From Ohio History Central
The Zarja Singing Society is the oldest Slovenian singing group located outside of Europe.
During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, large numbers of Slovene immigrants came to the United States of America. In 1900, fewer than ten thousand Slovene immigrants resided in Ohio. By 1920, more than thirty thousand Yugoslavians resided in Ohio. Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia at this time. Most of these Yugoslavians and Slovenes settled along Lake Erie, especially in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1910, more than fourteen thousand Slovenes resided in Cleveland alone, giving Cleveland the third largest Slovene population of all cities around the world.
Slovene Ohioans established numerous organizations to celebrate their homeland. One such organization was the Zarja Singing Society. Established in 1916, this organization was founded in and remains in the vicinity of Cleveland today. This group originally had eighteen members, but for most of the twentieth century, typically three dozen or more members have actively participated in the organization's activities. Since its founding, the Zarja Singing Society has celebrated Slovene culture through musical performances, providing local Slovene Ohioans with opportunities to engage in traditional Slovene customs and celebrations. The group has produced several albums and performed on television. The Zarja Singing Society also has performed by invitation in Slovenia. The Zarja Singing Society illustrates the influence that Slovene immigrants have had on Ohio's development.
- Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.