UNL celebrates Czech culture

Story, aggregated content and video by Katrina Sperl, NewsNetNebraska

Between 1856 and World War I, over 50,000 Czechs chose Nebraska as their new home. Nebraska ranked number one in per capita Czech immigration.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was one of the first universities in the United States to offer Czech language instruction.

Today, the program continues to grow as they hosted their annual National Czech Day celebration on October 26.

Open house

The day began with an open house. Everyone was welcome to browse through a variety of unique archive materials. Among these special collections was a photo album filled with pictures of Czechs from Nebraska. More pictures in the same album showed Czech festivals, also in Nebraska, dating back to the 1970’s.

Other collections included books, journals, periodicals, diaries and other materials.

Pete Brink, assistant archivist for University Libraries, said unveiling the archives was a great way to highlight Czech heritage.

Speaker

National Czech day at UNL ended with a presentation from Dr. Bruce Garver about World War I and the formation of Czechoslovakia.

Garver taught Czech and immigrant history at UNL between 1982 and 1990. He served as an officer in the United States Navy for four years. The veteran has published an extensive amount of research on Czechoslovakia.

Garver displayed many photos of Czech people taken in Nebraska such as Omaha, Clarkson and Wilbur as well as souvenirs from World War I.

“The greatest misconception of World War I is that the French did not fight. They killed more people than any other army,” said Garver.

Garver ended his presentation with a focus on Czechs coming into Nebraska. Most of the Czechs who came to Nebraska tended to be farmers, but many tradesmen and professional people came, too. Consequently, the population of many early towns was predominantly Czechs.

Hana Waisserova, modern languages and literatures lecturer, is head of the Czech program at UNL.

“It was a great day to celebrate history and the American influence,” said Waisserova.

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