Basic information
Researchers involved:
1 January 2018–31 December 2019

Introduction The United States have been the main destination of the great emigration from the Slovenian ethnic territory from the 1880s to the 1920s. Until WWI, the area of presentday Slovenia registered the highest rate of emigration to the United States after Galicia among the Austrian provinces. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Slovenes in the US formed in relative terms the largest ethnic immigrant community among the peoples of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. They settled especially in the states around the Great Lakes and constituted ethnically based communities with their social,  cultural, economic, religious and political organizations. They built churches and cultural homes, published newspapers and involved in public activities, they endeavored for successful integration into American society. At the same time they stove for preserving the Slovenian identity and cultural characteristics. In this way a new Slovenian reality took shape on the other side of the ocean. It comprised between 10 and 20 percent of the entire Slovenian population. Along with other immigrants it became part of its new homeland and an active subject contributing to its rise. On the other hand, it  remained practically and intimately tied up with the "old country." The "American Slovenia" reached its maximum numerical extent and development between the two world wars. Notwithstanding the gradual drop that occurred after World War II due to the end of the mass immigration and the assimilation of  the younger generation of American Slovenes into the American society, it has still remained a lively immigrant community until today. The Slovenian immigration process and the Slovenian immigrant communities in the United States have already received a lot of attention by historians and other  disciplines. Nevertheless, many aspects of the Slovenian immigrant experience remain unexplored in comparison to other immigrant groups in the US. This is due to the scarce interest among scholars and relatively modest financial resources invested in such research in Slovenia. As a consequence, the  Slovenian studies face delays in renovating their conceptual and methodological approaches and in following the modern trends in the field of migration and immigrant communities research. Thus, the cooperation of SMI with the IHRCA and indirectly with other institutions in the United States,  preserving,collecting and studying historical records on the Slovenian immigrant communities, is very valuable. Equally important is further cooperation between SIM and IHRCA in detecting, collecting and evaluating historical materials referring to the Slovenian immigration to the United States, held by archival and other institutions in Slovenia and the US, as well as those not yet available for research and in many cases located in private repositories. In doing so, special attention is to be paid to resources such as correspondence, photographs, diaries and other written and oral material, which allow new perspectives and in depth research into individual and collective life experiences.

The bilateral cooperation aims to be a mutual support for the two institutions to carry on their scientific-research tasks (target core projects and research and academic programs). At the same time it is intended to be a basis for formal or informal co-operation in the field of migration studies, and more  specifically, in the research of Slovenian emigration and Slovenian immigrant communities.

The specific objectives of the cooperation are:
1. the detection and study of the sources for the history of Slovenian emigration to the US in Slovenian and American institutional and other repositories
2. the reciprocal information on scientific research projects and programs with the aim to confront the issues, concepts and methodologies in the field of migration studies;
3. the discussion on specific topics and research issues in the context of the scientific-research projects in progress (i.e. SRA the projects: Social, economic and cultural history of Slovenian emigration from 1970 to 1945 and Social, economic and cultural history of Slovenian Emigration 1945-2015 (leader Dr Janja Žitnik Serafin
4. further cooperation in collecting and studying the migrants' correspondences;
5. the upgrading of the cooperation in the field of emigrant correspondence by means of including other written sources, pictures and oral sources.

The cooperation will include:
- visits of American partners to Slovenia and their research work in archival institutions, museums and libraries, as well as visits of the Slovenian research partners at the IHRCA in Minneapolis and in other public and private depositories relating to the history of Slovenian communities in the US;
- information and discussion meetings on research topics, projects or research questions;
- coordination activities relating to the collection of new documentary material, its publication and the dissemination of the research results.

The bilateral project will contribute to the expansion and consolidation of the existing cooperation with some professional and educational institutions, such as the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia and the Faculty of Humanities, University of Primorska in Koper and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Nova Gorica. The current co-operation has already brough about the incorporation of the above mentioned research topics into the study processes at these faculties. Moreover, classes within the faculty program of translation and mediation to English have been providing translations of the  correspondence which will appear in the IHRCA website presenting emigrant letters collections.


Project manager

Project manager at ZRC

Funded by

Slovenian Research Agency