho-Rusyn writer Rev. Emil Kubek of Mahanoy City, reflect the ideals and aspirations of the first wave of Slavic migrants: hard work, honesty, honor, sobriety, and the desire to assimilate alongside nostalgia for the old country. Since much of the first wave of Slavic literature has not been translated into English, Slavic cultural contributions have not played a major role in American literary history. This project aims to establish an Emil Kubek Walking Tour of Mahanoy City, translate and publish annotated editions of Father Kubek’s poetry and prose, and preserve the contributions of the Slavs of Mahanoy City to American literature.
For more about Frey, visit Kubek: Contributors.