tv National Czech Slovak Museum Librarys Special Collections CSPAN March 16, 2019 11:16am-11:36am EDT
american history tv. we will be back after a short break. first, we join our cities tour team in cedar rapids, iowa. >> the library is set up to be the national repository of the stories, slovak materials and archives. people ask us why is the library in cedar rapids, iowa? peoplewer is that the involved in the community several decades ago were motivated to have the museum here. there are a lot of czech and slovak people here. they were motivated to get a
museum for the treasures they wanted to show people. the exhibit opened in 2013. it is 7500 square feet to tell the story of the czech and slovak people. a big part of our story is the immigration story. part of the exhibit, we are exploring immigration and people who came to america for a different kind of freedom. also, the ways they came here and their culture and community. we have a replica of a steamship. the ship resonates with a lot of people. just about everybody in america has ancestors who came to this country from somewhere else. rapids, people were
coming up until 1920. they were definitely on this kind of steamer ship. we have interesting stories from a woman in cedar rapids. she came over in 1922. she was seven years old. she came with her older sister. have stories of playing on the ship and getting locked in the ships library. her father came here to get a organization.ck the ship is someplace where receipt people different heritages thinking my family came over on a ship like this, as well. there are belongings everywhere and trunks. we tried to make it seem realistic for people when they want to come in. we have it set up to be what third class might have been like
. some people call it the steerage. of -- peoplet without a lot of money who are crammed together in the bottom of the ship. living in cramped quarters. there was first-class and second class. a lot of people here in cedar had enough money to buy passage in second class. they had a dining room and access to the library. there were definitely first-class passengers, as well. others had plenty of money to come here and purchase a business. they wanted to come here for a better life. was a revolution in 1848 which ended serfdom. people were allowed to leave out of the area where they had grown
up and worked. there was also a shortage of land. of1850, you see a lot migration from central and western europe into the united states. about 1850. coming the main bulk was 1870's and 1880's. we saw a lot of them come into this part of iowa. in the easterne part of the country around pittsburgh and cleveland. a lot of them want to land here. that continued until the 1920's. then it tapered off. after that, we had more political emigres coming in the 30's and 40's.
there are lots of items in our collection that were brought by immigrants. there was a type of clothing that a woman war. a lot of layers of clothing and wall. take shawls that are also blankets. it could hold a baby. the glamorous clothing came later. in order to be on the ship, you needed to dress in a warm and practical way. we know that people had limited storage space. you could not bring anything -- everything you own. the immigrants were coming for
better economic opportunities. they were not fleeing oppression. they just wanted land or an opportunity to make more money. they were coming for many different reasons. many chose to bring religious artifacts with them. we see prayer books and a cards that were important. there was a baptismal font that one girl chose to bring with her. we have jewelry that is passed from relative to relative. are important in czechoslovakia. it is their national gemstone. we have beautiful garnet items the people brought with them. other items are the more
practical things like tea sets or a vegetable slicer or a cake pan. people were bringing very practical things. surprisingrought sentimental things. moste going now to the popular part of this exhibit. in our collection, half of it is textiles. folk of them are the dresses. these fullens of costumes or full dresses. we have at least 12 on display. four from each region.
we change them out at least once a year. we have so many we want to share them with everyone. they are very distinctive. this is a folk address that was worn on special occasions like weddings, funerals, church festivals, it is obviously not what you would wherefore every day. these were brought by immigrants in 1900s. they were brought in the trunk when you had to bring -- be careful about what you brought with you. they were important enough to them that they wanted to bring this piece of culture with them. the folk address varies from village to village. will have allage totally different one from the neighboring village. they have a lot of interesting techniques. embroidery all over. there is one that has gold wrapped wire.
that is from slovakia. be it lace or embroidery or the gold work, they were very distinctive and beautiful. a lot of work goes into them. you can tell a lot about the person's economic status and marital status by looking at it. women andat unmarried girls could have their hair showing. they could have ribbons and their hair. once a woman was married, she was supposed to keep her hair for just her family to see. a bride would have a very distinctive headdress as would a groom. the married woman wears a red headscarf. we have a section about the because jobs people had they did so many types of work and had different economic
levels. they tended to settle in it east where they were mines or industry. that was young men coming by themselves and they would send money back,. the once you came to iowa were interested in land and being farmers. they also came to work in the towns and cities working as a butcher in the meat market or opening a bakery or a bank. the mayor of chicago in the 1930's was a interesting one. he was in florida in 1933 with fdr and there was an assassination attempt and he was the one who is hit and killed instead of fdr. he died in 1933. other famous czech americans are matter and -- madeleine
albright. she was born in czechoslovakia. few that weite a know of who came to this country to practice their trade. 1920, immigration to the dived states took a because the united states started imposing quotas on how many people could come from various countries. in 1938, when hitler's was coming to power, we have a wave of immigrants mostly jewish coming into the united states. again in 19 40 a wave of people left because they did not want to live in a communist country.
again in 1968, there was an uprising against communism in czechoslovakia. some people chose at that time to leave feeling like communism was not going to end and they wanted a better life. we are in the history section. this tells the story of the tumultuous 20th century. this is mostly about the history of the checks and slovaks who stayed behind in what became czechoslovakia fighting for their freedom. before world war i, there was the czechoslovakia. there were regions called bohemia and they were part of the austro-hungarian empire. there was a great leader in czechoslovakia and here is a statue of him.
like czechoslovakia should be one sovereign nation that was independent of the austro-hungarian rule. the empire was defeated and so we have a light of new nationstates forming in czechoslovakia was one of them. he is like their george washington. he is the first president of the new czechoslovakia. this statue represents this is alsot person but it the statue itself has an interesting history. this was created in the 1930's. when the munich agreement camened and nazi germany into czechoslovakia, it had to be hit -- hidden.
it could have been melted down to make useful ammunition or something. three times during world war ii, this was hidden. they buried it in the ground and they had to move it three times during the war to keep it from being discovered by the not cease. it is over 800 pounds. after world war ii, the statue could come to light again because it was a free country. in 1948 when the communists came they tucked it away in the basement of one of the museums. it was stored at their out-of-the-way because the communists were not interested in having statutes of a person who represented freedom and democracy on display. the original owner of the statue discovered that it was in and asked a basement
for permission to have the statue back. when the family came to the united states in the 1970's, they were allowed to bring it with them. it has been here since legend 77. it used to be in california but then in 1977 the family gave it to us here. he is our favorite. ended, therear ii were three years of harmony and peace and democracy in czechoslovakia. in 1948, the communist party came into power. this is the only car in our collection. it was used by a communist general in the 1960's. it was a sinister vehicle. it would pull up in front of an
apartment building or a house and people were never knowing who what they want. the officials would come and take someone away for questioning. it was a scary and suspicious time. we have footage running above the vehicle. the secret police were going around photographing people going about their daily lives. there were files and folders on people's movements and what they said. the government keeping an eye on people. the car is a symbol of the oppression and constantly being watched. this part of the exhibit deals with life under communism. it has things like american bluejeans. inause of the rise to power
1948, some people chose to leave at that time. this time they were leaving because they didn't want to be under communist rule. a gentleman who was a journalist and he brought this typewriter with him. at that time, if you owned a typewriter you had to register it with the government just like a gun. they felt like a typewriter was just as dangerous as a gun for someone to have. sometimes trip ourselves up because we talk about checks and slovaks being two different people. when communism fell, it was still czechoslovakia but within three years they decided to split into their own countries. have a split into two different countries.
this story is important on several levels. story but theic oppression happened to a lot of people in europe and worldwide. america, we are so blessed with our freedom and we might take it for granted how other people have had to struggle for it. a lot of these things we are telling about the exhibit happened in the 20th century. thatsn't that long ago communism was that prevalent in eastern europe. we think that is an important story to tell. if you don't know about it, you might repeat itself. >> we are back now with live