Gazeta Svit

Gazeta Svit was probably the most popular newspaper in Irishtown. Svit (meaning Light or World) was published by the Russian Mutual Aid Society of America which had been started by Alexis Toth. The Society had its headquarters in its own building on the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre. Consequently, Svit was a local paper in Irishtown although it had wide distribution among Rusyn immigrants in other cities. Publication of Gazeta Svit began in 1897 and the paper billed itself as being "the oldest Russian newspaper in America." Svit was, at first, a daily but with time it became a weekly. Through most of its existence, Svit was an 8-page newspaper, published on Thursdays. Svit contained editorials on current events as well as information about church events and activities. Gazeta Svit's subscribers also received a sort of almanac in book form at the end of the year called a "Kalendar." The kalendar included a wide variety of articles including religious material, social and political commentary and folk literature, as well as excerpts from 19th century Rusyn, Ukrainian and Russian literature.

The Svit printing presses were also used for other purposes in the service of the Rusyn community at large. The presses were used to print religious books as well as all sorts of pamphlets and advertisements for places of business owned by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants.

The building on 84 East Market Street which housed the ROCMAS headquarters and the Svit Editorial offices, as well as many professional offices, was destroyed in the "Hurricane Agnes" flood of 1972.

Gazeta Svit ceased publication in 1983.


Pravda - meaning "Truth" - was a newspaper first printed in New York in 1902. Early on, it became the official newspaper of the Russian Brotherhood Organization and for many years was published in Olyphant, Pennsylvania. However, there is much printed material published by "Pravda Press" (Tipografiya Pravda) dating from the 1920's that is identified as being printed in Philadelphia. Perhaps, Pravda was relocated several times. Perhaps, the presses were physically located in Philadelphia, with only the editorial offices in Olyphant. It is also possible that there were two organizations with similar names. Pravda was strictly an American newspaper and had no connection to the European newspaper of the same name.

Both Pravda and Svit were full-sized newspapers. Their format and contents were very similar. Up to the early thirties Pravda consisted of four pages and was published twice weekly (Tuesday and Friday) and cost 3 cents a copy. News was published on the front page, including the most important information concerning Carpatho-Rusyns, and the whole eastern Slavic region. The second page carried articles and two or three editorials about the Orthodox church, social and political life in America as well as in the "Old Country." The most widely enjoyed of these second page features was "Letters from the Old Country." The third and fourth pages consisted of financial reports and other organizational matters of the Russian Brotherhood Organization. Advertisements included both ethnic Rusyn and non-Rusyn businesses. Pravda, too, published a "kalendar," Illjustrovanyj Amerikansko-Russkij Kalendar, usually about 200-250 pages.

Towards the end of its publication period, Pravda became a monthly publication in English (sample 1972 issue in PDF format). Pravda ceased publication in 1975.

Although Svit and Pravda was the two main Rusyn language papers both in Irishtown and in America, there were also a number of smaller newspapers. The New York based Golos Naroda meaning "Voice of the People" appears to have been a newspaper with a more purely political content. This newspaper does not seem to have been published for more than a short period about 1919.

The Lubov - meaning "Love" - was a small-format, bi-weekly, newspaper published by a Rusyn brotherhood in Jermyn, Pennsylvania. It's content was also directed towards current events and church news.

Lemko - was a weekly paper published in Yonkers, New York. It was first published in 1927. Like the other Rusyn newspapers its main contents were current-events and church news. Sometime during the 1930's it changed its name to Karpatska Rus. Karpatska Rus blossomed up during the Second World War with some of the most detailed and accurate war reporting of any newspaper anywhere. Its ability to obtain "on-the-scene" reports directly from Carpatho-Rusyn contacts in Europe put it at the top in reporting from the war in central Europe. In 2006 Karpatska Rus is still in existance and it is the only remaining Rusyn language newspaper still being published on a regular basis. Now a bilingual newspaper, the front half of the newspaper is in English and the second half is in Rusyn and can be read by turning the back page upside down. Today Karpatska Rus contains current events, many interesting translations of older material as well as a section with Rusyn food recipes which are all very popular among modern readers, particularly those interested in Rusyn culture.

During the 1930's, the Rusyn language press went through a period of change and restructuring. Several of the newspapers merged in response to a shrinking and Americanized subscriber base. All the Rusyn newspapers began to insert an English section for their younger and English-speaking readers.

All the Rusyn language newspapers had a similar layout and content. News articles on the first page or two, an editorial page, an entertainment section and advertisements and short notices on the last page. A distinctive feature of all these newspapers was the lack of headlines or 'major' news articles. All news was presented in single-column articles using similar-sized type - no special emphasis was given to any news item.

Until the 1980's Carpatho-Rusyn was not standardized - the spelling rules of Russian, Ukrainian or even Polish were used. The choice was made by the writer. In most of the American Rusyn language press orthography closely followed standard Russian. However, about 20 or 30 procent of the vocabulary and all verb endings were close to standard Ukrainian. Another striking feature of the spelling in the American Rusyn language press was that the "hard sign" was used much more frequently than in either modern Russian or Ukrainian. Still another particular characteristic of the spelling was the use of the letter, "jat" - the third or central letter of the word 'Svit' as written in Cyrillic in the illustration above. The letter "jat" was removed from standard Russian in 1918 but remained in use in the Rusyn language press in America for years and years.

The illustration included in the description above of the newspaper "Pravda" was obtained from the front page of an issue of Pravda. The issue used was published on June 10, 1919. As well as this date, written in English, the front page also displays the date written in Russian according to the old Russian calendar (May 28th). In order to present a picture of how Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants were seeing the world during the summer of 1919, a number of articles from this issue are provided in english translation. Some articles are accompanied by pictures of the original Rusyn versions. Some are illustrated by pictures of the articles' titles. Other articles are provided solely in English. On the whole, the newspaper gives a very "European" impression. Although this was an American newspaper, the only truly "local" news articles are descriptions of the activities of the Russian Brotherhoods. A couple of items of "national" news relate to major events within the United States but the major part of even the "national" coverage relates to foreign policy positions held by the US towards other nations.

Because of its rather isolated rural origin, Carpatho-Rusyn lacked some of the vocabulary necessary for life in early 20th century America. Rather than inventing new words to fill these gaps, American words were used, American words spelled with the Cyrillic alphabet. The 1919 issue of Pravda contains many examples of such Americanisms. "Miner," "explosion," "boy scouts" and "corn flakes" are a few examples.

An issue of the newspaper Svit from June 9, 1932 (front page, second page and articles from remaining pages) shows many similarities, but some differences, too, compared with the 1919 newspaper. This writer feels that, in general, the language used in this 1932 newspaper seems to be more strongly influenced by mainstream Russian than the 1919 issue of Pravda. It is not clear if this is some kind of general trend among Rusyn-Americans or if it reflects the political ideology of the Svit editors. Aside from this difference, the 1932 newspaper shows many similarities to the earlier newspaper. The 1932 newspaper shows the letter "jat" still in frequent use. Americanisms such as "high-school," "south main street," "oil," and "gasoline" remain prominent. Both newspapers include both the Julian calendar date, written in Russian, and the Gregorian date in English. As in the 1919 example, the 1932 newspaper uses no headlines to attach special prominence to one particular item of news. One difference, however, between the 1919 issue of Pravda and the 1932 issue of Svit is that Svit contains many more advertisements, both from immigrant-owned firms as well as local American businesses. Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants had started to go into business themselves. And as the purchasing power of the immigrant community increased, it became increasingly interesting to business in general.


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