Amerikai Magyar Újság
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HUNGARIAN AMERICAN MONTHLY
“The Baltimore-based Hungarian American Monthly began its run in June, 1964 under the name “Értesítő,” or “Reporter.” It served quite like an information bureau for local Hungarians. Its name was changed in 1975 and became a monthly newsletter. Since then its editor has been József Soós and its chief contributor György Stirling. For a time another chief contributor was Ilona Stolmár. Other contributors have been Sándor Domokos, Tibor Flórián, Endre Haraszti, Albert Wass, Rezső Dabas, Sándor Krupa, Endre Nánay and Géza Szentmiklósy Éles. At the same time, Mr. Stirling wrote his pieces for and edited the “Független Magyar Hírszolgálat” (Independent Hungarian News Service) newspaper. The Hungarian Monthly permanent column, “Magyar tajak— Magyar történelem,” (Hungarian World—Hungarian History) was a very useful piece. The name of the paper changed once again at the end of 1995. The Baltimore-i Értesítő and Amerikai Magyar Értesítő has since been known as the Amerikai Magyar újság (American Hungarian Journal), without change in editorial combinations.... In character, it is a strongly political organ corresponding with the political outlook of its readership.” (Gyula Borbándi: Emmigration and Hungary, 1996, pp. 171-172; and The Biography of Hungarian Emigrants, 1985, p. 325.
After the 1956 revolution, as the Hungarian refugees reached Baltimore, the previously settled generation of Hungarians established an ad hoc committee to welcome them. Among them was a young priest who found a place among the refugees, conducting mass for them once a month. After the mass, the committee’s leader would give a speech or presentation to the newly arrived Hungarians (Catholics and non-Catholics alike), acquainting them with American traditions and lifestyle. After a couple of years, our meeting place was sold and the priest was transferred to Canada. The gatherings came to an end. Through our request the bishop found another Hungarian priest, also a 1956 refugee, who was teaching at a Catholic college in Pennsylvania, and who assumed the duty of the monthly mass. He drove an hour and a half, in winter and in summer. We met for an hour in the afternoon at the so-called Old Cathedral. But unfortunately there was no room to meet after the mass.
The cathedral, in the Roman style, was the first Catholic cathedral in the United States. After the end of the mass we stood out among the columns and talked, in the heat of the summer and the cold of winter, sometimes for hours. It was everyone’s opinion that after mass we needed a place to meet. Amid these conversations I came to the conclusion that we needed an organization, and everyone would be happy to have a hall where meetings could be held. These conversations produced the following: I called ten to fifteen people, an “elite,” and asked, if an organization could be founded, to elect them to take on the part the leadership. Nearly everyone said yes. In June, after a round of phone calls, we gathered in the home Dr. Mihály Bartalos, a 1956 refugee. The participants entrusted me with the task of establishing the organization’s elections, to which I agreed, so that in an orderly fashion a monthly candidate guide could be distributed, a post office box could be established, and bank account could be open. The others agreed to this. The newsletter’s name was ÉRTESÍTŐ, distributed under the name BALTIMORE-I ÉRTESÍTŐ (Baltimore Reporter).
In the beginning the newsletter consisted of a couple of pages, in which we informed the Baltimore-area Hungarians of the monthly get-togethers and the time and date of the Hungarian mass. It gave detailed news and who and what would be presented at the meetings. It took into account the housewives’ work, membership dues, the dance group, the workings of the weekend school, as well as the goings-on of the membership: births, deaths, marriages, summer vacations, holidays, and something about the previous month’s events.We never thought that out of a two-page newsletter a newspaper would emerge. The number of pages grew. By then we were taking articles from other émigré newspapers and including them in our own. As the number of pages grew further, we presented the works of writers, poets, and newspaper columnists, too. We sent copies to different organizations, and this is how we made our acquaintance with other Hungarians outside our area.
Within 40 years we had subscribers on every continent. We have had 810 subscribers, most of them being from the United States, Canada and Europe, including many from the Carpathian Basin. (Presently there are 350 subscribers.) We’ve had readers in South America and Australia too. In under forty years our subscriber list has turned over three times. Some died or went back to Hungary. Some cancelled their subscriptions, others subscribed for the first time. We send the newspaper - at cost - not just to subscribers, but to the elderly and the retired. And to those who cannot afford the subscription, we send it free.
The newspaper never received government or foundational support. Our Hungarian organization supported it for the first eleven years. After that, the paper was able to operate through subscriptions and additional contributions from subscribers. A Hungarian quote is as follows: “We reached as far as our cover would allow.” If our subscriptions were low and we didn’t take in as much, we sent out fewer free newspapers. We always sent out a plea for additional funds with our Christmas newsletter, and with the response we would receive a couple of thousand dollars to allow us to make up the yearly deficit. Our colleagues, writers and the editor received no payment for their efforts. The newspaper has been sent subscription-free to numerous organizations over the years, both inside and outside of Hungary, such as the National Széchenyi Library, as well as to various Hungarian political parties and members of parliament.
The newspaper has worked cooperatively with various press organizations, some now defunct, others still active, in Canada, Hungary, various European nations, and in other parts of the world.
Dozens of colleagues, writers, and contributors have worked with the newspaper over the years.