"Pravda Press does all kinds of print work for clubs, churches and for businesses.
Club statutes, notebooks for the registration of monthly club dues and church offerings as well as all sorts of forms, envelopes, etc.
In the book warehouse of Pravda Press you can get schoolbooks, readers, history books of the Rusyn homeland as well as fictional novels."
- So reads a 1934 advertisement for "Pravda Press" (Типографія "равды) at 1732 Brandywine street in Philadelphia.
The exact relationship between the Russian Brotherhood Organization, the newspaper Pravda and "Pravda Press" (Типографія "равды") is not fully clear, but the newspaper seems always to have been printed at the Pravda Press facilities. The earliest publications gives the location of the Pravda Press as being in Olyphant, Pennsylvania. Sometime between 1917 and 1923 the newspaper's printing presses were relocated from Olyphant to Brandywine street in Philadelphia. And as their advertisement indicated, Pravda Press was the source of a large number of Rusyn language publications.
In terms of volume, the biweekly newspaper Pravda was likely the main production item of Pravda Press. A second highly popular product was the RBO "Kalendar", an almanac that was purchased yearly by almost every family. Examined copies of the Almanacs given out by the United Russian Orthodox Brotherhood of America (UROBA) were also printed by Pravda Press. The RBO and the UROBA almanacs are similar in content and layout and quite thick, having about 220 pages.
The first pages of the "Kalendars" contained traditional almanac information, the months of the year, with one or two pages devoted to each month. The months were presented in both the Julian or Church calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The names of each month were written in Russian, Carpatho-Rusyn and English. The inclusion of Russian was probably based on the fact the the names of the months in Russian are the same latin names as in English (though, of course, with a Cyrillic spelling) and thus served as a kind of reading aid for people unfamiliar with month names written in the latin alphabet.
The RBO almanacs also used the Carpatho-Rusyn month names. The Carpatho-Rusyn month names are significantly different from the latin names and thus did not aid immigrants in the transition to English. But each month in the RBO almanac was entitled with the names of the months in Russian, Carpatho-Rusyn and English. The name of the saint associated with each individual day was listed next to the date. Traditionally it was these names that were given to children born on that day.
Additionally, the almanacs contained articles about American life, society and history, helping the integration of immigrants into American society. The almanacs also contained educational articles about history and science as well as fictional material, poems and stories from the readers. This link provides access to digitized material from a number of these Carpatho-Rusyn almanacs in their original language.
While Pravda Press did much to standardize (their own) version of Carpatho-Rusyn spelling and written language, it may be noted that spelling was frequently used as a purely typographical method for the justification of text. “Justification” is a printer's term for making even margins, rather than the uneven (right) margins of typewriter-style text. If a line was just a bit too long, one or more of the frequent hard signs at the ends of many Carpatho-Rusyn words was often removed in order to shorten the line. The alternative would have been to move one word to the next line, producing large multiple-spaced gaps in the first line above. As a result, Russian-style spellings were more common in two-column book text and most common in three-column book or newspaper-style justified text.
In addition to the Pravda newspaper, the annual almanacs and commissioned work, Pravda press published a number of stand-alone publications with religious, historical, or fictional content. Here below is the 1928 Pravda Press publication list. A digitized version can be seen by clicking the image.
These publications include general "books of knowledge", simple descriptions of historical events and patriotic tales of the Rusyn situation in the Carpathians.
In 1927 and 1928 Pravda Press published a series of fictional works under the collective title, "Pravda Library". These were all written by members of the Russian Brotherhood, Rusyns living in America. Apparently, all of these literary works were short novels or plays presenting edifying or inspirational tales of folk life - people surmounting adversity in their lives. A good case can be made for the thesis that these works are probably the "purest" Rusyn folk literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rusyn peasantry in Europe mostly lacked the resources for similar literary endeavors while a select few, drawn into the academic worlds of European university life, were likely culturally overpowered by the more mainstream versions of language and social viewpoint. Although the main themes of these tales are personal struggle against adversity, the stories are often presented against a background of ethnic rivalry, the ideologic rivalries of various interpretations of slavic identity or the now almost incomprehensible rivalries of Austro-Hungarian politics.
Item number 1 from the "Pravda Library" is a novel entitled "Найда" (Foundling) by Dimitri А. Jakubov. The picture below shows the cover of this work. Like the other items constituting the "Pravda Library," it is a soft-cover booklet, measuring 15.7 by 23.4 centimeters (6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches) The digitized contents of this 72-page book in the original old-style Rusyn transcription are available here. The contents of the novel, included an image of the original cover, as well as a picture of the author, are also available in PDF format here.
Item number 5 from the "Pravda Library" series is the 1928 short novel, "Два Брата (The Two Brothers)," by Maksim Prigoda. The cover of this 56-page booklet is seen below.
This booklet was provided through the courtesy of Peter Kosenko
"Два Брата (The Two Brothers)" is the next-to-last item on the publication list above. The original price of the booklet was 25 cents, the same price as the other items in the Pravda Library. The digitized contents of this book in the original old-style Rusyn transcription are available here. The contents in PDF format for immediate download are also available. This book was provided by Peter Kosenko of Redding, California, as was the following publication:
This booklet was provided through the courtesy of Peter Kosenko
"Найденный Скарбъ"(Recovered Property) and "Пропавшій Сынъ"(The Missing Son) are the two short novels (together, only 53 pages) contained in the 1928 publication shown above, both of which were written by Vasilj Petsejchuck. The publication is described on the upper front cover as being number 6 from the Pravda Library. It is not mentioned in the Pravda Press publication list from the same year, however - likely an oversight. Though not the main theme of the story, there is background description of how young men in Slavic villages met up with potential brides through the help of matchmakers. All this being, of course, before the modern dating system. This link leads to the digitized contents of "Найденный Скарбъ" in the original Rusyn. The digitized content of the second short novel, "Пропавшій Сынъ" can be read separately here, while the contents of both stories can be downloaded together in PDF format.
Reading through Pravda Press fictional literature, from both the "Pravda Library" and the shorter works included in the "Kalendars" one gets a clear impression that the most common recurrent theme in Rusyn folk literature is that of young people loosing contact with their families at a young age. The frequency of this theme can hardly be due to chance, but deeper analysis is lacking.
Here is a picture of the Pravda Press facilities at 1732 Brandywine Street in Philadelphia about 50 years after its closure, if internet maps can be relied upon.