People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Yugoslav Americans Part 1

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


Where They Came From: Prior to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the end of W.W.I, South Slavic immigrants came from the regions of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia. These regions united at the end of the war in 1918 and comprise present-day Yugoslavia.

Why They Left: The four main subdivisions of the South Slavic group are the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and Dalmatians. Although these groups shared economic and political oppression as a motive for emigration, each had specific reasons for leaving relating to their livelihood. By the end of the 19th century, Magyar (Hungarian) rule forced the stagnation of an already marginal peasantry and commerce by levying high taxes and lowering prices for goods. Slovenian farmers suffered most from the oppression, although Serbian and Croatian farmers were forced to endure the resulting overpopulation and starvation as well. Large numbers of Croats were freight handlers who were displaced in the 1880s when the Dual Monarchy (the Austro-Hungarian Empire) built a railroad connecting to western Europe and then arbitrated rail commerce to the advantage of the West. Dalmatian seamen and traders, whose chief export was wine, were also victimized by this favoritism; Italian wine was imported instead and traded via rail to various parts of the empire.

Numbers: Between 1899 and 1920, 663,939 South Slavic immigrants entered the U.S. Today there are approximately 700,000 of the foreignborn and second generation. Adding the third generation brings the total to 1 million. Croatians number slightly over 500,000, the Slovenians just under 300,000, and the Serbs about 200,000.

Where They Settled: When the great wave of Yugoslav emigration to the U.S. began at the close of the 19th century, South Slavic groups chose to settle in areas where they could profitably resume their respective trades. Dalmatian fishing villages are sprinkled up and down the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast, especially at New Orleans, La., and San Pedro, Calif. Croats and Slovenes began immigrating to the steel and coal districts of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey; later immigrants from Croatia and Slovenia, as well as a small number of Serbs, settled in the factory cities of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and then spread to the mining districts of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Dalmatian farmers dominate the Pajaro Valley in California, known for its fine grapes, apples, and figs.

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