People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Hungarian Americans Part 2

About the Hungarian Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Hungarian-Americans and more.


Numbers: Between 1870 and 1920, Hungary was listed as the country of origin for some 2 million arriving immigrants; however, since parts of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Austria were included within its pre--W.W.I borders, a sizable though unknown number of these later indicated their nationalities according to ethnic heritage and were properly not considered Hungarian in succeeding censuses.

Hungarian immigration began with a few hundred arrivals in the late 1840s and early 1850s, but did not reach measurable proportions until the decades following the 1870s, peaking about the year 1907. With the exception of the 1950s, when 37,000 refugees from the 1956 revolution arrived, Hungarian immigration has been minimal in recent decades, and the 1970 census recorded just over 600,000 Hungarian Americans.

Their Story in America: Many Hungarian immigrants--half of all those arriving in some years--came only to make enough money to return home and buy a decent amount of land. But most stayed permanently, taking unskilled jobs in factories, mills, and mines; creating "Little Hungarys" in several American cities; and centering their social as well as religious activity around their churches--usually Catholic. They struggled to learn English on the job, worked hard, prided themselves on loyalty to their employers, and advanced slowly.

In the early years, the average Hungarian immigrant was much more likely to send money back home than save it for himself, but as more and more relatives and friends became neighbors and fellow workers (some village populations were transplanted virtually intact), they accumulated savings and bought modest homes and cars. Second-and third-generation Hungarian Americans are still likely to be blue-collar workers and union members. However, the last decade has seen increasing numbers of Hungarians reach middle-income levels and go on to acquire higher education.

Famous Hungarian Americans: Film industry pioneer William Fox; movie stars Paul Lukas, Bela Lugosi, and the Gabor sisters; film directors George Cukor, Michael Curtiz, and George Pal; conductor Eugene Ormandy; public official David Lilienthal; scientist Edward Teller; Socialist congressman Victor Berger; newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer; author Edna Ferber; and football player Joe Namath.

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