Hungarian Studies Newsletter, 1999 (16. évfolyam, 55-57. szám)

1999 / 55-57. szám

/\ f I /VII AMERICAN HUNGARIAN FOUNDATION HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER American Hungarian Foundation Celebrates 45th Anniversary The 45th Anniversary of the American Hungarian Foundation was celebrated on May 21-23 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with a gala Anniversary Ball at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and receptions in the Museum Courtyard of the Foundation. The weekend of celebration of anniversaries also commemorated the tenth year of the opening of the Museum, Library and Archives facility in New Brunswick. Some 400 guests attended the Anniversary Ball where two orchestras played. The György Lakatos orchestra from Hungary and the Steven Chubak orchestra provided the dance music. On May 23, the Foundation's Museum opened a dramatic exhibition, "The Hungarian Spark in America" which presents the contributions of Hungarians to American life since 1776 in the arts, science, music, business, Hollywood, and portrays the story of Hungarian immigrant settlements and institu­tions across America. The exhibition will be open through February 28, 2000. The Museum, located at 300 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey, is open Tuesday- Saturday 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Telephone: 732-846-5777. Invited guests, friends, alumni and dignitaries were served on the gala anniversary occasion under tents in the Museum Courtyard on Friday evening, May 21, for a dinner reception and Saturday morning, May 22 for brunch. The György Lakatos orchestra entertained the guests with favorite Hungarian music. Serving as co-chairpersons for the celebration of the Foundation's anniversaries were: Andrea Horvath Alstrup, Dr. Zsolt Harsanyi, George A. Kellner. Mary V. Mochary. Honorary co-chairpersons were: The Honorable James M. Cahill, Dr. Bryant L. Cureton, George Dózsa, Dr. Robert E. Fuisz, John J. Heldrich, Michael L. Hrabar, Ambassador Géza Jeszenszky, Dr. Francis L. Lawrence, The Honorable John A. Lynch, Zoltán Merszei, and Nicholas M. Salgo. The chairperson for the Anniversary Ball was Dr. Thomas L. Varga and co-chairperson Stephen J. Makrancy. President August J. Molnár of the American Hungarian Foundation announced major gifts to the Phase Two Challenge Fund of $10 million. Phase One had raised $3 mil­lion to build the Museum, Library, and Archives of the Foundation. Founded in 1954 at Elmhurst College (Illinois), the American Hungarian Foundation has supported student and scholar exchange, publications, academic programs and fellowships and research at American universities and colleges. The Anniversary weekend also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Hungarian Studies Program at Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey. The History of the William Penn Association in a Nutshell This is a brief review of the history of the largest fraternal associa­tion established by Hungarian immigrants in the United States and of its role in the retention of their ethnic heritage. Its name today is William Penn Association with assets that exceed $130 million and its national offices are at 709 Brighton Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233. The establishment of the Association The first of its predecessors, the Verhovay Fraternal Insurance Association, (the name of the fraternal was changed a few times and varied in general usage. For example, Verhovay Aid Society, Verhovay Sick Benefit Society, Verhovay Fraternal Association, Verhovay Fraternal Aid Association, for consistency in the early period we shall use Verhovay Association) was established in 1886 in a small miner’s settlement in Pennsylvania, near Hazleton. The Founders established the Association to provide aid for its mem­bers in case of sickness, a proper funeral for the deceased, and to pay a "death allowance” to heirs as specified in the Association’s Constitution. Another declared aim of the Association was to cul­tivate the Hungarian language, keep alive the Hungarian national spirit, and to raise respect among other nations for the Hungarian people. The number of local branches increased rapidly but the organizational structure hardly changed until 1916-1917. By the year 1909, the Verhovay Association had local branches in more than 160 settlements in the United States of America. Members attended social events at local Hungarian settlements, such as the laying of church corner stones, the ceremony consecrating church bells, and celebrations related to the end of the school year at Hungarian summer schools. The feelings of solidarity, mutual help, friendship and personal attachment received external forms of expression. This is how association badges, flags, joint activities and the collective representation of the Association acquired importance. Members of the Association were present and laid wreaths collectively at the funerals of their fellow-members (on which occasion association badges were worn with a mourning band). At this stage, social events had more to do with friendship, fellowship, and emotional expressions of group solidarity as in former village festivities, than with financial aid. The informal atmosphere in small communities within the local lodges provided a good environment for exchanging immigrant experiences. People learned to debate, got acquainted with the basics of democracy and reinforced their Magyar identity. (Continued on page 4) NO. 55-57, SPRING/SUMMER/AUTUMN 1999, HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER