Skip to main content

Hellenic Heritage Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MG Hellenic-(Main)
This collection consists largely of photographs of various members of the Greek-American community of Newark, NJ and the surrounding area, and depicts various facets of Greek community, family, and religious life in Newark. There are many photographs of the Greek community’s most prominent individuals and families, portrait and wedding photographs, and church scenes, many of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Newark. There are many images of individuals in Greek costume and images of family events, Greek-owned businesses, celebrations, banquets, and school photographs and sports. There are war related images and images of Greek community and church organizations such as A.H.E.P.A. (American Hellenic Progressive Association) and Daughters of Penelope.

There are also original documents including passports, birth and marriage certificates, immigration and naturalization documents, restaurant menus, certificates, membership cards and various types of ephemera. There are newspaper articles pertaining to the community’s most prominent citizens such as theater owner Adam A. Adams, U.S. Army Brigadier General Leonidas G. Gavalas, and cardiologist Dr. Nicholas Antonius. There are postcards and images of Greece, Greek Orthodox religious brochures, and Greek language teaching materials.

The Newark Public Library mounted an exhibit in 2003 entitled: Remembering Newark’s Greeks: An American Odyssey, which has material in this collection such as posters, publicity materials and photographs of the exhibition opening, and several non-paper based items, including a child’s Greek Evzone costume, war medals and baptismal pins.

There are also paper based and audiovisual materials pertaining to oral histories that were conducted with members of Newark’s early Greek families. Individual family histories, the Greek American immigration experience, and growing up in Newark are well reflected in these materials.

The collecting of materials for this project is an ongoing process and more items will be integrated into this collection in the future.

Dates

  • c. 1906-2007
  • Majority of material found within 1925 - 1950

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Extent

6 Linear Feet (10 standard archival boxes and 4 oversize boxes of various sizes)

Overview

This collection consists of photographs, certificates, passports, clippings, ephemera, and oral histories reflecting the Greek-American community of Newark, NJ during the 20th century.

Biographical / Historical

Newark’s Greek community was one of many immigrant communities to make a tremendous impact on the cultural landscape of New Jersey. Large scale immigration from Greece in the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulted in the formation of ethnic communities in various New Jersey cities, including Newark. Offering a less urban environment than New York City, Newark provided a variety of job opportunities to Greek immigrants, including work in leather tanning businesses, cigar factories, and breweries. Many worked as food vendors and later on as restaurateurs and business owners. Although small in numbers, estimated to be around 10,000 in 1910, Greek immigrants carved their own niche in this diverse and thriving city.

Newark’s Greeks formed a close knit community based around church and family life. They founded the first Greek Orthodox Church in New Jersey, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, also known as the “Mother Church of New Jersey,” incorporated in 1906 and located on High Street (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) since 1924. Led for thirty-six years by Rev. George Spiridakis, and later on by Rev. James A. Aloupis for forty-seven years, St. Nicholas served as a center for Greek-American religious life and culture. In 1928 a second Greek Orthodox Church was established in Newark, St. Demetrios Church, located in its later years on Clinton Avenue.

Family was central to the lives of Greek Newarkers and family picnics, celebrations and get togethers were frequent occurrences. Weddings and baptisms were large scale gatherings that served to bring the community together. Community involvement was evidenced in the popularity of Greek American church based philanthropic, educational, and religious organizations such as Philoptochos, G.A.P.A. (Greek American Progressive Association), and G.O.Y.A. (Greek Orthodox Youth Association). These organizations also helped to encourage the continuance of Greek language, cultural traditions, and history. Traditional Greek costumes were worn on occasions such as Greek Independence Day, celebrated annually on March 25th. Religious holidays such as Pascha (Easter) were multi-day celebrations filled with church service attendance, family gatherings, and traditional Greek foods.

Greek-owned businesses thrived, with restaurants, bakeries, flower and candy shops, barbers, and hat shops located throughout the city. Many Greek Americans served in the U.S. military with pride during World War II and participated in many war relief efforts. Individual success stories such as those of theater owner Adam A. Adams, U.S. Army General Leonidas Gavalas, prominent local cardiologist Dr. Nicholas Antonius, and architect William Chirgotis were a testament to the Greeks’ successful assimilation into American society. Greek families encouraged the maintenance of traditional culture and family life while stressing the values of education and hard work. Many more second generation Greeks entered various professions such as law, education, engineering and the arts. The success of the community combined with the benefits of the GI Bill, afforded many the opportunity to move to homes in suburban areas. Gradually, the once concentrated community of Newark’s Greeks began to disperse.

As a result of this exodus, other Greek Orthodox churches were founded throughout the state. Newark’s changing social and economic landscape contributed to the diffusion of the community. In the later decades of the 20th century, church attendance at both churches began to decline. St. Demetrios Church relocated to Union, NJ in 1984. After years of declining church attendance, St. Nicholas Church decided to merge with the community of Sts. Constantine and Helen of Orange, NJ and will relocate to a new church facility in Roseland, NJ. The last church service was held at St. Nicholas in Newark on December 30, 2007, signifying the end of an era for Newark’s Greeks.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Angelique Lampros, 2007.

This is an artificial collection assembled by Angelique Lampros and Peter Markos consisting of materials donated by various members of the Greek community in and around Newark, NJ that resulted in a book titled Remembering Newark’s Greeks: An American Odyssey and in the 2002-2003 exhibition at Newark Public Library of the same title

Separated Materials

Atlas of World War II. New York : The Greek War Relief Association, 1943.

Kallas, Dr. John L. Growing Up as a Greek-American. Unionville, NY : KAV Books, Inc., 1992.

Kouveliotes, Stavros. To Triton Mesouranema. Second Revised Edition. San Francisco, CA :Mercury Press, 1942.

Salutos, Theodore. The Greeks in the United States. Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1964.

Bibliography

Cummings, Charles F. “Greeks Endured Hardships on the Road to Success.” The Star-Ledger. 19 April 2001.

Diamant, Jeff. “The End of a Spiritual Epoch : Greek Orthodox Church to Leave Newark. The StarLedger. 20 October 2006.

Lampros, Angelique. Remembering Newark’s Greeks : An American Odyssey. Virginia Beach, Va.: Donning Co. Publishers, c2006.

Vasilopoulos, Vicki. “A Lost World Lives on at the Newark Library.” The New York Times. 15 December 2002.

Processing Information

Original newspaper clippings were photocopied. Nicholas and Vassiliki Lampros wedding photograph with attached wedding crown (Box 2, Folder 2) may need future conservation work. Several items were separated from the collection and are listed under the Separated Materials section. Also, many of the materials in this collection were microfilmed and the microfilm is located in the Newark Public Library's New Jersey Information Center. Select images from this collection can be viewed on the New Jersey Digital Highway website at http://www.njdigitalhighway.org. Search “Newark Greeks.” There are two boxes of data file materials for this collection. There is no patron access to these materials.
Author
Julia Telonidis
Date
2007-12

Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

Contact:
3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States
973-733-7775