Slovaks in Pennsylvania


The Slovaks have a long history in Central Europe. Sources indicate that they settled in the very heart of Europe, between the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube River and have continually occupied most of that territory since the fifth century AD. 

Slovaks have been coming to the United States since the sixteenth century, the largest wave of immigration spanning the thirty-five years before World War I. Hard working and thrifty by nature, the Slovaks were living in oppression and harsh economic conditions in those years. As a result, many came to the United States to improve both their social and economic conditions and settled primarily in Pennsylvania and Ohio. They soon proved to be a valuable asset during the era of tremendous industrial and cultural growth in the United States.

The advance of mechanized anthracite mining in Eastern Pennsylvania made it possible for less-skilled workers to secure jobs. Slovaks were an important part of the immigrant work force and began moving into the southern coal fields in Schuylkill County. By 1908 the labor force of the entire anthracite region contained a substantial number of Slovaks. In 1980 over 5 percent of Carbon County’s population claimed Slovak ancestry and Luzerne County was also an important center for Slovak Americans.

The Slovak Heritage Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania, through its many activities, helps to promote the continuation of the beautiful customs of the Slovak people.  Most members are second or third generation Slovak Americans.  Exhibits, Slovak Language Classes and Cooking Classes help keep the culture alive and allow us to share it with future generations.

There is a vast reservoir of liturgical and folk music, which provides a way to ensure that the language of our ancestors will be preserved. The Slovak Heritage Society has made several recordings of these treasures.