For Czech-Americans, by Czech-Americans: The Americké Dělnické Listy

Masthead and front page from the Americké Dělnické Listy (American Workingmen's News), December 31, 1937.
Masthead and front page from the Americké Dělnické Listy (American Workingmen’s News), December 31, 1937.

Ohio Memory is pleased to announce its latest newspaper collection: the Americké Dělnické Listy (American Workingmen’s News)! This collection covers the years 1918 through 1941 and provides Czech-American insights on events, people and society during the period immediate following World War I, the “Roaring 20s,” the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. Most of the content was published (and is keyword-searchable) in Czech, although some English columns were included beginning in 1927.

The Listy often published an expanded issue on the date closest to International Workers' Day (May 1) in support and celebration of the working class.
The Listy often published an expanded issue on the date closest to International Workers’ Day (May 1) in support and celebration of the working class.

The Americké Dělnické Listy was established in 1909 and documents the lives and activities of Cleveland Czechs, one of the city’s oldest and largest ethnic groups. Czechs began to arrive in Cleveland during the mid-19th century, and by 1919, Cleveland was the fourth largest Czech city in the world, following Prague, Czechoslovakia; Vienna, Austria; and Chicago, Illinois. The Listy not only represents Czech immigrant culture in the United States throughout the early to mid-20th century, but also the perspective of Czech Socialists, one of three major segments of Czech-American society. Cleveland was an important center of Czech socialism, and the Listy was the only Czech-language socialist newspaper published in the country. It supported reforms such as social security, unemployment insurance and old-age pensions.

In protest of the 1926 Olympics held in Berlin, the First American Workers' Olympics was held in Cleveland.
The First American Workers’ Olympics was held in Cleveland to protest the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

In addition to its political aims, the Listy, like other ethnic publications, was an important tool connecting Czechs to their new homes in the U.S. and their old homes in Europe. The Listy was published in the “Old Broadway” neighborhood, where many Czechs made their homes, and one of its goals was to maintain traditional Czech heritage and beliefs. To that end, it lent its support to local workingmen’s cooperatives, such as the Workers Gymnastic Union, fraternal organizations, and freethinkers’ schools.

Listy editors included Joseph Martinek, a significant leader in Czech socialism and nationalism, and Frank J. Bardoun, a native Clevelander who was prominently involved in the local Czech community. Because of their work and that of their successors in advocating for an independent Czechoslovakia, the Listy was the first American newspaper that Germany barred in Czechoslovakia prior to World War II. In 1953, the Listy ceased publication after more than forty years.

Even if you don’t read Czech, we encourage you to explore this collection (and use online translation tools) to learn more about Cleveland’s Czech population and their important contributions to Ohio, U.S. and world history. This project was funded in part through an Institute of Museum and Library Services LSTA grant awarded by the State Library of Ohio.

Headline announcing the Czech Revolution of 1918.
Headline about the Czech Revolution of 1918.

Thanks to Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, for this week’s post!

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