The Slavic people immigrated from nations we know today as Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The Slavs also include the Carpatho-Rusyn people, whose descendants are present in our area. Individually, each group’s numbers may not seem large, but together, they represent a powerful presence. Men were attracted to Johnstown to find employment in the steel mills and coal mines. After World War II, second generation immigrants were able to go to college and join the professions.
By enhancing the community’s knowledge of these lively peoples through a joyful, family-friendly experience, we hope to honor the shared past of our beloved ancestors by educating and enriching the lives of future generations.
Many immigrants from the Slavic countries settled in Johnstown, attracted by opportunities to work in the mills and mines. The Heritage Discovery Center’s permanent exhibit, “America: Through Immigrant Eyes,” focuses on this wave of immigrants, who arrived from about the 1880s through about 1914. Unlike their earlier counterparts from Western Europe, many of these immigrants never intended to stay America permanently — instead, they wanted to save money to build a better life back home in Europe. Often men came alone, planning to return after earning enough, or hoping to establish themselves here before sending for their families. Nationally, about one-third of these later immigrants did return home, but most stayed in the United States permanently. Click here for more about Johnstown’s immigration history.