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Hungarian National Library (OSzK), Budapest
History paper by Kovács, Ilona (all papers)
Contribution of American Public Library Service to Integration and Assimilation of Hungarian Immigrants between 1890 and 1940. Sources, statistical information and methods not identified for immigrant studies.
By the turn of the 19th and 20th century America faced the problem of immigrants’ integration. The manpower needs of the industry as priority covered the problem for a while. A debate on the issue lasted decades and offered a great variety of solutions. Among the different views the belief that it can be solved by education was strong. A certain extent it worked for second generation and foreign born immigrant child by the public school system, but not for the immigrant adult. They could communicate and read only on their mother tongue. That created a special situation for public libraries. Following an extensive debate in the professional periodicals and at conferences of librarians, they joined the progressive democrat’s neighborhood program and found their own solution. As a response to the demographic changes they launched a movement for developing “foreign language collections” and trained specialists, the “foreign language librarians” to provide service for immigrants including Hungarians. Until now not much research was made on this movement although archival sources of libraries and their neighborhood studies or annual reports constitute rich sources for immigrant studies and makes trends measurable. The present study analyses and evaluates their debates, their political and philosophical basis regarding integration and assimilation. It presents their methods, the results in the case of Hungarians, and the reactions from the Hungarian communities and from Hungary. The research is based mainly on US and Hungarian archival sources and contemporary published material concerning of the period from 1890’s to the1940’s.
Brief Professional Bio:
Kovacs Ilona librarian, retired department head of the National Széchényi Library, Budapest.
She gained her diplomas at the Budapest University (ELTE, 1961) and at Kent State University, Ohio (MLS, 1975), and her doctoral degree at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA 1993). Her research area is Hungarians abroad focusing on American Hungarians. As head of the Hungarica Documentation she was director of grants for collecting information and documentation and build up Hungarica databases and also conducting surveys to publish a series of publications on Hungarica material of libraries in Europe, Australia and Canada. She attended several international conferences in Europe, USA, Canada and Hungary and published over 100 articles, studies and books. She was a Fulbright scholar at the American Hungarian Foundation in the AYs 1995 and 2001/03.