Born in 1898, in Užventis, Lithuania (near Šiauliai), Sophie (Laurinavičiūtė) Barcus immigrated to the United States as a young girl with her parents. By 1932, with husband Augustinas, she started the radio program which ran for 54 consecutive years in Chicago. By 1961, an additional English-language radio program, called “Round the World with Music,” was added. Not only was Sophie Barcus a popular radio personality but she was also a community activist. For example, she organized the Lithuanian Radio Housewives Red Cross Unit, which had over 300 members and operated from the years 1942-1957. Besides raising enough funds to purchase an ambulance that was donated to the American Red Cross, in Chicago, an event which was covered widely in the American press, this unit also sewed and collected clothing to be sent to the peoples in Europe during and post World War II. Sophie Barcus was one of the most loved and respected members of the Lithuanian community in Chicago. Her fundraising efforts, along with her radio program, helped post-WWII émigrés adjust and forge new lives in America.
After Sophie Barcus’ death, the radio programs were hosted by her daughter Aldona and husband Feliksas (Felix) Daukus (Dobkevičius). Feliksas Daukus was a displaced person who emigrated from Lithuania as a result of the aftermath of World War II. His involvement with the radio program ensured that it remained relevant to the new generation of Lithuanian emigres. According to Chicago Vadovas (Guide to Chicago) published in 1952 by the Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, by 1952 the Sophie Barcus Radio Program was broadcast from W.G.E.S. six days a week — Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and Lietuviškos Vakaruškos from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Film Archives of Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union / Lietuvos Šauliu Sajunga (LSS) / In Lithuania and in the Diaspora
The Riflemen’s Union (LSS) is a civilian paramilitary organization with youth activities that run parallel to boy and girl scout training as well as training for future entry into the regular armed forces and national guard. The union also has chapters for veterans in diaspora centers such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, London, and other locations. LSS was founded in 1919 directly subordinate to the Commander of the Armed Forces. During the years of independence (1919-1940) its membership rose to 62,000 members in 72 riflemen’s chapters. The civic side of its activity included 125 choirs, 105 music orchestras, 350 libraries and 4 theaters. In 1940 the U.S.S.R. killed or exiled to Siberia 80% of the LSS members. Thousands formed the backbone of a partisan war against the Red Army from 1944 into the early 1950’s. In 1954 the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union was reformed in Chicago as the center of a world-wide diaspora. It was reformed in Lithuania in 1989 as a challenge to occupying Soviet forces. In 1991, the LSS guarded the Lithuanian Parliament which was surrounded by Soviet armed forces. Other key communications installations were also guarded by Union members to prevent entry by the Red Army. Members of the Union were killed guarding strategic objects as well as on the country’s borders. LAP’s film and video archives contain unique footage from the personal archives of decorated partisan and war veteran Capt. Povilas Juodvalkis, who survived Lithuania’s occupation by Nazi and Soviet forces. Footage and audio includes personal interviews with civilian, partisan, and military prime movers. The nearly 100 year old Chicagoan also entrusted LAP with his secretly recorded film and audio footage of KGB interrogations. Capt. Juodvalkis served as a LSS member in every period of its evolution, from the 1930’s to the present. Being almost seven feet tall he is known as the “giant with gigantic accomplishments” by members of the LSS.
Žiburėlis Lithuanian Montessori Collection
The Lithuanian Montessori Society of America was founded in 1958 by Professors Adomas and Maria Varnas and Domicele Petrutis in Chicago, Illinois. Its goal was to promote the Montessori Method of education and to provide full immersion in Lithuanian language and culture by establishing Montessori schools in the Chicagoland area. The Lithuanian Montessori Children’s Center opened in 1963, and the Žiburėlis Lithuanian Montessori School followed in 1983. Žiburėlis Lithuanian Montessori School, located in Lemont, Illinois, is a full-immersion Lithuanian preschool, with the goal of both fostering children’s education using the Montessori Method and providing full immersion in the Lithuanian language and culture.
The Immaculate Conception Church (Brighton Park) Chicago Collection
The Sisters of St. Casimir (SSC) Collection (Chicago)
The Sisters of Saint Casimir (SSC) of Chicago, founded in 1907 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is a Congregation of women religious serving in the United States and in Argentina, South America and engaging in education, health care and other ministries which reflect the spirit and faith-filled vision of their foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas. The Sisters of St. Casimir have played a pivotal role in Chicago’s Lithuanian community as well as in the community at-large since the building of the SSC Motherhouse located at 2601 W. Marquette Road in 1911, and Maria High School in 1952.
Vytautas Landsbergis in Chicago Collection
In 1989, Vytautas Landsbergis helped to organize the peaceful Baltic Way demonstration during which over a million people joined hands to form a 600-kilometer-long chain across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in order to draw attention to their struggle to gain independence from the USSR. In 1991, as the first democratically elected president of Lithuania after its separation from the USSR, V. Landsbergis visited Chicago on a tour of the US, during which he hoped to establish diplomatic recognition for the newly independent Lithuania and forge business ties. The official student photographer assigned to cover V. Landsbergis’ visit to the United States, Julija Izokaitis-Corcoran, donated these photos to the Lithuanian Archives Project.
Marija Žolpienė Collection
Marija Zopliene was born in 1898 in Chicago. Her father, Juozas Galinskas, was from the Muiliavos area, near Kvėdarnos town. In 1884, he came to the United States of America so he could escape tsarist military service. Her father worked in slaughterhouses
Father married Eleonora Sakalauskaitė in 1895, who was also from the Žemaitija region, Kvėdarnos town. Juozas and Eleanora had two children, a son who passed away after three weeks of life, and a daughter, Marija. The young parents lived and worked in the Chicago neighborhood called Bridgeport. Tragically, Juozas died of a head wound while working in the slaughterhouse in 1902 and his wife Eleanora was left a widow with four-year-old daughter, Marija. After Juozas’ death, Eleanora briefly returned to Lithuania and then back to Bridgeport by 1903. She took up residence at Fisk street (now Aberdeen). She took in renters and prepared meals for 18 men. In those days, rent for a four-bedroom apartment in Bridgeport cost $6.50. She took in $3.00 from her renters. However, women’s shoes (the high shoes with hooks) cost $3.00, and a good quality blouse (not fancy) cost $1.50. Eleanora lived in a heavily Polish area of Bridgeport. Although Eleanora was only somewhat literate, her daughter Marija learned to read and write Lithuanian from a primer borrowed from St. George Church. Marija also learned to read the Russian alphabet through letters that they received from Lithuania, some of which were written in Lithuanian, but using the Cyrillic alphabet. At age six, Marija began to attend school in Chicago. When Eleanora noticed that all instruction was in the English language, she began to teach Marija at home in the Lithuanian language. On Sundays, everyone would sit around the table dressed in their best clothing and read the Lithuanian newspaper aloud. Eleanora was particularly insistent that Marija learn the language of her forefathers, and passed down a deep love for her culture and traditions to her daughter. [TO BE CONTINUED]