The Slovak-American Press
M. MARK STOLARIK
While the Slovaks are one of the smaller ethnic groups in the United States (approximately 500,000 came from the Kingdom of Hungary before World War I, and today they number between 1 and 2 million), they have published at least 220 different newspapers, ranging from dailies to quarterlies, since 1885. 1 More than half these newspapers were established and edited by about thirty individuals or organizations, and these produced eleven kinds of publications that reflected four distinct political orientations: Slovak nationalist, Magyarone, Czechoslovak, and socialist or communist. The newspapers appeared in the principal areas of Slovak settlement in the United States ( Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, New York, and New Jersey), and they mirrored the religious composition of the Slovak people (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Greek Catholic). The Slovak press in America, therefore, was as complex as that of any other group in this country.
The independent, commercial, general news press appeared first among American Slovaks, and it would eventually produce eighty-seven titles, or 40 percent of the overall total. 2 Its first title was a weekly Bulletin of American and world news printed on a mimeograph machine by Ján Slovenský, an information officer at the Austro-Hungarian Consulate in Pittsburgh in 1885. In 1886 he teamed up with his cousin Július Wolf (a saloonkeeper), and together they launched the more ambitious Amerikanszko-Szlovenszke Noviny (American-Slovak news). It was written in the Spiš dialect of eastern Slovakia, utilized Magyar orthography, and affirmed loyalty to the King of Hungary, who was also Emperor of Austria. 3
The linguistic and political orientation of the first Slovak newspaper in the United States both pleased and offended a small group of intellectuals who had accompanied their overwhelmingly peasant and worker countrymen to the United States. The Roman Catholic priest Jozef Kossalko praised the paper while the ex-seminarian Peter V. Rovnianek condemned the linguistic and political policies of Amerikanszko-Szlovenszke Noviny, and Rovnianek eventually won. By 1889 he had persuaded the founders to make him editor, to allow him to publish in the central Slovak (literary) dialect, and to foster the cause of Slovak nationalism.