Getting Ready for the Exhibition “Lithuanian Diaspora Media after the 1990s”: Lithuanian Heritage Magazine

The article was originally published in premier issue of “Lithuanian Heritage Magazine” (2014, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 2), as an editorial signed by the publishers and editors. 

1994 marks the 120th anniversary of Lithuanian press in America. In 1874 a one-page leaflet by an anonymous author, written in the Lithuanian language, was printed in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

From that humble beginning, newspapers and magazines of every type, size and ideological context began to be published. They would serve the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian immigrants arriving to the shores of the New World.

The purpose of those publications was threefold: First, to keep the newcomers up-to-date on conditions and events occurring in Lithuania – particularly in the ancestral homes and farms they left behind; second, to preserve and perpetuate the language, customs and traditions of those who had already settled in America and had begun to assimilate into its fastpaced environment; and third, – since Lithuania was under Russian czarist oppression at the time – to awaken the immigrants’ patriotic spirit and to nurture the idea of a future free and independent Lithuania.

In the beginning all these publications were printed in Lithuanian, the only language the new immigrants could understand. But time passed, new generations sprung up, and their social and economic conditions changed. Eventually some of these new Americans distanced themselves from the mainstream of Lithuanian centers and activities. In other words, they just melted into the pot.

As a result of the above, some of the publications were forced to include articles, or even entire sections, in the English language. Others stopped publishing altogether. A few continued to be published in Lithuanian, and some even increased their circulation after the community received a new infusion of immigrants following the end of the Second World War. Some are still being published today, and they are doing a great job at preserving Lithuanian language and heritage. Unfortunately their subscriber base has been steadily diminishing. Most are being published and edited by concerned institutions and dedicated people, and are supported by the Lithuanian community. Others are being published by various organizations for the benefit of their members. That is their main purpose.

The purpose of Lithuanian Heritage Magazine is somewhat different, although not that much different from the pioneer Lithuanian press we described earlier. Our purpose is also to have articles and stories about Lithuania, but the type of stories that interest you, a Lithuanian American with roots in the old country. To tell you about Lithuanian folk arts, customs and traditions. To write about exciting events in Lithuania’s history, and about famous – as well as perhaps less famous, but nevertheless colorful – Lithuanian personalities. To relate mythical legends and folk tales. To help you in your search for your own “roots”. And much more. In other words, to help you understand and appreciate the full extent of your rich Lithuanian Heritage.