Albanian Ohioans

From Ohio History Central

Numerous Ohioans are descended from Albanian ancestors. Today, Albanian Ohioans continue to enhance Ohio's cultural and social landscape.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, millions of immigrants migrated to the United States of America, hoping to live the American Dream. Before the American Civil War, most immigrants arrived in the United States from Great Britain, Germany, and Ireland. By the 1880s, the home countries of immigrants began to change. Many of the new immigrants to arrive in the United States came from Eastern and Southern European countries, like Albania, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, and Czechoslovakia, rather than from Western European countries.

In 1860, 328,249 immigrants lived in Ohio. These people accounted for fourteen percent of the state's population. By 1900, the number of immigrants in Ohio rose to 458,734, but the percentage of the population that was foreign-born declined to eleven percent. Most of these immigrants in 1900 came from Germany, Great Britain, and Ireland, yet a growing number of Eastern and Southern Europeans were also migrating to the state.

In 1914, fewer than two thousand Albanian immigrants resided in Ohio. Most of these Albanians settled along Lake Erie, especially in Cleveland, where they found low-paying jobs in factories or worked as day laborers. Most Albanian immigrants came to the United States to improve their financial situation and to escape political turmoil in their native country.  Immigrants worked in a variety of jobs, and some established businesses that supplied their fellow migrants with traditional Albanian products. To help maintain their traditional culture, Cleveland's Albanians eventually established three native-language newspapers, Dielli, Liria, and Shqiptari i Lire. In 1940, approximately one thousand Albanians lived in Cleveland alone. In Cleveland and other communities, the Albanian immigrants tended to settle in their own communities, preferring to live among people who shared similar cultural beliefs and spoke the same language as they did.

While many Albanian immigrants arrived in the United States prior to World War I, another large wave of Albanian migrants eventually reached this country in the years immediately following World War II. World War II destroyed numerous homes and businesses in Albania, and many residents of this country sought a better life in the United States. Ohio's Albanian residents actively assisted these new arrivals in beginning new lives. The new immigrants tended to settle in the already established Albanian communities in the state. Once communists seized control of the Albanian government, Albanian immigration essentially ceased to exist.

Over the succeeding decades, Ohio's traditional Albanian communities began to lose their cohesiveness and many Albanian communities began to disintegrate. Many Albanians moved into other communities, while non-Albanians began to infiltrate the traditionally Albanian neighborhoods.  Ohio's Albanian population maintains its ties to its traditional cultural beliefs. Albanian Ohioans continue to participate in various social and cultural groups that serve to promote Albanian beliefs and customs. Most of these organizations are centered on the Eastern Orthodox Church, the dominant religion among Ohio's Albanians

See Also

References

  1. Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.