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News Release Dec. 17, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2002
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Daniel Necas, Immigration History Research Center, 612-625-8898, necas001@umn.edu
Joel Wurl, Immigration History Research Center, 612-625-0553, wurlx001@umn.edu

IHRC Acquires Archive of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU)

Three major archival collection shave arrived at the IHRC. Dr. Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., of Rockville,MD, currently serving as president of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU: Spolecnost pro vedy a umeni) donated his own papers, the papers of his father, Miloslav Rechcigl, Sr.,and the archival records of the SVU.

SVU Archive, ca.1958–present. Ca. 75 linear ft, manuscript and print materials

This acquisition makes the IHRC the repository of the records of one of the most significant Czechoslovak organizations founded by the post- World War II exiles from the former Czechoslovakia. The SVU, headquartered in Washington, DC, was formed in 1958 after a period of preparatory negotiations by Dr. Jaroslav Nemec and others in the Czech and Slovak American communities. Originally, it was viewed as an initiative within the well-established Czechoslovak National Council in America, focusing on constructing a platform for the newly arrived intellectuals from Czechoslovakia, among them well-known literary scientists Rene Wellek, professor of linguistics at Yale;Roman Jakobson, professor of linguistics and Slavic studies at Harvard and MIT; music conductor Rafael Kubelik; physicist VaclavHlavaty (collaborator with Albert Einstein); Max Brod, interpreter,editor and one of the closest people to Franz Kafka; pianist Rudolf Firkusny; writer Egon Hostovsky; Alice Masaryk, daughter of the first Czechoslovak president; diplomat Jan Papanek; and many others. The organization still exists today with membership of several thousand in dozens of countries.

The collection contains the archive of the early SVU records (maintained by long-time SVU Secretaries General Jaroslav Nemec and John Lexa),meeting agendas and minutes, executive committee elections records,personal files of SVU members, correspondence pertaining to organizing the SVU World Congresses (beginning with the Washington,DC, Congress of 1962), membership applications, event announcement sand programs, detailed information about the SVU publication program, which was under the direction of Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr.,etc. Also well covered are the terms Dr. Rechcigl, Jr., has ser vedas the SVU president (1974–1978, 1994–present). The print section of the collection encompasses the published production of the organization, including complete or near complete sets of the SVU newsletter, Zpravy SVU, the SVU Bulletin, the Promeny (Metamorphosis) journal, the Kosmas journal,and various monographs, almanacs and commemorative publications. Audio-visual material includes photographs, tapes of Voice of America radio programs, recordings of lectures, interviews,etc.

The SVU archive, presently comprising ca. 75 linear feet of archival and published material, is a major addition to the IHRC Czech and Slovak American collect Slovak exile communities in the United State sand Canada as well as in other countries of the world where emigrants from the former Czechoslovakia found their new homes afterWorld War II. President Rechcigl plans to arrange for more archival material—pertaining to both the national (and international) SVU headquarters as well as his presidency and the organization’s local chapters—to be deposited at the IHRC in the future.

Miloslav Rechcigl,Sr. (1904–1973). Papers, 12 linear feet.

Rechcigl, Sr. was an active member of the Agrarian Party in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars. In 1935 he was elected to the Czechoslovak Parliament as its youngest member. The occupation of the country by the Nazis interrupted Rechcigl’s political career.In spite of his active involvement in the underground resistance movement against the Nazis, as a non-communist political figure he became a target of persecution after the Communist takeover in 1948.After two failed attempts by the Secret Police to arrest him while he was hospitalized with a serious illness, he illegally crossed the border to Germany in May 1948. After some time in a DP camp in Germany, he went to Paris, where he became a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia. In February 1950,he arrived in the United States, where, after almost two years of manual work, he joined Radio Free Europe. In 1956 he was transferred from New York to Munich, Germany. In 1970, he returned to the United States, where he died a US citizen in 1973.

The collection consists of chronologically and thematically ordered typescripts of Rechcigl’s programs for the radio, along with related resource materials, and bound volumes of alphabetically and chronologically organized correspondence. It constitutes an extremely valuable resource for the study of the programming of the Czech (or Czechoslovak) section of Radio Free Europe, the lives and activities of the leading figures of the Czechoslovak exile, and the activities of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia.

Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr. (b. 1930). Papers, ca. 8 linear feet,and 7 boxes of print materials. Soon after his arrival in the United States in 1950 to rejoin his father,Rechcigl, Jr., became active in the Czech exile community. After his studies at Cornell University (where he studied chemistry and also taught the Czech language), he settled in the Washington, DC, area,where his involvement began in the newly founded SVU. Over the past40 years, Rechcigl, Jr., has served numerous terms as SVU president;he was also one of the main powers behind the majority of SVU publications and congresses. He has authored a number of books pertaining to his research in chemistry and nutrition as well as to the history of emigration from the Czech lands and immigration to America.

Among various other tasks, Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., has been actively involved in the efforts to preserve the Czech and Slovak American heritage; he was one of the leading activists who tried to provide publication opportunities to exiled Czech and Slovak scholars during the Cold War era. Recently, Dr. Rechcigl has been working toward establishing productive and mutually beneficial relationship between the Czech American community and the Czech Republic. Additional archival material covering the diverse facets of his activities is expected to supplement the existing collection at the IHRC in the future.

The papers of Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., consist of his research notes,articles, and other published works in his field. Included are also resource materials pertaining to his teaching of the Czech language at Cornell and a card file containing thousands of catalog cards with biographical information on Czech Americans. Books and periodicals relating to the history of Czechs and Slovaks in America are well represented in the print segment of the Rechcigl, Jr.,collection, the highlight of which is a nearly complete set (40years) of Svedectvi (Testimony), a leading scholarly journal of the Czech and Slovak exile communities after World WarII. The IHRC is pleased to acknowledge the support of SVU President Dr. Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., who personally coordinated the packing of the collections, totaling over 100 linear feet of materials, in the Washington, DC, area, with the help of IHRC Assistant Curator Daniel Necas and volunteer Stephen Zalusky. Thanks also to Eva Rechcigl, Helen Steiner, Dagmar Hasalova-White, Vera Borkovec, Thomas Gibian, Andrew Elias, George and Dagmar Glos, and Frank Safertal for their contributions to the successful transfer of the materials.