Volume 39, No.4 - Winter 1993
Editor of this issue:
Violeta Kelertas, University of Illinois. at Chicago
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1993 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

David Fainhauz, Lithuanians in the USA: Aspects of Ethnic Identity, (Chicago: Lithuanian Library Press, 1991), soft cover, 246 pp., illustrations, index, and seventeen appendices. Available from Draugas, $15, plus $2.50 handling & postage. Illinois residents add $1.20 tax.

Scholarly literature in English about the Lithuanian immigrant experience has barely emerged in the last three decades, mostly in the form of unpublished master's and doctoral dissertations. Apart from the overviews of Antanas Kučas, Algirdas Budreckis, and Arūnas Ališauskas*, one is hard pressed to find even a cursory synthesis. This Fainhauz monograph, therefore, comes as a welcome addition to the bibliography of Lithuanian studies.

The author was born in Vilnius in 1920. He obtained his master's degree in 1948 at the University of his native city, and a doctoral degree in 1955 at the University of Leningrad, with further studies at the Sorbonne. He then taught at the University of Vilnius, 1948-1959, the Warsaw History Institute, 1960-1969, and Jerusalem University for a time, until he emigrated to the United States in 1974. He is presently an official of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago.

Dr. Fainhauz is no stranger to his topic. Hitherto he has been known to European specialists because of his articles and book reviews in Polish journals about Lithuanians and Byelorussians. His Lithuanians in Multiethnic Chicago Until World War II, (Chicago, 1977) marks him as an interpreter of the U.S. Lithuanian experience. His probing of ethnic identity stands as his second major work in this field of inquiry.

In his introduction, the author candidly confesses he is relying chiefly on the Pennsylvanian experience of Lithuanians as a mirror of the entire diaspora in the United States prior to World War II. In fairness to him, his study should be judged within its admitted limits.

Fainhauz displays an impressive acquaintance with a rich variety of sources to buttress his assertions. He begins with a descriptive portrait of life in the coal mining districts of Pennsylvania in his opening chapter, "Expectations." He develops his portrait with "Reality Experienced," telling how the immigrant responded to the challenge of the host society and its economic system.

The core of the work comes in "Changes in Values" wherein he elaborates on a modified Lithuanian identity emerging in a new environment. The section on "Cultural Patterns" illustrates how the immigrants strove to preserve and adapt their growing ethnic awareness in unfamiliar surroundings. A brief chapter on "A New Sense of Identity" accurately defines the transformed immigrant. One applauds the seventeen appendices that bring to light some texts not easily accessible even to the serious researcher. This study in ethnic identity in some ways parallels the effort of Antanas (Adomėnas) Van Reenan in his analysis of changing ethnic awareness among the Displaced Persons of the post-World War II era in Lithuanian Diaspora: from Koenigsberg to Chicago (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990).

The monograph is certainly a useful study that portrays evolution of the adaptation and assimilation process. Yet it displays some of the inherent restrictions and hazards of uncritically relying on secondary sources. Scholarly review requires that one notice some factual errors that have crept into the Fainhauz text. Page 28 claims Unija as the first Lithuanian newspaper, though page 140 correctly identifies Lietuviška Gazieta for the honor. The Franciscan Augustine Zeytz (p. 100), was not a clergyman, i.e., one in Holy Orders, but rather a religious brother. The Sisters of Jesus Crucified were founded in 1924, not 1925 (p. 144). The Marian Fathers' school (p. 145) opened as St. Mary College on September 10,1931, not in 1930, but it functioned as a college only from 1935 to 1943, reverting to a college preparatory institution. Juozas Andziulaitis was editor of Vienybė Lietuvninkų for barely two years, 1890-92, not "an especially long time" (p. 156). The Lithuanian Priests Association (p. 228) was revived in 1909, after a brief start in December of 1894 under the impetus of Fr. Juozas Žebris. The Appendix 14 source in Žinynas should read p. 65, not 68. The Lithuanian in Paris (p. 100) must have written to Gazieta Lietuviška in a year other than 1878, since the newspaper appeared only in 1879. Kmita (p. 165) should be Kmitas, the pseudonym for Fr. Kazimieras Urbanavičius.

By way of commentary, the "noteworthy" clergy (p. 115) may well have included Fr. Juozas Žebris, whose biography witnesses to his major influence among his countrymen. Perhaps some notice of the vast array of leftist publications should have found place in the section on literature (pp. 163-71). Mention of the Alliance split (pp. 120-21) suggests a simplistic view, failing to take into account the implications of the fact that Fr. Juozas Žebris and Fr. Jonas Žilinskas sided with the liberals in their walkout. The origin of the Lithuanian Franciscan Sisters (p. 143) is gratuitously attributed to "some Lithuanian clergymen [who] decided another order of nuns was needed..." Rather, a cadre of Lithuanian Sisters, claiming mistreatment by their superiors, bolted from their community of Polish Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In an unusual move, Rome granted the dissatisfied Sisters permission to start a new order. Once they were established, their availability was indeed most welcome to the Lithuanian clergy.

Catholic historians may have trouble with the author's observation (p. 5) that "Many Lithuanian parishes in Michigan and Wisconsin practically liquidated themselves because in 1900 Bishop Frederick Eis ordered all ethnic parishes to conduct religious services in English." This is a reference to efforts of Wisconsin bishops Sebastian Messmer of Green Bay and Eis of Sault Sainte-Marie & Marquette who "ordered that sermons be given in English at least twice monthly at each church in their dioceses." Anthony Kuzniewski, Faith and Fatherland: The Polish War in Wisconsin, 1896-1918 (University of Notre Dame Press, 1980: p. 45) provides a clarification. When the bishops' intent was misunderstood, Eis clarified his goal to ensure that younger Catholics "would hear sermons in a language that they could understand." "Under the circumstances, the protests died away." Indeed, by the 1920s, Lithuanian pastors would beseech their bishops for consent to preach in English to accommodate their parishioners who no longer readily grasped their parents' native speech.

In any case, credit the Fainhauz study for its accurate portrayal of "aspects of ethnic identity" in the evolving and adapting life of the Lithuania in a totally different environment. The author makes a genuine contribution to the elusive topic of ethnicity that continues to tantalize sociologists and historians alike. Members of second and third generation Lithuanians, chiefly found among the Knights of Lithuania and readers of Bridges and Observer would benefit from Fainhauz's enlightening exposition to appreciate their ethnic roots and identity.

*Algirdas Budreckis, Lithuanians in America, (Dobbs Ferry, NY: 1975); Antanas Kučas, Lithuanians in America, (Boston, 1976); Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Croups, (Cambridge, MA, 1980).

William Wolkovich-Valkavičius