Part III: Organizations and Contributions of Slovak-Americans
Although the Slovaks of America had become deeply involved in the needs of their nation and their countrymen abroad, they did not overlook or neglect issues that concerned them in the United States. They had survived the heartbreak stage of initial adjustment. Their hard work brought them steady earnings out of which they provided for the betterment of their families and tried to put by some savings. Through their fraternal organizations and their press they were developing self-awareness and genuine pride of nation. They had built churches of their own in many localities. They were sharing the American way of life, venturing into little business establishments and becoming naturalized citizens. All this was to the good but the question of schools and education still waited for attention.
Until this problem could be dealt with directly, there were still other attempts to foster culture. Annuals or almanacs were published by various fraternal organizations and societies. Occasionally a literary or a historical book or a collection of songs was published. There were also handbooks on health, personal hygiene, and citizenship as well as dictionaries, grammars and textbooks.
American Matica Slovenska
In 1893 Father Furdek tried to establish an American counterpart of the European cultural society Matica Slovenska (Slovak Cultural Institute which was founded by Bishop Moyses in 1863). The American Matica was incorporated in Columbus, Ohio on October 26, 1893, and with understanding and wholehearted support it could have proved itself. Unfortunately, Rovnianek, who had participated in the founding of the American Matica, inexplicably countered this excellent undertaking by organizing The Beacon, a Literary Circle (Majak) on February 18, 1894.
Either undertaking could have netted results to be proud of, but a disunited effort divided and splintered the potentialities, the interest, the assets, and the prospects of success for both. Ultimately neither of these attempts was able to achieve its best fruits because labor troubles, especially the Connellsville mine strike, claimed prime attention among working classes. Culture will not thrive in a climate of conflict, unrest, worry and insecurity. Furthermore, as long as rivalries claimed the loyalties of the people, this distraction drained away the best energies of the people’s able leaders and untold good was sacrificed.