Amerikán Národní Kalendář: A unique and wonderful genealogy resource for all of us Bohemians!
Some things in Bohemian (Czech) genealogy are simply too important to be ignored. We all know about the Censuses and records for births, deaths, and marriages, but do you know another of the most significant resources for us Bohemians? It is the Amerikán Národní Kalendář (American National Calendar).
What is Amerikán Národní Kalendář?
For eighty years, from 1878 to 1958 (although some report it ended in 1957) Bohemian-American August Geringer (1842-1930) published an annual journal in his printing shop in Chicago, Illinois with the name of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This journal, always published in Czech, was very highly regarded and widely distributed throughout the Bohemian-American community across the entire United States as well as abroad. Each edition of this journal contained items useful for keeping a calendar, prose, poetry, biographies, and autobiographies of Bohemians from around the United States. The title page proclaimed “Featuring many pictures and both serious and jocular content.”
August Geringer, a Bohemian born in Březnice, immigrated to Chicago in 1869. Once there he established his own printing company August Geringer a Synů (translated as August Geringer and Son). In 1875, he began to publish the first Bohemian daily newspaper in the United States, titled Svornost translated as ‘Concord’. Thankfully Geringer also published the Amerikán Národní Kalendář as an annual supplement to Svornost.
Editions most often contained somewhere between 200 and 300 pages with each edition filled with a broad array of materials that Czech genealogy and history aficionados of today will certainly appreciate. There are some excellent period drawings, images of many of the individuals featured, Czech-American fiction, horoscopes, biographies, humor, poetry, and naturally some advertisements, which also offer us a worthwhile look at a portion of the Bohemian business community.
However it is the biographies and first-person accounts that will attract the genealogist the most.
In one of his more recent books, Czech American Bibliography, Czech expert, author, and researcher, Dr. Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., refers to Amerikán Národní Kalendář as “such a splendid source of ‘Czech Americana,’ a special effort was made to list many of its articles in the relevant sections of this bibliography.”
Likewise Professor Karel D. Bicha, PhD, praises Amerikán Národní Kalendář with this: “The reminiscences in Amerikán constitute a major body of primary material concerning Czech immigrants in United States.” (The Czechs in Wisconsin History).
The following is an example of the surnames that appear in just a single article. It comes from the 1895 Edition and a single article which we at Onward To Our Past® just translated to English for the first time. Titled “Memoirs of Bohemian Settlers in America”, this article is jam-packed with surnames including Sýkora, Kříž, Krejčí, Sprostý, Payer, Sýkora, Petr, Sháněl, Trojan, Spurný, Kužla, Prayer, Cully, Jílek, Davidova, Štĕdronský, Hlavlíček, Vltoň, Mácha, Kocian, Fuerst, Vrána, Drábek, Zdrůbek, Cukr, Kerrnish, Sett, Luňák, Koytk, Havel, Paul, Wodsedálek, Svatý, Káres, Jonáš, Brádl, Dolenský, Hrbek, Wais, Šára, and Albrecht.
In each biography we find given names, maiden names, home villages in many cases (good for those trying to locate their ancestral home village using Chain Migration Theory), children, in-laws, occupations, and more. It also includes some wonderful insights into what our ancestors had to overcome in their quests to establish themselves in their new homeland of the United States.
The national and international popularity of Amerikán Národní Kalendář meant Bohemian and Bohemian-American authors wrote about Bohemians all over the United States. A look at the Table of Contents for just a few issues show articles on Bohemians in Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, New York, Illinois, and others!
An interesting additional note regarding the 1895 Edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
The 1895 Edition was edited by Josef Jiří Král (1870-1951). Král was also a Bohemian immigrant and was born in Loužná. In the United States he attended the University of Michigan and graduated as a lawyer. Evidently not enjoying the practice of law all that much Král spent most of his working career as a writer and editor. The majority of his work was spent writing books and in a variety of Bohemian-American newspaper businesses. From 1905 to 1911 he was editor of Spavedlnost. Král wrote dozens of books and articles, as well as writing for the United States government in the 1920s during his tenure with the Bureau for Foreign and Domestic Commerce. He also was a frequent contributor to Amerikán Národní Kalendář between 1894 and 1946. He was the co-publisher and editor of the Bohemian-American newspaper Slavie from 1894 to 1904, which after the suicide of the founder Karel Jonáš, was purchased by the publisher of Amerikán Národní Kalendář, August Geringer. This fact might well explain why Král would be connected to Amerikán Národní Kalendář, located in Chicago while being the editor of Slavie in Racine, Wisconsin.
Mila Richcigl describes Král by saying “He was considered one of the most talented journalists among the Freethinkers.” Ion his doctoral dissertation, “Bohemian Voice: Contention, Brotherhood, and Journalism Among Czech People in America, 1860-1910”, Professor David Zdenek Chroust wrote “Král…was one of the most versatile and prolific authors in Bohemian America, while Geringer was its biggest publisher.” (Page 98) Professor Chroust also notes Amerikán Národní Kalendář “is the only almanac whose content…is indexed in Esther Jerabek Czechs and Slovaks in North America: A Bibliography (New York: Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in America, 1976).”
The fact that Král functioned as the Editor of Amerikán Národní Kalendář had gone completely unnoticed by academics and historians until its discovery by Onward To Our Past® during our translation work.
How to access Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
As you can tell from the accompanying photos Amerikán Národní Kalendář was not printed with the idea of durability in mind. Each issue is fragile and difficult to locate. In the last issue of Czech Slavnosti you can read about the Archives of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad (ACASA) as the repository of the most complete set of Amerikán Národní Kalendář in the U.S.
Given the importance of Amerikán Národní Kalendář Onward To Our Past® has made the commitment to begin translating to English the Table of Contents for each of the eighty annual editions of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. We have already published (for free) the Table of Contents for the 1895 edition at http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/czech-genealogy/amerikan-narodni-kalendar-indexes/amerikan-narodni-kalendar-table-of-contents-1895.html. Plus we have already translated dozens of unique articles, which are on our website and free for your use.
So the next time you have a moment and are interested, be sure to check out the riches you will find for your Bohemian family history and genealogy in Amerikán Národní Kalendář.