Part III: the Lithuanian Community of Cleveland to World War II

Lithuanian Press

In the field of printing Cleveland was also to become one of the centers for Lithuanians in the United States. There were a number of Lithuanian printing establishments and newspapers; however, exact information on all has been difficult to obtain due to the loss of many of the old publications.[1]

The first Lithuanian newspaper was the Catholic weekly Santaika (Concord), which was edited by Vincas Greičius and published by Povilas Šukys and Ignas Sakalas. The first issue came out on November 25, 1915, but it lasted only until August 1916.

Povilas Šukys was, however, to remain very active in printing all his life. With only a village school education he came to the United States and Cleveland in 1905, and slowly began to accumulate printing equipment. His first item of production was a mimeograph machine. The first newspaper Santaika was printed by hand, and as with subsequent periodicals, composed at night after a full days work.[2] Šukys’ next newspaper was Žinynas (News), a weekly that lasted from 1919 to 1925 and was passed out free in front of Saint George’s Church. It contained news of the Church and other local Lithuanian information. A third newspaper by Šukys, Clevelando Lietuvių Žinios (The Cleveland Lithuanian News), was in existence at least as early as January 25, 1927, and continued until at least to February 21, 1933.[3] His Lietuvių Žinios was also a weekly passed out gratis in front of the Church.[4] Sponsored by the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Literary Society Incorporated, it was first published on April 16, 1937,[5] and remained in Cleveland until November 1942, when it was transferred to Pittsburgh and later to New York where it merged with Darbininkas (The Worker).

These examples help show that Šukys was a very active, religious individual, who spent his evening hours publishing various newspapers in order to help his fellow Lithuanians keep abreast of Lithuanian activities. His four boys, Algirdas, Kestutis (Paul), who is presently the vice-president of the Superior Savings, Vytautas, and Julius continually helped their father in his work, and the latter two continue to operate Šukys Printing Incorporated at 6225 St. Clair.

The second Lithuanian newspaper to be printed in Cleveland was the moderately nationalistic Dirva (the Field), organized by A. B. Bartusevičius through the Ohio Lithuanian Publishing Company. First published on August 26, 1916, the original editor was Vincas K. Jokubynas, who remained for about a year. Then in 1917 Juozas Gediminas became editor. He was replaced in 1918 by Kazys S. Karpius, who continued to edit it for the next thirty years when Vincas Rastenis took over in October 1948. Later it was reorganized under the name of Viltis Incorporated and continues to be printed to the present.

Karpius had worked for three other Lithuanian newspapers before coming to Dirva. When he came to Cleveland he attended Western Reserve University for two years, majoring in English literature and economics. In 1925 he gained controlling interest in the company and his duties, in addition to editing, at times even included typesetting. Karpius was very active in a number of organizations and was president of the national Lithuanian Patriots Association from 1924 to 1936. This Association was formed in 1896 and worked to maintain Lithuanian culture and to work for the country’s freedom. Karpius was also a prolific writer with thirty-four published works.[6]

Another publishing firm, the S. K. Alyta & Son, existed at 6400 Superior Avenue from at least January 1920 to October 1922.[7] In 1920 Alyta published the short-lived Catholic weekly Darbo Valandos (Hours of Work), edited by Rev. Fabijonas Kemešis. At this time it was advertised as the Darbo Valandos Publishing Company.[8]

There were also four other periodicals printed in Cleveland. The first, Artojas (The Plougher), was a monthly journal of science, literature, and satire, and was published from September 1920 to the end of 1925. It was sponsored by the Lithuanian Education Association, and edited by Dr. Jonas Vitkus from 1920 to 1921, and Vytautas Širvydas from 1922 to 1925. In 1922 a monthly agriculturally oriented periodical appeared called Žemdirbys (Agriculturalist). The only other information on this illustrated journal is that the business address was 1000 E. 76th Street.[9]

The last two periodicals were liberal minded. Apsišvietimas (Self Education) was a monthly publication of the American Workers’ Education Association. The business address found on the front page was 989 East 77th Street; however, publisher Juozas Baltrušaitis lived in Detroit. The monthly ran from April 1923 to the fall of 1924. In 1924 the Association established its own printing shop and changed the title to Aidas (Echo) and became a weekly. In April 1927 it moved to Detroit.

The prolific Lithuanian press in Cleveland was a further indication of the cultural disposition of the community, and of the somewhat easier working conditions. In other cities, such as Pittsburgh, where work in the coal mines and steel mills was extremely harsh, the printing of Lithuanran material was meager, even though there was a large Lithuanian population.

  1. Much valuable information was lost due to a fire, which consumed the Knights of Lithuania library, which was located in the Lithuanian Hall on Superior Avenue, and a flood, which inundated the basement of Dirva, where the newspapers archives were stored.
  2. Interview with Mrs. Paul Šukys on 11 April 1975.
  3. This newspaper is mentioned on these dated in the minutes of the Birutė Company.
  4. Interview with Mrs. Paul Šukys on 11 April 1975.
  5. Dirva, 16 April 1937.
  6. E.L., III, 52, 53.
  7. See the advertisements in the monthly periodical Vanagas (The Hawk), which was edited in Akron, Ohio at this time.
  8. The Darbos Valandos Publishing Company had the same address as S.K. Alyta and Son.
  9. See the advertisements in the monthly periodical Vanagas for this period.


Lithuanian Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland Copyright © 2020 by Cleveland State University . All Rights Reserved.

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