Romanian americans

by Vladimir F. Wertsman


Romania is a country slightly smaller than the state of Oregon, measuring 91,699 square miles (237,500 square kilometers). Located in southeastern Europe, it is bounded by the Ukraine and Slovakia to the north, Bulgaria to the south, Serbia to the southwest, Moldavia and the Black Sea to the east, and Hungary to the west. Although the majority of Romanian Americans immigrated from Romania, several thousand families also came from countries bordering or adjacent to Romania, such as Moldova and Albania.

Romania has a population of slightly over 23 million people. Eighty-eight percent are of Romanian ethnic origin while the rest consist of various ethnic minorities, including Hungarians, Germans, Serbians, Bulgarians, Gypsies, and Armenians. Eighty percent of the population nominally belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church, and approximately ten percent are Catholics of the Byzantine Rite. Other religious denominations represented in Romania include Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Unitarians, as well as the Judaic and Islamic faiths. The country's official language is Romanian, and its capital city is Bucharest. Romania's national flag consists of three large stripes (red, yellow, and blue) arranged vertically.


The name Romania, which means "New Rome" in Latin, was given by Roman colonists after Emperor Trajan (c.53-117 A.D. ) and his legions crossed the Danube River and conquered Dacia (an ancient province located in present-day Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountain region) in 106 A.D. Although Roman occupation of Dacia ended in 271 A.D. , the relationship between the Romans and Dacians flourished; mixed marriages and the adoption of Latin culture and language gradually molded the Romans and Dacians into a distinct ethnic entity. The ancestors of the modern Romanian people managed to preserve their Latin heritage despite Gothic, Slavic, Greek, Hungarian, and Turkish conquests, and the Romanian language has survived as a member of the Romance languages group.

Romania has been subjected to numerous occupations by foreign powers since the Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century, the Romanian principalities Moldavia and Wallachia became vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. Bukovina, Transylvania, and Banat were incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the 1700s. Czarist Russia occupied Bessarabia in 1812. In 1859 Moldavia and Wallachia became unified through the auspices of the Paris Peace Conference, and Romania became a national state. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878 Romania obtained full independence from the Ottoman Empire but lost Bessarabia to Russia. In 1881, Romania was proclaimed a kingdom and Carol I (1839-1914) was installed as its first monarch.


Following the death of Carol I, his nephew, Ferdinand (1865-1927), became king and led the country into World War I against the Central Powers. Romania regained Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina and other territories after the war. In 1940, Carol II (1893-1953) was named General Ion Antonescu (1882-1946) premier of Romania, who then forced the monarch to renounce his throne in favor of his son, Michael I (1921– ). Under Antonescu's influence, Romania became an ally of Nazi Germany during World War II and fought against the Soviet Union. In the last year of the war, however, Romania switched its alliance to the Soviets and, after the war ended, Antonescu was executed. In national elections held in 1947, members of the Communist party assumed many high-level positions in the new government, and King Michael I was forced to abdicate his throne. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1901-1965) of the Romanian Communist party served as premier (1952-1955) and later as chief of state (1961-1965). Two years after Gheroghiu-Dej's death, Nicholae Ceauşescu (1918-1989), a high-ranking Communist official, assumed the presidency of Romania.

On December 22, 1989, the Communist regime was overthrown and Ceauşescu was executed on Christmas Day. In the post-Communist years, various changes have occurred, including a free press, free elections, and a multi-party electorate bringing to power a democratic government (President Emil Constantinescu, 1996– ). The pace of transforming Romania's economy into a market economy accelerated, and improved relations with the United States, Canada and other Western countries were promoted. Romania also petitioned to become a member of NATO, and its candidacy will be considered in the year 2002.


Romanians have a recorded presence of almost 250 years on American soil. In the late eighteenth century, a Transylvanian priest named Samuel Damian immigrated to America for scientific reasons. Damian conducted various experiments with electricity and even caught the attention of Benjamin Franklin (they met and had a conversation in Latin). After living in South Carolina for a few years, Damian left for Jamaica and disappeared from historical record. In 1849, a group of Romanians came to California during the Gold Rush but, being unsuccessful, migrated to Mexico. Romanians continued to immigrate to America during this period and some distinguished themselves in the Union Army during the Civil War. George Pomutz (1818-1882) joined the Fifteenth Volunteer Regiment of Iowa and fought at such battlefields as Shiloh, Corinth, and Vicksburg, and was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Nicholas Dunca (1825-1862), a captain serving in the Ninth Volunteer Regiment of New York, died in the battle of Cross Keyes, Virginia. Another Romanian-born soldier, Eugen Teodoresco, died in the Spanish-American War in 1898.


The first major wave of Romanian immigrants to the United States took place between 1895 and 1920, in which 145,000 Romanians entered the country. They came from various regions, including Wallachia and Moldavia. The majority of these immigrants—particularly those from Transylvania and Banat—were unskilled laborers who left their native regions because of economic depression and forced assimilation, a policy practiced by Hungarian rulers. They were attracted to the economic stability of the United States, which promised better wages and improved working conditions. Many did not plan to establish permanent residency in America, intending instead to save enough money to return to Romania and purchase land. Consequently, tens of thousands of Romanian immigrants who achieved this goal left the United States within a few years, and by 1920 the Romanian American population was approximately 85,000.

Between 1921 and 1939, the number of Romanians entering the United States declined for several reasons. Following World War I, Transylvania, Bukovina, Bessarabia, and other regions under foreign rule officially became part of Romania, thus arresting emigration for a time. In addition, the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 established a quota system which allowed only 603 persons per year to immigrate from Romania. The Great Depression added to the decline of new Romanian immigrants to the United States; immigration figures reached their lowest level at the beginning of World War II. Romanians who did enter the country during this period, however, included students, professionals, and others who later made notable contributions to American society.

A new surge of immigrants to the United States was generated by the threat of Nazi occupation of Romania during World War II. When the Communists assumed control of the country in 1947 they imposed many political, economic, and social restrictions on the Romanian people. Refugees (who had left the country as a result of persecutions, arrests, or fear of being mistreated) and exiles (who were already abroad and chose not to return to Romania) were admitted into the United States through the auspices of the Displaced Persons Act of 1947 and other legislation passed to help absorb the flood of refugees and other immigrants from postwar Europe. Because of the abrupt and dramatic nature of their departure, the refugees and exiles (estimated at about 30,000) received special moral and financial support from various Romanian organizations—religious and secular—in America. These immigrants infused an important contingent of professionals, including doctors, lawyers, writers, and engineers into the Romanian American community, and were also more active politically. They established new organizations and churches, and fought against Communist rule in their homeland.

After the Revolution of December 1989, which brought an end to Communism in Romania, thousands of new immigrants of all ages came to the United States, and new arrivals (legal and illegal) continue to enter the country. The elimination of Communist travel restrictions, the desire of thousands of people to be reunited with their American relatives and friends, and the precarious economic conditions in the new Romania were powerful incentives to come to America for a new start in life. Among the newcomers were professionals, former political prisoners, and others who were disenchanted with the new leadership in Romania. There were also many Romanian tourists who decided to remain in America. Many of these immigrants spoke English and adjusted relatively well, even if they took lower-paying jobs than those to which their credentials or experience entitled them. However, others found neither employment nor understood the job hunting process, and returned to Romania. Still others left the United States to try their luck in Canada or South America. Those who chose to return to Europe settled in Germany, France, or Italy. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there were approximately 365,544 people of Romanian ancestry living in the United States.

Because early Romanian immigrants were either peasants or laborers, they settled in the major industrial centers of the East and Midwest and took unskilled jobs in factories. The heaviest concentrations of Romanian Americans can be found in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. A substantial number of Romanians also settled in Florida and California. Living near the factories where they worked, first-generation Romanian Americans established communities which often consisted of extended families or of those who had migrated from the same region in Romania. Second- and third-generation Romanian Americans, having achieved financial security and social status, gradually moved out of the old neighborhoods, settling either in suburban areas or in larger cities, or relocating to another state. Consequently, there are few Romanian American communities left that preserve the social fabric of the first-generation neighborhoods.


While most Romanian-Americans immigrated from Romania, a significant number also arrived from countries adjacent to or bordering Romania. The Republic of Moldova, known as Bessarabia before World War II, is in fact a second Romanian country. Sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine, it occupies an area of 13,010 square miles (33,700 square kilometers). Its capital is Chisinau (pronounced Keesheenau) and the President of Moldova is Petru Lucinschi. The population of 4.5 million consists of 65% Romanians, 14% Ukrainians, 13% Russians, 4% Gagauz (Turks of Christian faith), and 2% Bulgarians. There are also smaller groups of Poles, Belorusans, Germans and Gypsies. While 98% of the population are Eastern Orthodox believers, some Moldavians are Protestant and Jewish. The official language of Moldova is Romanian (with a Moldavian dialect), and the second language is Russian. The country's flag is the same as Romania's: red, yellow, and blue vertical stripes.

During the Middle Ages, Bessarabia was an integral part of the Romanian principality of Moldavia, but it later became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire. In 1812, following the Russian-Turkish War (1806-1812), Bessarabia was annexed by Tsarist Russia until the 1917 October Revolution. In 1918, as a result of the Romanian population majority vote, Bessarabia was reunited with Romania, but in 1940, the Soviet Union, in a pact with Nazi Germany, gained control of the land. During 1941-1944, Romania recaptured the territory, but lost it one more time at the conclusion of World War II, when the Soviet Union incorporated Bessarabia under the name of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic. After the fall of Communism, in 1991 the country became independent, and took the name of the Republic of Moldova. It underwent various changes (free elections, a multi-party system of government, economic reforms) before reaching an understanding in 1996 with separatist movements in two regions, Dnestr, and Gagauzia. There was also a movement for reunification with Romania, but the majority of the population opted for independence.

Immigrants from Moldova who came to America before World War II, as well as those who arrived later (about 5,000 in the 1990s) consider themselves members of the Romanian American community, using the same language, worshiping in the same Eastern Orthodox churches and preserving the same heritage. They are also fully integrated in Romanian American organizations and support the reunification of their land of origin with Romania.


Macedo-Romanians, also called Aromanians or Vlachs, live mostly in Albania, although they also live in Greece and Macedonia. In addition, they have lived in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria for over 2,000 years. Their history goes back to the first and second centuries A.D. , when the Roman Empire included the territories of today's Romania and neighboring

Romanian and Jewish American Regina Kohn was permitted to enter the United States because her violin playing so impressed immigration authorities at Ellis Island that they deemed her an artist. This photograph was taken on December 28, 1923.
Romanian and Jewish American Regina Kohn was permitted to enter the United States because her violin playing so impressed immigration authorities at Ellis Island that they deemed her an artist. This photograph was taken on December 28, 1923.
Balcanic countries. It is estimated that there are about 600,000 to 700,000 Macedo-Romanians in the above mentioned countries. They know the Romanian language, but they also use their own dialect consisting of many archaisms, characteristic regional expressions and foreign influences. Macedo-Romanians consider themselves Romanian, and belong to the same Eastern Orthodox Church. In the United States, there are about 5,000 Macedo-Romanians, settled mostly in the states of Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Missouri. The first wave of immigration took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, while a second wave was recorded after World War II, and family reunifications continue to this day.

Macedo-Romanians are characterized by their hard work, the high esteem in which they keep their families and the value they place on education. They adjusted well to American life, and preserved their cultural heritage via their own organizations, ranging from Perivolea (1905- ) in New York, to the Congress of Romanian-Macedonian Culture (1985- ) presided by Prof. Aureliu Ciufecu of Fairfield, CT, and the Armanimea/Aromainianship (1993- ) led by poet Zahu Pana. Macedo-Romanians also have their own publishing house, "Cartea Aromana" (The Aromanian Book), editor: T. Cunia, in Fayetteville, New York. It reprints Macedo-Romanian authors before World War II, and also publishes new authors. Although the younger generation of Macedo-Romanians are proud of their heritage, they display strong trends of assimilation, and tend to use English more than the language of their ancestors.

Acculturation and Assimilation

While researching data for her doctoral dissertation on Romanian Americans in 1929, Christine Galitzi Avghi, herself a Romanian, observed that "Romanians in the United States constitute a picturesque, sturdy group of newly made Americans of whom altogether too little is known" (Christine Galitzi Aughi, A Study of Assimilation among the Romanians in the United States [New York: Columbia University Press, 1929]; reprinted in 1969). Indeed, in the past, insufficient knowledge of Romanian ethnic characteristics generated various misconceptions in America. Some authors, such as Wayne Charles Miller, in his A Comprehensive Bibliography for the Study of American Minorities (1976), erroneously considered Romanians Slavs because Romania borders several Slavic countries. Other immigration

"Inever really knew how much my ethnic background meant to me until the Romanian Revolution a few years ago. I was never ashamed of my background, I just never boldly stated it. I guess because I live in America I thought that I was just an American, period."

Veronica Buza, "My Ethnic Experience" in Romanian American Heritage Center Information Bulletin, September-October 1993.

studies, including Carl Wittke's We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant (1939; revised 1967) and Joseph Hutchmacher's A Nation of Newcomers (1967) completely overlooked Romanians when discussing immigrants from Eastern Europe. In American Fever: The Story of American Immigration (1967), Barbara Kaye Greenleaf stereotyped Romanians as wearing sheepskin coats "during all seasons" even though such coats are worn by farmers and shepherds only in the winter. Romanians who had originally come from Transylvania with ethnic Hungarians (Transylvania was under Hungarian rule before World War I) were also greatly misunderstood. For some Americans, the mere mention of Transylvania and Romania evoked Hollywood images of vampires and werewolves as depicted in several film adaptations of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897). Such misconceptions did not deter Romanian ethnic pride, however, which reached its peak during World War II. Today, as other groups are reaffirming their cultural past, Romanian Americans are doing the same.


Romanians have a variety of traditions and lore dating back to antiquity. For example, on certain days some farmers would not cut anything with shears so that wolves will not injure their sheep. Tuesdays were considered unlucky days to start a journey or to initiate important business. A plague could be averted by burning a shirt which has been spun, woven, and sewn in less than 24 hours. Girls would not fill their pitchers with water from a well without breathing upon it first and pouring some of it on the ground (a libation to the nymph of the well). Before serving wine, drops were poured on the floor to honor the souls of the dead. A woman who did not want children would be tortured in hell. A black cat crossing in front of a pedestrian would bring bad luck. An owl seen on the roof of a house, in a courtyard, or in a tree was a sign of forthcoming bad luck, including death in the family. Such superstitions were gradually forgotten as Romanian immigrants became acculturated into American society.


A wealth of proverbs from Romanian culture have survived through generations: "A good book can take place of a friend, but a friend cannot replace a good book"; "Whether homes are big or small, a child is a blessing to all"; "The cheapest article is advice, the most valuable is a good example"; "Do not leave an old good friend of yours just to please a new one"; "One thing for sure, each couple can tell, one's home is both paradise and hell"; "Idleness is the biggest enemy of good luck"; "Knowledge is like a tower in which you test and build your power"; "Modesty is the dearest jewel of a man's soul"; and "Enjoy drinking the wine, but do not become drunk by it."


Romanian cuisine is savory, flavorful, and stimulating to the appetite. Herbs and vegetables are used in abundance, and one-dish meals occupy an important place in the repertoire of recipes. These dishes are very nourishing, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. Romanian Americans enjoy cooking, often modifying old country recipes or creating new dishes. Mamaliga ("mamalíga"), considered a national dish, is a corn mush eaten with butter, cheese, meats, and even with marmalade or fruit jelly as a dessert. Ciorba ("chiórbá") is a popular sour soup, seasoned with sauerkraut or pickled cucumber juice. It contains onions, parsnip, parsley root, rice, and ground beef mixed with pork, and is served after the boiled vegetables are removed. Gratar ("gratár") is a steak (usually pork) accompanied by pickled cucumbers and tomatoes and combined with other grilled meats. Garlic is a major ingredient used in preparing the steak. Mititei ("meeteetáy"), which is similar to hamburgers, consists of ground beef rolled into cylindrical forms and seasoned with garlic, and is often served with gratar.

Sarmale ("sarmálay") is a stuffed cabbage dish prepared with pork shoulder, rice, black pepper, and chopped onion. Ghiveci ("gyvéch") is a vegetable stew containing carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, green pepper, onions, celery roots, eggplant, squash, string-beans, fresh peas, cabbage, and cauliflower. Cozonac ("kozonák") and torte ("tortáy") are various forms of cakes served as desserts. Ţuica ("tsúika") is a brandy made from plums or wheat. Vin ("veen") is wine and bere ("báyray") is beer. Romanian hosts and hostesses usually serve salads in a variety of shapes and compositions as entre dishes. Christmas dinner often consists of ham, sausages, pastry, fruits, bere, vin, and a special bread called colac ("kolák"). At Easter, lamb, ham, sausages, breads, and painted Easter eggs are prepared, and vin and bere accompany the feast.


Romanian traditional, or peasant costumes, are made from handwoven linen. Women wear embroidered white blouses and black skirts (or another color, according to region) which cover the knees. The costume is completed with headscarves of various colors (older women usually wear black scarves) arranged according to age and regional traditions. The traditional costume for men consists of tight-fitting white pants, a white embroidered shirt worn over the pants that almost reaches the knees, and a wide leather or cotton belt. Men wear several types of hats according to season; black or grey elongated lambskin hats are customary during the winter and straw hats are usually worn during the summer. On festive occasions, men wear black or grey felt hats adorned with a flower or feather. Moccasins are traditional footwear for both men and women, while boots (with various adornments according to regional traditions) are worn by men. Romanian Americans wear their national costumes only on special occasions, either on national holidays celebrated in churches, at social gatherings, or while performing at local ethnic festivals.


During special occasions, dancers perform the hora ("khóra"), a national dance in which men and women hold hands in a circle; the sîrba ("sýrba"), a quick, spirited dance; and the invârtite ("ynvyrtéetay"), a pair dance. These dances are accompanied by popular shoutings (sometimes with humorous connotations) spoken by the leader of the dance who also invites members of the audience to join the dancers. The orchestra consists of fiddles, clarinets, trumpets, flutes, bagpipes and panpipes, drums, and the cobza ("kóbza"), an instrument resembling a guitar and mandolin. Popular songs are traditionally performed during social reunions both in America and Romania. The doina ("dóiyna"), for example, are multi-verse tunes evoking nostalgic emotions, from a shepherd's loneliness in the mountains to patriotic sentiments. The romanţa ("romáņtsa") is a romantic melody expressing deep feelings of affection.


In addition to Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Easter Day, Romanian Americans celebrate the birthday of the Romanian national state on January 24 and Transylvania's reunification with Romania on December 1. Romanian Americans with promonarchist views also celebrate May 10, which marks the ascension of Carol I to the Romanian throne. During these festivities, celebrants sing the Romanian national anthem, "Awake Thee, Romanian," written by Andrei Muresanu (1816-1863), a noted poet and patriot. Monarchists sing the Romanian royal anthem which begins with the words "Long live the king in peace and honor." A semi-official holiday similar to Valentine's Day is celebrated by lovers and friends on March l, when a white or red silk flower (often hand-made) is presented as an expression of love.


There are no documented health problems or medical conditions that are specific to Romanian Americans. Many families have health insurance coverage underwritten by the Union and League of Romanian Societies in America or by other ethnic organizations. Like most Americans, Romanian American business owners and professionals in private practice are insured at their own expense, while employees benefit from their employers' health plans when available.


The Romanian language is a Romance language derived from Latin that has survived despite foreign influences (Slavic, Turkish, Greek, and others). In fact, it has many Latin words that are not found in other Romance languages, and is more grammatically complex. Although Romanian uses the Latin alphabet, the letters "k," "q," "w," and "y" appear only in foreign words. In addition, Romanian has specific diacritical marks: " ā," "â," "í," "ţ," "ş." Romanians consider their language sweet and harmonious, bringing "honey to the mouth," and are proud of its Latin origin.

For first-generation Romanian immigrants— regardless of the period they arrived in America— Romanian was the primary language. In a very short time, however, such American words as "supermarket," "basement," "streetcar," "laundry," "high school," and "subway" became infused in daily speech; thus, Romanian has evolved into an "Americanized" Romanian. Subsequent generations generally have spoken Romanian less often, eventually switching to English as their principal language. Romanian church services (including Sunday school) are still conducted in Romanian. In several cities, radio programs are broadcast in Romanian, and there are numerous Romanian-language newspapers and periodicals in circulation.


Common Romanian greetings and other expressions include: Bunā seara ("bóona seàra")—Good evening; Bunā ziua ("bóona zéeoóa")—Good day; Salut ("salóot")—Greetings, hello; La revedere ("la rayvaydáyray")—Good-bye; Noroc bun ("norók bóon")—Good luck; Muļtumesc ("mooltsóomesk")—Thank you; Felicitāri ("feleecheetáry") —Congratulations; La multzi ani ("la múltzi ánee")—Happy New Year; Sárbātori fericite "(sarbatóry fayreechéetay")—Happy Holidays (this greeting is used at Christmas time, for there is no expression like Merry Christmas in Romanian); Hristos a inviat ("Khristós a ynveeát")—Christ has Risen (a greeting used at Easter), the reply is Adevārat a inviat ("adevarát a ynveeát")—In truth He has risen; Sānātate ("sanatátay")—To your health, (spoken when raising a toast).

Family and Community Dynamics

During the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Romanian American family underwent profound changes. The first immigrants were typically single males or married men who had left their families behind temporarily in order to save enough money to send for them later. They lived in crowded boarding houses and often slept on the floors. On Sundays and holidays, they congregated in saloons or restaurants and at church. Later, Romanian immigrants gathered at the headquarters of mutual aid societies and fraternal organizations where they discussed news from Romania, read or wrote letters, and sang religious or popular songs. Meanwhile, the boarding houses evolved into cooperatives in which a boarder provided his own bed and shared all operating expenses (rent, utilities, food, and laundry services) with the other residents.

As Romanian immigrants became better accustomed to the American way of life, they adopted higher standards of living, prepared more nutritious meals, and engaged in such recreational activities as sports and movie-going. Since most women worked outside the home, economic conditions gradually improved, and the immigrants were able to purchase a home, cars, and modern appliances, or were able to rent larger apartments in more prosperous neighborhoods. The typical Romanian household features Romanian embroidery or rugs, the Romanian flag, and other cultural icons, which are displayed in a common area.

Romanians have always held the family in high esteem and are generally opposed to divorce. Although the first wave of immigrants consisted of large families, subsequent generations chose to have fewer children, a trend that could be attributed to economic factors. Early immigrants cared very much for their children, did not permit child labor, and instilled in their children the importance of education. While approximately 33 percent of the Romanian immigrants who came to America before World War I were illiterate, many of them managed to learn English or improve their education to obtain or to hold jobs. Encouraged by their parents, second-generation Romanian Americans placed more emphasis on vocational training and college education.

While maintaining their place in the industries where their parents worked, second-generation Romanian Americans gradually switched from unskilled to skilled occupations. Others became white collar workers, and many embraced professional careers. Subsequent generations went even further in their educational and professional pursuits. Romanian Americans made such progress that for several decades few of the adult members of this group had less than a high school education. The professional ranks of Romanians (those educated at American universities) were substantially enlarged by the thousands of professionals who immigrated to the United States after World War II, and in the years following the Revolution of 1989. As a result, Romanian Americans were able to make many significant contributions to American society.


The bridal shower, a social custom that was never practiced in Romania, has evolved into an often gala affair attended by both sexes. Prior to the wedding ceremony, bans are announced for three consecutive Sundays so that impediments to the marriage—if any—can be brought to the attention of the priest. After that, the couple selects the best man and maid (or matron) of honor, both of whom are called naşïï ("nashée"), usually a husband and wife or a sister and brother. In most cases, the naşïï later serve as godparents to the couple's children.

On the day of the wedding, the bridal party meets in the bride's home and leaves for the church, where the groom is waiting along with the best man. In the church there is no instrumental music, and the bridal procession is made in silence. The bride is brought to the altar by her father or another male member of the family, who then relinquishes her to the groom. The ceremony is begun by the priest, assisted by a cantor or church choir that sings the responses. After receiving affirmative answers from the couple about their intention to marry and their mutual commitment, the priest blesses the wedding rings and places them in the hands of the bride and groom. Then, metal or floral crowns are placed on the heads of the couple so that they can rule the family in peace, harmony, and purity of heart. The bride and groom then take three bites of a honey wafer or drink wine from a common cup, which symbolizes their bountiful life together. Finally, the hands of the couple are bound together with a ribbon to share all joys and sorrows together, and the couple walks three times around the tetrapod (a small stand displaying an icon), symbolizing the eternity of their union and obedience to the Holy Trinity. The crowns are removed with a blessing from the priest, who then concludes the ceremony with a few words of advice for the couple. The reception is held either at a private home, hotel, or restaurant. Instead of gifts, guests give money at the reception, which is collected by the naşïï who publicly announce the amounts received. The reception is accompanied by music and dancing, including popular Romanian songs and folk dances.


When a child is ready for baptism, the parents first select the godparents, or naşïï, who are often the same couple that served as best man and matron of honor at the parents' wedding. The naşïï bring the child to the church, where the priest confers the grace of God by putting his hand on the child. Then, the priest exorcises the child by breathing on the child's forehead, mouth, and breast. The godmother, or naşa ("násha"), renounces the service of Satan in the child's name and promises to believe in Jesus Christ and serve only Him. In front of the altar, the priest anoints the child with the "oil of joy" (blessed olive oil) on the forehead, breast, shoulders, ears, hands, and feet. The baptism is completed by dipping the child three times in a font or by sprinkling with holy water. Immediately after the baptism follows confirmation, which consists of a new anointment of the child with mïr (pronounced "meer," meaning holy chrism), a mixture of 33 spices blessed by the bishop, on the forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, breast, ears, hands, and feet. It is customary to hold a dinner after the baptism, where guests usually bring gifts in the form of money.


A death in the family is announced by the ringing of church bells three times a day (morning, noon, and evening) until the day of the funeral. Prayers for the dead are recited by the priest and the Gospel is read during the wake, called saracusta ("sarakóosta"). At the church, the funeral service consists entirely of singing; with the assistance of the cantor and choir, the priest sings hymns and prayers for the dead. The priest bids farewell to the family in the name of the deceased and asks for forgiveness of sins against family members or friends. At the cemetery prayers are recited and the Gospel is read. Before the coffin is lowered into the grave, the priest sprinkles soil on top of it and recites the following: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." Later, the deceased's family offers a pomana ("pomána"), which is either a complete meal or sandwiches and beverages. The purpose of the funeral is to remember the dead, and to seek forgiveness of his or her sins. At least six weeks following the burial, a memorial service called parastas ("parastás") is offered. During the parastas, the priest recites a few prayers for the deceased, and a large cake-like bread is then cut into small pieces and served with wine in the church's vestibule. After being served, the mourners recite "May his (or her) soul rest in peace" and reminisce about the person who had passed away.


Romanian Americans began to interact with other ethnic groups as they moved into better residential areas and suburbs. Romanian Orthodox believers

In this 1992 photograph, Romanian priests lead a service outside the Romanian mission to the United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the Romanian Revolution. In the foreground is the traditional sweet dish known as colvia.
In this 1992 photograph, Romanian priests lead a service outside the Romanian mission to the United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the Romanian Revolution. In the foreground is the traditional sweet dish known as colvia.
established relationships with Orthodox Serbians, Greeks, Russians, and Ukrainians by attending their churches. Similarly, Romanian Catholics were drawn to Hungarian or Polish Catholics, while Romanian Baptists established friendly relations with Serbian, Croatian, and Bulgarian Baptists. Romanian workers came into contact with other ethnic groups in the workplace. All of these factors—including the proliferation of mixed marriages—contributed to the integration of Romanians into mainstream American society.


The first Romanian American churches, St. Mary's Orthodox Church (Cleveland, Ohio) and St. Helen's Catholic Byzantine Rite (East Cleveland, Ohio), were founded in 1904 and 1905, respectively. These churches also served as community centers where immigrants spent a good part of their social life. The vast majority of Romanian American churchgoers are Eastern Orthodox, with a membership of about 60,000 organized into 60 parishes under two canonical jurisdictions. Forty-five parishes are subordinated to the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, headed by Bishop Nathaniel Pop. Fifteen parishes—the majority of which are located in Canada—are under the Romanian Orthodox Missionary Episcopate of America, led by Archbishop Victorin Ursache (1912– ). The Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite has 15 parishes, serving approximately 4,000 Romanian members. The church is led by Vasile Puşcaş, the first Byzantine Rite bishop in America. The number of Romanian Protestants is approximately 2,500; most of them are Baptists. The first Romanian Baptist church was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1910; at present there are nine Romanian Baptist churches and smaller groups of Romanian Seventh-Day Adventists and Pentecostals under various jurisdictions.

The Romanian Orthodox church and the Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite are essentially sister churches with a common history, liturgy, customs, and traditions. Both follow the teachings of the Apostles but differ in their interpretation of the Pope's infallibility. Members of the Byzantine Rite church believe in the infallibility of the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra on faith and morality, while Orthodox followers contend that any person or council in the church is not infallible. Those who embraced the dogma of papal infallibility switched allegiance from the Eastern Orthodox church to the Vatican in 1697 but have preserved all other features and disciplines of the Eastern church. Both churches adhere to the Nicene Creed, and the Liturgy is based on the text of Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407 A.D. ), modified by Saint Basil the Great (c.329-379 A.D. ). There are seven Sacraments: Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. In the Romanian Orthodox church, the Anointing of the Sick is administered by three priests and may be given to the healthy to prevent illness. Services in both churches are conducted in Romanian accentuated by song and chants. The cathedrals are richly decorated with icons and images of the saints, although carved images are forbidden. The altar is located in the center of the sanctuary, and a screen or partition called an iconostasis separates the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Only priests and deacons can enter the sanctuary; other parishioners are not permitted to cross beyond the iconostasis.

Orthodox and Byzantine Rite priests usually wear black cassocks, but gray and brown are also permitted. During the Liturgy, vestments are colorful and ornate; while a priest's headdress is a cylindrical-shaped black hat, bishops wear a mitre, a crown made of stiff material adorned on top with a cross and various small pictures or icons. At the top of the pastoral scepter are two intertwined serpents surmounted by a cross or an image of a saint. Former liturgical colors (black, red, white) are not observed in modern times. Orthodox priests are permitted to marry before ordination, but only unmarried priests can become bishops. Deacons, subdeacons, and readers assist the priests during services. Clergy and laity (nonclergy) take part in the administration of the church and in the election of the clergy in Orthodox churches, while Byzantine Rite priests are appointed by their bishops.

Romanian Protestant churches conduct their services in the same manner as their American coreligionists, employing Romanian pastors who are subordinated to various local American jurisdictions. Their predecessors were trained by American missionaries in Romania during the nineteenth century.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Because early Romanian immigrants settled in the eastern and midwestern regions of the United States, they found work in such industries as iron, rubber, and steel manufacturing, coal mining, meat packing, and automotive assembly. They were assigned the heaviest and dirtiest jobs, as was the custom with all newly arrived immigrants. After accumulating work experience and perfecting their English language skills, some Romanians advanced to more responsible positions. Immigrants who settled in California were employed as gardeners, fruit gatherers and packers, and in freight transporters, while Macedo-Romanians often held jobs as waiters in the hotel and restaurant industries. About nine percent of Romanian immigrants settled in Colorado, North and South Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming; they became involved in agriculture and ranching either as farm owners or as managers. Romanians were also employed as tailors, bakers, carpenters, and barbers, establishing their own small businesses in Romanian American neighborhoods. Romanian women found employment in light industry, such as cigar and tobacco manufacturing, or as seamstresses. Younger women became clerks or office secretaries, while others worked as manicurists or hairdressers in beauty salons. Many Macedo-Romanian women took jobs in the textile industry. Some Romanians with entrepreneurial skills opened travel agencies, small banks, saloons, boarding houses, and restaurants.

Politics and Government

The formation of the Union and League of Romanian Societies of America (ULRSA) in 1906 marked the beginning of Romanian political activity on a national scale. Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, ULRSA brought together dozens of mutual aid and cultural societies, clubs, fraternities, and other groups committed to preserving Romanian ethnicity. It provided insurance benefits, assisted thousands of Romanians in completing their education, and taught newly arrived immigrants how to handle their affairs in a democratic way. As ULRSA gained more power and prestige, its leaders were often "courted" by local and national politicians to enlist political support from the Romanian American community.

The leadership of ULRSA (with a few exceptions) has traditionally held a neutral and unbiased position in American politics. Despite this neutrality, however, many Romanians, especially those who immigrated to America prior to World War II, have pro-Democratic sentiments, while the majority of postwar immigrants and refugees with strong anti-Communist sentiments tilt more toward the Republican party. A small group of Romanian American socialists—primarily workers from Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, and New York—founded the Federation of the Romanian Socialist Workers of the United States in 1914 and later merged with the pro-Communist International Workers Order (IWO). Many Romanian Americans also joined local labor unions for the practical reason that they could not obtain work otherwise. Later, as employment opportunities improved, they participated in union activities according to their specific interests, benefits needs, and preferences.


During World War I, several hundred Romanian volunteers from Ohio and other states enrolled in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe on the French front. Many of these soldiers received commendations for bravery. Over 5,000 Romanian Americans served in the American Armed Forces during World War II and over 300 died in combat. Lieutenant Alex Vraciu of East Chicago, Indiana, destroyed 19 Japanese planes in 1944; Cornelius and Nicholas Chima, brothers from Akron, Ohio, were the only Romanian American team to fly a combat plane in 1944. Florea Busella of Glassport, Pennsylvania, was the first Romanian American woman to enroll in the Navy's WAVES in 1942, and Lieutenant Eleanor Popa, a registered nurse from Ohio, was one of the first American military women to enter Tokyo, Japan in 1945. Romanian Americans were also represented in significant numbers during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and many were promoted to officer ranks. Nicholas Daramus became the first Romanian American to be promoted to the rank of full commander in the U.S. Navy in 1977.


Romanian Americans have always been proud of their homeland and have maintained ties beyond normal relations with family or friends left behind. Before and during World War I, Romanian Americans exposed Hungarian persecution of Transylvanians in their newspapers and many organizations called for the unification of Transylvania and Romania. They also gave generous donations of money, food, and clothing for Romania's orphans, widows, and refugees. In 1919 Romanian Americans submitted a Four-Point Motion to the Peace Conference, calling for the reestablishment of Romania's territorial borders (including Transylvania and other regions formerly held by foreign powers), equal rights for ethnic minorities, and the establishment of a democracy based on principles adopted in the United States.

In the 1920s and 1930s many Romanian Americans actively supported the National Peasant Party founded in Transylvania against anti-democratic political forces. Prominent Romanians such as Queen Marie (1875-1938) visited Romanian American communities, and the Romanian government sent a group of students to complete their studies at various American universities. After World War II, Romanian Americans sent food, medicine, and clothing to refugees and other types of aid to help Romania's devastated economy.

During the years of Communist dictatorship, Romanian American groups sent a formal memorandum to President Harry Truman protesting the mass deportations of Romanians by Soviet troops in 1952, and in 1964 called upon President Lyndon B. Johnson to exert pressure on the Communists to release Romanian political prisoners and provide exit visas for individuals desiring to join relatives in the United States. Many Romanian Americans who held pro-monarchist views sought the restoration of Michael I, who was forced by the Communists to abdicate in December 1947. Romanian American Catholics vehemently opposed the suppression of their church in Romania beginning in 1948, when bishops and priests were arrested and murdered, and church property was confiscated. Many Romanian Catholics were deported.

Romanian Americans continue to aid their native country during difficult times through the auspices of the Union and League of Romanian Societies in America, the International Red Cross, and other philanthropic organizations. Presently, some Romanian Americans are involved in developing business ventures in Romania, given the precarious conditions of the country's economy and unfamiliarity with the capitalist system. There is also a steady flow of scholarly exchanges between Romania and United States—via grants and scholarships—in which Romanian Americans take an active role through the Romanian Studies Association of America, the American Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences, and other academic organizations.

Individual and Group Contributions

Although Romanian Americans represent only one-eighth of one percent of America's total population, they have made significant contributions to American popular culture and to the arts and sciences. The following sections list Romanian Americans and their achievements.


Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) was a renowned authority on religious studies, mythology, and folklore. His many publications include The History of Religions: Essays in Methodology (1959) and Zalmoxis, the Vanishing God: Comparative Studies in the Religions and Folklore of Dacia and Eastern Europe (1972). Many of Eliade's works have been translated into several languages. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1906-1994) pioneered mathematical economics and influenced many American economists through his Analytical Economics: Issues and Problems (1966). Georgescu-Roegen was considered by his peers "a scholar's scholar and an economist's economist." Mathematician Constantin Corduneanu edits Libertas Mathematica. Romance philologist Maria Manoliu-Manea served as president of the American Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences for many years.


Jean Negulesco (1900– ) directed Singapore Woman (1941), Johnny Belinda (1948), Titanic (1953), and Three Coins in a Fountain (1954), and was also known as a portrait artist. Television actor Adrian Zmed (c. 1954– ) costarred with William Shatner in the police drama "T. J. Hooker" (1982-1986). In theater, Andrei Şerban (1943– ) adapted and directed classical plays at LaMama Theater in New York City, while Liviu Ciulei (1923– ) is best known for directing classical works.


Theodore Andrica (1900-1990) edited and published two successful periodicals, the New Pioneer during the 1940s, and the American Romanian Review during the 1970s and 1980s. Both publications featured articles on Romanian American life, traditions, customs, and cooking, and documented the achievements of Romanian Americans. Andrica also served as editor of the Cleveland Press for 20 years. The Reverend Vasile Haţegan (1915– ) of the Romanian Orthodox Church wrote several articles on Romanians residing in New York City, while the Reverend Gheorghe Murȩsan of the Romanian Catholic Byzantine Rite Church proved to be a gifted editor for Catholic publications. John Florea (1916– ) of Life magazine and Ionel Iorgulescu (1918– ) of Redbook magazine were outstanding photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. For 25 years, broadcaster Liviu Floda of Radio Free Europe hosted programs discussing human rights violations by the Communist regime in Romania. Floda interviewed hundreds of personalities, helped reunite refugee families with American relatives, and wrote dozens of articles on various subjects for Romanian Americans and foreign-language journals.


Peter Neagoe (1881-1960) was the first major Romanian American author. In such novels as Easter Sun (1934) and There Is My Heart (1936), he depicted the lives of Transylvanian peasants in realistic detail. Mircea Vasiliu (an illustrator) wrote Which Way to the Melting Pot? (1955) and The Pleasure Is Mine (1963), in which he humorously recounts his experiences as an immigrant. Eugene Theodorescu's Merry Midwife and Anişoara Stan's (1902-1954) They Crossed Mountains and Oceans (1947) also focus on immigrant life in America. Moreover, Stan published The Romanian Cook Book, which remains a prototype of Romanian cookery and cuisine. Eli Popa edited and translated Romania Is a Song: A Sample of Verse in Translation (1967), a bilingual collection of Romanian classical and folk poetry, and modern verse by Romanian American poets. Andrei Codrescu (1946– ), a poet, novelist, and journalist, has added new dimensions to contemporary Romanian American literature through such books as The Life and Times of an Involuntary Genius (1975), In America's Shoes (1983), and several others which delineate anti-Communist sentiments in Romania and the immigrant experience in America. Silvia Cinca, leading author, published Comrade Dracula (1988), Homo Spiritus: Journey of Our Magic, as well as several other books both in Romanian and English. She is also President of Moonfall Press in the United States.


George Enesco (1881-1955) was a composer, violinist, and conductor who lived in the United States before and after World War II. Enesco conducted several symphony orchestras, taught at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and earned fame for his "Romanian Rhapsodies," which has since been performed by many American and foreign symphony orchestras. Ionel Perlea (1901- 1970) served as musical conductor of the New York Metropolitan Opera for over 20 years despite the fact that his right hand was paralyzed; he also taught at the Manhattan School of Music. Stella Roman (1905-1992), an operatic soprano, performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York during the 1940s and 1950s, specializing in Italian opera spinto roles. Other gifted performers include Christina Caroll (1920– ) of the New York Metropolitan Opera; Iosif Cristea and Gloria Vasu, both with the Boston Grand Opera Company; Yolanda Marculescu, soprano and music teacher at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee; Lisette Verea, operetta singer and comedienne based in New York City; and Marioara Trifan, an internationally renowned pianist. In addition, the popular tune "And the Angels Sing," which was recorded by the legendary jazz musician Benny Goodman, is in fact a Romanian folk song brought to America by Romanian immigrants.


George Palade (1912– ) of the Yale University School of Medicine shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in medicine, for his contributions to research on the structure and function of the internal components of cells. Traian Leucutzia (1893-1970), who began his medical career in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1920s, was one of the first scientists to detect the radiation hazards of X-rays, and served as editor of the American Journal of Roentgenology, Radium Therapy, and Nuclear Medicine for several years. Valer Barbu (1892-1986) taught psychiatry and psychoanalysis at Cornell University, the New School of Social Research in New York City, and the American Institute of Psychoanalysis before and after World War II. A disciple of Karen Horney, Barbu was critical of Freudian analysis.

Constanin Barbulescu, an aeronautical engineer, devised methods of protecting aircraft flying in severe weather. He published his findings in Electrical Engineering and other technical journals during the 1940s. Alexandru Papana (1905-1946) tested gliders and other aircraft for Northrop Aircraft in California. Many of Papana's experiences as a test pilot were documented in Flying magazine.


Charlie Stanceu (1916-1969) was the first Romanian American to play baseball in the major leagues. A native of Canton, Ohio, Stanceu pitched for the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1940s. Stanceu was followed by Johnny Moldovan, who signed a contract with the Yankees in 1947. Gymnast Dominique Moceanu, now 18, has distinguished herself since she was 14, wimming several United States' women's national gymnastics titles. Gheorghe Muresan, 7 feet, 7 inches tall, has become a famous basketball star playing for the Washington Bullets, and has appeared as an actor in the film My Giant, with Billy Crysal.


Constantin Brancuşi (1856-1957) is considered by some art critics to be the father of modern sculpture. He first exhibited his works in America in 1913 at the International Exhibition of Modern Art. Many of Brancusi's pieces ("Miss Pogany," "The Kiss," "Bird in Space," "White Nigress") were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Sculptor George Zolnay (1867-1946) created the Sequoya Statue in the United States Capitol, the Edgar Allan Poe monument at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and the War Memorial sculpture of Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. Zolnay also served as art commissioner at the 1892 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois. Elie Cristo-Loveanu (c. 1893-1964) distinguished himself as a portrait artist and professor of painting at New York University during the 1940s and 1950s. His portrait of President Dwight Eisenhower is on display at Columbia University. Constantin Aramescu, a Floridian, is noted for paintings on Romanian subjects. Iosif Teodorescu and Eugene Mihaescu (1937– ) are illustrators for the New York Times, while Mircea Vasiliu (1920– ), a former diplomat, is a well known illustrator of children's books. Alexandru Seceni painted icons and saints in several Romanian Orthodox churches in America and also developed a special technique of wood etching for the Romanian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair.



America: Romanian News.

Organ of the Union and League of Romanian Societies in America (ULRSA). It is a monthly publication that focuses on organization activities and achievements of local ULRSA branches and features cultural news and book reviews written in English and Romanian. It is supplemented by an almanac listing important events in the Romanian American community.

Contact: Peter Lucaci, Editor.

Address: 23203 Lorain Road, North Olmstead, Ohio 44070-1625.

Telephone: (216) 779-9913.

Lumea Libera Romaneasca (Free Romanian World).

Weekly, focuses on political events in Romania, concerned with development of democracy, free press, and elimination of Communist influences of the past. Independent orientation

Contact: Dan Costescu and Cornel Dumitrescu, Editors.

Address: P.O. Box 7640 Reko Park, New York, New York 11374.

Telephone and Fax: (718) 997-6314.

Meridianul Romanesc (The Romanian Meridian).

Weekly, news and articles concerning Romania and the Romanian American community, politics, culture, sports, tourism and other subjects. Independent orientation.

Contact: Marius Badea and George Rosianu, Editors.

Address: North State College Boulevar, Suite 107, Anaheim, California 92806.

Telephone: (908) 322-4903.

Fax: (714) 991-0364.

Romanian American Heritage Center Information Bulletin.

Organ of the Valerian Trifa Romanian-American Heritage Center (English language only). Bimonthly publication that contains articles on early Romanian American immigrants and their contributions to American society, and also features book reviews.

Contact: Eugene S. Raica, Editor.

Address: 2540 Grey Tower Road, Jackson, Michigan 49201.

Telephone: (517) 522-8260.

Fax: (517) 522-8236.

Solia (The Herald).

Published monthly in a bilingual format by the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America. Focuses on parish news and youth and women-auxiliary projects, but also features book reviews and produces an annual supplement listing important events and a religious calendar.

Contact: Manuela Cruga, English Language Editor.

Address: 2540 Grey Tower Road, Jackson, Michigan 49201-9120.

Telephone: (517) 522-8260.

Unirea (The Union).

Monthly bilingual publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Canton. Gathers news from various parishes, features a youth section, and prints book reviews. It also publishes an annual supplement listing important events, a religious calendar, and other information.

Contact: Rev. John Skala, Editor.

Address: 1121 44th Street, NE, Canton, Ohio 44714-1297.

Telephone: (219) 980-0726.


WCAR-AM (1900).

"Ethnic and Proud," is a weekly one-hour Romanian broadcast featuring religious and community news as well as Romanian music.

Contact: Jimmy Crucian.

Address: 2522 Grey Tower Road, Jackson, Michigan 49204.

Telephone: (517) 522-4800; or, (313) 527-1111.

WNZK-AM (1900).

Religious news.

Contact: Editor, Romanian Hour

Address: 21700 Northwestern Highway, Suite 1190, Southfield, Michigan 48075.

Telephone: (313) 365-0700.


TVTV (Romanian Voice Television).

Transmits news from Romania and the Romanian American community, can be viewed on International Channel in various localities (East Coast, Middle West, West Coast) via local cable television stations.

Contact: Vasile Badaluta

Address: 45-51 39th Place, Sunnyside, New York 11104.

Telephone: (718) 482-9588 or (718) 472-9111.

Fax: (718) 472-9119.

Organizations and Associations

American Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences (ARA).

Founded in 1975, the ARA has a membership of 250 Romanian scholars who live in the United States. It focuses on research and publishing activities regarding Romanian art, culture, language, history, linguistics, sciences, and economics

Contact: Prof. Peter Gross.

Address: Department of Journalism, California State University, Chico, California 95929-0600.

Telephone: (916) 898-4779.

Fax: (916) 898-4839.

American Romanian Orthodox Youth (AROY).

Founded in 1950, with approximately 2,000 members, AROY functions as an auxiliary of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America; cultivates religious education and Romanian culture through summer courses, retreats, sports, competitions, scholarships, and other activities.

Contact: David A. Zablo.

Address: 2522 Grey Tower Road, Jackson, Michigan 49201-9120.

Telephone: (517) 522-4800.

Fax: (517) 522-5907.

Association of Romanian Catholics of America (ARCA).

Founded in 1948, the ARCA promotes religious education in the tradition of the Romanian Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite and cultural preservation, and sponsors special programs designed for youths. The Association is also involved in publishing activities.

Contact: Dr. George T. Stroia.

Address: 1700 Dale Drive, Merrillville, Indiana 46410.

Telephone: (219) 980-0726.

Society for Romanian Studies.

Founded in 1985, it promotes Romanian language and culture studies in American universities and colleges, cultural exchange programs between America and Romanian. Also publishes a newsletter.

Contact: Prof. Paul Michelson.

Address: Huntington College, Department of History, Huntington, Indiana 46750.

Telephone: (219) 356-6000.

Fax: (219) 356-9448.

Union and League of Romanian Societies of America (ULRSA).

Founded in 1906, with approximately 5,000 members, ULRSA is the oldest and largest Romanian American organization. It has played an important role in organizing Romanian immigrants and in preserving Romanian culture. Presently, the ULRSA functions as a fraternal benefit insurance organization.

Contact: Georgeta Washington, President.

Address: 23203 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070.

Telephone: (216) 779-9913.

Museums and Research Centers

Iuliu Maniu American Romanian Relief Foundation (IMF).

Has a sizable collection of Romanian peasant costumes, paintings and folk art items. It also manages a library of Romanian books that can be borrowed by mail.

Contact: Justin Liuba, President.

Address: P.0. Box 1151 Gracie Square Station, New York, New York 10128.

Telephone: (212) 535-8169.

Romanian Ethnic Art Museum.

Has preserved a large collection of Romanian national costumes, wood carvings, rugs, icons, furniture, paintings, and over 2,000 Romanian books, as well as English books related to Romania.

Contact: George Dobrea.

Address: 3256 Warren Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44111.

Telephone: (216) 941-5550.

Fax: (216) 941-3068.

Romanian American Heritage Center.

Collects and preserves historical records relating to Romanian immigrants and their achievements. The collection consists of religious items, brochures, minutes, flyers, and reports donated by various Romanian American organizations, family and individual photographs, and other materials of interest to researchers.

Contact: Alexandru Nemoianu.

Address: 2540 Grey Tower Road, Jackson, Michigan 49201.

Telephone: (517) 522-8260.

Fax: (517) 522-8236.

Romanian Cultural Center.

A Romanian government agency similar to the United States Information Agency (USIA), has a sizable collection of Romanian books published in Romania, and a collection of folk art items. The center organizes cultural programs and assists in providing contacts in Romania.

Contact: Coriolan Babeti, Director.

Address: 200 East 38th Street, New York, New York 10016.

Telephone: (212) 687-0180.

Fax: (212) 687-0181.

Sources for Additional Study

Hategan, Vasile. Romanian Culture in America. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Cultural Center, 1985.

Diamond, Arthur. Romanian Americans. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Dima, Nicholas. From Moldavia to Moldova: The Soviet Romanian Territorial Dispute. Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 1991.

Galitzi Avghi, Christine. A Study of Assimilation among the Romanians in the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 1929; reprinted, 1969.

Hateganu, Vasile. "The Macedo-Romanians in America" in Romanian American Heritage Center Information Bulletin, March-April 1996, pp. 16-18.

Wertsman, Vladimir. The Romanians in America, 1748-1974: A Chronology and Factbook. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications, 1975.

——. The Romanians in America and Canada: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980.

Winnifrith, T.J. The Vlachs: The History of a Balkan People. England: Duckworth, 1987.

User Contributions:

gillian mellstrom
I have been searching ALL day to find out information about the Rumanian church and the ceremonies that are observed around the time of a persons death. This is SUCH a good, well writen and easy to understand site...well done!

With many thanks
Gillian Mellström, Sweden
Tiffany Stanley
I would love to tell you reading this has absolutely made my day. I am a 28yr. old third generation Romanian-Gypsy who went on-line today seeking help with a grant, and instead I found such accuracy about my heritage. Everything I know about my heritage was passed on to me from my elders. If you have any information for me please feel free to contact me at my web site. This was such a great find today. I can't wait to read more I am divorced from my American husband and I want my five year old son to know more about who he is one day, and I am so happy to know sites like this exist, being a gypsy is not one of the easiest things to explain to people.

I've been on line to reserch the posibility to find a place where I can rent(for a day) a traditional Romanian costume for a project . If anybody knows where I can find one for a day I'll be very gratefull. I live in eastside of Cleveland (MEntor), Ohio but I can come to the westside too.

Thank you for your help,
(you can write in Romanian language too)

Crystal A. Szoelloesi
It was nice to see my first voice teacher, Christina Carroll, named in the famous musicians list. Sadly, I must report she passed away in January 1990, in Scottsdale, AZ.
This is all really, very interesting. You see, my step-mother is from Romania and I though it was cool to learn about her heritage and stuff like that. also, i can use this for my project!!!! Thank You!!!!!
Wade Childs
Hello, My wife and I are now working and living in Kosovo, she is Romanian and i am American. I would like to know if any readers out there have information on international schools in romania for our son to attend? Thank you
My son met a beautiful girl while he was in Romania last year and he just asked her to marry him. I am trying to find accurate information regarding Romania and perhaps some resources for her to utilize when she comes here later this summer. This is a great site and I really appreciate it. I'm hoping it will help me make her feel more "at home" if I have some knowledge of her country and customs. Thank you for the work that was put into this site!!
I once fell in love with a Romanian girl. It was a special time in my life when I was exposed to the Romanian culture and will never forget it. It will always be of interest to me. Thank-you for making this well written article available to the general public.
Congratulations! This a very well done work and it covers so many specific informations about Romanians in such a small size article. If I could give you some sugestions, these will be regarding the Romanian Americans which lives in USA today. I know that would mean a larger work, but I think there are so many things which could be said about the contemporary Romanian Americans. As an example, the datas about the Protestant Romanian Americans which was included in this article seems to be very outdated because there are over 25,000 of them and the number of their churches is probably somwhere around 200. The Pentecostals represent the majority, and there are over 100 Romanian Pentecostal Churches in USA today.
I have a new friend who came to the U.S. as a student in the 1970's. This history is a help in understanding him. Thanks.
I was very impressed with this is very informational. I am married to a wonderful Romanian who came to America when he was 10 years old. He is very proud of his heritage and tries to instill many of his traditions within our home. This site helped me to gain a better understanding of Romanian-Americans, and helped me to appreciate where my husband is from. Multumesc foarte mult!
First off, great writing. It was easy to understand and keeps you interested.
Second off. Romania's are NOT Gypsy's. Period. We have them in our country and so does every other country in Europe. That doesn't mean they are FROM Romania. That is a fact. I really wish you would of spoken more on the misconception of Romanians and Gypsy's. This is not only an insult to Romanians but also an embarrassment.
Tiffany: I hope you find out your TRUE roots because these are not it and they, Gypsy's have nothing to do with Romania. They, Gypsy's, live in our country as they do all over the world but there are no blood ties.
Thanks you for the interesting read.
About 800-850 years ago gypsies were brought to Europe from what is today Pakistan-India.
They were slaves for rich romanians of that time. So for sure there is no blood ties between romanians and gipsies(romi).
Thank you so much for all the research that went into this very well written piece of work. It could be submitted for a Master's degree at some university. I couldn't read it all at once, but will return again and again.
One important big church you forgot to mention was the Philidalphia Penticostal Romanian Church located in Portland, OR. It's very big and very popular.

I enjoyed reading about my heritage as I am a 2ng generation Romanian American.

A very popular business for Romanians is "Babe" business which in translation means Adult Foster Care homes.

I would agree that Romanians are very proud of where they come from, so proud, that they dont like it when people from other countries (Slavic ones) claim to be of the same heritage (in paticular, Russians).

If you'd like to know more about Romanians in Oregon, consider picking up a copy of "Romanian Times."

Great Article, thank you!
I am trying to bring a Romanian person to the USA, me and my family are all - permanent residents and we are in possession of the green card. my mother divorced my dad a long time ago and now they want to get together again however it seems impossible since my dad is in Romania and my mom is here with us. Is there any possible way we can bring him here? We're looking for a legal way. Me and my sister also carry his last name.
Very, very informative. I have learned something NEW. Thank you.
Debbie and Shayna
We have been googling for information for a report on romanian immigration and customs. This article has everything we ned. It was very helpful.
Congratulations: indeed very good information! Thank you!
Wondering the best place to do a search for a Family who immigrated here before 1914 from romainia.. Last name is Krash (don't know correct spelling) First name John and his wife..(Ver..Something..) My father is 76 and this is the first time he has been able to find when his Grandparents came , His mother was born here in 1914 so he knows they immigrated before then.. not much to go on ... Huh? Thanks to anyone who can help. Jenniferzs
Hi my name is Nga and I am engaged to a Romanian fiance. He's is Romanian Orthodox and I am Catholic. We would like to get married in a Orthodox church without me getting baptised. Is it possible for me being Catholic to get married to a Romanian Orthodox fiance without being baptised? Is it possible not to have godparents? We have a best man and matron of honor selected and both of them are not Orthodox.

Warm regards,
I'm facinated by all of the information on the Romanian country and people.

My family has the surname of Badea, and we have found out that this name is from Romanian, so far we have not been able to find the first Romanian man last name of Badea, who arrived in Puerto Rico from this country. My earlist find was a Manuel Badea from the early 18 hundreds.

Would or could someone please help me?, I love the history and I could have gypsie in me cause I have been known to move around a lot. My family also moved around a lot.
Sonia Vazquez Badea
Hi, I'm trying to find the first Romanian who went to the island of Puerto Rico in the very early 1800, with the name of Badea. The earlist I have is Manuel Badea, in Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico mid 1800. This man was my maternal grndpas' grtgrndfather. If anyone is willing to research this for me please I thank you with all of my heart.
exceptionally written, congratulations, i am from Romania and i'm glad to see that other people are aware of our existence let alone knowing a lot of our history.
Nice article, lots of interesting things covering many areas.
Except of several small typos (torte is actually tort, colvia is actually coliva) it is a great place to gain basic information about Romanians and our country.
For all Romanian descendants, don't forget your heritage but also, be proud to be an American.

Iulian, Bucuresti, Romania
Andreea, Romania and Spain
I appreciate all the information i found here, especially of the first Romanians to arrive in thing you could change is "it is bounded by the Ukraine and Slovakia to the north"'s only Ukraine, we never had borders with Slovakia. Thank youuu, bye
Yes we had borders not with Slovakia but with Czechoslovakia, before WW2. We also had borders with Poland during that period when Ukraine existed only as a Soviet Republic. There is a nice National Geographic magazine from 1937 (or arround, before 1939) with a story about an young American lady crossing those borders by bicycle, with photographs of those border check points.
Lasculescu Vlad
Indeed,we are very proud of our romanic heritage,but i have a question for all the romanian americans,Do you still speak romanian leanguage or up there in the U.S. they are trying to asimilate you all?Multumumesc!
@Jennifer McDonald I know it may be pretty late but his wife's name i think it might be Veronica. Just a little help i thought you could use ...

@Sonia Vasquez Badea Actually Badea sounds more Romanian to me than gypsy. If you are of gypsy descendant (which i don't think) you actually have descendends from India. Romanians are a different people. But as i said Badea in Romanian means old man or it is also used by peasant females to call their loved husbands.

Always be proud to be Romanian!
I have been looking all day and I haven't found almost anything. This has answered almost all of my questions. Thanks so much.
James Hannan
I am looking for a picture of King Michael and My father in around 1946 - 1948 when he was in Cleveland Ohio. My father was on the detail to bodyguard the King.
Thank You
James Hannan
My girlfrien iis from romania, i met her about a year ago and i would like to her to make some friends, she lives in greenwich but works in weston ct please advise, thanks. Steve walsh
Tracy Marks
I'm very pleased to find this article. Good job!
My grandparents, born in the 1880s, were from Yasse, Romania and emigrated around 1900 to Key West Florida. Their last name was Markovitz or Markovici, later changed to Marks. I know little about my Romanian heritage - by the time I became interested the generation before me in my family was dead.
I do however have a picture of the extended family from Romania, taken after they arrived in Key West, which I posted here. wwwDOTwebwindsDOTcom/gallery/markovitz.htm
It sure would be wonderful to find a distant Romanian relative!
Christine Willard
I loved this article. Am food blogger & also columnist for Uniontown Herald-Standard (PA) where I write articles on western PA ethnic cuisine. I will be posting one soon on Romania. I am not Romanian but German, Scotch-Irish & Welsh but loved learning about Romania and Romanian-Americans. With my column which will appear on October 14 I do a full blogpost. The post will appear on or before October 14, 2013. Thanks so much for the valuable information. I enjoyed it.
What a wonderful read! Thank you, Ioana from Romania
We have a Romanian community in Twin Cities and we celebrated this year 2013 The Centenary of our St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota. There is a bunch of smart Romanian people working for University of Minnesota and other smart people working for various companies and schools. Many Romanians invaded IT companies and there is a big group working for Microsoft advertised in many other situations. This is a wonderful paper about the history of Romanians in US, but it needs updates about nowadays Romanians who bring a lot of skill and money to this country. Keep up the good writing!
you mentioned there are about 2500 protestant Romanians in America. I think you meant to say 25,000, if not more. examples include Portland, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, Sacramento, LA, . I live in Phoenix there are 8 Protestant churches and 2 Orthodox churches. the protestant populaion here is estimated at over 5,000-7,500. Not to mention those that go to American Protestant churches. You could have mentioned that Causescu allowed for emigration of many Protestant Romanians.
Richard Wurmbrand or Iosif Ton are some well known Romanian religious figures that are known internationally

Very impressive effort, well done. Few mentions, though. You have to review the geographical and historical information since they are misleading (Slovakia as neighbor, Antonescu forcing Carol II to renounce his throne, misspelled names etc). Most annoying for me was the Roman occupation part, which is totally inaccurate, mirroring the misconceptions promoted by the former communist regime and "Scoala Ardeleana" which were eager to tap into some more "noble" roots. It has to be noted that Romanian language is the closest in use to the scholar Latin. It is disappointing to see that from the cradle of civilization and first world documented writing system (Tartaria), we are now known as being the Gypsies country (no offense Tiffany, but this unfortunate association brought our country immense image dis-benefits over the last two decades). For more fascinating information about Romanian history you can access the YouTube "History of Romania" series (16 episodes). Other than that you have to realize that the described traditions and cuisine may greatly differ from province to province.

Thanks again for all your work!
My Jewish grandfather, Hyman Albert Mintzer, was born in Iassy in 1892 and came to Ellis Island with his family when he was about seven years old. Over the years, I have found very little information about his family and extended family in Romania. Does anyone know of people, government agencies, organizations, websites, print resources, etc. that would have information (including but not limited to, official documents, cemetery records, occupations, former addresses, photographs, etc.) about this family? I am very willing to share information that I have with anyone who is interested about Jews in Iassi. Thank you. Your article is so informative; a wealth of knowledge for anyone on a quest to learn more about Romania, its people and history.
My grandmother emigrated to the U.S. from Romania in1906, when she was six years old. Her name was Silvia Carmen Latcu (Lacks, Lastcu or Laztcu). I know very little about her Romanian roots. I do know that she was born in Arad, Transylvannia, a conflictive border area, and that my Great grandfather was an officer in the Romanian army and was a talented polyglot. I believe his name was Hans Laztcu, and my Great granmother's name was Lutvila (?). If anyone can enlighten me as to this part of my ancestry, I will be most grateful. Thank you.

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